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Monday, January 25, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Book Discussion

Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices
by Julie Clawson

First off, a word of thanks to Songbird, who, when I noticed this book in her vast collection, said, "Here, it's yours. Would you be willing to lead a review of it at the RevGals blog in January?"

It seemed like a great idea in October, and today, while it's still early enough in the new year to consider some new ways of thinking and doing, I am very glad that I read this book. So, thank you, Songbird!

Everyday Justice is Julie Clawson's first book, but she also writes at her blog and at You may also recognize her name from the Emerging Women or Emerging Parents blogs. She has been a church planter, pastored parishes in Illinois, and now lives with her husband and children in Austin, TX.

Julie opens her text with the words "Warning! Read Before Proceeding. Don't panic." In this pre-introduction section, she gives the reader the opportunity to take a deep breath as we look a at the vastness of the challenge of living more justly. She notes on page 15, "To change the world, we must start somewhere." Julie's goal is to help her readers discover that a total life makeover isn't the only way to step into a more just way of living. "All of us can discern where God is leading us to alter our lives - to change one thing at a time, taking the time to really understand and get behind our actions." (p. 15)

In the introduction, Clawson grounds her text theologically in Jesus' memorable first public sermon as recorded in Luke 4:18-21, which is incidentally the Gospel text of which some among us may have preached yesterday. Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated a way of justice and a call to his followers to live justly.

She proceeds to define justice as "the practical outworking of loving God and others." (p. 21) She follows this with one of my favorite Dr. Cornel West quotes: "Justice is what love looks like in public." She also draws an important, thoughtful distinction between justice as punishment and justice as restoration. On page 23, she writes:
"Justice then becomes much more than simply a punishment for wrongdoing.
Instead of only punishing wrongdoers in the hope that they will live rightly,
biblical justice involves healing the brokenness that marred our relationships
with each other in the first place."

Noting that "every decision has a price tag" and "that price is often paid by the people whose lives are affected by our actions" (p. 25), Clawson then offers "a resource and a guide to acting justly" (p. 29) in regard to the purchase of coffee, chocolate, food, and clothing. She explores how one might live justly in their consumption of oil, disposal of waste, and management of money.
Through all of it, she offers information, insight, and specific suggestions for action without becoming preachy or sounding judgmental.

As I think about my own life, I need and want to move more seriously in the direction of restoration. This text has offered me so much help in thinking through the daily choices I make and the price that others and I pay for those choices.

Questions for discussion:
1. How is Everyday Justice alike or different than other books you have read on the topic of living justly?

2. If you have read the book, is there one area of concern over which you feel particularly led to '"tweak" your actions and choices?

3. How do you imagine Everyday Justice would be received in a parish setting, especially your context? Do you plan to use it in some way?

4. Finally, what did you like best or least about Clawson's text?

I look forward to your insights, and will be around throughout the day to read your comments and share conversation with you.

Looking ahead, Songbird will be discussing Salvation on the Small Screen by Nadia Bolz-Weber on February 22nd.

May you live in God's amazing grace+


  1. I'm sorry to start the discussion with an administrative note, but you may have noticed the actual first comment here was spam. I'm going to have to change our comment settings. This means that previously Anonymous commenters will need to find a way to sign in; I wish we could avoid this, but I have been dealing with multiple spam comments daily for the past two weeks. Your options range from using a Google account to other blogging accounts (Wordpress, Typepad) or even an AOL ID.
    I hope our readers will be understanding. Some days I can be right on top of the comments, but other days I have to work for a living and cannot. I don't want to leave potentially offensive spam sitting in our comment threads.
    Thanks for your cooperation. Hopefully the spammers will lose interest and move on, and we will be able to take the restrictions off again.

  2. I think this book would be wonderful in a congregational setting - many churches I have worked with are truly interested in ways to be more mindful of what we are doing and the impact on our world. I haven't read it, but I like her premise - start by doing something, don't get overwhelmed by the magnitude...

  3. I'm going to suggest it for a women's group (Daughters of the King) book study. I think it's a great, do-able outline.

    I found it a bit daunting also...but I was glad to pick one thing. And it's been my commitment to buy more fairly traded/manufactured clothing. It's hard because I have a tough time buying clothes online...I really need to try-on...but so far these companies have been really great about returns as needed! :)

  4. Mompriest, I too think that we are starting to see more members concerned about living justly. We are planning on using the book in a young adults class.

    Mary Beth, I felt that the author has given those of us who read the book a way to grow into greater awareness and action. That's what makes this book so different in my mind. Glad to hear that the companies you have tried have been so accommodating.

  5. my congregation is, at least apparently, very concerned with living justly. But I also think we have some of the analysis-paralysis problem, or the perfect-as-enemy-of-good problem. We are reading this in the "read with the pastor book group" in February, and I look forward to challenging people to come up with a particular area to focus on and take small steps in.

  6. Teri,
    When it comes to the issue of living justly, I feel as though we have at least 2 sub-congregations within our larger suburban congregation. There are those who would say "preach it, pastor" and others who would say, "Now, you're meddling, pastor." Glad your congregation has some strong concern for living justly. Blessings on your study of the book, MB and Teri.

  7. Thus far I have only read as far as Oil. Shortly I'll start the next chapter.

    But I too appreciate the practical and concrete aspect of this book.

  8. Thanks all for taking the time to discuss the book. This is really a reflection of my personal journey - of how to make justice doable even as a mom/pastor living in the suburbs.

    If you have any questions for me about ideas or suggestions in the book, I'd be happy to address them.

  9. Having just finished the book last night I have to say there was a strange, sad, irony in reading the porions about Haiti so soon after the earthquake.

  10. From the moment the first Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door "coupe" was introduced to the public, other German luxury automakers hit the drafting board. According to the German auto experts at AutoBild, Audi is just over a year away from unleashing its own cleverly packaged sedan.


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