Friday, December 12, 2008

Six Questions

  1. How do we talk about ideas of social justice in an American Christian culture that has begun associating such concepts and actions so strongly with their political/ideological opposites (enemies)?
  2. How do we talk about talk about social justice without people perceiving it as a fad or cause de jour?
  3. What is justice, and what does it entail (both ideal and working definitions)? How do we integrate these definitions in what we commonly call justice (law making and enforcement, punishment of those breaking the laws)?
  4. How do you broach a subject in conversation that, at times, ranges between uncomfortable and horrifically tragic?
  5. What can we do as bloggers to encourage our readers to take action beyond encouraging donations and requests to pray? What should that action look like? (What can we do on a local level to make an impact on the problems of human trafficking and justice?)
  6. How do you see IJM's role continuing/changing over the next few years? Do you foresee IJM remaining a primarily "front lines" organization, or do you see an expanded role in areas such as domestic issues or education and providing information?
These are a few of the questions me and a couple of other bloggers are going to be posing for Gary Haugen (President and CEO of International Justice Mission in about ten minutes. Pray that I don't look like a fool or complete imbecile while talking to this man - I feel so out of my league.

Oh, and what are your answers?


Douglas said...

1) Criticize both sides of the political aisle. Several bloggers have lost credibility with me recently, because they can only criticize one side or another. I don't care how witty or intelligent somebody is or how many letters they have after their name if they are pretty much blind to the faults of the side they favor. Persistent bias causes skepticism and cynicism. One area where I find this alot is abortion. Many (not all) GOP pro-lifers will talk about nothing else, losing all credibility that they really care about poverty in general and many (not all) democrat "pro-lifers" will only speak of abortion dismissively, either quoting narrow statistics of specific population groups as if they are all important (and completely ignoring broader statistics) or else outright lying about the broader statistics. It is telling to me that (according to some of the biggest initiators of lies on abortion statistics are Democrat theologians, calling into question whether they really care about abortion as a social justice issue at all. Both sides have huge credibility holes when it comes to social justice.
2) People perceive things as a fad because of their past experience with a group/person (or those they associate the group/person with). If a person doesn't want people to perceive the term/subject as a fad, then the person shouldn't change the language/focus of their objectives a couple years down the road. Of course, common knowledge says that such persistence causes one to lose "cultural relevance," right?

One reason nobody with a modicum of knowledge about the subject would accuse the Catholic Church of using social justice as a case de jeur, is that they have been using the term for over 100 years and developing the idea (think Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum from 1891 and Luigi Terreli coining the term in the 1840's). Its that kind of persistence in language and emphasis that eliminates all doubt about an idea being a fad.

3) There is no way I can do this justice in the two minutes I have remaining. Briefly, justice is the character quality that helps people give to others their due. Charity/love helps one give to others what one properly owns (beyond what other people are due as humans). Justice has both personal and societal contexts, though, making this woefully inadequate.
4) I think formality and in some sense anonymity helps start things off in this area. Showing a movie after church or holding a class or having a formal announce made to talk about how one can learn more helps ease people learn about it without the pressure of a personal conversation where society expects reactions when one hears about tragedy and, well, it just often takes time to process very tragic circumstances so that a reasoned response can be made.
5) Personally, I think blogging is relatively ineffective to accomplish the stated goal (unless one has a huge readership like Brant Hansen or Shaun Groves). Locally, just getting involved in one or two things a year and encouraging others to help can make a big difference. Personally, I like to do a sponsorship drive at my church once a year for the elderly, children and disabled through CFCA. This year, I'm asking past year's sponsors to help out in little ways by sharing something from their sponsorship experience. It is neat to see a small community of sponsors developing through our shared experience. Lots of social justice groups have ideas on things to do to help out, if one just asks.
5) assuming this is specific to your interviewees.

That's my two cents. I look forward to reading about the answers your guests give. I'm sure they will be much more eloquent than my own.


Douglas said...

sorry about the typos above. I tried adding things at the last minute and obviously didn't proofread first.

texasinafrica said...

Thanks for including my question!

euphrony said...

MB, I didn't get to pose all of the questions. I passed them on and then the moderator of the chat picked one question from Anne and one from me. But I think there should be more opportunities for discussion in the near future.

TiA, honestly I think I asked had about the same question already, but you phrased it some much better that I used yours instead of mine. Thanks!

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