Opinion | Christian Social Justice, Redux

To the Editor:

Re “A Christian Vision of Social Justice” (column, March 19):

Seldom have I seen the answer to the quandary of how to respond to the state of our country, in which racism seems to be more visible and inequality has been rising, put more clearly than by David Brooks. He offers the wisdom of the New Testament scholar Esau McCaulley that we need to view all people in our society as worthy of our love and respect, first of all as children of God, in order to make progress toward a better society.

With that underlying view, we can try to forgive the malevolent and help bring them back to a universal brotherhood. What a radical viewpoint, and worthy of our deepest attention. Perhaps this is the antidote we need in a period of our history when hate and selfish behavior seem to rule the day.

Louise Horvath
Pittsburgh

To the Editor:

As I read David Brooks’s column, Jesus’ words echoed in my mind. He said: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” Jesus calls us to a different kind of division. Not a kind that separates us one from another. But instead into a divide between a white supremacist present, where there are people considered more valuable than others, and a future where all are valued as the sacred children of God that they are.

To reach a future without the divides that separate, we must strive not for reconciliation but justice. Reconciliation follows justice, not the other way around. And justice requires more than forgiveness and apologies to promote good feelings, as our country remains trapped in the sin of white supremacy.

If we are to overcome the divides of our present, we must, as Che Guevara put it, “tremble with indignation at every injustice,” calling it out. It’s up to each of us to decide if we want to settle for the divides that make us less than who we are or show the courage to choose the things that make us better people, a better world and a beloved community.

(Very Rev.) Kelly Brown Douglas
New York
The writer is dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York and canon theologian at the Washington National Cathedral.

To the Editor:

David Brooks discussed ways to promote social change without “destroying people’s careers over a bad tweet.” The same day, a Business section article reported on the resignation of the 27-year-old new editor of Teen Vogue, who was done in by anti-Asian and homophobic tweets she posted 10 years ago. Although she apologized in 2019, they resurfaced recently and then came the murders of six women of Asian descent and two others in Georgia.

Her case aside, the debate over how to punish past racist acts has sharpened in the last two years, and Mr. Brooks is among those seeking a “social justice movement … without the dehumanizing cruelty we’ve seen of late.”

The column describes a path different from the divisive one we’re on.

John H. Fairhall
Oxford, Md.

To the Editor:

As I read David Brooks’s column, I kept wondering who he figured his audience would be. Certainly, the idea of radical forgiveness and authentic reconciliation challenges even the most devout of spiritual seekers, no matter their affiliation. So the column was a rich reminder to readers to do some soul-searching.

But I wondered how Republicans might respond, especially to the explicit notion of racism as sin, as our country’s foundational sin. Would they dismiss this idea as so much left-wing nonsense? And the idea of forgiveness?

I do wish that Mr. Brooks would sit down with some Republicans and invite them into the vision he shared; otherwise, I fear that he is very much preaching to the choir.

Jane Nordli Jessep
Westport, Conn.

To the Editor:

I was struck that David Brooks did not mention the courageous Catholics who lived and died as witnesses for social justice. Two instances come to mind: Archbishop Óscar Romero, who was murdered in 1980 for standing up to the oppressive regime in El Salvador, and the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, who was jailed for his antiwar activities in the Vietnam era.

Catholics are Christians, too, even though the official church sometimes makes that hard to remember.

Mary Gordon
New York
The writer is the novelist.

To the Editor:

In our baptismal covenant in the Episcopal Church, the last of the charges to the candidate for baptism is, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” That charge carries many of us through our spiritual journeys and the ministries given to us by Christ.

The last four years and especially the last 12 months have given that charge urgency and necessitate that it be taken seriously.

(Rev.) Ellen L. Ekstrom
Berkeley, Calif.

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