Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thesis question articulation IX: Summary

Series begins back here.
The project is pointedly contemporary in its focus. The perception of inexorable threats to the future of industrial society as it is presently known is the dark background against which we will explore the possibility (and possibilities) of faithful Christian moral thought. However, the deeper issues are in one sense perennial. The fragility and temporariness of political and social orders may be closer to the surface at times, but it is never so distant as to be irrelevant.

Inhabiting the collective imagination of many Westerners are apocalyptic images drawn not least from the Bible and Hollywood. For those familiar with the alarming statistics concerning ecological damage to the health of the biosphere, it does not take much effort to picture a cascading series of systemic failures, increasingly widespread shortages in the material conditions required for daily life, a breakdown in civil order and rapid descent into violence and chaos. How can moral thought avoid being paralysed or oversimplified by such apocalyptic nightmares?

There is some similarity between my question and the one adopted by C. S. Lewis in his address “Learning in War Time”. Lewis was speaking to an incoming group of undergraduate students in Oxford about the possibility and importance of any kind of reflection in the bleak period following the outbreak of war with Germany in 1939. He noted the threats to the possibility of learning and articulated both philosophical and Christian reasons for both the necessity and possibility of learning even in war time. My question is both narrower (asking after only ecclesial moral attentiveness) and has what may be a less pressing, but even darker background.
This post is part of a series in which I am outlining my current research question. My present working title, which this series seeks to explain, is "Anxious about tomorrow": The possibility of Christian moral attentiveness in the predicament of societal unsustainability.
A. Societal unsustainability: part one; part two
B. Predicament: part one; part two
C. Moral attentiveness: part one; part two
D. Christian: part one
E. Possibility: part one
F. Summary: part one


Anonymous said...

Aptly timed photo!

michael jensen said...

Hey Byron...

it is looking red hot. Great stuff. Painful, I know, but great!

byron smith said...

Anon - yeah, I walked out the QVB one day and turned around and saw the shadow line and thought "bingo!".

MPJ - thanks! Since writing this a week or two ago I've had some positive feedback from a couple of lecturers (including O'D), though Dr Russell has given me some more things to think about.

Jonathan said...

Very striking photo!