Richard Gula in his book asserts that this is the core concept of who a person is, and all dimensions of the moral life are measured against two criteria: upholding the dignity of persons and the social nature of human beings…
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The acclaimed author Richard Gula in his book The Good Life: Where Morality and Spirituality Converge, 1999, asserts that this is the core concept of who a person is, and all dimensions of the moral life are measured against two criteria: upholding the dignity of persons and the social nature of human beings. Ethics in human living is strongly associated with the two virtues of gratitude and humility in recognizing people as both sacred and social, and the importance of maintaining and promoting their dignity in the community. Gula focuses on both spirituality and morality as essential components of ethics. This approach is opposed by the concept of general ethics which is applicable to people across all paradigms. General ethics is characterized by moral principles based on reasoning and human experience, and is not related to religion (Pojman & Fieser 2011). Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to compare Christian ethics in the book The Good Life: Where Morality and Spirituality Converge by Richard M. Gula, 1999, with general ethics. It will be argued that Christian ethics emphasizing both spirituality as well as morality, forms a stronger foundation for achieving the ‘good life’. Christian Ethics Based on Spirituality and Morality vs General Ethics Richard M. Gula, an educator from the Franciscan School of Theology at Berkeley, has written several books on Christian, particularly Catholic moral and spiritual theology. Gula in his book The Good Life: Where Morality and Spirituality Converge, 1999, asserts that ethics is embedded in spirituality and morality. Ethics is the acknowledgement and According to the author, the story of creation in the Bible emphasizes the sacredness or dignity of every person because human beings are made in the image of God (cf. Ps 8:5; Wis 2:23; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9). Man’s dignity comes mainly from his relationship to God and his privilege of receiving God’s divine love; it is irrespective of personal achievements or social attributes. “While being so graced disposes us to goodness, no one is programmed to know clearly what is best and to do it easily” states Gula (1999, p.12). The powerful opposing force of sin damages an individual in some respects although it does not destroy his/ her fundamental dignity because of God’s relationship. Christian ethics based on the Bible focuses on spirituality through interpretation and appropriation of Biblical material and its application to contemporary situations. Further, Christian morality is considered as synonymous with moral principles pertaining to sex. Hoose (2000) reiterates that advocates of a return to Biblical morality consider it as the solution for all sexual-ethical controversies of the present day. However, the cultural and theological environments of Biblical writers were different from that of today, and their concept of ‘property rights’ may be morally unacceptable to Christians in the present day. The concept of ‘property rights’ and cultural taboos played a significant part in various sexual prohibitions underscored by the Old and New Testaments. On the other hand, all religions consider moral behaviour as an essential element in the practise of spirituality. However, Pojman and Feiser (2011, p.4) argue that “neither the practices nor principles of morality should be identified with religion”. Thus, in general ethics, moral principles are not required to be rooted in revelation or divine authority which is usually true for religious teachings. The most significant element of ethics is its emergence from reason and human experience. This directly
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