Another Kind of Justice: thoughts on Brueggemann and OWS

The doing of justice is the prophetic invitation to do what needs to be done to enable the poor and the disadvantaged and the neglected to participate in the resources and wealth of the community. Walter Brueggemann

I added the 2 minute video of Brueggemann to my work website, as a kind of overview for the nonprofit’s work with refugees and vulnerable immigrant communities. But over the last couple weeks, as I’ve been mulling it over and thinking more about OWS, I’ve found myself uncomfortable with it.

The reason is, actually, fairly simple: the “participation” in the resources of the community comes from participation in the community. But what if the disadvantaged don’t want to participate? What if they think the (dominant) community is itself the problem?

Brueggemann moves quickly from the covenant, to an implicit notion of the desirable community (is supercessionism lurking here?…), and from there to the conclusion that our community should make sure the disadvantaged have better neighborly relations to us that allow them to access the community’s wealth. It’s certainly not justice “top down”–he’s not saying “we” beneficent leaders need to draw the poor into our community and justly rearrange their lives. It’s “bottom up,” except that “up” is pre-designated to be the dominant community (and, as Fanon so succinctly pointed out to us: “the future is white”).

My last post on OWS avoided the language of “justice” altogether and tried to point out a kind of Christological vision that tries to block “inclusion into the life of the dominant community” from orchestrating the telos of human life. I’m not saying “justice” isn’t helpful language, or that OWS–or any movement–must speak in theological terms to articulate its claims intelligently. However, it does seem to me that we’ll need a different notion of justice than the one Brueggemann provides. Any suggestions?

Unrelated note: life is going to start picking up (applications, finals, guests in town) so if the blog posts are more infrequent, please come find me over at Twitter: timlmcgee.

UPDATE: Brueggemann wrote on Jeremiah and OWS. The problems with his analysis are abundant and I pointed a few out on Twitter.

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