Wednesday, January 10, 2007

crime and punishment?


"we must allow the worldly court system to do punish as it sees fit." (brotherken)

Why? This was the whole point of the post, to question this assumption. Can you give at least some reasons to support this? If you'll read above, I ask whether Jesus' words don't offer a way to seperate justice from punishment (and especially violence) and with the immensity of violence surrounding us today I am looking for every possible hope offered. (hineini)



is 'justice' an objective concept... or is it cultural, circumstancial, situational, and personal?


another question might be how lady justice can wield a sword faithfully while blindfolded?

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17 Comments:

Blogger jollybeggar said...

see, here's my thing:
i think that there is a difference between the judiciary system and justice. i believe that justice must needs be an objective thing (d'Uh! that's why the blindfold- way to state the obvious) in that it is like truth... there are no relevent cultural or circumstancial qualifiers. it just is...

now the difference, in my view, between this and the judiciary is that the rules and laws and tennets and due-processes have been created in order to somehow attend to the need that exists between human beings for justice to be served and all people to be treated fairly.

uh-oh... when we say 'fair' we open up a whole bunch of debate as to whether fairness and sameness are synonymous.

still, somewhere in the murkiness of our semantics is this notion that all people should have what they need and should be treated in ways that affirm their dignity and their rights as human beings... i think that somewhere in there lurks the blindfolded girl with the sword, carefully feeling her way through the darkness that she has accepted in order to aspire to objectivity.

add to this the whole question of God's will and determinism versus free will and give it a context:

yesterday i went to court as a witness because i had called 911 on a domestic situation that had moved out into the street back in may. a personal sense of justice and that whole notion of responsibility for the well-being of the other caused me to 'get involved' rather than continue my drive home with three playoff pizzas.

so, seated in the lobby outside the courtroom i got talking with the lady on whose behalf i had made the 911 call. she didn't recognize me because i had come all dressed up in a suit/whatever thing in respect and acknowledgement of the judicial process.

she asked what i 'do' and i said 'i'm a preacher.'

from there, we began talking about her mother who had just passed away three weeks earlier and her personal grieving process which was drawing her into dialogues all over the place on God, mortality, hope and whatever else. because of my own philosophical mortality journey over the last three years, i had one or two things of my own to share.

we spoke for quite awhile while the lawyers deliberated and, in the end, none of us were required to appear in court because the situation was settled to the satisfaction of both parties.

so why was i there?

who knows? i just called 911. i found it really interesting, though, how my presence there was useful in order for this woman to continue to pursue her ongoing mortality dialogue with the insight and information of an accessable 'man of the cloth'.

if justice bears with it some degree of attending to the needs of the other, then perhaps justice was made available in this context on many levels- the process of which could be traceable at the very least to a regrettable incident that turned two strangers into two people enjoying fellowship as they sort out what we do about the whole problem of death.

1/10/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

Oh that annoying problem with justice and judgment - it's a tough egg to crack that's for sure and is there an answer good enough for everyone - I include people from all religions and non-religions in this argument, to make this tougher an ideal to find satisfaction (right Mick).

Judgment is something we are called to do in a way that reflect's more mercy than punishment (some might say no punishment at all - well not on my part anyways). But judge like you want to be judged - in it's simplest form is the golden rule. And I kinda like kindness and mercy myself - which is the road I usually take. But I ain't no court of law - and that's a whole other ball of wax - on a personal level I judge to the point of mercy and forgiveness getting the stronghold - not bitterness and hatred.

Punishment - well that's obvious on a individual level - no way ios that in our hands to pursue (like a vigilante). But the court of law - well that's their domain and they run the law of the land - I have to obey their laws - so thusly I avoid things worthy of punishment - includes crime and violence. But I think the law has the right to punish us if we break their laws - ex: pedophilia - it deserves something for it's abuse of children (maybe a rock around the neck and now try swim - i kid, i kid). The law has to do something to make society safer for others - thus jail comes in. But what's the role of the faithful in Christ - well we have the right to try help that person deal with their issues - to visit and befriend - they committed a bad crime but are they un-redeemable? Un-loveable? Well we'll never know if we don't try to help them in some way.

