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Public Dimensions of a Believer's Life: Rediscovering the Cardinal Virtues [Paperback]

By Monika Hellwig (Author)
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Overview
In recent American politics, the term morality has come to be used in a way almost entirely restricted to private family and sexual issues, leaving aside responsibility for immensely consequential decisions about initiating wars, oppressive policies, regressive tax structures, and disregard of the United Nations and international law. Public Dimensions of a Believer's Life is about human responsibility in public life and the moral and spiritual factors involved in exercising that responsibility. Monika Hellwig explores the decisions people have to make in human affairs at all levels of social organization, the values that guide these decisions, and the way those values are often apparently in conflict with one another. By looking at major moral issues in the political decisions, actions and failures to act, of the twentieth century in the light of the tradition of the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance), Hellwig's work explores the moral implications of the political life in our own times

Publishers Description
In recent American politics, the term morality has come to be used in a way almost entirely restricted to private family and sexual issues, leaving aside responsibility for immensely consequential decisions about initiating wars, oppressive policies, regressive tax structures, and disregard of the United Nations and international law. Public Dimensions of a Believer s Life is about human responsibility in public life and the moral and spiritual factors involved in exercising that responsibility. Monika Hellwig explores the decisions people have to make in human affairs at all levels of social organization, the values that guide these decisions, and the way those values are often apparently in conflict with one another. By looking at major moral issues in the political decisions, actions and failures to act, of the twentieth century in the light of the tradition of the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance), Hellwig s work explores the moral implications of the political life in our own times."

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Pages   156
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.42" Width: 6.72" Height: 0.51"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2005
Publisher   Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
ISBN  074255015X  
ISBN13  9780742550155  


Availability  0 units.


More About Monika Hellwig


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Monika K. Hellwig is a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown Univerisity and past president of the Associateion of Catholic Colleges and Universities. She is an international lecturer and prominent voice in religion, education, and the public square.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology


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Books > General Interest > General Topic > Philosophy



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Reviews - What do customers think about Public Dimensions of a Believer's Life: Rediscovering the Cardinal Virtues?

FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY DRAW US MOST DEEPLY INTO THE WORLD, NOT APART, AND DEMAND OUR LOVING ACTION HERE AND NOW TODAY TOGETHER  May 30, 2007
Professor Monika Hellwig, clearly, lucidly unfolds for us within this learned 150 page theological treatise how our Faith Commitment brings hope to the world and demands our complete commitment to practice true and concrete charity by every means possible.

She gives specific elements of the public and political life which call for our Faith commitment to find its realization in our world, and she writes correctly, prayerfully, carefully, philosophically, the orthodox theology of our Catholic Faith, based on her respected preparation and practice.

Within this book she draws the "tensions in the Dynamic of Redemption:" between obedience and discernment, conformity and dissent, humility and power, loyalty and truth, compromise and the absolute, law and justice (and how those are often different!), patriotism and discipleship, fairness and compassion (and how one lives in tension with the other: the quality of mercy is never strained), etc., etc. But in the end she returns to the underlying Cardinal Theological Virtues of the mysteries of Faith, Hope and Charity.

From her conclusion:
"In fact, faith is concerned with a constantly expanding interpretive vision of reality, which is a gift of God to those who are open to see what is divinely unfolded before them. The theological virtue of hope is the expectation, motivation, and striving that grows out of the faith vision. And charity is not love in the popular sense of attraction or emotion, but rather a total commitment of oneself, one's energies, loyalties, resources, and time. (p. 139)"

Impossible for me to in justice draw citations of her clear and well spoken thoughts and summations of "official Catholic moral teaching." Nevertheless, she states truth to worldly power in this prophetic passage:

"God does not make wars or make populations into refugees. God does not make treaty conditions, trading policies or trade barriers, national and international institutions, and restrictions on migration. God does not, therefore, make some rich and others poor, some countries powerful and others weak. Success in accumulating wealth is not a sign of God's especial blessing on rich families or powerful countries. It may instead signify God's anger (in biblical terms) because wealth and power have been acquired and are being used at the expense of the less powerful. (p. 141)"

Such moral theological truths, drawn directly as they are from Pope John Paul II's On Social Concern: Encyclical Letter Of John Paul II, etc., as well as Pope Paul VI's On the Development of Peoples, Populorum Progresio., etc., and Pope John XXIII's Pacem in Terris, etc. all the way back to Pope Leo's Rerum Novarum, may read as heresy in modern America, but ring more powerfully and prophetically and urgently now than when written just a few years ago. We learn much by careful consideration and contemplation of the theological truths of this brief yet concentrated book, recommended for all Catholics and anyone seeking the path to a moral comprehensive integral Catholic life through living the Cardinal Virtues within this present immoral society.
 
