Labor leaders and scholars from around the world are gathering for a two-day symposium in Syracuse, New York, to explore how the moral resources within religious traditions can invigorate labor activism and struggles for labor justice. The symposium will bring together ethicists, theorists, theologians, historians, and others to foster a dialogue intended both to deepen scholarly conversations around these issues and to promote greater intellectual depth for faith-based labor organizing. The conference will be held at Syracuse University and Le Moyne College on April 10-11. Registration is free and all are welcome.
In Isaiah 42, the prophet speaks both of the vulnerability of a dimly burning wick and the great light of the world. Understanding the relationship between these two images can provide us with hope and insight as we seek justice in our situations.
Micah’s message reminds us of the importance of small beginnings and the potential of the things that can start from them. Alongside this, he teaches us of the necessity of the actions whereby we live the difference that God desires to create in the world.
Our discomfort with the notion of God visiting the sins of parents upon their children may lead us to avoid wrestling with Exodus 20:5-6. This would be a mistake. This reference occurs in the context of the prohibition upon idolatry and challenges both our attempts to sanitize God and our idolization of our children.
Israel’s experience of thirst in the wilderness should draw our attention to the experience of those for whom thirst and lack of water is a reality of life in our own day. We must identify and address some of the ways in which we are complicit in the forms of injustice that produce such a situation.
Three years before, Eleanor Bumpurs had been shot. A sixty-six year old black woman shot by a white police officer. Shot twice. With a shotgun. In her home. A case against the police officer wound through the courts in fits and starts. In 1987 the officer was acquitted. It was then, on the streets in front of the courthouse, that the press recorded for the first time the chant, “no justice, no peace.”
In likening kingdoms lacking justice to criminal syndicates, Augustine invokes the story of a confrontation between Alexander the Great and a pirate. Indeed, Augustine judges “that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor’” (De civ. Dei 4.4.1).
…there is another way in which human judgment often aspires to God-likeness: when it seeks to control the future course of events, preventing future evils, rather than merely rectifying existing wrongs.
Of course, there is a plausibility in this aspiration, since prudence is one of the essential political virtues, and prudence is above all concerned with weighing future consequences, with planning and forethought, with mitigating foreseen harms and maximizing prospective benefits. But prudence, in the scheme of cardinal virtues, must remain always the handmaiden of justice.
For three weeks now, I have been listening to Mary’s Magnificat sung as a part of the mid-week evening prayer service in my congregation. Last week, I leaned over to my five-year-old and told her, “This is the story of Jesus’ Mommy when she was pregnant with him.” Rereading a paper that I wrote on this text in college, I critiqued an over spiritualization of these words that are “a vivid proclamation of God’s eternal justice and intention to uplift the weak and lowly in a ministry of love…a call to social action on behalf of humanity.” Now, as I sit with the text, I can only say that it is all of this and more…
Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is obsessed with the question: what are the conditions of possibility for political judgment? Judgment, as Oliver O’Donovan has written in The Ways of Judgment, “both pronounces retrospectively on, and clears space prospectively for, actions that are performed within a community” and is therefore “subject to criteria of truth, on the one hand, and to criteria of effectiveness on the other” (9). Although judgment must meet both criteria, very often in the world of politics, they appear to be in rivalry. Truth-telling, in a world of fickle voters and predatory media, in a world of terrorists and hidden threats, can seem like a very unwise proposition, a luxury that must be dispensed with if order and justice are to be preserved. This tension haunts Nolan’s trilogy.