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Happiness and the Christian Moral Life: An Introduction to Christian Ethics / Edition 1

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Overview

A second edition of this textbook is now available.

Happiness and the Christian Moral Life suggests that the heart of Christian ethics are not elements such as laws and rules and principles and obligations, but is an ongoing initiation into a way of life capable of making a person good and therefore, happy. These elements are important, but they should never overshadow what ought to be the principal concern of Christian ethics: how to form us into people who love the good and seek it in everything we do. Paul Wadell re-envisions the basic elements of Christian morality in light of the conviction that the Christian moral life can be most promisingly described as 'training in happiness.' This book explores the place of friendship in the Christian moral life, the role of the virtues in our quest for happiness, a Christian understanding of the person, the meaning of freedom in the Christian life, and the importance of narrative for Christian ethics, including what it might mean to 'put on' the story that comes to us in Jesus. Also examined are the role of conscience and prudence, its primary virtue; a Christian understanding of love; and why in the Christian life, happiness is impossible without justice.

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Editorial Reviews

Bernard Brady
Happiness and the Christian Moral Life is a fantastic text. Yet to call this book an 'introduction' seems to diminish its depth. Wadell skillfully moves back and forth from ancient and medieval texts to contemporary insight on the nature of persons and society. In this book he addresses clearly the fundamentals of moral theology in a thoroughly 'un-textbook' fashion. Like a good storyteller, he shares these fundamentals with us—including friendship, freedom, sin, conscience, virtue, and love—in a coherent and compelling manner.
Charles Pinches
Paul Wadell's Happiness and the Christian Moral Life is an extraordinarily inviting treatment of the deep and expansive material of the discipline of Christian ethics. In Wadell's book the well-worn concepts and terms of Catholic moral theology are given new life, as he guides us with a friendly and gracious openness through discussions of happiness, friendship, virtue, truth, freedom, sin, conscience and justice. This is a comprehensive textbook that reads like a novel. In Wadell's competent hands, moral theology not only makes sense, it is engaging and exciting. I cannot think of a better place to begin thinking about the central questions of Christian ethics.
M. Therese Lysaught
It is rare to find a book one cannot wait to teach. Paul Wadell's Happiness and the Christian Moral Life is just such a book. Here the complex components of Catholic moral theology come alive through crystal clear, honest, and good-humored prose that will engage any reader, especially students. But even more delightfully, the book incarnates its claims. Wadell sees the moral life as 'training in happiness' and describes moral education as a process of 'becoming enchanted with goodness.' This book will enchant its readers, as it did me, with the beauty of the Christian journey. It is a book that imparts the joy that comes with friendship with God and those God loves. Suffused with the author's own contemplative spirituality, this book is a gift to the church, one with potential to actually change students' lives.
November/December 2008 Books and Culture
It is Wadell's superb study.
Richard M. Gula
This is the best one volume work in fundamental moral theology now available for the widest possible audience. It represents the shift in the revision of moral theology from its focus on right actions to becoming good persons. In this theologically rich work, Wadell shows the difference the qualifier 'Christian' makes for understanding who we are, who we are to become, and how we get there. He draws from the storehouse of Christian ethics to develop his core theme of seeking happiness through virtue. Those who know Wadell’s work already appreciate the artistry of his lucid prose, rich images, and laser-like precision. This book does what all important books do—expand the conversation by giving a new slant on familiar themes. I plan to use it and recommend it as a must read for anyone who seeks to live their faith reflectively or who wants to know where fundamental moral theology is today.
Dawn M. Nothwehr
Wadell’s new edition of Happiness and the Christian Moral Life: An Introduction to Christian Ethics, is a fresh, enticing, and engaging entrée into Christian Moral Theology that will quickly 'Friend' and win a 'Like' from undergraduates.From Wadell’s pen flows a rich fundamental moral theology that is a formative guide for virtuous Christian living. Once again Wadell demonstrates his skill as a masterful teacher and scholar by including important additions, clarifications, and explanations to the chapters of his original, dynamic, and compelling work.
Darin H. Davis
Reading Paul Wadell on the Christian moral life is like sharing a conversation with a wise and faithful friend.Through his graceful engagement of Augustine, Aquinas, and a host of contemporary Christian thinkers, Wadell reminds us that the quest for true happiness requires virtue, friendship, and an awareness of the stories that bind us. This second edition of an already superb book is theologically rich and deeply human. One cannot read Wadell without about being challenged and inspired.
Christopher P. Vogt
In this new edition, Paul Wadell has substantially improved what was already a very fine book. While maintaining an engaging and down to earth style throughout, Wadell ably leads readers toward a sophisticated Christian understanding of the relationship among freedom, happiness, and the cultivation of virtue. Theologically rich, yet accessible and clear, Happiness and the Christian Moral Life would serve very well as a foundational text for an introductory undergraduate course in Christian ethics.
Carter Aiken
Happiness and the Christian Moral Life provides an extensive and wonderfully engaging introduction to deep thinking about the moral life. I have never read an introduction to Christian ethics which more warmly invites readers into the profoundly interconnected consideration of virtue, friendship, narrative, and happiness, or which more richly deserves a second edition. The welcoming tone and high precision with which we are invited by Paul Wadell to think about the Christian moral life as "learning to be happy" is effective in its approach and transformative in the challenging questions it poses to the reader. This second edition takes Wadell's masterful ability to draw one into bone-deep reconsiderations of ethics through new connections between virtue and narrative, temporal happiness and eschatological fulfillment, communities of friendship and moral development, infused virtues and the natural law, and vocation and daily life. Sitting at the feet of this gentle, confessional, contemplative, and humorous voice for ten chapters is an aesthetic experience, yet always insightfully tied to the daily practice of Christian discipleship.
Lisa Fullam
This is a marvelous book, helpful for scholars, students and pastoral workers alike. Wadell brings the richness of the Catholic moral tradition to bear on the contemporary scene with clarity, enthusiasm and grace. Happiness and the Christian Moral Life is not merely a work of information, but an invitation to formation, an opportunity to think and feel deeply about the moral life as the locus of deepening our friendship with God.
Patrick T. McCormick
Those of us who teach Christian Ethics are always looking for a new textbook that will cover the basics of our field. But if a student came to my office looking for a guide for the journey to the virtuous life, I would put a copy of Happiness and the Christian Moral Life: An Introduction to Christian Ethics in her hand, and I would know I had done her a real service. This is a book for the heart and mind yearning for the happiness that comes from becoming fully human.
Joel James Shuman
Paul Wadell's Happiness and the Christian Moral Life is the clearest and most accessible introduction to Virtue Ethics I know of. Wadell makes Augustine and Aquinas come to life in a beautiful, compelling way.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742551794
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/21/2007
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.11 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul J. Wadell is professor of religious studies at St. Norbert College. He specializes in Christian ethics and has taught in this field for twenty years. He has written several books on Christian ethics, including Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship and The Moral of the Story: Learning From Literature about Human and Divine Love.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Finding a Path for Life: The Quest for Goodness and Happiness Chapter 2 Not Going It Alone: Friendship in the Christian Moral Life Chapter 3 Facing Shipwreck and Bandits: Virtues and the Quest for Happiness Chapter 4 Every Person's Truth: Made in the Image of God, Called to Do the Work of God Chapter 5 Freedom: Exploring a Dangerous Topic Chapter 6 False Steps on the Path to Happiness: Losing Our Way and Finding It Back Chapter 7 Finding a Story Worth Handing On: Narrative and the Moral Life Chapter 8 Doing What the Good Requires: Conscience and Prudence in the Moral Life Chapter 9 The Gift that Makes All Gifts Possible: Learning the Language of Love Chapter 10 Re-Imagining the World: Why the Happiness of One Demands Justice for All
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