My Review of the Justice Project

Shame on me for underestimating its potential but to put it simply, The Justice  Project exceeded my expectations.    In my defense, I simply could not believe that  one book that asked such wide array of minds to confine their words in only a few  pages each could be so powerful.  Looking back on it, I approached it the way I see  many compilation cd’s.  You know what I’m talking about – those albums created for  a particular cause but are so disjointed that their best feature is that they gave a tiny  percentage of the proceeds to the cause itself.

The Justice Project is nothing like that.  I figured I would like it, but I didn’t realize  how moved I would be by so many chapters.  I know this sounds overly dramatic, but  I am not sure I could figure out which chapter I liked the least.

Similar to the Coldplay effect on music where so many bands decided to incorporate more piano and less guitar, to some, justice is the new novelty of the Christian world.  What the JP does is open the eyes of the reader that justice has always been the mandate of God and part of the scope of the Scriptures but unfortunately, some of us have missed it.

Justice has gotten a bad reputation amongst evangelicals.  Scarred by the missteps of the social justice movement (where the pendulum swung too far), the mission of God became exclusively about winning souls to heaven (the pendulum swung back too far).  In some circles, the term “justice” has gotten a bad rap as it was often modified by the word “social”. And we all know that if you are interested in social justice that you can’t be interested in the resurrection of Jesus too.  Clearly one is completely alien to the other.   This book would help alter that perspective.

If I could read it over again, I would have used this book as a devotional.  I don’t normally use daily “devotionals” and not real crazy about the connotations associated with the term but using this as a daily reading would be beneficial.  There’s a lot to consider.  Like the Hebrew and Greek word for “justice” occur over 1000 times in the Bible.  However, how many sermons have you heard on the subject of justice? I bet you have heard more sermons about sex than you have about justice. Further, I bet that you have rolled your eyes more times at Bono talking about justice than the number of times your pastor has centered a sermon around this subject.

One of the best features of the book is that it includes voices from various ethnicities and from different corners of life.  While there were some very familiar names like Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Lynne Hybels, Samir Selmanovic, Peggy Campolo, the Samsons, about half the names were new to me and I found myself googling them after finishing their chapters.  I especially liked the author bio on the first page of the essay as opposed to the last page.  As you may have heard by now, everything is contextual and it was great to get a hint of where the writer was coming from.  I also liked the way the five parts the book was broken into: The God of Justice, The Book of Justice, Justice in the USA, A Just World, and A Just Church.

As most of the faithful readers of this blog know by now, I direct a lot of words to the conservative evangelicals because I consider myself to be one.  To put it bluntly, if  you can define justice as part of God’s righteousness, and if we as a Church can see and treat it the way we regard evangelism and discipleship in the Kingdom, then  I believe, we would be a more complete Church.  Pick up the Justice Project, it’s excellent.

Monday Morning Update – 10.23.09

What I’ve Been Up To:
Just got back from our seminary retreat with Brian McLaren.  As I regard his work as an important influence in my life, I had expectations that I could not ignore.  I also hoped that my fellow seminarians would appreciate Brian as well.  Sort of like when you bring your girlfriend home to meet your family, you want them to like her but  but since she’s special, you’re not going to care that they don’t.  Turns out they liked Brian.  Anyway, he shared a lot about prayer and in doing so, I think revealed a great deal about the character of God, the human heart contained in Scripture and quite a bit about our human souls deal with pain and wonder.  Still processing through.

What I’ve Been Reading:
Just finished the audiobook of Outliers by Malcom Galdwell.  Very interesting in the very good  way.  Leaves you with the thought, “That’s great, wow, what should I do I now though?”  Very  good book, highly recommend it.
Still reading The Justice Project.  It’s not one to breeze through because I am really hoping to  absorb enough to live out and communicate effectively.
Rereading some assigned Karl Barth (I am so ridiculously behind for my independent study paper.)
Generate Magazine (loving it, you should subscribe), the new Relevant with Jon Foreman on the cover.

What Music I’ve Been Listening to:
Jenny Lewis’ Acid Tongue at the moment (crazy album).
Sufjan – BQE, (even some of his Christmas)
Welcome Wagon – yep, Thomas Turner’s article in Generate has compelled me once again.  I like his idea of church and the importance of the spiritual body but also the importance of a physical space where community can be enjoyed.
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
and the usual podcasts.

What’s Going on in our Student Ministry:
I’ve been so grateful for our youth leaders leading the teaching in my absence.  We certainly have a good thing going here and they are a big part of that.  While there are areas that we need to work on, I don’t see how anyone can say that they come in to our space and not be cared for.
A lot of Invisible Children things going on.  Our students have started a couple clubs in their schools, started some fundraising and one group was able to host a screening in a school assembly for grades 10-12.
We are beginning to work on a benefit concert for late January.
I’m working on our Winter Retreat and looking forward to teaching again after Thanksgiving.

What I’m Looking Forward To:
Thanksgiving Day with the family.
Our next Second Mile service on December 19th
The time of Advent

You Saw It Here … Second Last

Since it’s such great reading, only two posts.

From Brian McLaren’s blog:

Dr. David Gushee gets it right …

David Gushee is distinguished university professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University. I originally met him through Evangelical Environmental Network, and his anti-torture work, and ever since I always pay attention to what he writes. Here’s his recent editorial from the Associated Baptist Press (another great newsletter to subscribe to … here.)

Opinion: A doomed, reactionary church? By David Gushee

(ABP) — The act of reflecting this week, in class, on the development of Catholic social ethics resonated in an unexpected way with the situation facing Christians today. It became clearer than ever to me that when Christians become cultural reactionaries, they doom the church to irrelevance.

The Catholic story went like this: After the Reformation, for centuries the Catholic Church postured itself in a defensive crouch. It missed the opportunity to respond to the challenge posed by the Reformation. It resisted creative engagement with modern science [more …]

If you read it, I hope you finish. The last paragraph is excellent.

Also for the open-minded, check out the discussion on Adam Cleveland’s blog pomomusings entitled  “The Bible and Homosexuality:  Enough with the Bible Already”