Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sandals and social justice

In the past weeks, I’ve been wondering if my pastoral preaching and teaching has been as justice-focused as it should be. Am I able to “go and do likewise,” as Jesus describes in telling the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)? Am I a sheep or a goat? Do I actually welcome strangers, clothe naked people, or visit those who are sick or in prison (Matthew 25:31-45)?

The prophet Micah talks about doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). I wonder if I’m walking humbly with my God if I’m listening to an iPod while I walk, or if I’m wearing expensive designer walking shoes. How humble is that?

Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, Amos decries those who “sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals” (Amos 2:6).

I have a pair of Teva sandals that, even on clearance, still cost the equivalent of several hours of work for a minimum wage worker. At full price, they would be over one hundred dollars. I feel like I have literaly sold the needy for a pair of sandals. (Full disclosure: I actually own two pairs of Teva sandals).

Justice texts like these function as law for me. They point out the brokenness of the world, and my own participation in it. I lament the world as it is, and long for the world as it should be. I keep on fervently praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Social justice is a theme throughout the Bible, and I pray that the Church may continue to figure out how to respond to the injustice in the world. Thus, I am a bit confused when I hear that Glenn Beck is encouraging Christians to leave churches that preach social justice.

Here’s a link:

I would be concerned if a church were not preaching love of neighbor and care for those who are oppressed. That doesn’t sound like Communism or Nazism to me. It sounds…umm…well, Christian.

1 comment:

  1. There's nothing wrong with owning something if you can afford it, I guess. The problem comes if you fail to be moved with compassion for someone who is needy. St. John Chrysostom calls people like that worse than the beasts. The attitude of the Bible seems to indicate that there are going to be people who are always poor and struggling. This is where "social justice" comes into work.

    The problem is is that your definition, my definition, the Episcopal Church's definition, etc of Social Justice are different. Looking at social justice from the Gospels and Acts, it seems to be taking care of the poor, the sick, the widowed. The apostles loved, but did not affirm, sins. But for most mainline Protestantism is that it's become increasingly secularized, and social justice is just a buzzword for a leftist-democrat political agenda. Social justice is what I'm accused of not having because I fully reject open practicing homosexuality in the priesthood and I'm unabashedly pro-life, never mind what I do that is actually in the Gospel.

    I'm not sure where the ELCA is outside of the homosexual issue, but TEC's view is full inclusion, unfettered abortion rights ("abortion is a blessing"), the "green movement", white/male guilt, and open communion. You don't hear a thing about taking care of the poor, the widowed. You hear "that's not how I see the Gospel" ad nauseam. And instead of loving people along with a call to repentance, the leadership has declared open season on any orthodox (read: historical, Creedal, patristic, first 7 councils) Christians by depositions and lawsuits. They actually increased their legal budget 300% this last year just to keep up with suing, while eliminating various missioner and evangelical positions. Beck is a telejournalist, and makes this ridiculous comments to keep ratings up. But there has to be a word for a church that kills off its own with unrelenting passion for not toeing the line to a secularist agenda that has totally neutered the moral theology of the NT.