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Equality and the Family: A Fundamental, Practical Theology of Children, Mothers, and Fathers in Modern Societies (Religion, Marriage, and Family) [Paperback]

By Don S. Browning (Author)
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Item description for Equality and the Family: A Fundamental, Practical Theology of Children, Mothers, and Fathers in Modern Societies (Religion, Marriage, and Family) by Don S. Browning...

In Equality and the Family Don Browning pulls together essays he has published in the past in order to shed light on the path we should take in the future. He contends that practical theology can be envisioned as a practical research program, and he uses the very concrete example of the family to illustrate how this works. Though it may sound unlikely that equality in the family can be based on Christian ideas, Browning insists that it can and that it should. His desire is to be pro-family and pro-marriage in ways that create justice and equality within the family. Based on this goal, he argues for the church's ideal model of the mother-father partnership to be balanced with an understanding and acceptance of the pluralism of family forms as a part of modern life, including church life. A brief introduction of each essay is included to help the reader understand the original context of the piece.

Publishers Description
Interest in psychology permeates our culture, with psychological solutions advanced for a host of moral dilemmas. How should ethically minded Christians include insights from such disciplines as psychoanalysis, cognitive moral development, and neuroscience in their theological reflection? Don Browning offers a serious proposal for combining these disciplines with the best in ethical reflection from a Christian standpoint. Along the way, he introduces readers to the moral psychology work of Sigmund Freud, Carol Gilligan, Antonio Damasio, and others, opening up a dialogue between their work and the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur. Browning also recognizes the potential limits of the conversation between Christian ethics and the moral psychologies, pointing out where they must diverge.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Equality and the Family: A Fundamental, Practical Theology of Children, Mothers, and Fathers in Modern Societies (Religion, Marriage, and Family) by Don S. Browning has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Commonweal - 12/21/2007 page 18

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   416
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.34" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   1.36 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2007
Series  Religion Marriage And Family  
ISBN  0802807569  
ISBN13  9780802807564  

Availability  0 units.

More About Don S. Browning

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Normal 0 ! /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent: ""; margin:0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman";} h1 {mso-style-next: Normal; margin:0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; page-break-after: avoid; mso-outline-level:1; font-size:12.0pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-font-kerning:0pt;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin: .5in; mso-footer-margin: .5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page: Section1;} > Max L. Stackhouse is Rimmer and Ruth de Vries Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary and coordinating editor of the "God and Globalization "series. Don S. Browning teaches at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.

Don S. Browning has published or released items in the following series...
  1. God and Globalization

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Reviews - What do customers think about Equality and the Family: A Fundamental, Practical Theology of Children, Mothers, and Fathers in Modern Societies (Religion, Marriage, and Family)?

Practical Theology Meets the Family in Browning Book  Oct 9, 2009
Once you've launched a big, good idea--such as a brand-new approach to practical theology--and you've begun putting it to work in big, good ways, it's time to gather your wisdom into a casebook for others to follow. Prolific scholar Don S. Browning has done just that, in another new volume emerging from the Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) at Emory University. Equality and the Family: A Fundamental, Practical Theology of Children, Mothers, and Fathers in Modern Societies (William B. Eerdmans, 2007) combines theory and practice, delivering a fresh, biblically based vision of families and calling for interdisciplinary collaboration to transform that vision into reality.

The impetus: seriously disruptive changes in marriage and the family, wrought by modernity and too often regarded by religious and social institutions as inescapable, even largely irresistible. The strategy: redefine and then harness practical theology as a tool for strengthening modern families. The trajectory: long-term. The scope: worldwide.

Browning, a theologian, social scientist, and senior adviser to the CSLR, is the Alexander Campbell Professor of Ethics and the Social Sciences Emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He's no stranger to large-scale practical theological research, having pioneered such efforts from 1991 to 2003 as director of the University of Chicago project on Religion, Culture, and the Family, funded by grants from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

This new book, likely to find its way into graduate classrooms of multiple disciplines, draws together and generously amplifies material that appeared in Browning's previous publications. It opens with Browning's original recasting of practical theology from ministerial reflection on the church's public role to a sharply focused line of inquiry and analysis: a practical research program, one that uses theological investigation to grapple with current conditions both academically and directly. Through this new method, the researcher--whether theologian, layperson, or student--first takes a critical look backward at inherited norms and ideals and then, in light of past and present, dares a strategic look forward at the essential work of reconstruction.

Browning's method, a tool not only for the church, works across disciplines and through them--and can be applied, he says, to any number of issues related to the church's inner life and public witness. In illustration, Browning provides an example: a practical theology of the modern family, examining what the family has been, what it is now, and what, with help from many disciplines, it can become.

To counteract post-modern trends proven to work against family well-being--such as the rise in divorce, nonmarital births, and cohabitation; the decline in the marriage rate; and many fathers' absence from their children's lives--Browning takes a position he calls critical familism: a pro-marriage, pro-family "religio-cultural strategy" for reconstructing marriage and the family.

He begins by retrieving inherited theological ideas that have shaped Western concepts of marriage, leading the reader through a review of biblical creation stories, early Christianity, the writings of Thomas Aquinas. And what emerges, under Browning's watchful critical eye, is not the traditionally assumed model of patriarchy, but a different Christian model informed by evidence that traditionally predisposed scholars might have overlooked.

Thus Browning unveils his vision of marriage founded on "equal regard," a covenant relationship in which both husband and wife consider each other as equals, treat each other with respectful concern, work together to ensure equitable responsibilities and privileges, and raise their children to sustain such relationships as well.

Critical familism, however, doesn't stop there. From the ideal of equal regard, it also reaches out to retrieve other religious traditions--Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. It studies marriage and the family in multidisciplinary context. It envisions the complex cultural work ahead. Perhaps most importantly, it elicits the participation not only of religious institutions but of civil society, government, market, and family law.

Browning's gathered papers on family issues hold up for scrutiny one intriguing perspective after another, all of which reinforce the need for an ethic of equal regard: The role of religious institutions in strengthening families. Modernization. The influence of economic processes. The 60-hour workweek for families with children. Health and medicine. Competing models of marriages. Adoption. Domestic violence. Some of these essays prescribe clear-sighted tasks; others establish context, then raise questions that scholars, theologians, and "human sciences" professionals might well address.

Two chapters represent the author's ongoing interest in families and law. Browning asserts that while the strategy mapped out by critical familism applies primarily to civil society, law can be a source of "friendly assistance" to the newly envisioned equal regard family, and government and market should at least avoid taking steps that might undermine its flourishing.

Browning also explores the meaning of "family" in the context of the human rights movement, particularly in relation to the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its potential bearing on the field of international law. Examining the document's statement that the "natural family is the fundamental group unit of society" prompts another act of retrieval, as Browning traces the idea of "kin altruism" in antiquity. He concludes that the language of the UDHR manages to be both normative and inclusive; though not a binding legal document, the UDHR is "an exemplary instance of a proactive use of law."

A work of elegant scholarship, Browning's new book also repeatedly asserts its call to action, aimed at institutions and organizations as well as individuals: Put marriage and family back on the agenda. Keep the dialogue going among the disciplines and professions. Think constructively, and cooperate with one another. Recognize that the ethic of equal regard is necessary. Believe that it's possible.

"As with all big issues, the task of reviving and reconstructing the family is cooperative and interdisciplinary. It's for law, social work, economics, theology, psychology," Browning emphasized. "It requires conversation and synthesis, and no one angle can address it alone. Together we can make the family movement and its implications more visible for society as a whole."


The Center for the Study of Law and Religion is home to world-class scholars and forums on the religious foundations of law, politics, and society. It offers first-rank expertise on how the teachings and practices of Christianity, Judaism and Islam have shaped and can continue to transform the fundamental ideas and institutions of our public and private lives. The scholarship of CSLR faculty provides the latest perspectives, while its conferences and public forums foster reasoned and robust public debate.

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