The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Punishment

Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2000-11-01
Publisher(s): Lightning Source Inc
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This bold work confronts the spirit of punishment that permeates our culture and its deleterious effects on today's penal system and society at large. Rooted in experiences of prison reality, the book sets forth an original theory about the theological roots of our current punitive ethos and offers a creative antidote informed by a commitment to restorative justice.

Snyder shows that the spirit of punishment in our culture is rooted in and reinforced by popular Christian misunderstandings of human nature and God's grace. These misunderstandings include two consequential errors: the absence of any notion of "creation grace" and an understanding of "redemption grace" couched exclusively in individualistic, internalized, and nonhistorical terms. In both cases the social-historical dimensions of grace necessary for holistic redemption are ignored. These theological distortions, coupled with a prevailing cultural context that divides people between "them" and "us" -- the most virulent form of which is racism -- make a spirit of punishment inevitable.

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Author Biography

T. Richard Snyder is academic dean and professor of theology and ethics at New York Theological Seminary. Since 1983 he has been closely involved with the school's master's program offered at Sing Sing prison

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction Getting Even: The Rush to Punish 1(16)
The Air We Breathe: Hegemony and the Spirit of an Age
Grace Isn't Only for Wretches
Jesus and Me: The Individualization of Redemptive Grace
Is There Anything Else Out There? Restorative Justice Alternatives
Amazing Grace: Foundations for Restorative Justice
Getting Well: Completing the Circle of Redemption
Index 158

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