Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey

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Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008 - Religion - 131 pages
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A Profound and Stirring Call to Action in Our Troubled World--from One of America's Great Religious Leaders

"Conscience may be understood as the hidden inner compass that guides our lives and must be searched for and recovered repeatedly. At no time more than our own is this need to retrieve the shards of broken conscience more urgent."
--from the Introduction

This clarion call to rethink our moral and political behavior examines the idea of conscience and the role conscience plays in our relationships to government, law, ethics, religion, human nature and God--and to each other. From Abraham to Abu Ghraib, from the dissenting prophets to Darfur, Rabbi Harold Schulweis probes history, the Bible and the works of contemporary thinkers for ideas about both critical disobedience and uncritical obedience. He illuminates the potential for evil and the potential for good that rests within us as individuals and as a society.

By questioning religion's capacity--and will--to break from mindless conformity, Rabbi Schulweis challenges us to counter our current suppressive culture of obedience with the culture of moral compassion, and to fulfill religion's obligation to make room for and carry out courageous moral dissent.

 

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Contents

Conscience Confronts God
7
Abraham and Moral Audacity
8
Moses Nullifies Gods Law
10
Moses Cites Scripture to God
12
Moses Frees God
14
Four Dissenting Prophets
16
Hannah Hurls Words Toward Heaven
17
The Psalmist Awakes the Slumbering
19
Theological Suspicions
66
The Morality of Theistic Humanism
68
Witness to Goodness
71
Ben Gurions Search for Morale
73
To Discover Conscience in Hell
75
The Conspiracy of Goodness
77
The Heroism of Hiding
78
Seven Sisters and a Mother Superior
79

Natural Moral Sensibility
20
Human Conscience and Divine Legislation
23
Rabbinic Legal Conscience
26
Laws That Never Were and Never Will Be
27
The Rebellious Son
28
Idolatrous Cities Leprous Houses
30
The Ordeal of Jealousy
31
When Conscience Fails
32
The Chained Woman
33
Within the Letter of the Law
34
The Myth of Absolute Immutability
35
Moral Relativism
36
The Fear of God and the Fear of Torah
38
What Is Meant by Conscience as Fear of God
40
Matters of Temperament
42
Conscience and Covenant Vertical and Horizontal
45
The Duality in One Covenant
46
The Vertical Covenant
48
Statutes
50
The Consolations of Obedience
52
The Horizontal Covenant of Conscience
53
Legends of Conscience
54
Against Conscience
59
The Myth of Gyges
61
The Truth about Human Nature
62
The Craftiness of Conscience
63
Social Darwinism and Conscience
64
Diplomat Rescuers
80
Undiplomatic Diplomacy
82
Sempo Sugihara
85
Conversation with a German Pastor
87
The Conscience of an AntiSemite
91
The Enigma of AntiSemitic Rescuers
92
Zophia and Zegota
94
Motivations for Altruism
96
The Ambiguity of Good and Evil
97
Capturing the Evil Tempter
98
Cultivating Conscience
101
Abu Ghraib and the Prison of Stanford
103
The Milgram Experiment
106
The Bridge across the Rivers of EitherOr
109
The Way Options Are Shared
110
Not in Heaven But on Earth
112
The Art of Reconciliation
114
Facing God
115
What Can Religion Do?
118
The Pedagogy of Conscience
119
The Habit of Conscience
120
Heroes of Conscience
121
Transmitting Conscience
123
The Many Faces of Conscience
124
The Pendulum of Duty
126
Notes
127
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About the author (2008)

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis , one of the most respected spiritual leaders and teachers of his generation, has been a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California, for close to forty years. He is the founding chairman of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies and offers grants to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews threatened by the agents of Nazi savagery. He is also the founder of Jewish World Watch, which aims to raise moral consciousness within the Jewish community. Synagogues and other religious institutions are now supporting this effort across the country.Rabbi Schulweis is the author of many books, including: Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey (Jewish Lights), Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion, For Those Who Can't Believe, Finding Each Other in Judaism, In God's Mirror, and two books of original religious poetry and meditation-- From Birth to Immortality and Passages in Poetry . His Evil and the Morality of God is regarded as a classic.

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