Ethics

 

ETH6000 Church and Society

Professor

James Perkinson

Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology

The foundational ethics course in the ETS curriculum. It will provide you with an analysis of the church in relationship to the world, including the following:

• Biblical-theological perspectives on community and mission

• Critical historical topologies of the relationship between Christ and culture and models of the church

• An in-depth focus on the issues of the church in contemporary North America in relationship to issues of economic justice, racism, patriarchy and the environment.

Throughout the course the problem and possibility of ecclesial “integrity” will be continuously questioned: how to “become” the church on a journey of transformation that is simultaneously contemplative, communal and accountable to broader social struggles. Each of these levels of concern serves as tests for the other. You will also examine the local church as a community of faithful witness and merciful work as it strives to nurture worship and wisdom and sagacity in dealing with personal weaknesses and interpersonal conflict.

Ethics  ⁄  Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity

ETH6100 Theoretical Foundations of Christian Ethics

Professor

James Perkinson

Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology

You will explore the meaning of ethics, the principle sources of ethical wisdom and various systematic approaches dealing with ethical dilemmas. The role of the Bible, tradition, reason and experience will be reflected on as sources of ethical truth. The strengths and limitations of natural law, situation ethics, proportionalist/personalist, as well as virtue, narrative and communitarian approaches to ethical reasoning are discussed. The impact of the liberation movements (Hispanic, Afro-American, Feminist/Womanist) upon ethics will be considered, as well as the proposals regarding the formulation of a Global Ethic.

Ethics  ⁄  Certificate in Theological Studies, Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity

ETH7002 Human Sexuality and Ethics

Professor

Olaf Lidums

Associate Professor of Urban and Ecological Studies

Ethics  ⁄  Certificate in Theological Studies, Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity

ETH7100 Racial Formation and the Big History of Supremacy

 

This course takes seriously that we now live in a time of unrelenting emergency from climate upheaval, increasing inequality and desperation, and globalizing pandemics and displacement.  It seeks to contribute to addressing these crises by focusing on the emergence of modern racism as itself a profoundly debilitating epidemic needing sustained attention and analysis.  As such, the course will begin with the phenomenon of white supremacy in our time and work back through a broad understanding of our history as a species in tracing the rise of various notions of “race supremacy” across time.  

The tactic of the course is both analytical and personal.  As part of our exploration, a major portion of this class will engage in a personalized process called Ethnoautobiography as a way of exploring how questions of race, class, and ethnicity affect us both consciously and unconsciously. As one author notes, “We all carry History in our bodies and we will explore how this embodied History affects our understanding of Other-ing and Other-ness” (Strobel).  

At the same time, we will continuously be asking the big question of our time of emergency: “how we got here?”  This latter focus will track the emergence of racial supremacy from the first moment that elites of our species began to elevate themselves above the rest of the community and the natural order as supreme and “masterly,” giving rise to the earliest organizations of nation-state aggression on both peoples and places beginning 5,000 years ago.  This will also involve tracing the way “world religions” developed (out of earlier indigenous spiritualities) to legitimize elite plunder, issuing in extractive empires in numerous places on the globe over the course of millennia. That overview will culminate in examining the way that Euro-colonization unfolds over the last 500 years, ultimately morphing into corporatized “neoliberal globalization” as an ever-intensifying pattern of conquest and plunder.  

In the process the career of modern Western “race supremacy” will be carefully analyzed across three primary historical elaborations as “civilizational supremacy,” “Christian supremacy,” and “white supremacy” and mapped in its specifically Euro-colonial profile as first taking shape as a religious enterprise (1492-1750), issuing in a skin-color shorthand as supposedly scientific (1750-1940), and over time insinuating itself as a pervasive socio-political structural phenomenon and cultural ecology (esp. 1945-today).  
 

ETH7101 Race, Colonialism, and Resistance

The previous course in the Race, Racism, and Diversity track looked at the big picture of supremacy, tracing the root of contemporary versions of domination to the first move of our species out of subsistence lifestyles and gift-economy relations into hierarchical city-state systems based on coerced labor and market-economy extraction at a distance.  This course will rehearse a bit of that history of civilizational supremacy especially as it morphs into Christian supremacy and capitalist patriarchy since the late Middle Ages.  More particularly, we will examine the way medieval European notions of “religious difference” (and ultimately of race) informed the struggle over the closure of the commons and gave rise since the 15th century to the project of colonization in its various modalities (metropole colonialism, settler colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism, bio-colonialism, and digital colonialism). We will anticipate the emergence of U.S. settler colonialism into a three-pronged program of Native genocide, African enslavement and “Oriental” plunder by focusing in particular on the way Christianity was mobilized to decimate indigenous communities and underwrite extractive enterprises that would ultimately use differently-imagined ethnic groups (African, Latinx, Filipino, Chinese, etc.) against one another to serve white/Anglo interests and power.  At the same time, creative resistance on the part of racialized peoples (mestizo and African innovations inside Christianity [anticipating the Civil Rights and Black Power and United Farm Workers Movements], Standing Rock and various forms of native resistance, BLM, etc.) will be tracked, engaged, and celebrated across the entire colonial history.  And in seeking to open up perspective on the Christian tradition’s 2,000-year-old struggle with this continuous reality of colonial cooptation, we will also examine Jesus’ concerted break with the settler colonial history of his people in Roman-occupied Palestine and his re-schooling in older and wilder practices of Bedouin spiritual resistance and alternative economics, as well as some of the ways both pre-Israelite and later folk-Christian practice exemplify a similar creativity.

ETH7102 Race Today (Economics, Sexuality, Technology)

The previous two courses in the Race, Racism, and Diversity track looked at the emergence of various forms of supremacy in human history.  Cert I offered a big picture overview of civilizational supremacy, tracing the root of contemporary versions of domination to the first move of our species out of subsistence lifestyles and gift-economy relations into hierarchical city-state systems based on coerced labor and market-economy extraction at a distance.  Cert II tracked the way that 5,000 year old “cession” of our species from symbiotic interdependence morphed into Christian supremacy (among other forms of religiously organized/motivated grandiosity) and capitalist patriarchy since the late Middle Ages, taking shape especially in Euro-centric settler-colonialism in the Americas.  

In this third sequence, we will examine the way these prior articulations of a “difference that matters” into structures and ideologies of superiority (city-state organized and Christian identified) have given rise to modern white supremacy as offspring and successor.  Here the power of race as a social construct will be tracked as a biological feature (skin), given discursive import (stereotype) in language, articulating institutional practice (discrimination), by structuring cultural bias in the form of habits (unconscious norms) and spatial demographics (“suburbs,” “ghettos”) into a comprehensive systemic space that shapes everyone involved to one degree or other, and yet remains the subject of political choice.  The focus here will be a matter of profiling the operation of whiteness as the governing idol of our time and place.  Its primary historical focus as an economic enterprise of accumulating surplus from Native land and black labor will be traced in its working today in relationship to every major dimension of collective experience such as income distribution, median household net worth, housing, employment, education, health care, criminal justice, and electoral politics.  Its cultural potency will be explored in connection with “erotics”—the social formation of sexual desire and propriety by mainstream media and pop culture alike (especially today in hip-hop). And finally its mobilization in virtual reality and across social media will be highlighted in the forms of surveillance capitalism, facial recognition technology, right-wing nationality, etc.