Seeking Goodness and Beauty: The Use of the Arts in Theological Ethics

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How do we live the moral life? How can we become good and responsible parents, co-workers, and citizens? Essential to the task of becoming fully authentic persons and building genuine communities is seeking goodness and the presence of divine beauty in human experience and the created order. Seeking Goodness and Beauty: The Use of the Arts in Theological Ethics offers the reader a unique and innovative perspective on questions of ethics and how we can incorporate the human experience of the Arts to best live and teach the moral life. Art and aesthetic experiences transcend borders and engage us rationally, emotionally, and sensually. The arts are important for the moral life because they can serve as a locus of revelation. They can effect moral transformation and engage people's religious dimension in surprising ways. Novels, film, autobiography, and music can all contribute to the moral formation of good character and virtue as well as to the skill of discerning right action by developing imagination, shaping moral vision, tutoring the emotions, or guiding the process of moral discernment. As both scholars and teachers, the contributors to this volume not only offer keen insights into how the arts inform the moral life, but they also show how teaching theological ethics may benefit from the arts. Seeking Goodness and Beauty brings together theory and practice in an approachable, engaging manner and offers methods of pedagogy to encourage the use of the arts in moral education.

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Editorial Reviews

Wilson Yates
Patricia Lamoureux and Kevin O'Neil have edited a splendid volume of essays that probe the intersections of theological ethics and art and the relationship between morality and aesthetics. In the broader field of theology and the arts, this work will make a major contribution to understanding the role of the arts in the shaping of the moral life. Autobiography, film, music, the visual arts, literature are all explored in terms of their power to speak to us about grace and hope, mystery and brokenness, conscience and moral character. This is an excellent addition to the literature of theology and the arts and should be of special importance to those teaching in theology, religious studies, the arts and those in ministry.
Richard R. Viladesau
Teachers of ethics or moral theology will need little convincing of the potential for art and beauty to engage students effectively and to aid in transforming an academic study into a means of personal moral formation. More difficult is the question of exactly how it can be done. In Seeking Goodness and Beauty, successful teachers of theology and ethics share insights on the use and potential misuse of the arts in the pedagogy of morality. Several essays give a general perspective on the ways in which the arts, especially in their narrative forms, can function in focusing moral attention, sharpening conscience, and exemplifying moral attitudes. Rather than methodological principles or formulas, they provide concrete illustrations of the use of the arts in correlation to moral knowledge and formation. These essays, rich in practical wisdom drawn from wide and varied experience, should provide inspiration and insight not only to ethicians but also to teachers of theology and even to preachers.
Anne E. Patrick
Seeking Goodness and Beauty is a finely-crafted book that will inform and delight many readers. Brimming with insights and practical ideas for the classroom, it offers a rich set of examples that show how attention to fiction, autobiography, film, and music can impact the teaching of ethics in profound and powerful ways.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742532106
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/15/2005
  • Series: Communication, Culture, and Religion Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Lamoureux is professor of moral theology and holds the Richard and Barbara Fisher Chair in Social Ethics at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore MD. Kevin O'Neil, C.S.s.R, is associate professor of moral theology at the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC. He is co-author with Peter Black of The Essential Moral Handbook. .

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction Chapter 2 The Formative Power of Story and the Grace of Indirection Chapter 3 Spending the Day with a Good Friend: Autobiography, Moral Character, and the Religious Imagination Chapter 4 In Search of Soul: Character and Imagination in Carlos Fuentes's The Good Conscience Chapter 5 The Transformative Power of Love in Shadowlands Chapter 6 The Attractive Power of Goodness: The Moral Landscape of John Hassler's North of Hope Chapter 7 Gothic Ethics: Seeing the Beast in Our Own Eye Chapter 8 Movies and Morals: The Case of Citizen Kane Chapter 9 Music and Morality: "Performance" and the Normative Claim of Scores and Texts Part 10 About the Contributors

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