Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finding Justice in the Bible

Some members of The Micah Center have requested that this series on justice and the Bible be moved to a time that allows more people to attend. So, we're going to try to oblige this next month.

"Finding Justice in the Bible" will meet on Tuesday, October 5th at 8pm. The topic will be "Justice and Creation."

That's AFTER the lecture by Kim Bobo entitled, "Wage Theft in America," which will begin at 7pm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wolterstorff Lecture Online.

If you missed Nicholas Wolterstorff's lecture, "The Moral Significance of Poverty" or would like to hear it again. You can find it on Hope Reformed Church's website.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Advocacy Groups meet Tuesday, September 21st.

5:40pm - Light Meal
6:00pm - Advocacy Group Introductions
7:00pm - First Meeting

International Justice

1. Learn about international justice issues in Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, with a special
focus on Honduras and the work of the Association for a more Just Society (AJS). AJS works
include land rights, labor rights, gang violence, methodology, etc. . .
2. Educate others about international injustice and the role of Christians in addressing these issues.
3. Advocate for international social justice and get connected to other advocacy networks.
(Goal: three campaigns a year)
4. Participate in events like: Just Ride or Just Run which supports justice ministries internationally. (Goal: two events a year)

Finding Justice in the Bible
1. Give Christians a basic understanding
of the role that justice plays in the Bible.
2. Provide Christians with the tools they
need to justify justice as a mandatory
practice of the Christian life.

Money and Democracy
1. Study the issue of corporate influence in politics and
disseminate the study results.
2. Promote ways to reduce the lobbyist influence over laws.
3. Join an organized effort to pass laws limiting corporate
influence in the elections.
The Micah Center Advocacy Groups
Tentative Objectives for 2010-2011

Restorative Justice
1. Promote understanding of restorative
justice concepts and developments
through presentations to churches and
other institutions.
2. Join Campaign For Justice in promoting
public defense reform.
3. Work for legislative approval of bills to
compensate those wrongly incarcerated.
4. Join Partners In Crisis as they seek
mechanisms that reduce over-reliance
on the criminal justice system as a
response to mental illness and
emotional disorders while preserving the
well-being and safety of the public.

1. Promote Bread For the World annual
Offering of Letters campaign among area
2. Contact local congregations to determine
their involvement in social justice and invite
them to participate in the Micah Center.
3. Visit local agencies identify their needs and
learn what the Micah Centerʼs advocacy
efforts could do to help them.
4.Sponsor at least one poverty simulation.

Health Care
1. Study the recently passed national
health care bill.
2. Identify changes/additions/deletions that
should be made to the health care bill.
3. Print the health care advocacy groupʼs
4. Make presentations in churches and
other institutions.

1. Host the “Cool Congregations” workshop led by
Michigan Interfaith Power and Light.
2. Join and attend monthly meetings of WMEACʼs
Religion, Spirituality, and Ecology Work group.
3. Seek signatures on petitions acquired from 350
organizations to cap carbon dioxide at 350ppm.
4. Hold one joint meeting with the Dominican
Sisters Care of Earth Committee.
5. Facilitate and encourage church groups to tour
a water treatment plant, recycling center, and
wind farm.
6. Write, print and distribute meditations on
Psalms which speak to creation care.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Justice and Women

I saw this in a Sojourners newsletter.

by Julie Clawson 09-15-2010

We live in a world full of pain and injustice; there is no getting around that fact. We can hide from the truth or try to protect ourselves from reality, but just because we don’t want to know about it, doesn’t mean it still doesn’t exist. Our world does its best to hide its dark side from consumer’s eyes, and our school boards do their best to hide most of history from our children. It takes work to keep our eyes open wide enough to see reality. Thankfully, there are people out there who do try to be informed, who try to end injustice, to heal past wounds, and to make amends. Yet recently, as I was reading Eduardo Galeano’s classic book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage of a Continent, I came across an almost casually mentioned atrocity that jolted me with the reminder that, even for the people who are out there actively seeking to fight injustice, there remains one injustice that many would prefer to continue to ignore — the oppression of women. Across the world it is women who often face the worst injustices and yet are often brushed aside as not important enough to seek justice for.