I think this is closer to the biblical ideal of justice - we are subject to the laws of the land (we may break some if it goes against our personal faith) but we are not to 'live by it or in it as the golden rule'. Jesus says 'visit the prisoner' - why? I am guessing that God loves them too and just perhaps - they can be redeemed if they can just hear ya (holla if you hear me). I don't overlook the crime but I do think love can overlook a multitude of sins.

1/10/2007  
Blogger curious servant said...

The problem with the justice system is that it's run by human beings.

Perhaps that is a little simplistic, but on the whole, I do not believe that humans can be entirely just. We simply aren't wise enough, powerful enough, nor omniscient. We will make mistakes.

There are details of how the system works that I also object to, such as the death penalty.

But I am willing to live peacefully under the system that my society has agreed upon, as long as I can work peacefully to voice my concerns.

There isn't any human ystem that is going to work perfectly.

On a slightly different note, I thought this comment interesting:

"But I think the law has the right to punish us if we break their laws - ex: pedophilia - it deserves something for it's abuse of children (maybe a rock around the neck and now try swim - i kid, i kid)." --Societyvs


It reminded me of this one:
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:5-7

1/10/2007  
Blogger BrotherKen said...

in this text that we discuss i find it hard to believe that jesus was trying to make the point that we should work to remove punishment from the world and say to all who offend "your sins are forgiven go and sin no more". if you truly believe you could keep up that ideal i want to know where you live becuase i am coming to take all you have! just kidding of course but unfortunately there is a need for punishment of crime. yet jesus was teaching something of importance here and if not as you suggest, what could it be?

could it be that jesus was trying to teach that we must forgive in our hearts (spiritually)? maybe he was teaching that the punishment should fit the crime? maybe he was exampling how *sometimes* we may be able to discern that the offender is already truly sorry and we should show mercy and trust that they have learned their lesson? all of these possibilities allow for a secular punishment system of some sort. i have issues with the system we have but there many have to live under much worse (not saying we shouldn't try to improve what we have).

do the ideals of mercy and forgiveness negate punishment? would jesus have had to be whipped, dragged through the streets and hung on a cross if there was any other way to redeem our sins?

this is a tough one hineini, keep up the good work!

1/10/2007  
Blogger Cinder said...

this is a mixed bag issue for me and heated one too. i was going to quietly read away and not discuss, but oh well, here it goes.

"i have issues with the system we have but there many have to live under much worse (not saying we shouldn't try to improve what we have)." (brotherken)

"The problem with the justice system is that it's run by human beings." (Curious Servant)

brotherken, i do have to agree with you on this...our justice system is far from perfect, as Curious Servant pointed out, because it is run by humans and we are an imperfect people. but, regardless of how imperfect it might seem, many people tonight are ruled under harsher systems than us, under the constant attack of a rule based upon civil wars, etc. there's always room for improvement on what we have...i think complacency in any system is the worse thing which could happen. just because something was built years ago, doesn't mean it still 'fits' the mold of where societial issues have us now...we need to be able to adapt and bring forth what will work the best for now, not what worked in the past.

"But what's the role of the faithful in Christ - well we have the right to try help that person deal with their issues - to visit and befriend - they committed a bad crime but are they un-redeemable? Un-loveable? Well we'll never know if we don't try to help them in some way...I don't overlook the crime but I do think love can overlook a multitude of sins." (society)

Society, that's exactly where we need to be. nobody is unredeemable or unloveable. we do a serious injustice when, instead of helping a person out, we stomp further while they're down. it accomplishes nothing! just because you choose to offer love and forgiveness to someone, doesn't mean that you are condoning their crime or actions.

"if justice bears with it some degree of attending to the needs of the other, then perhaps justice was made available in this context on many levels- the process of which could be traceable at the very least to a regrettable incident that turned two strangers into two people enjoying fellowship as they sort out what we do about the whole problem of death." (jb)

jb, this story is truly an amazing one. as i said back in may, you never know how your actions will work in someone's life...you don't know where they might have be at, at that specific moment, you don't know the actions they will take as a result of what you did. but i think that's exactly why we can't sit idle on the sidelines being spectators, instead of being 'on-call' and taking action when we feel called to.

just like you didn't know in may what the results of your actions would be, what transpired yesterday couldn't have been foretold either. justice takes on many forms in my mind...it takes on the forms He might want and also the ones we are willing to participate in. you were placed there for a specific reason, which will continue to play out...it'll be cool to see that one play out!

