Agonizing Reading

I knew, when I applied to study at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, that I was going to be in for some fun and some pain. People here cannot speak ten words without two of them being “social justice.” The meaning of the word is far too subjective. What is “justice” anyway? And who gets the privilege of not only defining what it is but then imposing their idea of it? That’s why I long ago gave up any belief in justice — it is simply a code word for “I/we get what I/we want”with a possible addendum of “and you[singular/plural] have to pay for it because I/we say so” — I’m not actually interested in “doing justice.” I’m interesting in being merciful and charitable. If that’s justice, then good. If not, then not.

I’m certain I will comment on much of the upcoming nonsense, time permitting, once school actually starts.

Anyway, I have to read what must simply be the world’s most annoying book for my upcoming orientation, THE WOLF SHALL DWELL WITH THE LAMB: A SPIRITUALITY FOR LEADERSHIP IN A MULTICULTURAL COMMUNITY. (Um, is it me, or is it not possible anymore to titles books without using colons?) I’m about a third the way through it, it is as utterly awful a book as it sounds, and already this obnoxious tome has rubbed my libertarian/anarchist sentiments all the wrong way. It’s like everything I saw at San Francisco State University in the late 1980s on steroids. (The book was published in 1994.) Needless to say, it is not about dealing with people as individuals, it is not about respecting them, caring for them and loving them as individuals, it is about dealing with them as members and appendages of groups, it is about understanding that ascribed group values must be taken into consideration. It is full of identity nonsense (the author is Chinese-American, and makes much of that as he relates his understanding and misunderstanding of various individuals’ “cultures” in his stories), it is condescending, it is insulting, it assumes — at least it seems to — that all white people are powerful but don’t realize it. “In a multicultural encounter, the whites tend to become too powerful and the people of color powerless,” the author notes after relating how the gospel elevates the poor but has no words of comfort for the powerless. Ahh, I can see it now — Hate yourself, flog yourself and flay yourself, Charles!

The author does, however, give his notion of what justice is: “Justice means equal distribution of power and privelege among all people.”

Mmmm. Achievable. Realistic. Possible. Oh, I’m going to have a swell time here.