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Palgrave Macmillan

Theological Perspectives for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Public Intellectuals for the Twenty-First Century

ISBN 9781137371706
Publication Date November 2013
Formats Hardcover Paperback Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series New Approaches to Religion and Power

Given the constant public attention to the current challenges facing the U.S. as a nation and a people, this book embraces and enacts the moral, social, and political responsibility of academics to serve as public intellectuals, i.e. to upbuild and enhance the society which we inherit, in which we live, and which we envision for the future. Mostly theologians and ethicists, the authors explore new meanings of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in an attempt to reconceptualize the meaning of key virtues and values that defined the basic founding self-understanding of the American people.

Some of the essays address issues around globalization, racism, ethnoracism, immigration, poverty, militarism, gender, sexuality and connect these issues with their implications for the meaning of "life, liberty, and… happiness." Others focus on these values themselves and their implications for public life. The logic of these essays is inspired by some of mujerista theologian Ada María Isasi-Díaz's characteristic convictions: the crucial role of learning from the experiences of others, especially disempowered groups, involved in la lucha or the struggle for justice; the centrality of lo cotidiano or the everyday for innovative epistemologies and ethics, or ways of knowing and living; and, the testimony of her life to the significance of fuerzas para la lucha or God-given strength for the struggle.

Rather than wield religion as a weapon or a ruse in irrational appeals, the book attempts to reimagine a shared American mythos and ethos, by reminding us of our shared stake in creating an America committed to the life of all peoples and species, to the full developments of our capabilities as an exercise of liberty, and to the happiness that true solidarity can bring as we are and become a people for the common good.

Rosemary P. Carbine is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Fellowships at Whittier College, USA.

Mary McClintock Fulkerson is a professor of theology at Duke University Divinity School, USA.

Ada María Isasi-Díaz served as Professor of Ethics and Theology in the Theological School and Graduate Division of Religion at Drew University, USA, from 1991 to 2009.

Introduction: Academics as Public Intellectuals; Ada María Isasi-Diaz, Mary McClintock-Fulkerson and Rosemary P. Carbine
1. The Indigenous Dream - A World Without an 'America'; Andrea Smith
2. Race, Religion and the Pursuit of Happiness; James H. Evans, Jr.
3. Pax Americana, Pax Humana; Sharon Welch
4. The United States as a Responsible Member of the Global Community: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness When Militarized 5. Prostitution Matters; K. Christine Pae
6. Living Sustainably toward Social Justice: Asceticism Revisited; Paula M. Cooey
7. 'Dead in the Water….Again': Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in the 21st Century; Teresa Delgado
8. Welcome to the Great American Middle Class: From the American Dream to Deep Solidarity; Joerg Rieger
9. Political Theology as Reflection on the Arts of Liberatory Politics; Mark Lewis Taylor
10. Naming What We Want: Thoughts on Religious Vocabulary and the Desire for Quality of Life; Anthony B. Pinn
11. Redeeming Equality: Life, Liberty and Alternatives to Obliviousness; Mary McClintock Fulkerson
12. The Political Divide; Stephanie Y. Mitchem
13. Revitalizing U.S. Civil Society by Reconceptualizing Civil Religion and its Virtues; Rosemary P. Carbine
Conclusion: Latinas and Latinos Understanding of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; Ada María Isasi-Díaz

Andrea Smith associate professor, Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside
James H. Evans, Jr. Robert K. Davies Professor of Systematic Theology, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
Sharon Welch provost and professor of religion and society, Meadville Lombard Theological School
K. Christine Pae Assistant Professor of Ethics, Denison University
Paula M. Cooey Margaret W. Harmon Professor of Christian Theology and Culture, Macalester College
Teresa Delgado Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Iona College
Joerg Rieger Wendland-Cook Endowed Professor of Constructive Theology, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
Mark Lewis Taylor Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture, Department of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
Anthony B. Pinn Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University
Stephanie Y. Mitchem Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina


"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - what's not to love? Sadly, much hate has been enacted under the auspices of these American ideals. But that's only one side of the stories you will read here. Their other side is about the hunger for life and the struggle for elemental freedom going on everywhere in America – indeed, everywhere in the world - beyond the lonely domain of the 1%. Listening deeply to these stories, these authors articulate a vision of happiness that's both eminently possible and urgently needed." – Kathleen Sands, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA'A highly engaging and provocative series of reflections from a stellar group of theologian-activists on the state of our American creed. The volume powerfully captures the urgency of retrieving core American values from the racism, militarism, and economic injustices that eviscerate their moral power. It is a wonderful testimony to the spirit and legacy of Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz.' – Linell Cady, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Arizona State University, USA
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