Resisting Structural Evil: Love as EcologicalEconomic Vocation
By Cynthia MoeLobeda
Fortress Press, 2013
Reviewed by Joe Gunn
In May last year, I co-taught a week-long course from the CPJ offices in Ottawa on “public theology” (offered by Waterloo Lutheran Seminary). We took students to visit the Assembly of First Nations and environmental groups, organized panels of Parliamentarians, interviewed Senators, and brought in speakers on topics from ethical issues in healthcare to tax policies. Resisting Structural Evil would have been the perfect textbook from which to base all our sessions.
Author Cynthia Moe-Lobeda asks Christians the provoking question, “What does it mean for we, the ‘uncreators,’ the ‘overconsumers,’ to love?” Of course, loving God means to love our neighbours. But Moe-Lobeda also ensures that Christian ethics addresses the systemic evil of colossal economic structures – moving well beyond personal piety as an adequate faith response to the challenges of modern life in North America. In short, she defines the Christian compulsion to “neighbour-love” as not only an interpersonal journey of discovery, but also an “economic-ecological vocation.”
She quotes theologian Sallie McFague saying, “We cannot love neighbour without reducing our consumption” – and then goes further. The life of the middle class in the developed world “requires a tectonic shift in moral consciousness.” Using examples of how our lifestyle and economic choices impact the possibilities of life for our neighbours in the Global South, she posits neighbour-love in a newer frame: it must also include a deep concern for the well-being of the Earth.
In short, this most-welcome volume adds depth and breadth to the readers’ conception of what public justice must entail.