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Commandments of Compassion [Paperback]

By S.J. James F. Keenan (Author) & S. J. Keenan (Author)
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Item description for Commandments of Compassion by S.J. James F. Keenan & S. J. Keenan...

To see the Ten Commandments with fresh eyes, Father Keenan examines them through the lens of the First-showing us that above all, our God is a God of compassion. With essays on the contemporary distinction between goodness and rightness, Commandments of Compassion also emphasizes the importance of compassionate listening in moral direction.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Sheed & Ward
Pages   135
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.39"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1999
Publisher   Sheed & Ward
ISBN  1580510604  
ISBN13  9781580510608  

Availability  0 units.

More About S.J. James F. Keenan & S. J. Keenan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James F. Keenan, S.J., is professor of moral theology and director of the doctoral program at Weston Jesuit School of Theology. His recent books with Sheed & Ward include Practice What You Preach and Virtues for Ordinary Christians.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Topical
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Ethics
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Superficial treatment of an important subject  Aug 7, 2006
James F. Keenan who teaches moral theology at the Jesuit Weston School of Theology has recycled essays from various popular Catholic magazines into a short book. He comments briefly on each of the Ten Commandments and then outlines his approach to moral theology.

Keenan stresses that morality arises from prayer and spirituality; gives much attention to the difference between being good and doing the right thing; and comments on a contemporary understanding of "the ministry of moral theology." His chapters on giving moral advice and listening to the voice of suffering are the best in the book.

It is unfortunate that the author repeatedly supports his opinions by contrasting them with a romanticized negative view of Catholic moral theology prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). His emphasis on sins of omission is well taken, but when he states: "Sin is simply not bothering to love." (p. 91), he vastly oversimplifies the complex reality of sin and leaves the impression that for him all sins are sins of omission.

Keenan quotes Vatican II's admonition that "[Moral theology's] scientific exposition should be more thoroughly nourished by scriptural teaching." (p. 129) However, his use of the Scriptures is superficial even to the point of misquoting the First Epistle of John 3:2 as "we shall be like God for we shall see ourselves as we are." (p. 101) He is oblivious to the mistake two pages later when he builds an argument on the misquotation.

What interests me more is Keenan's treatment of the Ten Commandments. (He lists in the Catholic order combining the Protestant and Jewish first commandment and splitting their tenth commandment into two.) Each commandment serves as a jumping off point for the author's particular interests, often with little or no connection to the text. Thus, the first commandment "commands us to recognize that God alone is merciful." (p. 1) Strangely, there is no mention of idolatry, ancient or modern. He discusses the third commandment without any reference to the societal implications of the Sabbath rest or the connection to Jubilee justice with its freeing of slaves and redistribution of wealth. Keenan manages to treat the eighth commandment without any reference to its condemnation of perjury, a practice that undermines the very social institutions that enable us to get at the truth and to resolve conflicts.

Keenan betrays no interest in the original socio-historical setting of the Ten Commandments and no concern for a careful reading of the varying texts in Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, and Exodus 34, not to mention interpretive passages in other parts of the Bible. His reading of the Christian tradition is very selective. For example, there is not a word about war in his treatment of the fifth commandment or any mention of the early Christian tradition of not serving as soldiers who would have to kill or civil administrators who would have to impose the death penalty.

The negatives in Keenan's book so outweigh the positives that I cannot recommend it.

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