1/10/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

I lovw being quoted - makes me feel special and I like feeling special - thanks Cinder.

1/11/2007  
Blogger Cinder said...

LOL...you're welcome...i love to make people feel special.

1/11/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

you know what i find interesting? how hierarchical we are with sin. although he was writing in the 14th century, dante's 'inferno' describes a modernist hell with many circles, all clearly labelled... the worse the sin the further down you are placed for all eternity.

our lives are lived by degrees- our lives are linear and everything we experience seems to be plotted on some continuum between a this and a that. however, if we subscribe to the view that God is this eternal, ever-present, immutable diety (and, again, to varying degrees we subscribe to this doctrine, ranging from complete subscription to non-subscription) then the whole notion of depth of hell is a bit unnecessary. separate from is the same as far from if we are speaking of a being who is not restricted to time and space.

i would even put forth the notion that we, upon death, step out of this physical realm and therefore out of time and space as well, making the whole depth of hell idea immediately irrelevent to us as well.

so my point? is it just our fallenness that argues a difference between the 'eternal punishment' of a pedophile and that to which a liar or (as i think of a comment i just read on northVUs)a warmonger is condemned?

are these reflections of our skewed perspective rather than God's justice?

"The problem with the justice system is that it's run by human beings." (curious servant)

***
FYI...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Divine_Comedy#The_Circles_of_Hell

The Circles of Hell

"Gianciotto Discovers Paolo and Francesca" by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
"The Barque of Dante" by Eugène DelacroixFirst Circle (Limbo). Here reside the unbaptized and the virtuous pagans, who, though not sinful, did not accept Christ. Here also reside those who, if they lived before the coming of Christ, did not pay fitting homage to their respective deity. They are not punished in an active sense, but rather grieve only their separation from God, without hope of reconciliation. The chief irony in this circle is that Limbo shares many characteristics with Elysian Fields, thus the guiltless damned are punished by living in their deficient form of heaven. Their fault was that they lacked faith —— the hope for something greater than rational minds can conceive. Limbo includes green fields and a castle, the dwelling place of the wisest men of antiquity, including Virgil himself. In the castle Dante meets the poets Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. (Canto IV) Dante implies that all virtuous pagans find themselves here, although he later encounters two in heaven and one in purgatory.

Beyond the first circle, all of those condemned for active, deliberately willed sin are judged by Minos, who sentences each soul to one of the lower eight circles. These are structured according to the classical (Aristotelian) conception of virtue and vice, so that they are grouped into the sins of incontinence, violence, and fraud (which for many commentators are represented by the leopard, lion, and she-wolf[2]). The sins of incontinence — weakness in controlling one's desires and natural urges — are the mildest among them, and, correspondingly, appear first:

Second Circle. Those overcome by lust are punished in this circle. These souls are blown about to and fro by a violent storm, without hope of rest. This symbolizes the power of lust to blow one about needlessly and aimlessly. Francesca da Rimini tells Dante how she and her husband's brother Paolo committed adultery and died a violent death at the hands of her husband. (Canto V)

Third Circle. Cerberus guards the gluttons, forced to lie in the mud under continual cold rain and hail. Dante converses with a Florentine contemporary identified as Ciacco ("Hog" - probably a nickname) regarding strife in Florence and the fate of prominent Florentines. (Canto VI)

Fourth Circle. Those whose concern for material goods deviated from the desired mean are punished in this circle. They include the avaricious or miserly, who hoarded possessions, and the prodigal, who squandered them. Guarded by Plutus, each group pushes a great weight against the heavy weight of the other group. After the weights crash together the process starts over again. (Canto VII)

