Moral Wisdom: Lessons and Texts from the Catholic Tradition / Edition 2

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At a time when religion and spirituality have been divorced from one another and morality and ethics are viewed as being confining rather than liberating, Fr. James Keenan has developed a new edition to his beloved book Moral Wisdom. There are new discussions of social sin and Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in Veritate, a clearer exploration of Jesus in the New Testament, and new study questions at the end of each chapter. 'Moral wisdom,' as Fr. Keenan calls it, is the distinctive gift of the Catholic tradition, a gift that helps us discern what values to pursue and which virtues to embody on the path to becoming who we really are and who God calls us to be. Fr. Keenan uses a conversational style filled with stories and examples to open the treasure trove of resources in the Catholic tradition for developing moral wisdom. He lifts up the lessons on love, conscience, sin, and suffering, helping readers connect with the formative influences of the Catholic heritage and appreciate what gives meaning to our lives and what enhances our relationships with friends and family.

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Editorial Reviews

Theological Studies
Praise for the first edition:

[Keenan's books] read like very good sermons or college lectures by a priest both learned and engaged in the world. By making the Catholic tradition come alive, the books invite moral reflection and struggle.

Dominic Colonna
Keenan's book is sharp, offering constructively critical analyses of fundamental moral theological ideas with a profound respect for the Catholic tradition. Following the current trend in moral theology to use stories to internalize academic concepts, Keenan uses his own personal stories in ways that are more engaging than are many fictional stories. Readers identify well with his struggles with moral issues. Substantial revisions made for the new edition in the chapters on suffering, Jesus, and conscience make what was a great text even better.
Tom Beaudoin
Praise for the first edition:

Father James Keenan is one of those rare contemporary theologians who compellingly weave together rich pastoral experience and masterful intellectual inquiry. To read him is to hear not only the considered wisdom of Catholic moral teaching, but to have the privilege of hearing a learned man struggling to work out his own moral practices. In this book, lay readers and scholars alike can see how Catholic moral tradition informs a life of discernment, love, and everyday courage.

Lisa Sowle Cahill
Praise for the first edition:

This is a lovely book! Keenan probes his own experiences of struggle, suffering and love, interweaving them with biblical reflection and theological analysis. He looks fault and sorrow squarely in the face, yet sustains buoyant notes of hope and commitment. The content of this book is an exercise in the virtue of its title.

Margaret A. Farley
Praise for the first edition:

Imagine a book that is at once a source of profound wisdom, a systematic presentation of a moral and ethical tradition, and a 'page-turner!' This is what James Keenan's Moral Wisdom turns out to be. There is nothing facile about this volume, nothing superficial, nothing manipulative. It weaves together autobiography, the stories of others, interpretation of biblical and theological texts, and a deep understanding of what morality is and what the Roman Catholic tradition of moral theology has been and can be when it is at its best. Few will come away from reading this book without imaginative new hope, salutary appreciation for 'hard sayings,' new insight into the meaning of divine mercy, and perhaps experiences of both laughter and the 'gift of tears.' Thought-provoking and informative, opening questions and not shutting them down: here is a significant contribution to ongoing explorations of the moral life.

Rosemarie E. Gorman
James Keenan’s gifts as story-teller and teacher have long awakened readers to the imagination’s power to aid in their search for wisdom. My students have found his case quite compelling. This second edition of Moral Wisdom demonstrates his ability to synthesize an account of the historical quest for the good with a clear eye to the contemporary reader’s journey. Keenan gets to the heart of debates about conscience in light of the person’s search for the good and the right during this conflictive twenty-first century. He adds an incisive treatment of social sin that draws on films and an account of our history of racism in an effort to demonstrate society’s power to blind us to evil. His chapter on 'Jesus in the New Testament' has been totally revised so that the reader moves directly into the scriptural texts themselves rather than through the interpretive frameworks of diverse scholars. Keenan’s memorable chapter on suffering is sharper now in that he carefully integrates personal and biographical narratives with accounts from theology and the social sciences. This excellent edition should captivate its readers.
Charles E. Curran
Praise for the first edition:

Moral wisdom is hard to come by because it is so complex. Most of us strive for moral wisdom throughout our lives but never totally attain it. In this book, James F. Keenan skillfully brings together deep theological knowledge, historical lessons, acute pastoral sensitivity, broad spiritual experiences, and true prudence in proposing moral wisdom for Christian life and spirituality today.

Stephen J. Pope
Praise for the first edition:

James Keenan puts 'flesh and bones' on the abstractions of moral theory and demonstrates from his own personal experience how the Christian moral life is a pilgrimage of faith, hope and love. Keenan's book will be used widely in college classrooms and seminaries alike. His clarity, honesty and passion ought to be emulated by every moral theologian.

Library Journal
Keenan (Weston Sch. of Theology) notes that, for the greater part of its history, Roman Catholic moral theology texts have been written to help priests in the sacrament of Penance. Moral theology has thus been a theology of sin and sinfulness and has had little to say about the array of factors that have formed the moral lives of the members of our churches and the heroes of the faith. Keenan proposes to examine some of these factors by considering four key "texts" that have served as the sources for developing our moral wisdom: the person of Jesus in the New Testament, the Ten Commandments, the corporal works of mercy, and the "cardinal virtues" of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. From these texts, he teases out lessons on love, conscience, sin, and suffering, ultimately producing a readable, uncommonly good book that should be required reading for anyone preparing for or engaged in pastoral ministry. Highly recommended for academic and church libraries, as well as for public libraries with a good religion circulation.-David I. Fulton, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442202979
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 1/15/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 210
  • Sales rank: 307,946
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

James F. Keenan, S.J., is Founders Professor of Theology at Boston College. He is the author of a number of books, including The Works of Mercy, Virtues for Ordinary Christians, and with Daniel Harrington, S.J., Jesus and Virtue Ethics.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Moral Wisdom Beyond the Moral Manuals
Part I
Chapter 1: Love
Chapter 2: Conscience
Chapter 3: Sin
Chapter 4: Suffering
Part II
Chapter 5: Jesus in the New Testament
Chapter 6: The Ten Commandments in the Catechism
Chapter 7: Practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy
Chapter 8: Cultivating the Cardinal Virtues

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Good Book

    I read this book for my fundamental moral theology course in the seminary. It is well-balanced and readable. It is a good resource for those attempting to "connect the dots" on the Church's moral teaching with personal spirituality and action.

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