[Hello all: beginning with a disclaimer. Crusty seems to have touched a nerve with my first post on GOEs (one of my most-read postings). Apart from being perpetually stunned anyone cares what he has to say about anything (he mainly does this to spare CODW his rantings and provide an outlet), Crusty does want to say one thing. He's not opposed to GOEs, and sharply criticized the decision to defund them in the original draft budget proposed last summer. He would, however, like to have a discussion about a thorough overhaul, and you can read some of his previous thoughts here.]
It's a no resources day! To refresh your memories, GOE questions can come in limited resource and no resource versions (back in the day when Crusty took them, they also had unlimited resource questions where you could use anything, so long as you cited it, but that was in the pre-Wikipedia days). Students tend to stress about the no resource questions, but Crusty loves them: they tend to be fairer, on the whole, because the questions need to broader and place an emphasis on integration since they can't ask you to differentiate between too many specific facts or concepts, like comparing initial and forensic justification, since these are questions designed to demonstrate basic competency, not doctoral comprehensive examinations.
Speaking of back in the day when Crusty took GOEs (we had not yet transitioned from "i" to "j,", still pronounced "v" as "w", and Peter O'Toole from "Masada" was my dean), the Ethics & Moral Theology question on my GOE (a canonical area so nice they had to name it twice) was very special. Crusty had not yet taken a single course in Ethics or Moral Theology by the time GOEs rolled around, so the only preparation he had was what he could cram in the library (remember: no Wikipedia back then). Gobsmacked by the question, and forgetting what he had crammed, and not knowing what sources to use, Crusty crafted an answer based entirely on the Narnia books. Crusty wrote his whole answer shaped around the difference between "Deep Magic" and "Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time" from Book 1 and Lucy reading the Spell Book in the invisible Wizard's House in Book 3. It was the only "outstanding" (back when they graded it on four categories from "outstanding" to "sucky") Crusty got out of all seven canonical areas, despite having never taken a course in the field. BTW, Crusty, who teaches Church History, failed the history section of the GOE. But he digresses, but, if you're one of the people who inexplicably read this blog, COD assumes you know this by now.
On to the question:
Set 3: Christian Ethics and Moral Theology
NO EXTERNAL RESOURCES
Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others." (Matthew 23:23)
In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is quoted as criticizing the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting to practice justice (as well as mercy and faith).
1. In an essay of 1000 words, present and expand on a Christian understanding of justice, drawing on your knowledge of sources in Scripture and the tradition of Christian thought. Identify and differentiate at least three forms of justice commonly discussed in Christian ethics and moral theology.
2. In an essay of 500 words, explain in detail what it means for individual Christians and the Church as a body to practice these forms of justice.
Some initial thoughts here...
Second of all, Crusty would have to fight inevitable distraction, as this would get me hankering for lunch. Of all the Scriptural passages where Jesus speaks of social justice, why did they have to choose the one where he lays out the ingredients for a delicious cucumber salad? Is this an Ethics question or an episode of Chopped? [Aside: Crusty loves the aside in the question: where the student is reminded, having just read a bible verse where Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for neglecting to practice "justice and mercy and faith", that in the passage Jesus is criticizing the Pharisees for neglecting to practice justice, and the parenthetical "(as well as mercy and faith)" is added. So not only are they reminded about the passage they JUST READ they also have to be reminded that Jesus didn't just criticize the Pharisees for neglecting to practice not only justice. A comment on our shrinking attention spans in a Twitbook age? Or, yet again, the distracting power of mint, cumin, and dill?]
As for the question itself...
1) In general, Crusty approves. OK, justice is important, and Ethics as a discipline is all about how we translate belief into principles, decisions, and actions. Good, if delicious, Scriptural quote, nice to see the church realizing there are passages other than Micah upon which to base an ethics of justice. Given the cottage industry which has cropped up around Micah 6:8, Crusty is surprised Church Publishing hasn't issued Hymn #605 as a ringtone.
However, Crusty is again puzzled by the language of the question: "present and expand"? How in any way is that different from "present a Christian understanding of justice, drawing on..." Are they looking for something else, or just again using more words when fewer words, and the accompanying clarity fewer words can (emphasis on "can", fewer words can be just as perplexing if not worded properly) bring?
2) COD is fine with giving an open-ended "Scripture and tradition of Christian thought" basis. This would allow students to incorporate and shape a holistic vision of justice, bringing in examples from the Hebrew Scriptures (Crusty would like to play "Micah 6:8!" bingo when the readers gather to consider this question), other sayings of Jesus, and, really, any number of examples from Christian tradition.
|A life of F D Maurice directed by David Lynch...man that's scary.|
Crusty's not asking the examiners to ask the poor no-resources students to recapitulate Temple's Christianity and the Social Order or Maurice's Kingdom of Christ. But couldn't they be asked to include an Anglican reflection of some sort on ethics? Is not the entire debate convulsing the Anglican Communion regarding human sexuality, and which Crusty gathers most GOE takers are away of, based on moral theology and ethics (along with Scriptural interpretation, ecclesiology, and other theological issues, to be sure)? Episcopalians make dozens of decisions every day on a whole range of issues from where to shop to where to live to which church to go to; could not the question have incorporated one aspect of what it means to be an Anglican Christian and Ethics?
|Hint: If using Tarantino as example, don't use quotes with the N-word.|
4) Why separate theological and praxis? After being asked to "expand" their understanding, students are then asked to write a separate essay on "what it means" to "practice" these forms. Isn't an important component of Ethics about integrating theology and praxis?
Crusty gives this question a mixed review. Love the idea of centering an Ethics question around justice. But disappointed there is no Anglican component to this question, and disappointed with the separation of theology and practice. Maybe instead of reminding students about the quote, the examiners should have focused a little more on the quote themselves.