Fifth Circle. In the swamp-like water of the river Styx, the wrathful fight each other on the surface, and the sullen or slothful lie gurgling beneath the water. Phlegyas reluctantly transports Dante and Virgil across the Styx in his skiff. On the way they are accosted by Filippo Argenti, a Black Guelph from a prominent family. (Cantos VII and VIII)

The lower parts of hell are contained within the walls of the city of Dis, which is itself surrounded by the Stygian marsh. Punished within Dis are active (rather than passive) sins. The walls of Dis are guarded by fallen angels. Virgil is unable to convince them to let Dante and him enter, and the Furies threaten Dante. An angel sent from Heaven secures entry for the poets. (Cantos VIII and IX)

Sixth Circle. Heretics are trapped in flaming tombs. Dante holds discourse with a pair of Florentines in one of the tombs: Farinata degli Uberti, a Ghibelline; and Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti, a Guelph who was the father of Dante's friend, fellow poet Guido Cavalcanti. (Cantos X and XI)

Seventh Circle. This circle houses the violent. Its entry is guarded by the Minotaur, and it is divided into three rings:
Outer ring, housing the violent against people and property, who are immersed in Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood, to a level commensurate with their sins. The Centaurs, commanded by Chiron, patrol the ring. The centaur Nessus guides the poets along Phlegethon and across a ford in the river. (Canto XII)

Middle ring: In this ring are the suicides, who are transformed into gnarled thorny bushes and trees that are only able to speak when a branch is broken. They are torn at by the Harpies. Unique among the dead, the suicides will not be bodily resurrected after the final judgment. Instead they will maintain their bushy form, with their own corpses hanging from the limbs. Dante breaks a twig off of one of the bushes and hears the tale of Pier delle Vigne, who committed suicide after falling out of favor with Emperor Frederick II. The other residents of this ring are the profligates, who destroyed their lives by destroying the means by which life is sustained (i.e. money and property). They are perpetually chased by ferocious dogs through the thorny undergrowth. (Canto XIII)

Inner ring: The violent against God (blasphemers), the violent against nature (sodomites), and the violent against art (usurers), all reside in a desert of flaming sand with fiery flakes raining from the sky. The blasphemers lie on the sand, the usurers sit, and the sodomites wander about in groups. Dante converses with two Florentine sodomites from different groups: Brunetto Latini, a poet; and Iacopo Rusticucci, a politician. (Cantos XIV through XVI) It is important to note that it was not Dante's position that all sodomites were destined for hell fire, for repentant sodomites can be found on the top of Mount Purgatory.

The last two circles of Hell punish sins that involve conscious fraud or treachery. The circles can be reached only by descending a vast cliff, which Dante and Virgil do on the back of Geryon, a winged monster represented by Dante as having the face of an honest man and a body that ends in a scorpion-like stinger. (Canto XVII)

Dante's guide rebuffs Malacoda and his fiends between bolgia five and six in the Eighth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 21.

Dante climbs the flinty steps in bolgia seven in the Eighth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 26.Eighth Circle. The fraudulent—those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil—are located in a circle named Malebolge ("Evil Pockets"), divided into ten bolgie, or ditches, with bridges spanning the ditches:

Bolgia 1: Panderers and seducers walk in separate lines in opposite directions, whipped by demons. (Canto XVIII)

Bolgia 2: Flatterers are steeped in human excrement. (Canto XVIII)

Bolgia 3: Those who committed simony are placed head-first in holes in the rock, with flames burning on the soles of their feet. One of them, Pope Nicholas III, denounces as simonists two of his successors, Pope Boniface VIII and Pope Clement V. (Canto XIX)

Bolgia 4: Sorcerers and false prophets have their heads twisted around on their bodies backward, so they can only see what is behind them. (Canto XX)

Bolgia 5: Corrupt politicians (barrators) are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, guarded by devils, the Malebranche ("Evil Claws"). Their leader, Malacoda ("Evil Tail"), assigns a troop to escort Virgil and Dante to the next bridge. The troop hook and torment Ciampolo, who identifies some Italian grafters and then tricks the Malebranche in order to escape back into the pitch. (Cantos XXI through XXIII)

