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The Preferential Option for the Poor beyond Theology

Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C.

Publication Year: 2013

Since the 1973 publication of Gustavo Gutiérrez’s groundbreaking work A Theology of Liberation, liberation theology's central premise of the preferential option for the poor has become one of the most important yet controversial theological themes of the twentieth century. As the situation for many of the world’s poor worsens, it becomes ever more important to ensure that the option for the poor remains not only a vibrant theological concept but also a practical framework for living out the gift and challenge of Christian faith. The Preferential Option for the Poor beyond Theology draws on a diverse group of contributors to explore how disciplines as varied as law, economics, politics, the environment, science, liberal arts, film, and education can help us understand putting a commitment to the option for the poor into practice. The central focus of the book revolves around the question: How can one live a Christian life in a world of destitution? The contributors address the theological concept of the option for the poor as well as the ways it can shape our social, economic, political, educational, and environmental approaches to poverty. Their creative examples serve as an inspiration to all those who are seeking to put their talents at the service of human need and the building of a more just and humane world.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

Gustavo Gutiérrez, Daniel G. Groody

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pp. 1-8

Poverty is a complex issue. While its roots are socioeconomic, it affects people on every level of their existence. Understanding its causes and its consequences requires serious and sustained thought across a wide variety of academic disciplines. The principle of the preferential option for the poor has had an enormous impact on the field of theology, but this same principle...

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Chapter 1: On Professors and Poor People: A Jurisprudential Memoir

Robert E. Rhodes, Jr.

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pp. 9-27

As I begin to write this chapter I am sitting in front of a computer in a large, comfortable office, surrounded by large, comfortable books, and a less comfortable quantity of loose papers. I have been looking at the latest of a series of e-mails regarding people who cannot raise the security deposits required before the local gas company...

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Chapter 2: The Option for the Poor and Business Ethics

Georges Enderle

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pp. 28-46

The option for the poor and business ethics seem to be an odd couple. If business ethics itself is an oxymoron, as many people have claimed since the 1970s, this connection seemingly is an oxymoron to the power of two. Despite histories of over forty years, little interaction has taken place between the two, and many contradictions seem to have prevented...

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Chapter 3: The Multidimensionality of Poverty

Javier María Iguíñiz Echeverría

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pp. 47-68

The option for the poor seeks to lift those who exist in the conditions of poverty out of their impoverished state. It is therefore necessary to understand who the poor are and why they are poor. Poverty confronts us with a difficult topic. As a category, it is hard to define. In some sense we can say that “the generic term ‘poverty’ hides more than it reveals.”1 As a concept, it is also used more...

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Chapter 4: Are the Poor Happier? Perspectives from Business Management

Matt Bloom

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pp. 69-82

I often have the privilege of sharing the science of happiness, through presentations and speeches, with a variety of audiences. I have found that a topic that holds great interest for people is the relationship between wealth or income and happiness. When scientists began to study happiness, money was one of the first topics they explored. A long...

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Chapter 5: The Option for the Poor and the Indigenous Peoples of Chile

Patricio A . Aylwin, José O. Aylwin

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pp. 83-96

In what way has the option for the poor directed our action in favor of the indigenous peoples of Chile as president of the republic on one hand and as advocate and defender of the indigenous peoples’ rights on the other? Upon reflection, we dare to think that the main factor that has inspired us to take a certain stance is what we could call our common...

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Chapter 6: Option for the Poor and Option for the Earth: Toward a Sustainable Solidarity

Stephen Bede Scharper

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pp. 97-119

On December 3, 1984, at five past midnight, tons of noxious gas from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant spewed into the city of Bhopal, India, forming a deadly, enveloping fog. Thousands of women, children, men, parents, and grandparents died agonizing deaths that night—close to 3,800 persons, according to Union Carbide. Approximately...

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Chapter 7: Liberation Science and the Option for the Poor: Protecting Victims of Environmental Injustice

Kristin Shrader-Frechette

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pp. 120-148

Robbins, Illinois, is one of the poorest towns in the United States. Part of South Side Chicago, this African American community is full of small, old, clapboard houses, narrow front yards, and cracked sidewalks. Its unemployment and poverty levels are far above the national averages, and its per capita income is about...

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Chapter 8: Teaching and Transformation: Liberal Arts for the Homeless

F. Clark Power, Stephen M. Fallon

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pp. 149-166

As is true of the occupation of any Christian, our teaching at the University of Notre Dame bears a great relation to our responsibility to exercise a preferential option for the poor, and vice versa. We write this chapter with uneasy consciences, insofar as much of our work teaching a Great Books curriculum at Notre Dame disproportionately serves the privileged...

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Chapter 9: A Hollywood Option for the Poor

Gerard Thomas Straub

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pp. 167-182

My encounter with the poor was unexpected, but even more unexpected is the way that encounter has changed my life. I was a Hollywood television producer. The poor not only changed my life, they changed the way I live and the work I do. In April 2003 I was at the University of Notre Dame to screen my film on global poverty...

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Chapter 10: The Option for the Poor and Community-Based Education

Mary Beckman

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pp. 183-198

The option for the poor challenges us to pay attention to those who are most marginalized and most in need in our world. We do this through action that transforms institutions and systems as well as through direct service. It must be done so that not only the lack of those without is filled, but so that the voices of those in need contribute in finding...

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Chapter 11: Health, Healing, and Social Justice: Insights from Liberation Theology

Paul Farmer

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pp. 199-228

For decades now, proponents of liberation theology have argued that people of faith must make a “preferential option for the poor.” As discussed by Brazil’s Leonardo Boff, a leading contributor to the movement, “the Church’s option is a preferential option for the poor, against their poverty.” The poor, Boff adds, “are those who suffer...

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Chapter 12: Closing Argument

Pat Maloney, Sr

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pp. 229-235

At the end of a long career as a trial lawyer I take this opportunity to be a final witness and give testimony to the preferential option for the poor, for while I did not always have this name to give to the overarching motivation of my life’s work, I have nevertheless tried to live out my understanding of it. My impending death due to terminal illness has had a way of putting things....

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Afterword: The Most Important Certainty

Mary J. Miller

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pp. 236-241

José works all day at the paper recycling plant just east of down town and collects the trash in the building where I worked every night. His rounds took him past my office shortly after 5:00 P.M., and having made it my habit always to try to express appreciation to those in thankless roles, I said thanks and emptied my own wastebasket...

Contributors

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pp. 242-246

Index

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pp. 247-252


E-ISBN-13: 9780268080761
E-ISBN-10: 0268080763
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268029869
Print-ISBN-10: 0268029865

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013

Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth