To Do Justice and To Love Kindness

For me, Election Day can’t get here soon enough — and it has nothing to do with the outcome.

I do not mean to minimize the privilege I have to freely engage in the political process. Having done a fair bit of traveling throughout the world, I am grateful to be a part of a political system that allows me to not only make choices, but also to freely discuss those choices.

I am also acutely aware that I have been scripted through a number of influences, individuals and experiences to hold a certain political perspective. We are all products of our environments, histories, and the places our life journeys have taken us.

Somewhere along our political history, though, we seem to have moved away from talking substantively about the issues to focusing our attention on denigrating those who have a different political perspective from ours. The goal no longer seems to be an intentional, rational conversation — but rather to seek out potential character flaws that can be exploited.

“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” (BCP 305) 

Two of the Five Marks of Mission are to respond to human need by loving service and to seek to transform unjust structures of society.

We are clearly called to work for a more just world. Often, it takes political action to make this happen. Yet we are just as clearly called to respect every human being — not the least of whom are those who come from a completely different perspective than we do.

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8 thoughts on “To Do Justice and To Love Kindness

  1. I am a member of St Mark’s, and of course our signage clearly indicates that we “welcome” all. Forthat I am very grateful.

    I think, particularly with the “Vote NO” campaign in regard to the proposed Constitutional amendment on marriage your message is very timely.I happen to strongly agree with voting “NO” but we must also be honestly willing to listen to those who disagree with us and why.

    I for instance did not always hold the view I now do, and many of us have had to evolve on this issue and so many areas throughout our lives while remaining believers in the same God as the “opposition.” What may be obvious to me now has not always been so. And that is true with others, both within our ranks and elsewhere.

    We need to realize that some of those who may disagree with us sit in our parish, perhaps even next to us, and are to be indeed welcomed fully if we are to obey the Gospel. Otherwise our signage means very little.

    In short we should be as happy to see Matt Birk visit our Liturgies as Chris Kluwe. We want to see them both as part of our “family”–or should.

    Thanks, Bishop Prior for shairing this reminder.

  2. Reblogged this on anglicanboyrichard and commented:
    RICHARD’S THOUGHTS–I am a member of St Mark’s, and of course our signage clearly indicates that we “welcome” all. For that I am very grateful.

    I think, particularly with the “Vote NO” campaign in regard to the proposed Constitutional amendment on marriage your message is very timely.I happen to strongly agree with voting “NO” but we must also be honestly willing to listen to those who disagree with us and why.

    I for instance did not always hold the view I now do, and many of us have had to evolve on this issue and so many areas throughout our lives while remaining believers in the same God as the “opposition.” What may be obvious to me now has not always been so. And that is true with others, both within our ranks and elsewhere.

    We need to realize that some of those who may disagree with us sit in our parish, perhaps even next to us, and are to be indeed welcomed fully if we are to obey the Gospel. Otherwise our signage means very little.

    In short we should be as happy to see Matt Birk visit our Liturgies as Chris Kluwe. We want to see them both as part of our “family”–or should.

    Thanks, Bishop Prior for shairing this reminder.

  3. Nicely stated, thank you. I think it is unfortunate we cannot engage in respectful dialog about the issues because I think we have more common ground than we often realize and should focus on that instead of our separateness and differences.