Bolgia 6: The bridge over this bolgia is broken: the poets climb down into it and find the Hypocrites listlessly walking along wearing gold-gilded lead cloaks. Dante speaks with Catalano and Loderingo, members of the Jovial Friars. It is also ironic in this canto that whilst in the company of hypocrites, the poets also discover that the guardians of the fraudulent (the malebranche) are hypocrites themselves, as they find that they have lied to them, giving false directions, when at the same time they are punishing liars for similar sins. (Canto XXIII)

Bolgia 7: Thieves, guarded by the centaur (as Dante describes him) Cacus, are pursued and bitten by snakes. The snake bites make them undergo various transformations, with some resurrected after being turned to ashes, some mutating into new creatures, and still others exchanging natures with the snakes, becoming snakes themselves that chase the other thieves in turn. (Cantos XXIV and XXV)

Bolgia 8: Fraudulent advisors are encased in individual flames. Dante includes Ulysses and Diomedes together here for their role in the Trojan War. Ulysses tells the tale of his fatal final voyage, where he left his home and family to sail to the end of the Earth. He equated life as a pursuit of knowledge that humanity can attain through effort, and in his search God sank his ship outside of Mount Purgatory. This symbolizes the inability of the individual to carve out one's own salvation. Instead, one must be totally subservient to the will of God and realize the inability of one to be a God unto oneself. Guido da Montefeltro recounts how his advice to Pope Boniface VIII resulted in his damnation, despite Boniface's promise of absolution. (Cantos XXVI and XXVII)

Bolgia 9: A sword-wielding devil hacks at the sowers of discord. As they make their rounds the wounds heal, only to have the devil tear apart their bodies again. Muhammad tells Dante to warn the schismatic and heretic Fra Dolcino. (Cantos XXVIII and XXIX)

Bolgia 10: Groups of various sorts of falsifiers (alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, and impersonators) are afflicted with different types of diseases. (Cantos XXIX and XXX)

Satan is trapped in the frozen central zone in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 34.The Ninth Circle is ringed by classical and Biblical giants. The giants are standing either on, or on a ledge above, the ninth circle of Hell, and are visible from the waist up at the ninth circle of the Malebolge. The giant Antaeus lowers Dante and Virgil into the pit that forms the ninth circle of Hell. (Canto XXXI)

Ninth Circle. Traitors, distinguished from the "merely" fraudulent in that their acts involve betraying one in a special relationship to the betrayer, are frozen in a lake of ice known as Cocytus. Each group of traitors is encased in ice to a different depth, ranging from only the waist down to complete immersion. The circle is divided into four concentric zones:

Zone 1: Caïna, named for Cain, is home to traitors to their kindred. (Canto XXXII)

Zone 2: Antenora is named for Antenor of Troy, who according to medieval tradition betrayed his city to the Greeks. Traitors to political entities, such as party, city, or country, are located here. Count Ugolino pauses from gnawing on the head of his rival Archbishop Ruggieri to describe how Ruggieri imprisoned and starved him and his children. (Cantos XXXII and XXXIII)

Zone 3: Ptolomæa is probably named for Ptolemy, the captain of Jericho, who invited Simon Maccabaeus and his sons to a banquet and there killed them. Traitors to their guests are punished here. Fra Alberigo explains that sometimes a soul falls here before the time that Atropos (the Fate who cuts the thread of life) should send it. Their bodies on Earth are immediately possessed by a fiend. (Canto XXXIII)

Zone 4: Judecca is for traitors to their lords and benefactors. All of the sinners punished within are completely encapsulated in ice, distorted to all concieveable positions. Dante and Virgil, with no one to talk to, quickly move on to the center of hell. At the center is Satan, who has three faces, one red, one black, and one a pale yellow, each having a mouth that chews on a prominent traitor. Satan himself is represented as a giant, terrifying beast, weeping tears from his six eyes, which mix with the traitors' blood sickeningly. He is waist deep in ice, and beats his six wings as if trying to escape, but the icy wind that emanates only further ensures his imprisonment (as well as that of the others in the ring). The sinners in the mouths of Satan are Brutus and Cassius in the left and right mouths, respectively, who were involved in the assassination of Julius Caesar (an act which, to Dante, represented the destruction of a unified Italy), and Judas Iscariot (the namesake of this zone) in the central, most vicious mouth, who betrayed Jesus. Judas is being administered the most horrifying torture of the three traitors, his head in the mouth of Lucifer, and his back being forever skinned by the claws of Lucifer. (Canto XXXIV) What is seen here is a perverted trinity. Satan is impotent, ignorant, and evil while God can be attributed as the opposite: all powerful, all knowing, and good.

