For those who believe that the Bible does not contain thoughts on social justice, has never read it. (Read Amos). I spent three years with the coal mining union as their community organizer, meeting pastors and other ministers in a bid to attain a more fair system of organizing – and I have come to appreciate Labor Day.
Unsettled ChristianityOne blog to rule them all, One blog to find them, One blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Vatican Council II
Message to the Poor, the Sick, and the Suffering (trans. Walter Abbott; ©America press,1966)
“He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
To all of you, brothers in trial, who are visited by under a thousand forms, the Council has a very special message. It feels fixed on itself your pleading eyes, burning with fever or hollow with fatigue, questioning eyes which search in vain for the why of human suffering and which ask anxiously when and whence will come relief. Very dear brothers, we feel echoing deeply within our hearts as fathers and pastors your laments and your complaints. Our suffering is increased at the thought that it is not within our power to bring you bodily help nor the lessening of your physical sufferings, which physicians, nurses, and all those dedicated to the service of the sick are endeavoring to relieve as best they can.
But we have something deeper and more valuable to give you, the only truth capable of answering the mystery of suffering and of bringing you relief without illusion, and that is faith and. union with the Man of Sorrows (Is 53,3), with Christ the Son of God, nailed to the cross for our sins and for our salvation. Christ did not do away with suffering. He did not even wish to unveil to us entirely the mystery of suffering. He took suffering upon Himself and this is enough to make you understand all its value.
All of you who feel heavily weight of the cross, you who are poor and abandoned, you who weep, you who are persecuted for justice, you who are ignored, you the unknown victims of suffering, take courage. You are the preferred children of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of hope, happiness, and life. You are the brothers of the suffering Christ, and with Him, if you wish, you are saving the world! This is the Christian science of suffering, the only one which gives peace. Know that you are not alone, separated, abandoned, or useless. You have been called by Christ and are His living and transparent image.
Messengers have adopted a much-debated revolution on immigration that asks “our governing authorities to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country.” That language was the source of controversy in the morning, when a ballot vote was taken on whether or not to strike it. In the end, messengers kept it in the resolution by a vote of 51.31 percent (766) to 48.43 percent (723). The resolution, though, was amended to state that “this resolution is not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant.” That latter amendment passed nearly unanimously and was brought to messengers by the Resolutions Committee.
Other key parts of the resolution not at issue say:
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention … call on our churches to be the presence of Christ, in both proclamation and ministry, to all persons, regardless of country of origin or immigration status …
… RESOLVED, That we deplore any bigotry or harassment against any persons, regardless of their country of origin or legal status … (here)
And they did so in Phoenix, Arizona.
I’m new to Process Theology – not sure I like much of it, but maybe I like some of it. Pastor Bob shares an essay by Bruce Epperly dealing with Process Theology and moving towards justice with punishment. In part, I quote:
Process theology would oppose the identification of God’s will with natural disasters. While we may limit the nature of God’s presence and the effectiveness of God’s actions in our lives by our actions and values, God still seeks the “best [possibility] for that impasse.” Our turning away from God has consequences in terms of personal and community life, and this may feel like divine punishment (or absence), but God’s intent is always wholeness and beauty at every level of life. Here, punishment may be seen as “self-punishment.” We have, in some way, brought unhappiness, disease, and even weather changes upon ourselves by our habitual actions. However, even our self-punishment is limited; 1) God still seeks our well being and 2) our quality of experience is determined by many factors, not just the impact of our actions.
Process theology recognizes that there is a type of justice-making in a nature. This is the law of consequences. Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans was not the result of divine wrath, but a variety of factors, including natural causes such as the severity of the hurricane. Yet, the severity of hurricanes has been identified with changing weather patterns, partly the result of human actions. Further, the destruction of New Orleans is also related to our nation’s failure to maintain the infrastructure of levees. We are partly responsible for this disaster in the chain of cause and effect. Neither God nor humankind intended Katrina as punishment but the hurricane’s devastation emerged from human as well as non-human causes.
Okay, so maybe I’ll give Process Theology a second look.
What sayeth ye?