  4. NO PARKING AT ANY TIME
    Is the picture in this October 23 posting, a yellow diamond-shaped “BE NICE” sign, supposed to be a parody on the words found in the book of Micah, words about doing restorative justice and being kind? Nowhere in the gospel does it say, “Blessed are the nice, for they shall be called episcopalians.” Who decides where the fine line is drawn between compassionate criticism and denigration? Is it God who decides or bishops? “Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart”? So while we are waiting for the godly answer to arrive on the wings of angels or with the sound of a shofar…should we just get on with the impolitic, tough work of communally reconciling with each other? The process-journey of reconciliation defuses much of the tensions and confusion among God’s people and softens hearts for community living, mission and worship. Have any of us ever witnessed a church community process for reconciliation in our own congregations? Is this something which must be taught so we can indeed “do justice”?
    Differences are good. Creative differences are wise. Creativity for the restoration of God’s creation and his people is needed.
    BOTH…separate and communal are necessary,
    Are doctrinal “conformation” (vs. confirmation) and differences also both necessary? Different giftedness and viewpoints become the spark for transformational community.
    Jesus was not nice. He was beyond superficial nice. He was pointedly confrontational especially with powerful, arrogant hierarchical temple dwellers.
    What happens today when one of the unjust structures of our society is our own property-holding, power-wielding, people-controlling religious denomination of domination with its millstones of doctrine, canon laws, and heavily-burdened bureaucracy which cannot respond with ease, speed, transparency and compassion to “the little crises of little people”? What happens? Is a culture of trust created? Do we get the grateful dead marking “none” under the heading of “denomination”? Wall Street is not the only institution with trust issues.
    What is the theological basis for Christian Community in our ECiM diocese?

    1. PROPOSITIONAL ORTHODOXY
    Is out theological basis the conservative way of orthoproxy: bound by doctrinal agreement and uniformity of belief?
    Disciples are made through obedience to authoritarian leadership which keeps people doctrinally unified (converts are made).
    The Truth ABOUT Jesus is exclusive.
    Conflict is seen as evidence of dysfunction.
    Reconciliation is managed by little compromise. Collective folly may be found in confirmational biases and organizational silence.

    2. ETHICAL ORTHODOXY
    Or …Is the theological basis for community in our diocese a more liberal orthopraxy bound by ethical agreement and uniformity, with conformity to Jesus’ ethic of love?
    Disciples are made through their handy service and those with catalyzing leadership (friends are made).
    The Truth OF Jesus is inclusive and universal.
    Conflict is once again seen as dysfunctional.
    Reconciliation is through nicely ignoring disagreement, nicely changing the subject or nicely focusing on universal Truth.

    3. INCARNATIONAL ORTHODOXY
    Or…Is the theological basis for community in our diocese a paradoxy of God’s transformative love and mystery found in common bread, naturally struggling fellowship, and common worship, where there is no conformity? Instead there is sacrificial, confrontational transformation.
    Disciples are called, lead by visionary and facilitating leadership (disciples are made).
    The Truth IS Jesus, in a quantum-relational, collective, creatively chaotic world without “them and us.” Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says we cannot know objective reality with our limited senses. We can only have “verisimilitude” so the more observers in community with different relational perspectives, the more closely we approximate “objective” truth. Spiritually we can know Truth in relationships, quantum relationships, where all are connected, each holding a different view of connection.
    Conflict is NOT NICE at all but authentic, frustratingly challenging and necessary.
    Reconciliation is facilitated through time consuming, challenging “communal processes” of restorative dialogue, communal discernment and engaging prayer because “we all are a little wrong”
    in relational verisimilitude. With more observers, there are more and different views, and more Truth.

    4. Hybrid mix of ALL of the above?
    These ideas are from the book: Paradoxy, Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them, by Ken Howard, recommended by Brian McLaren and Dr. Paul Zahl and lawyer, Mary Jacksteit who wrote: “Deep human connection takes place in the presence of profound disagreement. It is a holy mystery.”

    So in regard to the “BE NICE” yellow sign…the Holy Mystery lies below this sign. Look carefully and see that there is a red and white sign, “NO PARKING ANY TIME.” The Holy Mystery announces: Do not park our diocese in the “BE NICE” handicapped parking spot. We are promised much more than superficial “NICE.”

