KENARCHY JOURNAL VOLUME 2
Sue Mitchell MSc PGCE is coordinator of the Morecambe Bay Poverty Truth Commission. She is an honorary researcher in the Lancaster University Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Inequalities and an accredited member of the Association for Coaching.
A Loving Civilization
Thomas J Oord
Thomas Jay Oord, PhD, is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. He directs the Center for Open and Relational Theology https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/the-center-for-open-and-relational-theology/ and supervises doctoral students at Northwind Theological Seminary https://www.northwindseminary.org/.
This essay explores the possibility of a civilization oriented around love. One might call it a politics of love, but “politics” almost inevitably points one to political parties, issues, or elections. In this essay, I use the phrase “a loving civilization.” I not only think about love between individuals and communities. I ask about the overall framework – worldview, metaphysic, paradigm, or whatever you like – necessarily for all-encompassing love. The label “loving civilization” will likely sound novel. It will strike my fellow Christians as unfamiliar. Some might think establishing a loving civilization a noble goal but regard it unrealistic, practically speaking. I hope to show that establishing a civilization oriented around love is possible. At the least, we can make actual progress toward its reality. Assuming a particular eschatology, I will argue a civilization oriented around love is realizable.
The Way, the Truth and the Life – Christ as our Essence and Existence
Bradley Jersak, PhD, is Dean of Theology & Culture at St. Stephen’s University, New Brunswick, Canada (SSU.ca), and Core Faculty Member of the Institute for Religion, Peace & Justice (IRPJ.org)
In this essay, following Paul Young and John Behr (and Irenaeus of Lyons, for that matter) and drawing on the work of David Bentley Hart, I will posit that the image of God (Imago Dei) is not a commodity we carry but rather, an indwelling Person who never abandons his human temple. Humanity was created in the Image of God, which is Jesus Christ. The prototype for Adam and Eve is not some disincarnate Word sans Jesus’ humanity but, rather, revealed through the Cross as Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and ascended. The human God, Jesus Christ, IS the image in whom the Genesis 1 Adam (male and female) was created and IS the image we bear.
Hilary Hopwood, MA, PGCE, taught Modern Languages and spearheaded International Links at Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School before retiring in 2012. As well as community activism, she enjoys the great outdoors and being with her growing family.
The purpose of this paper is to trace the development of a community group, ‘East Meets West – Women together in Lancaster’, and to explore the human and theological motivation of those involved. In doing so, I will also explore themes such as empowerment, solidarity, community, and equality. Towards the end I consider what it is that attracts and then retains the interest and commitment of the group members? Is there a distinctive ‘magnet and glue’ about this group and how might it be a beacon for others?
Dr Sunita Abraham works part-time at Lancaster University and is involved in various local community groups in Lancaster. Her current research focuses on issues of race, colonialism, decolonisation, and inequality.
In this article, I use examples from my work with asylum seekers and refugees within the British city of Lancaster, and with groups working on its Black history to reflect on the role of ‘reparative’ love, and how this can be used to promote inclusion and secure social justice in practice. I draw on the work of Catherine Hall in relation to ‘reparative history,’ and the idea of ‘satyagraha’ in the work of M. K. Gandhi to formulate the concept of reparative love. I describe it as a way of repairing injustices and inequalities in the present which are linked to historical understandings of the past. It involves engaging with individuals and groups in a spirit of love characterised by submission without subordination, with a view to transforming both the present and the future in ways that can help all involved to have a richer and truer understanding of the past. In doing so, I highlight how individuals and groups that are involved can be both transformed themselves as well as becoming agents that effect such change within the community.
Grace Overflowing – Reflections on Paul’s Theology of Reconciliation
Professor Chris Marshall, PhD, held the Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, until his retirement in late 2020. A New Testament scholar by training, he has published extensively on biblical theology, ethics and interpretation, religious violence and peacemaking and restorative justice theory and practice.
In my book Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment (Eerdmans, 2001), I draw attention to the prominent role that forgiveness plays in the teaching of Jesus, and connect it to the practice of restorative justice as a contemporary institutional application. In this essay, I focus on Paul’s great theology of reconciliation. Like forgiveness, it too has a clear socio-political dimension, and one that has similarly been eclipsed by the doctrinal tradition’s tendency to individualize and spiritualize its meaning. I look at Paul as exemplary peacemaker, and make four observations. Firstly, for Paul, reconciliation is discovered, not manufactured, secondly, it is a divine initiative, thirdly it is a response to faith and finally it is a commitment to peacemaking.