The two poets escape by climbing the ragged fur of Lucifer, passing through the center of the earth, emerging in the other hemisphere just before dawn on Easter Sunday beneath a sky studded with stars.

1/11/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"But what's the role of the faithful in Christ - well we have the right to try help that person deal with their issues - to visit and befriend - they committed a bad crime but are they un-redeemable? Un-loveable?" (societyVs)

could this be bringing justice to the prisoner?

in an online study that a friend of mine is undertaking right now, the question was posed:
Q: Why are we tempted to condemn other people's sins, rather than our own?

(the first part of his response was of great interest to me...)
A: Maybe because we are blinded from a heart full of bitterness and resentment toward those who have been very critical and condescending of us...

what i am wondering is how come we always default to judgement calls and words of condemnation whenever the discussion turns to the topic of justice. social justice is not about retribution. in any interactions i've had with people who sense a call to that active pursuit of this as a vocation, it seems to be about provision, charity, service and ultimately the dignity of society's underdogs, not whether this or that penalty is appropriate for this or that offence.

somehow it seems that we've made things black and white in stark contrast, but in doing so have lost much of the detail within the picture itself.

i think that societyVS' action group is about justice. i think that hineini's intentional community was about justice. i think that johnny cash's concert at folsom prison was about justice. i think that martin luther king's "I have a dream..." was about justice. i think that both liveaid and live8 were about justice.

i think that anything that seeks to level the playing field by inspiring humanity to be what God called us into existence to be is about justice.

***
must be time for some floyd lyrics:

On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we wont understand
Dont accept that whats happening
Is just a case of others suffering
Or youll find that youre joining in
The turning away

Its a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting its shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that were all alone
In the dream of the proud

On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night

No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
Its not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?

1/11/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

"hineini's intentional community"

What is this or what was this?

I think you have a good point about justice JB - maybe true justice is righting the wrongs within the individual - who then in turn rights the wrongs they made. I like this view of justice - just that some things may not be easy to right the wrongs for (ex: murder)...but redemption of the individual can only lead to no more murder from that person (yet the seed of 'evil' has been sown - which plays out in others).

But I am all for justice that means 'mercy' for the person. But can the church as a whole entity pick this up and start sowing the seeds of changing society? Or will they stay with the changing of the character - and the bigger play they are a part of?

1/11/2007  
Blogger hineini said...

"in this text that we discuss i find it hard to believe that jesus was trying to make the point that we should work to remove punishment from the world and say to all who offend "your sins are forgiven go and sin no more"." (brotherken)

Its my opinion that the greatest tragedies for Christian teachings is when certain texts, texts that when I read them call humanity to a revolutionary lifestyle based in radical forgiveness and unlimited love are dismissed as unrealistic. I agree with you brotherken that this text is very easy to interpret away. In my view the easy way to read this story is to say "Jesus can not possibly mean what he says here."

Its odd that I find myself here defending the words of Jesus which I ordinarily fell little loyalty to. There are a few texts however, this being one of them, which offer me glimpses of where I'd like my neighbourhood, home, friendships and nation-state to be.