    Bring on the tougher challenges of mission: establish protective whistleblower policies so we can clean up our own act. Create and teach relational reconciliation processes so there can be an end to our risk averse culture. Give permission for FAIL BLOGS and celebrate creative intelligent failure. Teach leaders about the Milgram Effect studies at Yale and the Lucifer Effect experiments at Stanford. Establish a culture of courage and permission and accountability. Lift up those quietly ignored or those labeled by their own priests as having psychiatric instability because they dared to not conform and “BE NICE.” Establish and teach relational, communal processes for discernment so we may break from corporate folly in silencing dissenting voices and approach some verisimilitude. ALL the differences are required and will lead to greater relational Truth. Hear and restore in community those who speak about allegations of church simony, drug and alcohol use on youth mission, “underground” church culture mired in self-protective, defensive reasoning, violations of Safe Church policies from ill-prepared chaperones/leaders and more.

    Restorative justice is not nice; it is compassionately critical, and tough work for those in God’s Relational, Creative, Quantum Space. There is a need for congruency in our professed beliefs and our actions. It is our spiritual work…enough for a lifetime for those who profess:
    “We will with God’s help.”
    PARK HERE. For God’s Certainty Principle.

  5. Dear Bishop Prior,

    I have not been able to find the “Be Nice” picture to which Kathy refers in her above, which led her to post the excerpts from my book.

    But I resonate pretty strongly with the last paragraph of your Blog post, in which you said “We are clearly called to work for a more just world. Often, it takes political action to make this happen. Yet we are just as clearly called to respect every human being — not the least of whom are those who come from a completely different perspective than we do.”

    One of the underlying ideas that drove my thinking when I wrote “Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them” is that difference is not dysfunctional but healthy…even holy. We not only need to respect those whose perspective is completely different than ours, but actually need to grapple with each others’ different perspectives in order to transcend our narrow individual perspectives and open our eyes to a broader understanding of GOD’S PERSPECTIVE.

    In the work I have done with clergy and lay leadership groups around the concepts of Incarnational Christianity, I have found that this insight about differences not only helps people within and among congregations relate better with each other, but also helps them be better at dealing with people outside the church. In fact, over and over people tell me that learning that difference is not just okay but necessary, helping them to become better evangelists by assuring them that they are not in the business of converting people, but of introducing people to their friend, Jesus Christ.

    Blessings to my friends in Minn,
    Ken+
    The Rev. Ken Howard
    Rector, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church
    Director, The Paradoxy Center for Incarnational Christianity

  6. Whoa, Rev. Howard! How did you find this post? A special search app? Thank you for your summary about valuing differences. The term I like is…”honoring multiple concurrent realities.” All groups and communities must understand that they have the potential for both collective wisdom and collective folly. There is a continuum.

    I read your book at the same time I was reading another book, The Power of Collective Wisdom and the Trap of Collective Folly. What I have personally witnessed too frequently in Episcopal Churches is an inability to honor multiple realities for relational reconciliation. The chief tool du jour used by arrogant or fearful leaders in the Episcopal Church is a collective conspiracy of silence, “an agitated silence where words are suppressed in fear or resignation” giving “the appearance of cohesion” when there is perceived conflict. Lauren Artress, Episcopal priest, author and founder of Veriditas reviewed the book…”The Power of Collective Wisdom accelerates a movement that is quietly on the rise during this time of vast cultural change. This book names it, outlines the thinkers and leaders, and distinguishes-through real-life stories and fables-collective wisdom from groupthink gone awry.”

    Let us keep reintroducing ourselves and others to our unconventionally wise friend, Jesus.

    Kathy

  7. Hi Kathy, et al,
    Sorry for the delay. My Google search bots don’t always find every mention of Paradoxy. I’d really love to stay in touch. I’m in the midst of writing a new book, “FaithX: Experimental Faith-Communities for an Undiscovered Future,” and I’m looking for communities willing to try or already trying the seven experimental practices I’ve identified (I say already trying, because they’re not rocket surgery, just outside the usual religious lingo). If you all would like to participate and be featured in the book, let me know.
    Blessings,
    Ken+

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