Restorative Justice – Peacemaking Not Warmaking; Transformative Justice – Penal Abolitionism Not Prison Reform
Wayne Northey has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative/Transformative Justice since 1974. He has published widely in this field since 1977.
Appreciation goes to Dr Brad Jersak, the author’s friend, encourager, and mentor. In October 2020 at his invitation, a Q & A format was adopted for a presentation on what most commonly is known as “Restorative Justice.” As is clear from the title, this presentation argued emphatically for peacemaking and abolition as opposed to reform. What follows is a reworking of that material and addition of new, retaining the Q & A format. It begins with three pointers to the tendency of the State to use the criminal justice system as a means to population control. It then gives some background to the author’s lifelong immersion in issues of Restorative Justice, and the development of his thinking, particularly with respect to individuals harmed by the criminal justice system. Its negative community impact is then set out and an assessment is made of the penitentiary as a disastrous social experiment. The article concludes with a positive look of how the Restorative Justice movement has risen as a genuine alternative to the Western criminal justice system.
Casting Stones at Laws Cast in Stone – A Christotelic Narrative of Biblical Law Revealed Through a Story of Trauma, John 8:1-11
Marisa Lapish is a certified Spiritual Director through Sustainable Faith https://sustainablefaith.com, the Contemplative Practices Facilitator for the Institute for Religion, Peace, and Justice (IRPJ.org), and a graduate student at St. Stephen’s University, New Brunswick, Canada.
This paper examines the toxic capital offense texts requiring the death penalty for adultery delineated in the legal documents of the Old Testament in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:20-22. The Mosaic Law is compared with the genre of other ancient Near East law codes. A narrative reading of these biblical laws is elucidated through the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11. A Christotelic, polyphonic interpretation of this account is used to reveal how Jesus interpreted those laws as a case law demonstration of his narratological legal hermeneutic of Matthew 5:27-28. Jesus upends the patriarchal purity culture of sacrificial religion, which traumatized the adulterous woman in this story through co-suffering solidarity with the victim while radicalizing the sin spectrum to include all sin and all people. As the fulfilment of the Law, Jesus subverted the purity system of law and replaced it with the “royal law” of love of God and compassionate love toward neighbour. Implications of all this for restorative community healing, relationally based therapeutic care, a positive role for the Church and a hermeneutical priority of love and compassion are then set out.
Towards a Theology of Childhood
Roger Haydon Mitchell
Roger Haydon Mitchell, PhD, is a theologian and activist, an honorary researcher in the Lancaster University Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Inequalities, and political theologian with the Westminster Theological Centre.
This paper is in four parts. Each part sets out various theological implications and then considers their potential impact for action now, in and beyond the Coronavirus pandemic. Beginning with a focus on God through the lens of “the kid in the crib” childhood is positioned at the heart of divine manifestation. Inferences of this for our understanding of the divine nature are set out. From the very start, this has huge implications for the importance of every child, which the section then proceeds to develop. The second part explores Jesus’ repeated alignment of children and the kingdom of God, suggesting that the kingdom is the particular possession of children. Adverse childhood experiences consequent on our failure to nurture children with this in view are spelt out. Thirdly, Keith White’s extensive exploration of the nature and possible meanings of the relationship between children and the kingdom of God in his book, The Growth of Love are considered in some detail. Finally, the role of children in the future of planet earth and the politics of Jesus is considered through a Pentecostal/ Charismatic theological lens.
Peer Review of Towards a Theology of Childhood
Peter McKinney has seventeen years’ experience leading and developing services for families and children, including those experiencing homelessness, complex physical and educational needs and in early years education. He has a background in the humanities with a BA Honours in English and an interdisciplinary MA in Irish Studies. Currently he writes, whilst developing a sustainable smallholding.
All articles in The Kenarchy Journal are double peer-reviewed, but so far, we have not published any reviewer’s response. In this case, it was important to ground the article in the lived experience of those working professionally with children. Keith White is one such, but given the extent that the article draws on his work, we asked Peter McKinney whether we could published his review. This is it.