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PUTTING THE WORLD TO RIGHTS

Do you recognize injustice? Do you long for justice? Sometimes, or often, do you daydream about how life would be if justice ruled every day? Yea, I do as well, sometimes. In his book, “Simply Christian”, Bishop Wright reminds us that if we watch the play of children old enough to speak, and we watch long enough we will hear someone cry, “That’s not fair!” to other children or some adult. Children seem to begin with an innate sense of of fairness. Justice just seems to be part of the package they are born with. Wright argues that we often regard the longing for justice like a dream that we know we have had. It was vivid. We were delighted by it but just cannot quite remember any details much after we wake up. Justice just seems to escape us.

We are able to fix a broken leg and after a bit of recuperation we are often as good as new. We can fix a whole host of problems but we cannot fix injustice. Most of our communities have layers of law enforcement, law courts and legislatures yet justice seems so elusive. Instances of injustice seem to have no end, locally, nationally, and internationally.

And not all instances of injustice are the result of mankind’s actions or in-actions. The Christmas 2004 earthquake and tidal wave killed three times as many people as the the number of American soldiers who died in the Vietnam war. Some things that make us say “That’s not right!’ are the result of tectonic plates in our planet doing what tectonic plates have got to do.

Closer to home, Wright allows that while he has thought about, preached about and even written books about moral standards, he still breaks them. This flaw runs right through the middle of each of us. We all know what we ought to do but we do not do it. (Sounds like St. Paul.) Yet we all share more than a sense that there is such a thing as justice, we actually have a passion for it, a deep longing for a world put to rights. Our position in this regard is not mitigated by our modern lives. We seem no better able to achieve justice as any ancient society we might study.

The cry for justice: underlines the fact that people care passionately about the places in the world needing put to rights. Trench warfare in World War 1, the Holocaust of WWII and more latterly apartheid in South Africa or Reservations in North America and the un-prevented killing of Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda in 1994 keep awake our thirst for justice into our modern age. We also now meet  irresponsible materialism and unthinking religious fundamentalism and people continue to ask: “Why is it like this? Does it have to be like this? Can things be put to rights, and if so how? Can the world be rescued? Can we be rescued? …. Isn’t it strange that we should all want things to be put to rights but can’t seem to do it? Are we responding to a Voice, or a Dream?

Wright says there are three ways to explain the sense of an echo of a voice with a call to justice and a world put to rights.

  1. First we can say it is only a dream or fantasy and the world is as it appears and we should heed Machiavelli and Nietzche and grab what we can get.
  2. Second we can say the dream is of a different world where everything is put to rights but that for now we can only reach in our dreams but that we hope to reach at a later time. Meanwhile the bullies run the world but things will be better somewhere, sometime but not now.
  3. Thirdly the reason for the dream and the memory of an echo of a voice, happens because, “there is someone speaking to us, whispering in our inner ear – someone who cares very much about this present world and our present selves, who has made us and the world for a purpose which will indeed involve justice, things being put to rights, ourselves being put to rights, the world being rescued at last”.   1.

The three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam while differing about much, all agree unlike other philosophies and religions that it has not been a dream. We have heard a voice and we can get in touch with that voice and change our real lives.

1. Simply Christian  pg  9

Hello World!

In our local parish, I am Adult Christian Education Facilitator. Though now retired, I experimented with online education while teaching high school. It was a bit avantguard in 2002, but nearly a decade later, new tools like blogs and the more  general adoption of home computers leads me to think this is the right tool at the right time. Three people in a small congregation might be available for a physical meeting at any given day and time. They might be twenty-one participants if they could meet online at their own convenience. So this blog will attempt to introduce online  Adult Christian Education for those who last heard the story as children,  those who may be spiritual but not religious,  or those who may have been hurt by church but collectively still hope that the answer to the question, “Is that all there is?” is a resounding NO!

In my experience the most cogent modern explication of  the Christian message, comes from N.T. Wright via his books ” Simply Christian“,  “After You Believe“, and “Surprised by Hope“.  I have read these books in quick overview and propose to work through them in detail. I will begin with “Simply Christian“, subtitled, “Why Christianity Makes Sense” and we will see if and how, Bishop Wright builds a convincing argument.

I undertake to deal with a small portion from the book at least weekly and will endeavour to present the ideas clearly enough that no one else  need buy the book in order to participate in the study.  If you decide to follow along on this journey you will find several ways to receive the blog content. You may click on either of the two orange icons at the top right of the page which will generate automatic feed of changes in the blog. You may also click “EMail Subscription” further down on the right and have the blog updates sent to your email page. You may comment directly on this page in the comment location directly under this post.  As  a group develops around this study I can set up a group for us to join where everyone can sign in and sound off. So jump in and see where it leads.

Ray