Sunday, March 14, 2010

Social Justice

I have written this blog for almost 3 years.

I have very rarely commented on people like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. I have made general comments, especially as to my belief that "media" like this is harmful to the solving of complex problems and to the tenor of reasoned debate in this country.

Once in awhile though, something comes along that is so fundamentally flawed, so egregiously wrong that it must be challenged.

That something is Glenn Beck's assertion that churches that preach "Social Justice" are really only using code words for Communism and Nazism.

When I read about this, and heard about this, I could only shake my head. Criticism of him is coming in from all kinds of different places - and rightly so.

But, in thinking about it, I think a lot of people believe exactly the same way that Beck does about "Social Justice" and helping the poor. To a lot of people, Christians included, to be poor is to be weak and morally flawed. If you are poor, it's YOUR fault.

First, to define "social justice". Remember, Beck says if your church or priest preaches Social Justice, you are supposed to run away - that that really means embracing Communism or Nazism.

This is an excellent excerpt from "Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish" on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website:

The introduction of the report has the following to say about Social Justice:

"One of the most encouraging signs of the gospel at work in our midst is the vitality and quality of social justice ministries in our parishes. Across the country, countless local communities of faith are serving those in need, working for justice, and sharing our social teaching as never before. Millions of parishioners are applying the gospel and church teaching in their own families, work, and communities. More and more, the social justice dimensions of our faith are moving from the fringes of parishes to become an integral part of local Catholic life."

Reverend Jim Wallis of Sojourners has logged a lot of time on CNN, MSNBC, etc over the past few weeks answering questions about Beck's comments and the wrongness of them. Reverend Wallis has talked about a time where they cut out with scissors or a knife all of the passages in the Bible that relate to the care of the poor. After the completion of this task, so much of the bible was gone, that from a structural standpoint it barely held together.

I personally do not see how you can reconcile the rapacious, winner take all, consumer driven, "me first" capitalism that a lot of us seem to be living (including those in the churches - and among those, I count myself) with passages like Matthew 25:31-46 which culminates with Jesus teaching in verse 45: "He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me."

Now, of course there will be those people who say that I didn't interpret the scripture correctly, or missed the true message, or whatever. That may be so, and I take full responsibility for that - but, to me, unlike a lot of bible verses, it seems pretty clear cut.

Take care of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, and those in prison.

It's interesting that when you get into early church history, after Jesus active ministry (Acts), you find that this type of taking care of each other STILL existed. Acts 2:44-45 says:

"All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need."

That seems pretty clear cut to me as well.

What happened along the way to change that?

No more to say really. It isn't Communism or Nazism, It isn't something I made up. Or gleaned from Mein Kampf or the Communist Manifesto.

It's the Gospel, and it's there for anyone to read if they care to.

I'll let the Prophet Micah close it out:

"What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" (Micah 6:8)