"if you truly believe you could keep up that ideal i want to know where you live becuase i am coming to take all you have!" (brotherken)

Taking all I have would be difficult for you but not for the reasons you might think. It is not because I have much, nor is it because I would even attempt to stop you. The reason it would be difficult is because, following the advice of a rabbi, I try and count my possessions as having no possessor. So not only are you welcome to everything I have to give, but should you stop by and help yourself, it would not be counted as theft, it would be merely you claiming unclaimed goods.
You continue on to write:

"just kidding of course but unfortunately there is a need for punishment of crime." (brotherken)

Again you make an assumption, stating bluntly "there is a need for punishment" but offer no support. It seems to me, right before us, in the story that recounts Jesus' interaction with the woman and the crowd we have
a very clear case of the text offering a possible reality that subverts, in a very radical way, this assumption of the necessity of punishment that you continue to bring up. My belief is that the Christian sacred texts have much to offer not only to Chrisitians but to those of us outside the tradition as well. It is my hope that these texts would continue to challenge the often cruel and violent realities that surround us and cause us to pause and realize that how things are is not how things need to be.

1/11/2007  
Blogger BrotherKen said...

"It is my hope that these texts would continue to challenge the often cruel and violent realities that surround us and cause us to pause and realize that how things are is not how things need to be." (hineini)

oh i agree! i just don't see any way we can have peace and order without a justice/penal system in the world as it is. i commend you (and anyone) who strives to higher ideals but i just do not see this as a great concern for jesus.

i don't want to dismiss anything that is taught in the bible but jesus often used parables and secular examples to teach spiritual lessons. for example, money was often used by jesus to make a point yet i don't see money as being a big concern for him in his ministry.

"Again you make an assumption, stating bluntly "there is a need for punishment" but offer no support." (hineini)

is there anyone save god that is not basing their beliefs on assumptions? my support for this is that i simply do not see the theme of challenging the secular justice system in the ministry of christ, whose example i have chosen follow. what i do see is a teaching of forgiveness on a spiritual level. if my daughter were raped i would be challenged to forgive the man but would respect the judicial system to do it's thing.

1/12/2007  
Blogger Cinder said...

"so my point? is it just our fallenness that argues a difference between the 'eternal punishment' of a pedophile and that to which a liar or (as i think of a comment i just read on northVUs)a warmonger is condemned?...are these reflections of our skewed perspective rather than God's justice?"

yeah, it probably is because of our fallenness. sadly, for me, as a result of living in a fallen, i'm guilty of allowing my perspective to be skewed. Christ's ministry was all encompassing and offered to everyone. this world 'labels' justice in a black and white way, with really no regard to social justice...but i think that was His true concern most days...so therefore should be ours too.

"i think that anything that seeks to level the playing field by inspiring humanity to be what God called us into existence to be is about justice."

it is...the difficulty comes with trying to change 'skewed' perspectives, to realize that...i'll just begin with mine.

1/12/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"i commend you (and anyone) who strives to higher ideals but i just do not see this as a great concern for jesus."

hmmm. not sure what you mean here, kenny. i mean, we read Jesus' words in matthew 5.17 which seem to address this pretty specifically (more commentary from rob bell in the next post: 'rabbinical yoke')

i think the whole point of Jesus' coming was to strive towards the ideals that he was modeling for all of us, lest we say that God doesn't know how it feels to be a man and all that.

but perhaps i have misunderstood what you were saying here.

1/12/2007  
Blogger BrotherKen said...

jollybeggar, my point was not that jesus does not care for us and nor was it to say that it is wrong to work toward better social justice. my point is that social justice is a secular system that must work for people of any or no faith. i see many problems in the system we have and i am glad to know that there are people out there challenging it, thus i commended hineini. i will have to think about it a bit more.

1/12/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"i see many problems in the system we have and i am glad to know that there are people out there challenging it" (brotherken)

right you are ken.
however, to say that pursuing higher ideals (especially in the area of social justice) was not a great concern for Jesus seems to negate most of Jesus' ministry and teaching.

i have a sneaky suspicion that i am still not understanding your position, though.

1/18/2007  
Blogger BrotherKen said...

ok, let me say this better. i am not the best of writers but i work at it. while some christians may be politically involved in the justice system, it should not be a big thing for the church as a whole. jesus did not take on the punishment systems of the day, he sought out the hungry and the needy and he fed them. and then he commanded us to feed them. that is what far out-shadows any teaching you could get that says by following jesus we have to be the protectors of the courts and social justice. there is a book called "politics or christ" that is a good read on this.

http://www.undertheson.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=29

1/18/2007  

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