Social Justice

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19 Aug: Sometimes Following Jesus Means NOT Being Neutral

Some of you know that I work for the synod office – the regional outpost of the national ELCA. And maybe you also know that we recently concluded the annual synod assembly, our yearly gathering of voting members representing many of the congregations of our synod. One of my post-assembly chores is to summarize the feedback survey results and share them with the synod staff. Without fail, we get a handful of complaints from people when we have workshops or speakers who talk about justice. Of course, this being the church, and our guiding document being the Bible, most of our workshops and speakers will eventually mention justice in some form.

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10 Jun: Jesus and the Way of Compassion

Mere charity is a band-aid that cannot bring liberation. Neither can ardent calls for justice from those who live separately from the oppressed. Both fall short of true compassion.

Paulo Freire wrote: “The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity…The man or woman who proclaims devotion to the cause of liberation yet is unable to enter into communion with the people, whom he or she continues to regard as totally ignorant, is grievously self-deceived.”¹

Both of these general approaches increase the distance between us and suffering. We become apathetic to the struggles and sufferings around us. Apathy comes from a Greek word apatheia, which is made up of two words: a meaning “without” and pathos meaning “suffering.” Apathy is a spiritual disease that renders us incapable of empathy.