Guadium et spes and how we should serve people

, Christianity and Culture in Dialogue, seeks to understand topics at the intersection of religion, science, and politics. This semester our on-campus meetings were disturbed by the outbreak of a global pandemic that has elicited responses from the scientific, religious, and political communities. To make the most of the topics of our course coinciding with the most important of current events, our second paper will take the form of an essay using the texts from our seminar as well as outside research in order to assess and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
For this paper, you are required to use two sources from our seminar, and to bring them into dialogue with outside coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I will send to you a list of possible sources that you can use, but “outside coverage” can include: political writings about the pandemic, reflections from religious authorities, op-eds about how to respond to the pandemic, magazine articles about the virus. Your paper must involve “substantial engagement” with your outside research. This means more than a short paragraph with a brief quotation pulled from the source that you are using. The paper should make an argument about how the pandemic illustrates or sheds light on one of the ideas or themes that we have encountered in our seminar.

Some potential topics might include:
– Social Darwinism, eugenics, and the coronavirus
– Religious opposition to scientific authority
– Religious responses to suffering and evil
– Inequality, and the disproportionate affect the virus has had on the poor
– Questions of the common good amidst the virus
Sources that can be helpful:
– Texts on Social Darwinism and Eugenics
– Nietzsche on altruism and why we should (or shouldn’t!) care for the weak
– Marilynne Robinson on Darwin and Nietzsche’s legacy
– On inequality: Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Gaudium et Spes (GS), Pope Francis
– On care for the marginalized: Marx. GS, Pope Francis
– Gaudium et Spes in particular does a good job of thinking about how we respond to contemporary issues, and how serving persons and the common good is vital.
The paper should be 5-7 pages (and no more than seven pages), double-spaced, standard font sizes and margins. Unless an extension has been granted, it must be submitted to Blackboard by 5:00 PM, Friday May 1st.
I know that many of you may be tired of thinking about the virus at this point. If it would be burdensome for you write about it, you can choose another topic analyzing how the texts from our seminar speak to a different contemporary issue of your own choosing. If you would like to write on an alternative topic, you must speak to me and gain approval beforehand.

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