Chapter

Moral Selving within Personalist Hospitality

Rebecca Anne Allahyari

in Visions of Charity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780520221444
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935327 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520221444.003.0004
Moral Selving within Personalist Hospitality

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This chapter describes how the organizational rhetoric of charitable action at Loaves & Fishes guided the volunteers' moral selving. Moral selving may be understood as one type of deeply emotional self-work. It involves a concern for transforming the experience of an underlying moral self, in contrast to a situated identity. Gratitude, commitment, and witnessing emerged as key themes in the routine volunteers' accounts of their experiences at Loaves & Fishes. Moral selving both mirrored and shaped the volunteers' connection to a wider community. Some volunteers encouraged others to participate in their volunteer work; some hoped to model caring for others for their children; others volunteered out of acknowledgment of their own economic vulnerability and gratitude for the good fortune of having homes. Gratitude for economic security, commitment to the work of feeding the urban poor, and witnessing the sacred in one's life emerged as interconnected themes, resonant with personalist hospitality but concurrently a product of the volunteers' moral selving. Catholic Worker philosophy teaches that witnessing God in one's life involves performing not only corporal works of mercy but also spiritual works of mercy.

Keywords: gratitude; commitment; witnessing; Loaves & Fishes; moral selving; volunteers

Chapter.  14459 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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