Monday, October 22, 2012

Chapter 11. Justice

Harvard has an online course called Justice, based on Michael J. Sandel's huge class and his book called Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?  Some friends and I spent three months studying that free course.  We read the book chapter by chapter, watched Harvard's videos, and met every Monday at my house to talk about it.  You can read that discussion on my book blog, or even take part in it by adding your comments, if you like.

(Just follow the links.)

In Christianity for the Rest of Us, the sub-title of this chapter on justice is "Engaging the Powers."  Diana Butler Bass talks about "doing justice" on page 161:
"Doing justice goes beyond fixing unfair and oppressive structures.  Doing justice means engaging the powers — transforming the 'inner spirit' of all systems of injustice, violence, and exclusion."
1.  Do you think Pastor Roy Terry is right?  Are acts of justice "hardest" for Christians?  Why or why not?  Can you give an example from your own life of a hard act of justice?

2.  Leaders of the religious right often quote John Winthrop's sermon, "A Model of Christian Charity," to prove that America is a Christian nation.  Do you think this is an appropriate use of Winthrop's words?  What do you make of the idea of a "city set upon a hill"?  Can congregations emulate Winthrop's ideal of Christian faithfulness?  Can the nation?

3.  Is justice a noun or a verb?  Is justice spiritual?


AuntyDon said...

1. Yes, I think Pastor Terry is indeed correct. We Christians talk about worship, devotion, and compassion easily because none of these is "controversial" in and of themselves, but justice has to do with publicly addressing what's wrong in our world and how we should actively work faithfully to correct those wrongs. It is very expansive and causes us to embrace views that are usually not what most Christians care to think about, much less act upon. It is difficult for me to speak up when anyone denies global warming/climate change, but I think my hesitancy stems from my lack of concrete knowledge of facts. I don't want to make it worse by my sounding uninformed.

2. I don't see John Winthrop's sermon, "A Model of Christian Charity," as proof of America founded as a Christian nation, He called for his colonists, who were Christians (I believe), to be in God's image in God's world. We should live our lives by caring for each other in practicing justice and mercy, and that ideal is not Christian only.

3. Justice is a noun in that justice is what we do in righting the wrongdoings happening in our world. It is a verb because it is doing what is needed to correct these wrongs. It is spiritual because it is taking care of God's creation.

Shirley said...

1. Do you think Pastor Roy Terry is right? Are acts of justice "hardest" for Christians? Why or why not? Can you give an example from your own life of a hard act of justice?
One would think that acts of justice should be part of the lives of Christians, but in thinking about it, I realize that Christians too often become smug and unwilling to step out of their comfort zone to try/care if others are being treated unjustly.
The example I can think of when I sought justice (yet I failed) was several years ago when we went to Memphis when my son played in a basketball tournament there. On an outing with other families to an amusement park, I paid admission for my son and daughter, but not for my husband and I since we were not going to ride any of the rides. Noticing later that two of the other mothers had paid admission even though they weren’t riding either, I suggested that they seek refunds. They did, but refunds were refused. One of the mothers was terribly upset and shared some of the terrible racist incidents their family has experienced. I tried to help her calm herself so that she could enjoy watching her children riding the rides and said that I’d contact some agency after we got home to try to get the refund. After several contacts, I finally found the correct agency in Tennessee and was told that a complaint couldn’t be filed without the signature and address of the person who had been denied the refund. She would not sign as she was afraid. She did thank me and called me “the shits” which from her tone was a compliment. It saddened me to realize that even though racism is generally less open that it is still all too common of an attitude. My son was one of three whites on the team; two of the blacks were murdered before finishing high school with one of the murders still unsolved.

3. Is justice a noun or a verb? Is justice spiritual?
I agree with Donna that justice is all three.

Zorro said...

With the election, America is saying with Dr. Martin Luther King, "The end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of the beloved community." "Dr. King caught a glimpse of a new social order" That would be brought about by a spiritual journey of drawing together those who had been divided by oppression and hatred."

Shirley said...

This was an especially divisive election. I hope that people will be able to find reconciliation after the bitterness. After the first election, I thought that there was much more hope for the country.