Fall 2000

Homelessness and the Modern Condition: The Family, Community, and Global Economy

David L. Schindler

"The point . . . is that we must follow Christ into the heart of the culture, and stay there to the end."

We tend often today to divide personal-“private” ethical issues, such as those of sexuality and life, from the “public” issues of economic and social justice, or again to detach questions regarding personal conversion from those regarding corporate action and the transformation of structures. We need to reject these dichotomies, in order to be faithful to the Church’s mission, or radical missionary opening, to the world, as intended by Gaudium et Spes. I will attempt to defend this proposal in terms of the family’s involvement in the economic world. My proposal is simply this: that the love proper to that most basic, particular, and intimate dwelling place called the home is appropriate not only for the family in its nature as a (socalled) “private” institution, but also for each member of the family as he or she is involved, as a consumer and a worker, with “public” institutions.

In the present forum, I can offer only an outline of an argument. I will do so in four parts: a concrete description of the family designed to suggest the core of my proposal (I); a statement of my presuppositions about the nature of the family and of its relation to the broader culture, drawn from three different sources (II); a brief description of the family’s “domestication” of space and time, and its implications for the economy (III); a summary proposal of what Parts I, II, and III entail in terms of the Church’s social or “worldly” mission (IV).


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