Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lisa Sowle Cahill's "Global Justice, Christology and Christian Ethics"

Lisa Sowle Cahill received her BA from the Santa Clara University and her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is the J. Donald Monan Professor of Theological Ethics at Boston College.

Cahill applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Global Justice, Christology and Christian Ethics, and reported the following:
Global Justice, Christology and Christian Ethics is a book about religion and politics. It defends Christian action for social change, the positive potential of Christian believers and churches to alleviate global injustices, such as huge gaps between rich and poor, climate change, sex trafficking, and violent civil conflict. The book refutes the notions that Christianity is only about spiritual salvation and an afterlife; that God is present in the Christian religion only; that the rule of international politics is and must be “might makes right;” that the unjust conditions in which the majority of the world’s population lives cannot be changed; and that when religion gets into volatile situations it just inflames conflict and division.

The book bases its case on the figure of Jesus Christ, whose life and message are remembered in the Christian gospels. Christians believe that the risen Jesus is still present in the community of faith. Core to his ministry is Jesus’ preaching of the “kingdom (or reign) of God,” which is in fact a call for more inclusive community, in which sinners, the poor, women, the ill and mentally infirm, and other excluded categories can find acceptance, healing, and hope for the future. Page 99 addresses an important premise of the book’s argument: Jesus himself thought that God’s mighty action at the end of time would definitively overturn the reality of historical evil. Yet Jesus also believed that God is already present in history in a saving way, so that Christian political action can produce real results now.

The cover image of the book captures its message. It is a photo taken by Catholic Relief Services at a camp in Kenya for refugees fleeing violence in Somalia. Three relief workers—two men, one woman; two black, one white; two Christian, one Muslim (the woman wears a headscarf)—stand near a water truck, talking, gesturing, and making plans accommodate the overflow of Somalians. One jots in a notebook. One holds a cell phone. The black man wears a jacket with the CRS logo: a flame with a smaller flame at its center. A flame (or “tongue of fire”) is a New Testament image of the Holy Spirit, sent by the risen Christ to empower the church. Those who struggle for justice out of love of God and neighbor carry on the work of Jesus Christ in the world.
Read an excerpt from Global Justice, Christology and Christian Ethics and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue