Confronting poverty and stigmatization: An eastern orthodox perspective

Philosophy and Theology 18 (1):169-194 (2006)
The paper develops a preliminary framework for confronting poverty within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. In the first section, I draw on St. Gregory of Nazianzus’s Oration 14 to discuss what is called the stigma of poverty. Although stigmatization is not essentially linked to everyday economic poverty, poor people as such are often subjected to stigmatization. For example, disaffiliation grounded in social rejection was often a distinguishing mark between pôtchos and penês. Moreover, stigmatization in itself constitutes its own form of poverty since those who are stigmatized are imputed to be fundamentally impoverished or defective as person. In the second section, I focus on the writings of St. John Chrysostom and argue that the central problem for Chrysostom is not poverty but wealth, or more properly the ways in which we acquire and use wealth and the ends to which it is put. Put simply, for Chrysostom, a critical, engaged and spiritual response to poverty presupposes a critical and spiritual response to wealth
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