J. Leavitt Pearl is the director of The Atkins Center for Ethics at Carlow University, the Discipleship and Youth Coordinator at Baldwin Community United Methodist Church, and a member of the experimental theology cooperative Steel City Theology.
The tearing open of the cosmic order is the descent of the true justice of God, waged against the empires of this world who rule under the banner of “order and justice,” but whose “justice” is always only violence and oppression.
We must develop strategies to resist the political deployment of the image of the innocent victim as a tool of further oppression and we must seek to mobilize the image of the innocent victim towards the end of emancipation and liberation.
The two stories of Luke 15:1–10, which we might call “parables of the remainder,” illustrate a core component of the Christian political orientation. That is, they highlight the alternative logic of much of the Judeo-Christian scriptures that urges us to foster solidarity in community through identification with the remainder, with the least of these, and to thereby bring justice and liberation.
Liberal ethical tropes around “fairness” and “inequality” are not wrong. But they are not enough. Political theology needs the possibility of an absolute “No” in the face of injustice. It needs the decision.
“Victimhood culture” has swept our nation in recent years where victimhood has become an identity to be ashamed of. However, Jesus teaches his followers to bear their victimhood without shame, just as he bore his own without shame.
Mary’s Magnificat challenges us to bend our sight, to look both forward and backward. For without a vision of the future, without a messianic hope, we can only ever mourn the past—we can never envision its regeneration, a new heaven and a new earth.
There is perhaps no biblical virtue more foreign to the contemporary Western mind than hospitality. For us, the deeply ethical connotations of hospitality for the stranger—the resident alien or refugee—have been largely replaced with a call for general neighborliness and an often all-too-partisan welcome.
The practice of gleaning, commanded in Leviticus and illustrated in the narrative of Ruth, disrupts the sort of connection we may suppose exists between the ownership and the use of property. The principles of economic justice it implies can guide us in our contemporary politics.