- Process Theology and the Quest for Justice (Bruce Epperly) (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- Liberating God- An Open System — Bruce Epperly (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- Process Theology and the End of the World — Bruce Epperly (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- Liberating Process — Bruce Epperly (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
The death of bin Laden was fully justified as an act of war, but not as an act of justice. The removal of a credible threat to human life — a clear and present danger to human safety — is fully justified, especially after such an individual has demonstrated not only the will but the means to effect murder on a massive scale.
And yet, there are two troubling aspects that linger. The first is the open celebration in the streets. While we should all be glad that this significant threat is now removed, death in itself is never to be celebrated. Such celebration points to the danger of revenge as a powerful human emotion. Revenge has no place among those who honor justice. Retributive justice is sober justice. The reason for this is simple — God is capable of vengeance, which is perfectly true to his own righteousness and perfection — but human beings are not. We tend toward the mismeasure of justice when it comes to settling our own claims. All people of good will should be pleased that bin Laden is no longer a personal threat, and that his death may further weaken terrorist plans and aspirations. But revenge is not a worthy motivation for justice, and celebration in the streets is not a worthy response.
Well said, sir, well said.
“Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD. “Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? Amos 9:7 NASB
“Are you Israelites more important to me than the Ethiopians? ” asks the LORD. “I brought Israel out of Egypt, but I also brought the Philistines from Crete and led the Arameans out of Kir. Amos 9:7 NLT
Read the first few chapters of Amos and you will note that God is speaking against several neighboring nations of Israel, but He focuses on Israel, it is in the different way. It is harsher and the list of crimes longer and more personal. In fact, as Stark points out, Israel’s uniqueness comes in the system of Justice which it adhered to. This system was given by God. But, here, Israel’s great and powerful exodus from Egypt is given no higher place than the other ancient migrations of even some of Israel’s worse enemies.
What really begins to separate Israel is not heritage, but its premise which is that under the One True God of Heaven, these people alone could show the world what awaits in the Kingdom of God. How radically different is this picture of eventual inclusion than what we see in Ezra-Nehemiah. How beautiful the picture of Israel then which erupts as one who is given the uniqueness not of special divine status due to birth or parentage, but because it knew of the justice and equality expected by God.
In the back of my mind is the remembrance of being told that somewhere someone once said that we will be judged out of our own mouths.
Just a thought, I reckon.
Rabbi Schwarz has some telling words…
I share these pieces of personal narrative because each anecdote, in its own way, speaks to the importance of a homeland for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. But this is more than just my story. Millions of Israelis — bakers, plumbers, bus drivers and nurses — could tell anecdotes just as compelling. The miracle of the Jewish state is embraced and cherished, not only by Jews in Israel, but by Jews the world over. Nonetheless, Israel is the only democracy in the world that, 61 years after its founding, still needs to make the case to the community of nations that it has a right to exist. We must unequivocally affirm that right in the international arena.
With that said, I am not unaware that there is a counterpart Palestinian narrative. It includes dispossession, the loss of property that was in families for generations, abandonment by Arab governments, the squalor of refugee camps, the humiliation and degradation of occupation and much, much more. Just as the Jewish narrative leads logically to a legitimate Jewish claim on the land of Israel, so too does the Palestinian narrative lead logically to a legitimate Arab claim to create an independent Palestinian State in the same land. In the poignant words of the Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua, the land is torn between right and right.
The Rabbi is right, that is this political mess, we have to remember what the land of Israel means to the Jewish people there, and everywhere. I still pray for justice, which will serve all sides.
“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.”
“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”
“Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”
(Anonymous) -a quote from A Hole in the Gospel, by Richard Stearn, President of World Vision.
A good friend of mine reminds me that while prayer is good, actions are needed.
We often like to read from and quote the prophets. But if you’ve ever met a real prophet you know that being in the presence of a real prophet can be very disturbing. Prophets were famous for goring every one’s ox. No one left the presence of a prophet untouched. So troubling were the prophets of old, including Jesus, that most of them were persecuted, jailed, stoned, exiled and killed. Most of the Biblical prophets were beyond controversial they were way over the top. Prophets denounced sin and injustice in the strongest language announcing doom to a nation that refused to repent. Many Israelites thus considered them unpatriotic and downright dangerous. They justified throwing them into prison for their lack of patriotism and for the way their words questioned and upset the status quo and the judgements of those who held power. To many, these were dangerous men who had to be stopped. – Msgr Charles Pope