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Conscience in Conflict: How to Make Moral Choices [Paperback]

By Kenneth Overberg (Author)
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Item description for Conscience in Conflict: How to Make Moral Choices by Kenneth Overberg...

In this revised edition, Kenneth R. Overberg provides a readable and up-to-date process for coming to decisions about crucial contemporary personal and social questions. He reflects on major world events, such as the end of the Cold War and the massive change in health care in the United States, including managed care, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide .

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Saint Anthony Messenger Press and Franciscan
Pages   152
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.49" Width: 5.51" Height: 0.36"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 31, 1997
Publisher   Saint Anthony Messenger Press and Franciscan
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0867163135  
ISBN13  9780867163131  

Availability  0 units.

More About Kenneth Overberg

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! KENNETH R. OVERBERG, S.J., is a professor of theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received a Ph.D. in Christian ethics from the University of Southern California. His books include "Mercy or Murder: Euthanasia, Morality & Public Policy" (Sheed & Ward), "AIDS, Ethics & Religion: Embracing a World of Suffering" (Orbis Books) and "Into the Abyss of Suffering: A Catholic View" (St. Anthony Messenger Press). He is a frequent contributor to "Catholic Update."""""""""

Kenneth R. Overberg currently resides in Cincinnati, in the state of Ohio.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Ethics & Morality
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Ethics

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

Reviews - What do customers think about Conscience in Conflict: How to Make Moral Choices?

Good book on making moral choices  Jul 26, 2007
I read this book as part of my formation to be ordained as a Permanent Deacon. Overall I enjoyed the book. The first section of the book lays a lot of heavy background, and was at times a little difficult to get through. The auther is dealing with a tough subject and the background was worth it when you get to the later sections of the book dealing with more specific issues. The later sections were easier reads, even though they were dealing with some tough moral issues. As an introduction to moral theology I would recommend this book.
A guide for discussion and consideration  Dec 8, 2006
Author Kenneth Overberg sets forth his primary assumptions very early in this book by stating, 'Deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition is the conviction that morality is based on reality. Reality is God, human being and the rest of creation--all in relationship. Every moral dilemma presents a small but real slice of this totality.' Overberg draws heavily on the publication in the 1990s of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church and encyclicals such as The Splendor of Truth and The Gospel of Life in this third edition.

While this book is written primarily with a Roman Catholic readership in mind (particularly for RCIA classes and other parish-based study groups), it can be used beneficially by Christians of any denomination. Indeed, it might well be suited for Anglican via-media Christians, given Overberg's emphasis of a discernment method that 'rejects the extremes of blind obedience and relativism.'

The book is essentially broken into two parts. The first part develops the tools of the trade--asking the right questions in the right way, understanding who we are in the first place, and understanding our context as individuals who live in community are key issues. Overberg seeks a process that works when the answers are not binary options, but rather allow for middle ground. He also replaces the word 'should' with the word 'ought,' symbolic of authentic obligation rather than a socially-expected requirement. Of course, all of this working is contingent on the kind of people we are and see ourselves as being, which requires an understanding of the meaning of human life.

The second part then uses these tools to look at three broad categories of issues: topics related to sexual morality (contraception, abortion, homosexuality all get tied together); medical topics (stem-cell research, euthanasia and life-support cessation issues, AIDS, the availability or lack thereof of medical treatment); and social ethics (globalism, war, economic justice). Overberg does not suggest definitive answers, and often not even tentative answers of his own, but rather in each instance repeats the official church teaching, the history of that teaching, where others within and outside the church have disagreed, and what the salient issues and genuine areas of honest disagreement may be. 'Merely repeating a teaching that has been seriously and respectfully questioned does not lead to the same kind of confidence,' Overberg states, as the kind of conversation and analysis that might lead to a fuller understanding, which might 'lead to change or to reaffirmation.' He applies the criteria from the first section specifically to the issues in the second.

Overberg does not have an agenda to push, other than to prompt people to be more deliberate in their approach to moral decisions. In my seminary, one of the primary tasks of the introductory theology class was to distinguish between embedded theology and deliberative theology--that kind of theology that comes to us through various unconscious ways that we develop without being aware of it, and the kind that we understand and develop for ourselves. Students were often suspicious that we were trying to change their minds or their theologies, but in fact a deliberative approach can in fact strengthen what one already believes. Overberg's process of discussion of the different moral questions reminded me of that deliberative process, where it can in fact lead to a reaffirmation of one's beliefs as much as it might lead to a reappraisal.

With its questions for discussion, this is a useful book for discussion groups, as well as for preparation by discussion group leaders. It is also a good text for individual readers to help clarify processes by which they come to moral decisions.
How about "Obfuscation" or "How to cloud your conscience"  Nov 22, 2006
Please avoid this book if you are seriously trying to form your conscience. Fr Overberg has a way of presenting the magesterial teaching in the context of an argument that waters it down until it is barely recognizable. It would appear he only presents it so that he won't be disciplined by the Church. He can point to it and say that he teaches it. When in fact he undermines it in a most cunning way. This is what is so disturbing about this book. How ironic is that? A book written deceptively about conscience.
In Fr Overberg's book he "quotes" liberally but selectively from Vatican II documents in a fashion that would make any "spin-doctor" proud. As one example: In the section where he discusses the authority of the magesterium he uses elipses (...)when quoting from Lumen Gentium 25 to skip over the essential phrases in the paragraph that were they included would make his writing incongruent and non-sensicle. If you insist on buying and reading this book I urge readers to have a copy of the original documents handy and look for this kind of thing. Fr. changes key words like "judge" to "interpret"... which changes the meaning.

There are many other good books on conscience...
What "we ought to do" is avoid this book.
This excellent overview of Moral Theology and the modern world was written by a Jesuit Priest (who should therefore be addressed by Catholics by his proper title) who has a Doctoral Degree in Moral Theology, and must therefore by recognized as PhD.

The Copyright page reveals this important, insightful and illuminating study has received both the Catholic hierarchy's Nihil Obstat and Imprimaturs, etc., and are thus free from any doctrinal errors against the Catholic Church, but is full orthodox and unquestionably Catholic. To question this book is to have doubts of the doctrine the Catholic Faith.

THat being said, this book has much to tell us about current issues of moral theology. In the recent Schiavo case, we might have been well consoled to contemplate its teachings regarding euthanasia. We might also learn from the other medical, sexual and social issues discussed in these pages. We can receive solace and hope by knowing a Catholic priest and theologian has written them with the seal of approval of the Catholic Hierarchy.

Worthwhile reading and food for thought and for prayer in the difficult issues we now face. For those seeking a less popularized and more scholarly approach examining the issues more profoundly, kindly search here on this site for the Rev. Father Charles Curran who for twenty years or more has produced an excellent and honored series on Moral Theology and all of its implications and avenues. His helpful texts are perhaps designed more for the pastoral professional than the public as is Saint Anthony's Messenger, and yet should nourish fully any soul in moral conflict. Also see the Rev. Father John Dear for similar questions.

THe most important moral conflict today is our aggressive involvement since 1990 in IRaq, which since then has cost over a million IRaqi lives (for oil). No Catholic can in conscience participate in any way, directly or indirectly, in this piracy. Gaudium et spes gives the specific admonition:
"Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation."

Thus must we Catholics condemn absolutely our war against Iraq which goes back though the long war of attrition to papa Bush in 1990, which has caused over a million Iraqi deaths, women and children in their bloodied beds, and carpet bombing wiping out the ancient city of Fallujah, etc. all for profiteering privateering petroleum piracy.

Further Gaudium et spes states unequivocally:
"If civil authorities legislate or allow anything that is contrary to the will of God, neither the law made nor the authorization granted can be binding on the conscience of the citizens since God has more right to be obeyed than man."

God commands: Thou shalt not kill.

We cannot kill a million Iraqi citizens, women and children in their beds, for the sake of privateering petroleum piracy. We cannot be involved in this genocide in any way shape or form. We in fact are obligated to work and speak strongly against it. Pope John PAul II was first in condemning the aggressive invasion of Iraq.

See also PACEM IN TERRIS in this Christmas season, and The Challenge of Peace. For our advent reading let us read the Reverend Father John Dear's MARY OF NAZARETH: PROPHET OF PEACE

Remember ever our faith. Read Merton's prophetic Peace in a Post-CHristian Era
Helpful Insights for Making Difficult Choices  Mar 13, 2006
Fr. Overberg, a professor of theology at Xavier University, presents the third edition of this book, which first appeared in 1991 and was updated in 1998. Throughout, he stresses the difficult work that goes into making honest ethical decisions and the potential for our choices to "build up or destroy our personal communal humanity." The first three chapters address foundations of contemporary Catholic morality, the process of making moral decisions, and the question of infallibility. The final three chapters are devoted to sexual, medical, and social ethics.

Each topic, from homosexuality to globalization, is considered in light of Church teaching, current debate, and legal considerations. The section on medical ethics covers stem cell research, cloning, HIV/Aids, and end-of-life issues. Overberg's treatment of "extraordinary" measures for preserving life, an issue likely to touch many of us, demonstrates the complexity of making moral choices in the face of conflicting information and confusing vocabulary.

Time and again, Fr. Overberg emphasizes the complications involved in an honest search for truth, stressing that ethical decisions are rarely black or white and "Law and authority play significant roles, but do not necessarily ease the complexity of contemporary morality." Though no easy answers are provided, each chapter ends with questions that encourage us to take seriously our obligation to exercise the three dimensions of conscience: desiring to do the right thing, diligently searching a variety of sources for wisdom and guidance, and making a specific judgment.

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