Office hours: MWF, 2:30-4:30 or by appointment 299-4175
Who are we to be, and how are we to live? The aim of this course is to explore what the Christian faith in its many voices has offered in response to these perennial questions. First we will explore the very ordinary issue of work and its relation to Christian notions of vocation. Next, we will look at what it means to do ethics in extraordinary times—the Nazi period as experienced by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when the very meaning and significance of life is fundamentally challenged—and bring that forward to the issue of assisted suicide. In the second half of the course, we will consider the very foundation of Christian ethics in the person of Jesus the Christ. Who was this man, and what image of him should shape our lives? Finally, we will ask whether the deepening environmental crisis requires us to reconceive fundamentally what it means to be good stewards of creation.
1. To introduce you to some characteristic claims and methods of Christian ethical reflection.
2. To exercise you in the skills of critical inquiry: reading, discussion, analysis, and imaginative synthesis.
3. To provide pathways by which you can develop a constructive critical understanding of the links between your tradition and your beliefs.
The Bible (NRSV preferred; any non-paraphrased version will do)
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Ethics. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995 
Borg, Marcus. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. San Francico: Harper Collins, 1994
Hardy, Lee. The Fabric of this World. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990
Hallie, Philip. Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed. New York: Harper & Row, 1979
Luther, Martin. Christian Liberty. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1957 
Stivers, Robert L. et al. Christian Ethics: A Case Method Approach. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis,1994
Nash, James A. Loving Nature. Nashville:Abingdon, 1991
Other required texts, marked with an asterisk (*) below, will be on reserve in the library. (Pick up at circulation desk.) Reserve # is given after the text.
|1.||one three-page paper||
|2.||two five-page papers||
Academic integrity. The design of the class calls for intensive conversation between students and texts, and among students, and I encourage you to form study groups. But such collaboration has boundaries. Any unacknowledged borrowing of material in papers or cheating on a quiz or exam will be rewarded with a zero grade for that piece of work and—depending upon the egregiousness of the dishonesty—a further reduction in grade for the entire course. A second instance will result in an F for the course.
***Note: all course assignments, schedules and other handouts will be posted to the class home page. I encourage you to check the site regularly, particularly as I will be adding links to relevant material as I find them. I also encourage you to make your own discoveries on the internet and call them to the attention of myself or the class.
I. Christian Ethics in Ordinary Times: Finding Vocation Through Work
September 3 Introduction
September 8, 10 Work as curse, blessing, or fulfillment?
chapter 1 (Reserve # 266)
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
*Soelle, To Work and To Love, chapter 6
*Terkel, Working: "Mike Lefevre", "Ward Quaal", "Terry Mason", "Anne Bogan", "Nora Watson"
(Hallie, chapters 1-2)
Case "Rigor and responsibility" (15-28)
September 15, 17 Work as vocation—Reformed and Catholic views
Luther, Christian Liberty, entire
Conroy, "Downward Mobility" (handout)
Philemon; 1 Timothy 6:1-2
(Hallie, chapters 3-4)
Case "Big Business and the Boy’s Club", 165-181
Three-page essay assigned
September 22, 24 Work as vocation—contemporary ideals and efforts to adjust work to workers
chapters 3, 4
*Ellul, "Work and Calling" (Reserve # 269)
*Sayer, "Why Work?"
*Soelle, To Work and To Love, chapter 9
(Hallie, chapters 5-6)
View "Lincoln Electric"
September 27-29 Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium: sessions to be selected
II. Christian Ethics in Extraordinary Times: Affirming Life in the Midst of Death
October 1 Resisting the destruction of life in a small, remote French village
Read Hallie, chapters 1-7 (Reserve #267)
Three-page essay due
October 6, 8 Resisting destruction in a large, cosmopolitan German city
"The Church and the World" (57-65); see also 21-56
"Ethics as Formation" (66-89, 110-119)
[Optional Where and how is God’s kingdom present?
Read *Luther, "On Temporal Authority" (excerpt)
Bonhoeffer, "Christ, Reality and Good" (186-210 passim)]
October 13, 15 To tell the truth? Always? To everyone?
Bonhoeffer, "What is meant by ‘Telling the Truth’?" (358-367)
Case Liz Hetland, Eric Weathermon, Eric Patenaude
Five-page essay assigned
October 20, 22, 29 Preserving Life: the issue of assisted suicide
chapters 11, 12
Bonhoeffer, "The Right to Life" and "Suicide" (154-171)
*Verhey, "Integrity, Humility and Heroism: May Patients Refuse Medical Treatment?" Reserve # 271)
Five -page paper due
View "Whose Life Is It, Anyway?"
Case (October 22) "A Good Death for Gleason?" (276-287), Sarah Tollerson, Megan Kiser, Heather Felsch
Case (October 29) Shar Harding, Anderston St. Germain, Eva Ladenburger
III. Jesus as a Basepoint for Contemporary Christian Ethics
November 3, 5 Our stories of his story and the images we construct
chapters 1, 2 (Reserve #267)
The Gospel of Matthew
Five-page paper assigned
Case Sara Al-Bassam, Christy Hudson, Cathy Grothe
November 10, 12 Jesus’ politics of compassion—or of (moral) purity?
The Gospel of Luke
*Henry, "Jesus as the Ideal of Christian Ethics"
Case "Agenda: Preference for the Poorest?" (70-85) Katie Gardner, Rachel Hanson, Jenny Iverson
November 17, 19, 24 Jesus as the source and incarnation of wisdom?
chapters 4, 5
Proverbs 8, 10-13
Case Lindsay Swenson, Amy Peterson, John Kipp
Five -page paper due
IV. Expanding the Boundaries: Christian Ethics and the Biosphere
December 1, 3 Foundations for a Christian ethic of the environment
Read Nash, chapters
*McKibben, "The Case for Single-Child Families" (Reserve # 270)
Case "Snake in the
Grass" (129-161) or "The Healthy Christian Life" (182-196)
Carl Knudson, Brian Hammers, Ben Kadow
December 8, 10 Love as the foundational environmental image?
Read Nash, chapters 6, 7 and/or 8
Case "Oil and the Caribou People" (144-162) Melanie Grothe, Micah Lamb
December 14 Review day