New Book: A Covenantal Imagination: Selected Essays in Christian Social Ethics, by William Everett

William Everett, who was James Luther Adams’s teaching assistant in his final year at Harvard and is a member of the Board of James Luther Adams Foundation, now brings a number of his essays into a volume that lifts up the many strands of covenantal thought in his work. A Covenantal Imagination brings together nineteen essays that lay out the many ways his thought is woven through and through with the rich concept of covenant, with its many ramifications in theories of federalism, of the dynamics of reconciliation and ecological responsibility, and a framework for knitting together our “oikos” of work, family, faith, and the land.

The essays take you from his early work on the body symbol in social and ecclesial thought to his later work on federalism and the deep covenants underlying constitutional orders in the US as well as Germany, India, and South Africa. Along the way other essays developed a covenantal approach to ecological ethics and to the relation of family, work, and faith. The latest essays on reconciliation and journey images opened up a path into the poetry, fiction, and liturgy of his recent years.

This volume is a companion to his just-released “expository memoir,” Making My Way in Ethics, Worship, and Wood (also by Wipf and Stock), which lays out the development of his thought in the context of his personal experience and cultural contexts.

His long-time colleague in the Society of Christian Ethics, David Hollenbach SJ, now at Georgetown University, writes that “These stimulating essays draw on the central biblical image of covenant to argue that human freedom and social connectedness can be mutually supportive, not opposed. They…argue that the covenant that can link us to God and one another sheds ethical light on practical areas ranging from family life…to the struggle against racism and pursuit of post-conflict reconciliation. A valuable contribution that can guide our divided society to greater mutual respect and solidarity.”

His Emory colleague Jon Gunnemann writes this about it: “In these essays Bill Everett traverses an extraordinary array of ethical issues, ranging through the ecological crisis, marriage, family and work, the importance of federalism and reconciliation in political life, and much more. The theological theme of covenant anchors his interpretation of these issues, but Everett’s sociological imagination, interwoven with the insightful use of metaphor, symbol and story, leads the reader at every point to see the world refreshed and anew. An invaluable treasury.”

Scott Paeth, Everett’s teaching assistant at Andover Newton and now Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University, reflects that: “A Covenantal Imagination is a fitting testament to a lifetime’s work as a theologian and ethicist. The depth and scope of reflections in this volume demonstrate Everett’s commitment to understanding Christian ethics as touching on every dimension of human life . . . . The thread that ties these essays together is Everett’s understanding of covenant as the key to the moral framework in which Christian social ethics is done.”

A Covenantal Imagination: Selected Essays in Christian Social Ethics is available from Wipf and Stock publishers, your local independent bookstore, and Amazon (Kindle, hardcover, and paperback) where you can see the Table of Contents and Introduction.

Table of Contents

1. Cybernetics and the Symbolic Body Model

2. Liturgy and American Society: An Invocation to Ethical Analysis

3. Ecclesiology and Political Authority: A Dialogue with Hannah Arendt

4. Vocation and Location: An Exploration in the Ethics of Ethics

5. Land Ethics: Toward a

Covenantal Model

6. Stewardship Through Trust and Cooperation

7. Shared Parenthood in Divorce: The Parental Covenant and Custody Law

8. OIKOS: Convergence in Business Ethics

9. Transformation at Work

10. Sunday Monarchists and

11. Couples at Work: A Study in Patterns of Work, Family and Faith

12. Human Rights in the Church

13. Constitutional Order in United Methodism and American Culture (with Thomas E. Frank)

14. Seals and Springboks: Theological Reflections on Constitutionalism and South African Culture

15. Reconciliation as New Covenant, New Public

16. Serving the Church and Facing the Law: Virtues for Committee Members Evaluating a Pastor

17. Public Works: Bridging the Gap Between Theology and Public Ethics

18. Reconciliation between Homecoming and the Future: A Case Study from the Vietnam War

19. Journey Images and the Search for Reconciliation


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