CHRISTIAN HUMILITY, COURTLY CIVILITY, AND THE CODE OF THE STREETS

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Abstract

Within both contemporary inner-city street life and early modern courtly civility, persons acquire value through being acknowledged by others. Though dependent on others for a sense of self-worth constructed by external tokens of respect, they are unable to experience dependency as gift. Humility thus appears as an admission of lack of worth, rather than as a confession of the dependent character of one's worth. What might contemporary Christians retrieve from the Augustinian critique of an ethic of glory in attempting to diagnose and respond to contemporary social dislocations, and how might churches contribute productively to disrupting the zero-sum competition for respect?

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