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J. Leavitt Pearl

J. Leavitt Pearl is an adjunct professor at St. Vincent College and Seton Hill College, the Discipleship and Youth Coordinator at Baldwin Community United Methodist Church, and a member of the experimental theology cooperative Steel City Theology.

Essays

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.

John the Baptist offers a way for us to rethink Advent, suggesting that the advent of the kingdom demands the advent of justice.

“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.

The Prophet Amos employs the plumb line as a powerful metaphor for justice in society.

Not merely a time for ‘leisure’ or ‘recharging’, the notion of sabbath involves deep concepts of justice.

At Easter we should remember that anger and fear cannot win, but that joy can.

Sometimes effective resistance necessitates speech or decisive direct action. Yet sometimes resistance also demands a tactical silence.

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.

Through his encounter with the Canaanite woman, Jesus undergoes a conversion experience from his ethnocentrism. In the ugly shadow of recent events in Charlottesville, we must follow his example.

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 events of the first Easter invite illuminating parallels and contrasts with the shock and terror of contemporary state violence.

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.