Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review: The Justice Project, edited by McLaren, Padilla, Seeber


 The Justice Project is a collection of essays by a handful of "progressive," "emergent," and otherwise cutting-edge Christian writers. The essays serve as meditations on the Biblical concept of justice, with titles such as "Just Elections: What is the Most Pressing Voter Issue Facing Our Democracy Today"; "Just Suburbs: What Does the Call of Justice Mean for Life in Our Suburbs"; and "Exorcism as Racial Justice."

The book--as most collections of essays are doomed to be--is annoyingly hit or miss. Quality and depth of writing varied wildly. The editing, it seemed, also did not curb repetition. Too often I found myself skimming over sentences or entire paragraphs that a previous essay had just said in a only slightly different way.

However, the essays that hit the mark did so excellently. If you're borrowing this book from someone, definitely check out Jeremy Del Rio's "Prophets of Justice"; Bart Campolo's "Just Elections"; and Ashley Bunting Seeber's "Just Perspectives. A quote from each will give you a flavor of what is being said.

Del Rio: "Too many Bible readers have been trained...to approach the biblical text through the priestly lens, not the prophetic one. That is, they look at the priestly theme of personal justification and ignore the prophetic theme of social justice."

Campolo: "I hereby assert that...there is only one voting issue of ultimate significance: campaign finance reform."

Seeber quoting a friend: "...what would America justice look like? Would it be restorative justice, or retributive justice? It seems Americans are focused on retributive justice more than anything else, on punishing people for their wrongdoing." She herself comments, "Do we even know how to seek distributive justice, to love other countries as we love ourselves?

The Justice Project would serve as great discussion-kindling; it doesn't stand alone very well. Three stars (out of five).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Permanence

I've lived on Lowell street for a little under 11 months now. Nearly a year. This is the longest I've lived in one location since before college. College dorms only provide 8 months or so of shelter. Over the summers I've rented a house, lived in Hawaii (in a beach cottage, a retiree's spare bedroom, and an extra room in a church), and lived in the basement of relatives. This moving around, believe it or not, provides a certain amount of comfort. I guess I find comfort in change. Staying in one place too long can bring a sense of walls closing in. Like the trash compactor seen from A New Hope. I suppose, if I had to psychoanalyze myself (which is probably dangerous, like trying to diffuse a nuclear bomb with a stick of dynamite), I would have to guess this has something to do with my motley past. Surviving in an apartment with Toni (aka Bio-Mom). Residing with a foster family in Seward, Alaska. Abiding with my aunt and uncle in Indianapolis. Belonging in Goshen with my adopted (therefore true) family. Moving around is what I grew up with. Why not carry on that tradition?

But things are a little different now. I'm married and of course Emily and I can't go on moving every 3 or 8 months. Though, admittedly, that was our plan. We had no intention to still be living in Mishawaka once winter hit. Perhaps our dreamt-of grandeur was merely delusional, but it was grandeur nonetheless. But nearly 11 months later, on Lowell street we live.

That's okay, though. We bought Christmas decorations yesterday. The level of affection I feel for, like, Star Wars or Robotech is what Emily feels for Christmas decorating. Honestly, I never had that much of a desire for Christmas decorating (and she has little for Star Wars). Don't get me wrong; Christmas decorations look nice once up, but who wants to put them up? Well, Emily does. So we bought lights and a wreath and garland and a star to put on top of our not-yet-cut-down-or-paid-for tree.

These things--stars and wreaths and such--are not things you buy in order to keep a sense of fluidity and mobility. They are, rather, the beginning of a sense of permanence. Of course, we won't be living on Lowell Street forever. But Emily and I are going to be living together for quite a while. The next place we move will (I hope) be a place we intend on staying for years to come. Fathoming this as a high school student (who I'm surrounded by currently and who can't think beyond Thanksgiving Day) or as a college student has to be impossible, because even as an alumnus and a no-longer-bachelor, I still occasionally blanch at the idea of permanence.

They always say that life goes by more and more quickly as you get older. But I think, at least for me, its finally about to slow down. And I, for one, with my wife by my side, embrace this change in velocity. If I'm going to be in the same spot for a while, it might as well be a while long enough for me to enjoy it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's amazing how fast things change. In some ways, it feels like just yesterday since I worked at Family. Yet in other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. I am so happy not to be working there anymore. It was such a relief to finish that job and move on to substitute teaching. I was a little worried at first about finding jobs, but it hasn't been a problem at all! And I've been making much more money subbing than I was at Family, which allows Anthony and I to get ahead a little.

Overall, subbing has been a lot of fun. I'm kind of surprised to admit that, but it has been. I have yet to have an awful class, and for the most part I've done things I've enjoyed. So far, I think I like working with middle schoolers the best. They are old enough to work on their own, but young enough not to intimidate me. I still haven't worked a lot at the high schools, but I'm sure that will come. I think what I like best about subbing are the hours. I'm done fairly early in the day, and I can always choose days when I don't want to work.

Speaking of days when I haven't worked... last Wednesday Chris was here for one whole day! He's been in Japan teaching English and he came back for a family wedding. He was only in Mishawaka for a day, but Anthony and I had the privilege of hosting him. We both chose to take the day off, which was wonderful. In some ways, it was so natural to have him with us, but at the same time, it was so weird! Anthony and I really hope to be able to make a trip out there to visit him in the next year.

On the job front, Anthony is still looking for a ministry position. We have a pretty strong lead right now, but I won't say anything more until we know for sure. Our pattern thus far is that we have lead. We wait three months. We find out that they've hired someone else. So it's been difficult to stay positive at times. We're just really praying that God would make our desires His desires.

I am really looking forward to Christmas this year. Normally, I have a strict policy not to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but this year I can't seem to help it. I don't know if it's because it's our first Christmas being married or what, but I find myself already thinking about decorating and buying a tree and all that good stuff. It's nice that we actually rent a house and not an apartment because we can put lights outside, which makes me excited.

Alright, I think that's about all for today. There are some maintainance guys here looking at our fridge. Over the weekend, it decided to stop cooling. Our freezer's temperature is at 42 degrees, which is not good. Hopefully it will be an easy fix.

Emily