Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ordinary justice

"We all want to be big stars, but we don't know why and we don't know how.
But when everybody loves me, I'm going to be just about as happy as can be.
Mr. Jones and me, we're gonna be big stars. " Mr. Jones by Counting Crows

I am so not on board with being ordinary, average, or regular.  When the authors of the book Justice in the Burbs (pg 27) start equating justice with things like mercy, compassion, being fair and living by the Golden Rule, that seems like a weak definition to me.  But, in the very next sentence, they highlight a few individuals that we all pretty much recognize as being synonymous with justice:  Mother Teresa & Martin Luther King, Jr. That's  more like it.  Being fair sounds boring, but being part of something that changes the world, now that sounds exciting, challenging, special.  The cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing, is that I'm beginning to realize that all this changing the world stuff starts out as justice lived out in ordinary, average, regular, everyday lives like mine.

my Justice in the Burbs book study notes
chapter 1: life in an ordinary world
- why did you pick up this book?  somebody lent it to me
- what has been your experience so far with issues of justice?  working on justice is frustrating, slow, educational, inspirational, lonely
- how would you define justice?  joining your voice and actions with others in the pursuit of fairness and equity for all
- is justice - however you define it - possible?  maybe someday, need to be willing to take baby steps

chapter 2: hearing the voice of justice
- does God care about justice?  absolutely. how should that show itself in our world? empathy for those who suffer injustice and an understanding or self-awareness of how our actions and/or inactions contribute to that suffering
- what do you believe the Bible says about living justly?  it is the only way to achieve the kingdom of God
- how does the model of Jesus relate to living justly?  love your neighbor, stranger, outcast, sufferer more than yourself
- how can you live in light of the whole Bible in the American suburban world? is it even possible - it seems like something's gotta change

Sunday, September 20, 2009

chasing justice

It all seemed so clear after attending the community organizer training last year:
1) doing justice is our God-given call
2) because doing justice requires changing systems, whether religious, political and/or economic, we can't do it alone
3) therefore, we need to organize people to do justice by engaging them, being in relationship with them, identifying their self-interest and finding common ground.

I tried to bring these principles back to Peace and share them. I know I am lacking in the interpersonal department, but I have felt like the more I pursued justice, the more elusive it became and the more I shared my convictions about doing justice, the more I repelled folks instead of attracting them to the cause.

I wonder, what am I doing wrong?

In Everything Must Change, Brian McClaren makes perfect sense as he lays out the roots of human suffering in the systems we have embraced and how Jesus responded to those systems during his lifetime, but what to do and where to go next with all this information is kind of vague. It turns out everything is way more than I can handle.

In The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne makes pursuing justice by living the simple way sound a lot easier than it is for me, but then I'm pretty sure he started chasing justice when he was young and single.

In Justice in the Burbs, the authors themselves feel they failed in doing justice right where I live, with my family in the burbs.

So am I chasing justice or just chasing my tail? I know I'm on the verge of having some sort of rash reaction and yet the passion to do this thing called justice won't seem to leave me alone.

Maybe it's time I got back to the basics:

What is justice?

What do I have to offer?

What am I missing?

Where do I need to step it up and where do I need to step back?

I'm hoping to find a few more answers than questions with some others in a book study of Justice in the Burbs. I'll be posting my thoughts from this weekly study, so you can check back and see if I've had a meltdown or finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, September 14, 2009

book in cyberspace

The book is now available from Amazon and in Google books: