Social justice is a hot topic right now in the church and in mainstream American culture. Many of us are waking to the negative impact our hyper-consumerism is having on the globally inter-connected marketplace and the world around us. A myriad of issues that are out of sight and out of mind to most of us as American consumers, are actually reaching levels of crisis for our neighbors and for GOD’s groaning creation all around the globe.
Issues such as: slavery, low wages for workers, environmental degradation and a host of other consequences of globalization demand of us a prayerful and ethical response. But where do we start? How can we practically begin altering our lifestyle and buying habits in ways that promote and further GOD’s redeeming justice in the world.
In the book ‘Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices‘ from Intervarsity Press, Julie Clawson sets out to offer a beginner’s overview of the justice issues at hand in American consumerism, how to make more informed, ethical buying decisions, and why it matters from a Christian perspective. This is a clear call to soberly (and joyfully) repent of the hidden sinful outcomes inherent in the American dream. Our concern for the spiritual fate of those around the world needs to be coupled with a concern for the physical needs of those same people – and an awakening to how our choices here in affluent American can hinder the vitality of the planet and the living standards of these people we claim to care so much about. Reclaiming a sense of ‘incarnational ethics’ in how we spend our money has vast implications in our ability to embody our Christian faith. Can we sacrifice some convenience and cheap products for a greater freedom to manifest the love of GOD in the everyday?
Julie begins the book with ‘a warning to not panic’ and premises the entire book on a simple theme: ‘Don’t get overwhelmed. Start where you are and start with small steps.’
“Too often we live compartmentalized lives that don’t allow for different spheres of existence to interact. Church is separate from shopping…” [p.13]
She goes on to say:
“But encountering justice issues changes that…Our local, everyday choices reverberate around the world. And at the center, pushing and informing all of these choices, is our faith…Acting justly everyday means developing awareness about the problems in the world; it means changing how we shop, how we dress and how we drive; it means starting to see our each and every action as an ethical choice.” [p.14]
Acknowledging the difficulty of knowing how to make changes towards supporting a more just economy, she offers this hope:
“We panic, we get overwhelmed, and we let our feelings of inadequacy paralyze us. We see acting justly as an all-or-nothing endeavor, and because we can’t do it all, we often end up doing nothing. This book exists to help us start doing something by giving concrete and practical steps to help us live justly in the everyday.” [p.14]
I admire Julie’s ability to take such a broad topic as justice and present Biblically informed, practically applied insights that give, even the most overwhelmed of us, easy access to understanding what we can do and why we should care.
This is a great introductory guide for people of Christian faith to begin thinking about the implications of our lifestyle values and choices and what can be done to align our lives with GOD’s call to love our neighbors and to care for ‘the least of these’.
(Editor’s Note- Disclosure: Sustainable Traditions receives free review books from Intervarsity Press including the book reviewed above. SustainableTraditions.com is an independent website free to express opinions and reviews unhindered by any contractual requirements to any publishers or organizations.)
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