In writing about how the sugar cane industry has destroyed the land and economies of many Latin American countries and led to numerous human rights abuses, Galeano mentioned that in certain plantations in Brazil (at least as of his writing) it was common practice for the plantation owners to claim jus primae noctis, or, right of the first night, with the daughters of their workers. Most commonly known to us from the movie, Braveheart, this is a medieval custom given to the Lord of an area — the right to the virgin night of all the women whom he ruled. Although in Medieval times the actual consummation was rarely if ever practiced, as many families chose the option of “giving” the Lord the bride’s dowry instead (what the Lord was after anyway), Galeano reports that on the plantations, the owners would demand the right to have their way with their workers’ 11 to 12-year-old daughters, in exchange for the worker remaining in their employment.

Reading this affected me in a visceral way. In the midst of a litany of oppression, I was reminded that women truly bear the brunt of injustice worldwide. Their bodies are chattel, they aren’t deemed worthy of education, and, if they get any food at all, they are fed leftovers. Because they are women, their oppression is magnified. Not only must they endure the poverty and the colonialism, but also the objectification of their bodies and the required subjugation of their wills. When voices for liberation or revolution arise, the women are called upon to endure hardships and make sacrifices, but it is never their liberation that is fought for. The few that call out for women’s needs to be addressed and for liberation to come to women are told that, in light of the greater injustices and oppression, their cause is just a selfish distraction. I hear it all the time in the church — there are just too many more important things to spend energy on than trying to bring justice to women. We aren’t even worth the effort of those that make it a point to care about injustice and the oppressed.

Feminist post-colonial theologians are quick to point out this imbalance. They ask: How can we say that we truly desire liberation if, in achieving that liberation, women still remain oppressed? They repeatedly insist that equality and respect for women should never be an afterthought, to be sought sometime after the real work of combating injustice is done, but instead it should be at the very foundation of what it means to seek liberation itself. Nations and races cannot ever fully work for reconciliation and mutual respect if those nations are built upon oppression from within. But sadly, theirs are not the voices that are commonly heard.

In recently reading non-Western theologies (both post-colonial and evangelical), I have in fact encountered the very opposite. Men, who write on combating injustice and prejudice by calling the church to learn from say Korean or First Nation theologies and church practices, insist upon, as part of that process, an affirmation of the gender roles that give men a strong (and sole) leadership role in the home, the community, and the church. They see a firm affirmation of this hierarchy of men over women to be integral to ending race divisions in the church itself. So not only are the needs of women ignored, but healing and justice are also proposed through the continued oppression and sacrifice of women.

Injustice and oppression make me sick and prompt feelings of rage inside of me. But reading about these young girls being raped as pawns in the never-ending cycle of colonial and commercial oppression left me feeling raw. This isn’t just about greed and economics. It isn’t just about racism and power-plays. It’s rooted in a subjugation of women that denies our worth and turns us into mere objects for men to use as they see fit. Most of the Western world hides behind their ignorance of history and injustice (often willfully sought) as an excuse to uphold the status quo. But when even those who claim to care about justice say that speaking out of behalf of women isn’t worth the effort, I can barely respond. How can justice be justice if it is only for men?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Great Kick-off!!

We welcomed over 200 people to The Micah Center at Hope Reformed Church this last Tuesday. It was inspiring to see so many advocates for justice in one room. It was enlightening to hear Nicholas Wolterstorff give us new categories with which to think about those who are poor. Speaking of that...

We'd be happy to have a nice conversation of the idea that withholding help from people who are poor is the same as theft. Very provocative.

If you're not sure where that's coming from or would like to know more, check in soon. We'll have some information on how you can listen to the whole of "The Moral Significance of Poverty."

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it!!