photo courtesy of Adam Bower

It’s not random that Jesus’ first words, when asked what the greatest commandment is, answered love. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love is the central motive for understanding the Trinity. Love orients our understanding of the relationship within the Trinity and with nature. Jesus makes a simple yet profound statement about a human person’s greatest vocation when it’s construed around love.

Now, love properly orders our affections and desires and actions so that we see the good consistently in ways that contribute to virtue. Love then must be the presupposition of social justice, so that our understanding of what to do is in harmony with the Trinity and the divine will of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the spiritual and the natural world. When love is not the first principle of justice and intentions and processes and desired results, matters can be made worse because actions are not properly ordered according to God’s desire for human life.

What I mean by love is a social context where individuals are committed to being open to suffer for another’s good over the long run; that is, to truly love the disadvantaged is to be committed to being open to suffer if necessary for their good over the duration, over the long run. Love is not a two-week visit; it’s not necessarily exercised within the context of a six-week program. Love does not just drop off food to strangers without knowing their names. Love doesn’t end in a two-year internship. Love does not care about reelections. It doesn’t care about election cycles. Governments don’t love. Love is not a requirement for the federal bench. Love is not an expectation of any local, state or federal official. You will not hear questions about love at any confirmation hearing in Congress.

Love is this mystery, this profound mystery that grounds a genuine desire to see the dignity and humanity in another person become ever more radiant and beautiful and powerful and strong and free. How can we talk about justice without orienting our volition and affections around love?

-Anthony Bradley, “Christian Charity and Public Action: What Social Justice Really Means”


More on the Value of Justice…

Why I’m at Sojourners by Tim King

I was concerned last week when I received a phone call from a person who informed me that there was no way I could both be a Christian and work for Sojourners. They hung up before I was able to speak, but the barbs of their words stuck with me.Read the full article

The Poverty Measure: Why It’s Outdated and Why It’s Important by Claire Lorentzen

“The poor quality of our official poverty statistics should be a matter of pressing national concern. America deserves better and I think in this time of economic crisis urgently needs better.” – Henry Eberstadt from the American Enterprise Institute speaking at a Brookings Institution panel on September 16 about the newly released Census data on poverty and income in 2009

On September 16, the day that the Census Bureau released its 2009 statistics on poverty and income claiming that 43.6 million Americans live below the poverty line, I attended a Brookings Institution panel on how to interpret this newly released data. The heated discussion kept on coming back to  measurement, and why how we measure poverty is crucial to our understanding of economic depravity in America and the policies we enact to reduce it. Then, why, I asked,  is our official poverty measure so outdated?Read the full article

New Insights on Global Poverty: The Most Amazing Statistics You’ve Ever Seen

Researcher Hans Rosling uses his cool data tools to show how countries are pulling themselves out of poverty. He demos Dollar Street, comparing households of varying income levels worldwide. Then he does something really amazing.Watch the video here

  • Just Thoughts

    The path he chose was a path going in the opposite direction of many his age, but he chose it with the same thirst for swift achievement. As soon as he reflected seriously on it, he was convinced and convicted of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul, and at once he instinctively said to himself: 'I want to live for immortality with Him and I will accept no compromise.' -Dostoevsky, Brothers K