Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Want to become invovled?

If you would like to be empowered to change urban communities, check out the Master of Arts in Urban Studies program at Eastern University!  Ready to take the next step?  Apply for the program here!

Get more information by contacting Whitney Monn, Program Recruiter at:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simply Christian- A Passion for Justice

Currently, I am reading N. T. Wright's Simply Christian, which seeks to describe what" Christianity is all about" to both those outside and inside the faith.  The first chapter is dedicated purely to humanity's quest for justice- why do people long for justice? When looking at God's design of humanity, I have usually considered a longing for meaning, belonging, and love.  However, it seems that God may have made us with a more rounded tendency, both longing for mercy and justice.  Instead of the difference between right and wrong, maybe God is really concerned with justice. 

Everyone, whether consciously or not, has a vision for justice.  We dream the dream of justice.  We glimpse, for a moment, a world at one, a world put to rights, a world where things work out, where socieites function fairly and efficiently, where we not only know what we ought to do but actually do it (Wright, 3).  Everyone desires fairness and equity, even if their definitions are sometimes tainted.  Think of kids, brash and outspoken children.  When children see someone wrongly punished for something they did not do, what do children say?  "That's not fair!"  Even if an adult says, "well that's the law."  Wright even says that justice is a part of what it means to be human.  Daily I am struck with the longing for things to be on earth as in Heaven.  I dream of what Heaven looks like in daily situations.  When I see violence, cruelty, conflict, hatred, prejudice, famine, earthquakes, abuse of natural resources, and disrespect for other living creatures, I often stop to imagine what it would be like if we all were in right relationship, if we all were in right relationship with God.  I day dream a vision of justice in everyday life, unrestricted.  Some people believe this is a form of unpractical idealism, and command that I lower my standards to "the way things just are."  However, I was comforted by Wright's diagnosis... I am just being human. 

God is the source of this vision for justice. 

There are three basic ways of explaining this sense of [this call to justice]... We can say, if we like, that it is indeed only a dream, a projection of childish fantasies, and that we have to get used to living in the world the way it is... Or we can say, if we like, that the dream is of a different world altogether, a world where we really belong, where everything is indeed put to rights, a world into which we can escape in our dreams in the present and hope to escape one day for good... Or we can say, if we like, that the reason we have these dreams, the reason we have a sense of a memory of the echo of a voice, is that there is someone speaking to us, whispering in our inner ear-someone who cares very much about this present world and our present selves, and who has made us and the world for a purpose which will indeed invovle justice, things being put to rights, ourselves being put to rights, the world being resecued at last
(Wright, 8-9). 

Some great religious traditions agree with the last option: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.  Throughout the last year, I have been listening to the Old Testament on CD while driving. Throughout these times of listening, I am catching new emphasis upon justice that I missed before.  Listening to the law helped me to understand that it was really about insuring people justice through protection and wisdom.  Looking at Christ's designation that the law is summed up in two commands: love God and your neighbor, I see how God has been weaving in justice throughout the ages, B.C. and A.D.  Christians have seemed to lost the inheritance Christ intended us to receive from Israel, the passion for justice.  This is not a left-wing mission or liberalism seeking to dirty our faith... I believe it is the truth that God is source of justice.  That God wants his people to be human.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Immigration Reform: Justice, Mercy and Humility

Newt Gingrich and Howard Dean met at George Washington University on Tuesday, February 2nd for a debate. What seems to be a constant source of conflict for Americans was not an exception for these political figures: immigration reform. While there was talk on both sides of secure borders, immigration reform looked very different on both sides of this debate.

While many important topics were not spoken to, including reforming the process to acquire visas, policing work visas, adjusting immigration laws to reflect the current economy, and the process for political asylum, there is a line drawn between two political parties, which often define how Americans view issues such as immigration reform. While one side argues the issues of safety and job security, the other argues freedom should be accessible to all. What if there is a moderate position that doesn’t include political affiliation? What if there is a side defined by the teachings of a crazy God, who put aside all things to draw near the poor, needy, and broken? While I will not define this side, I do believe that there are clear expectations in scripture applicable to this issue.

Micah 6:8 gives a clear summary of the life God called his people to live throughout the Old Testament: …to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. God is concerned about justice. He longs for people to be reconciled to one another, which comes through acting justly. For example, Leviticus 19 talks about the laws that God desired to share with the people, which covered commands to leave food for the poor and foreigners, to not rob your neighbor, to pay a fair wage, and to not pervert justice or show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great. It is clear that God desires us to see people as just that, people. To judge people, based upon their immigration status, not who they, is an example of injustice. God wants us to help the poor, marginalized and weary who flee to our country. Throughout history, the law has been important to God, so this does not mean we break the law, but that we redefine the law to reflect justice.

We must love mercy. God showed the greatest favor towards the alienated by sending Christ, who gave all people access to eternal citizenship through His act of mercy. Can we allow those who have broken the law, out of necessity, a second chance? Can we make it easier for people to gain citizenship, even if it means forgiving a legal offense? This is something to think about. To walk humbly with our God… humility calls us to look at ourselves clearly. Humility calls us to see and admit our sinfulness and imperfection. Walking in humility calls us to abandon pride and look at others without holding yourself (the “better” self) as the standard. Honestly, if we were in the shoes of an illegal immigrant desperately fleeing to America to escape genocide in Sudan or prostitution rings in Asia, would we wait for the legal process to ensue? Humility calls us to see our own imperfections, to admit that we do not always follow the law completely ourselves. Let’s take time to meditate and reconsider this issue from the eyes of God with justice, mercy and humility.What to explore this issue more? Check out

Immigration Reform: Justice, Mercy and Humility

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two students participate in Serve Philadelphia

Markio Tinaya and Jared Myers, current students in the Urban Studies Department, participated in Serve Philadelphia, a day for citizens to seek out ways to volunteer and serve their communities. The event was held on January 22, 2011 at the Free Library of Philadelphia in Center City. Several organizations from around the city including: the Red Cross, ASAP, and Philadelphia More Beautiful were there to encourage people to engage in community service. The event also incorporate service into the day's activities through either sorting books or writing letters encouraging students from reading programs to continuing reading.