Academic journal article
By Schobert, F. Matthew, Jr.
Journal of Church and State , Vol. 45, No. 2
Healing a Broken World: Globalization and God. By Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2002. 240 pp. $20.00 paper.
Moe-Lobeda's book responds to an unprecedented contemporary moral crisis. The prevailing neo-liberal, free-market system of economic globalization poses a profound threat to our planet's well-being, in terms of pollution and sustainability; and to the welfare of human beings-to our rich cultural diversity, our moral imagination and moral agency, and to the very lives of the world's poorest, least empowered, and most marginalized people. Although Moe-Lobeda does not categorically reject globalization, her aim is to resist neo-liberalism's model of globalization and to seek alternatives which preserve and promote planetary and human welfare. To compound this moral dilemma, Christians living in North America acquiesce in this global travesty.
Moe-Lobeda approaches this moral crisis, and contemporary Christians' lack of moral agency, in light of our highest ethical imperative-"to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Neo-liberal economic globalization and the complicit lifestyles characteristic of many economically-privileged Christians represent structures, values, and ways of living deeply, contrary to the radically alternative, often subversive, summons to life in the kingdom of God. "Christians actively embody Christ for neighbor by serving the neighbor's well-being in all that they do," she writes. "Economic activity is ontologically activity in relationship to neighbor, and therefore is to serve the neighbor's well-being" (p. 91).
This text focuses on two general tasks. Moe-Lobeda first explores what lies behind the disabled moral agency of many North American Christians. She concludes that the notion of the self propagated by neo-liberal globalization, i.e., its moral anthropology, is the principal culprit. How then can the church subvert this distorted view of self in theologically creative ways that re-envision what it means to be human while recapturing an appreciation for the common good? She responds with an investigation of Martin Luther's theo-ethical thought, particularly his notion of the indwelling Christ.
A failure of our theological imaginations to shape our identity and direct our ethical decision-making in ways that offer clear contrasts to the truncated view of human persons and human flourishing offered by neo-liberal economics lies at the heart of the crisis of neo-liberal globalization. This disease of the imagination ends quite tragically in the abdication of any theologically-shaped moral resistance to recognized social injustices. "Where [Christians] ignore, distort, or obscure" the revolutionary imaginations and songs of our biblical and theological heritage, "moral formation toward faithful resistance [to injustice] is thwarted" (p. 6). What could so beguile devout believers as to put them in this outrageous quandary?
Economic globalization, she contends, has more than domesticated faithful Christian discipleship, it has utterly disabled moral agency. Drawing upon philosophical and theological liberalism, and feminist and post-modernist critiques of liberalism, she defines moral agency as "the power to embody active love for creation including self, other, and other-than-human creation. …