Walls to Bridges: The Global Ethic

Walls to Bridges: The Global Ethic book cover



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What do the religions and ideologies of the world have in common? Why should we focus first on their similarities rather than their differences? What’s next in the evolution of the global ethic?Professor and theologian Hans Küng has devoted much of his life to answering these questions.A controversial figure, Küng achieved global notoriety in the late 60’s when he became the first major Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century to question the notion of papal infallibility. For this, he was stripped of his license to teach as a Roman Catholic theologian, but carried on teaching as a tenured professor of Ecumenical Theology at the University of Tübingen, Germany until his retirement in 1996. In the 1990s, Küng initiated a project subsequently referred to the Movement for a “Global Ethic” (“Weltethos” in the original German). After massive world-wide research into past and present ethical principles carried out with the collaboration of many scholars, including Professor Leonard Swidler—who continues their joint work—he spelled out clearly the foundational ethical principles that the world’s religions and ideologies, past and present, de facto held/hold in common, that is: The minimal code of behavior that everyone in fact accepts (e.g., “Do not lie, steal, kill innocent persons....”) Kung’s goal is to highlight how the great religions/ideologies of the world converge on moral values and how this has revealed minimal, but expanding standards: e.g., slavery once was, but no longer is ethically acceptable... equality for women is painfully on that expanding path now! This English translation of The Global Ethic Handbook is a culmination of the “Movement” Küng began in the 90s. In clear language, he describes his vision for a Global Ethic, and step by step he takes the reader on a journey through the essential aspects of a Global Ethic, including its social, political, legal, economics, communications, esthetics, and philosophical applications. It even describes his translation of the Global Ethic/Weltethos into musical compositions—indeed, a full-blown opera! While Engaging the Global Ethic is a broad and comprehensive work, the actualization of a Global Ethic is concrete–not abstract. Professor Küng’s vision into the future, built on the expanding Global Ethic is an inspiring read and call to action for all!

"While Walls to Bridges is a broad and comprehensive work, the actualization of a Global Ethic is concrete rather than abstract. Professor Kung's vision into the future, built on the expanding Global Ethic is an inspiring read and a call to action for all."
Professor Leonard Swidler, Founder Dialogue Institute and Journal of Ecumenical Studies

“The global ethic is a powerful idea for discussion and debate. It focuses people from a range of identities on what it means to build bridges for the common good. Bravo for bringing this back to the center of public conversation.”
Eboo Patel, Founder and President Interfaith Youth Core and Editor of “Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a Field”

“A concise updated manual of Professor Hans Küng’s trailblazing recommendation for a global ethic based on commonalities yet preserving diverse ethical perspectives. One of Hans Küng’s great contributions to the common wellbeing of humanity is this revised and updated Walls to Bridges, without threatening the diverse heritages of the world’s manifold cultures.”
Paul Mojzes, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Rosemont College

“There are moments of hope in difficult times, and slivers of light in dark ones. All it takes is to listen to that voice inside ourselves that realizes and respects our humanity, and in that process, realizes and respects that elemental, beautiful, fragile, and courageous humanity in others. The decades-long work to fashion the terms for a global ethic continues to provide both a personal and globally shared resource for this hope and light. In a time when our political fears and religious suspicions are building momentum for building walls, those ethics that we share as human and embodied creatures provide a counter-narrative for collaboration and possibility. This handbook poetically conjures the urgency for discovering the ethical values that are not only deeply rooted in one’s personal experience or cultural memory, but also shared by others who on the surface seem so different or distant. Walls to Bridges speak interiorly to every individual, yet is inherently inclusive for recognizing the moral and imaginative qualities we share as human beings. As we are experiencing, the earth’s political, economic, and environmental challenges are deeply interconnected. More and more, we need to develop capacities for shared solutions to shared problems. Walls to Bridges provides the moral and ethical foundation for this much needed, and mutually hopeful, collaboration.”
John Dalla Costa, Founding Director of the Centre for Ethical Orientation


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1 review for Walls to Bridges: The Global Ethic

  1. Gregory Hansell, Executive Director, Omega Center

    “Very highly recommended! Our global age has emerged with global challenges: the climate crisis, widespread economic inequality, and the resurgence of anti-democratic forms of gov¬ernance, among many others. Addressing these issues requires transdisciplinary work at the level of the problem, an approach that is truly global in both its planetary-scale and comprehensive perspective.”

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