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Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Tuesday Book Club - Justice in the Burbs 2
Our book discussion for this month is on Will and Lisa Samson's new book Justice in the Burbs. Last week, we brought up the basic questions of what is justice and how we personally engage with it. This week's questions are similar in that they address the "big picture" issues. Later in the month we will look deeper at the more personal choices we make involving justice issues.

1. Something I have discovered in discussing justice issues is how one's situation affects how one sees justice. Those of us living some version of the "American Dream" in suburbia often have a very different perception of justice than those living under oppressive governments or those living in wealthy countries where the media and the government make a bigger deal about these issues. For example if you are living under a dictator in Central America, the words in scripture about loosing the chains of injustice, releasing the prisoner and bring hope to the oppressed are part of your day to day life. You are the one being oppressed, you desperately desire fair wages, human rights, and basic life needs met. Theologies of liberation appeal to you and are at the forefront of your religious experience. But if you live in a place where the poor are not visible, where stories of injustice go untold, and the church cares more for new buildings than the oppressed, you have no reason to even begin to care. Generally in church you may not ever even hear the scriptures that focus on justice read. So how does one become aware enough to care? Where does the average person in wealthy countries go to become educated on justice issues?

2. How does your view of America (or England, or Australia, or ...) shape your understanding of what it means to live justly? Do your political and economic beliefs sway how you think about justice? Do those views encourage or discourage you from caring for the poor and the oppressed? What about when it is your government that is doing the oppressing?

3. Jemila asked in last weeks discussion, "is it realistic to bring the kingdom of God large scale ... or better to work at bringing alive God's love in my little corner?" Should governments be involved on working for justice? Should we only care about those in the smaller spheres we touch? Can both be done? What are the issues involved in trusting say the government to do the work of God's Kingdom?

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posted by Julie at 10:17 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 10/09/2007 11:00:00 AM, Blogger James Diggs

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I am going to check it out.



  • At 10/09/2007 08:56:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    I think in order to be aware in a way that leads to caring we need less abstract preaching and more stories and films that depict the real life impact of social justice/injustice on specific people and families that we can relate to as human beings.

  • At 10/10/2007 12:54:00 AM, Blogger Kimberly

    I haven't been able to pick up the book so hope these comments are relevant. Mother Theresa said , "Do not wait for leaders, do it alone, person to person". I have wrestled with Jemila's question as when I hear of injustice in the media I often have a passionate knee-jerk response of "something's got to be done" but on a global scale it all seems so overwhelming and I'm not sure how I can make a difference, and after awhile I forget. Being a parent is great medicine for this as I take seriously the fact that I am responsible for opening my kids eyes to the world around them (and in the process my own are opened). Oppression is everywhere it seems, whether it is physically in a third world country or here in North America where materialism makes slaves of us all. Creating space in my life to "wake up" and see the injustice right here in my own backyard, with those closest to me and in my community, is personal and inspires me to action. Even of the smallest kind. I have to believe that the ripple affect of these actions, despite their small scale, makes a difference.

  • At 10/10/2007 10:20:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    I think in many ways it is easy to talk about the big picture stuff (AIDS in Africa) while ignoring the needs right around you. I know I'm guilty of this. At the same time, those big issues won't just go away and often there are not "local" people available to solve them either. There seems to need to be a balance. We do live in a global world. If the media would take the time to show us, there is vast injustice occuring that I don't think would continue if it was constantly made public.

    As for the government thing, I am torn. All governments are corrupt and are swayed by power not morality. But if the winds that blow tell the leaders that the people care about moral issues, then to retain power they will focus on those issues. So I am all for writing letters to the government, meeting with representitives, and lobbying for bills that help others. some things (like Debt Relief which is the root of so many other issues) can only be solved on the government level (because they are the ones that created the mess in the first place).

    This has been on my mind recently and I blogged about it here.


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