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Title: Can a Celtic tiger fit through the eye of a needle? : a theology of wealth engaging the parables of Jesus and recent Irish economic history
Author: Hargaden, Kevin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 4451
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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This study investigates the theology of wealth, with reference to the parables of Jesus, in dialogue with recent Irish economic history. Poverty is commonly seen as a societal problem, but in the teaching of Jesus, especially in his parables, the status of the wealthy is called into question. This thesis explores what it means to be followers of Jesus in societies where historically high levels of wealth and comfort are widespread. It begins by considering that societal context, naming neoliberalism as the complex of economic, political, and cultural factors that combine to generate wealth. The parables of Jesus are introduced as a collection of narratives which puncture the philosophical assumptions at work in neoliberalism. Reading them after the twentieth century Swiss theologian Karl Barth, the parables are found to be apocalyptic interruptions which reorientate the reader towards the reign of God. With these two strands – neoliberalism and the parables – in play, the thesis reconsiders Ireland's recent economic history. It is argued that the ethical significance of the “Celtic Tiger” boom and the subsequent 2008 crash is best accessed not via the language of economics but through narratives. The re-telling of the events of the crash and its aftermath through parables exposes how markets are embedded in thick cultural, historical, and political settings and how simple and settled statistical accounts can miss much of ethical significance. The decisive chapter takes up the constructive task. Building on this re-described account of a wealthy society, it proposes that the appropriate response for Christians to the problem of wealth is to turn to worship as a reparative therapy that forms congregations in practices and ways-of-seeing that run counter to the normative perceptions of neoliberalism. This is achieved by means of a robust engagement with the work of the contemporary moral theologian, William Cavanaugh. A final chapter underlines the original contribution of the project, sketches some future areas of research, and proposes that lament is the initial stance that results from this study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: National University of Ireland ; Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ireland ; Global Financial Crisis ; 2008-2009