One of my favourite things about my summer break is that I get a chance to read for pleasure. I don't have a pile of things that have to be read for work and to make it even better for the first time in two and a half years there isn't any uni reading either. I have read quite a lot of light fiction- just because I can, but have managed to fit in a few more intellectually stimulating reads as well. This has included The Justice Project (McLaren, Padilla and Seeber eds.) and Generous Justice (Timothy Keller), both explore the way in which justice is connected to Christianity.
The Justice Project is a collection of short essays that covers a huge range of topics exploring the way in which the Bible conveys ideas of justice, politics and justice, churches and justice and 'doing justice' in the world. Some of the essays I was able to easily agree with, others I found particularly thought provoking and challenging. Most of the examples come from an American perspective but could easily be broadened to apply to western culture in general. One of the essays that I found to be quite challenging was 'Just Land' by Randy Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee India descendant. Woodley explored the issues of justice for native Americans. It raised some really interesting questions that I think have not been addressed very well or at all for our indigenous population. How do we as Christians approach the justice issues that our indigenous brothers and sisters are faced with? Do we share with them, listen, invite them to tell us what is needed and work with them to address the injustices or do we still approach it with a sense of paternalistic superiority- doing justice for them, the way we think it should be done, rather then doing justice with them?
It raised a whole bunch of questions for me about what we as Australian Christians should be doing about indigenous issues and how that can be done in a way that recognises that we are all a part of the body of Christ. I'm going to have to spend some more time thinking about these questions. (That was only one of the essays, so you can imagine with the whole collection how much stuff there is to wrestle with.)
Generous Justice essentially looks at what the Bible says about justice and what that means for those that follow Christ. It explores Old Testament and New Testament references to justice, definitions of justice and the how and the why we as Christians should 'do justice'. One of the underpinning ideas that Keller asserts that the Bible gives two basic elements that should motivate Christians towards justice. Firstly, ..."joyful awe before the goodness of God's creation..." and secondly, "...the experience of God's grace in redemption". If we experience these things we can't help but response by living justly and doing justice.
It was a really straight forward read and apart from the American-centric nature of the examples it highlighted some great points with plenty of discussion of scripture in a way that was easy to access even without a degree in theology.
My last treat for the holidays was to claim a Poverty and Justice Bible of my own. It was 'research' for my studies on camp and it is a great visual tool to show that faith can not be separated from issues of justice.
What should I read next?
What should I read next?