Basic Christian Social Ethics  Aug 29, 2006
Public Dimensions of a Believer's Life: Rediscovering the Cardinal Virtues by Monika K. Hellwig (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) In recent American politics, the term "morality" has come to be used in a way almost entirely restricted to private family and sexual issues, leaving aside responsibility for immensely consequential decisions about initiating wars, oppressive policies, regressive tax structures, and disregard of the United Nations and international law. Public Dimensions of a Believer's Life is about human responsibility in public life and the moral and spiritual factors involved in exercising that responsibility. Monika K. Hellwig explores the decisions people have to make in human affairs at all levels of social organization, the values that guide these decisions, and the way those values are often apparently in conflict with one another.
Excerpt: This book is about the decisions people have to make in human affairs at all levels of social organization. It is about the values that guide our decisions and about the way those values are often apparently in conflict with one another. There are, of course, conflicts in every life. They are of many kinds, including those tensions that are the interplay of moral values when these appear to conflict in practice. This book addresses especially such conflicts in a believer's life when they seem to be rooted in the very nature of the redemption as understood in Christian theology. Nevertheless, readers of other religious traditions may recognize parallels. The underlying human issues are experienced by all of us of whatever tradition, and each tradition has developed its own way of naming these issues and prescribing ways of dealing with them successfully.
In Western thought, this has largely been formulated in terms of moral virtues. The analysis of the various kinds of moral virtue required for a wholesome and integral human life goes back to ancient times. It passed into Christian tradition through the pagan Greek philosophers whose wisdom came to be treasured by Christian philosophers and theologians through the centuries. In the analysis of the ancient philosophers, the "cardinal virtues," those on which all aspects of behavior seem to "hinge," so to speak, are four. They are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. These cardinal virtues are integral to the discussion throughout the book, but chapters I through 12 deal with practical issues and dilemmas that Christian believers have to confront in practice, in private and public life, in business and the professions, as citizens and as neighbors, in political and in economic matters, and so forth. It is only in the conclusion that you will find a more theoretical discussion of the cardinal virtues and the way they are modified when seen in the context of the Christian understanding of the redemption.
Yet some preliminary reflections are in order.
The Christian understanding of the good life grounds its logic centrally in the doctrine of the redemption. The world with its human affairs as we know them is not for a Christian believer the best of all possible worlds. Nor is it simply to be equated with the will or intent of the creator. All that exists is indeed the creation of a single, benign divine source- that is revealed in its creation but remains mystery and transcendence. However, the creation is dynamic and continuing and brings forth with human collaboration whatever is incomplete. By its nature, the universe as created looks for development and completion from within its own resources.
At the heart of this process are the communities of human beings becoming conscious of the processes of the universe, trying to understand them, trying to shape and control them. People are equipped not only with intelligence and ability to learn but also with desires and the ability to achieve, relate, and control. Not everything that is possible works for the common well-being and harmony. Not everything that has actually been done by human beings has been pure benefit for the well-being and harmony of the creatures of the universe. We ourselves, and the world about us, inherit both blessing and curse from the creativity of those before us.
Yet, in the Christian vision of history, we are not simply condemned to make the best of things in an endless repetition of wars, famines, injustices, oppressions, prejudices, injuries, and sufferings of all kinds, spiraling ever more rapidly to global terrorism, mass destruction, and universal fear. The optimism that denies the inevitability of doom is based on the conviction of an initially good though unfin¬ished creation not abandoned by its creator. In the Christian vision, evil and its reproductive power are very real, but so is the healing intervention of the divine in history. The historical person of Jesus of Nazareth is the focal point that gives meaning, perspective, and challenge to one's life and action in the world. The project of Jesus to which Christian believers are assimilated as active participants is the redemption of all creation from forces of destruction. The possibility of success is divinely guaranteed. Timetables for attaining the goals are not so guaranteed and depend on the freely chosen collaboration of human communities.
This clearly sets a frame of reference for what constitutes a good life. It is a frame of reference that is different from the one that gave rise to the classic Greek understanding of virtue. It is not enough to maintain personal balance and integrity within the ever-shifting but largely predetermined forces of the world and its history. What is necessary is to discern how those forces might be transformed for the universal common good and to act creatively toward that goal. That, in turn, means sharing, refining, applying, and promoting the vision in ever widening dialogues. It also requires efforts to understand ever more complex interpersonal, intergroup, economic, social, political, religious, and cultural situations and issues.
As Christians try to respond to their redemptive calling, there is always a risk of being so entrammeled in the complexities of these issues, situations, and social processes as to lose a steady focus on the goal that can never be known in concrete definition beforehand. There is also the opposite
risk of seeing the goal as though it could quite simply be known in concrete definition, ignoring the complexities and denying inevitable ambiguity and ambivalence. The possible practical choices implied by both those risks have, in our times, and perhaps in all times, been the cause of rather bitter argument among deeply committed fellow Christians. This has particularly happened in relation to large political, economic, and international issues. It has occurred also in relation to the handing on of the faith to future generations and in relation to adaptations of life and worship in chang¬ing cultural contexts.
This book explores some dimensions of the personal challenges in the complexities of real-life contexts when val¬ues seem to be in conflict.
 

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