Sunday, December 16, 2007

Book Review: Practical Justice

Another home run in the new series of Likewise books from InterVarsity Press, Practical Justice introduces a balanced yet profoundly prophetic voice into the discussion of the role of the church and the role of the Christian to justice issues.

Kevin Blue, director of the Los Angeles Urban Project with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, states in the first chapter, "No one who encountered Jesus was able to just ignore him. All went away disturbed." Reading this book disturbed me to the point of actually pondering for a few short moments if I needed to stop being a pastor and go back to working on Capitol Hill in order to really advance the Kingdom of God in the world around me. Kevin speaks from lots of personal experience and years of thinking through these issues, and I find his voice to be a refreshing addition to the mix of personalities involved in these discussions. I especially like the three chapters that explored the idiom, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." Kevin demonstrates that both are necessary and gives practical advice for how individuals can participate in both steps of that process. More importantly, he includes a third vital component-- fixing the pond-- to address larger systems and structures that must be changed in order to make a more complete and permanent impact.

While Kevin seemed to slip in and out of teaching, encouraging, and preaching, in general, I enjoyed his tone and easy to read writing style. I feel like I know a bit about his heart and personality after reading this book. The chapter on race and class seems awkward in its placement in the book. And his advice that Christians should have no political leanings seems impractical and impossible for those of us in DC who worked (or a currently working) within places in government that have the power to fix the pond.

With the exception of those two minor things, I really enjoyed this book. Kevin is balanced in his approach and yet prophetic in his call to make a change in our generation. The practical steps he offers seem valuable to anyone at any point on their journey into understanding and working within justice and compassion issues. I also appreciate the value he places on making changes in our culture within the context of community and the chapter on not becoming what you hate.

Practical Justice propelled my thinking on this topic forward, and it gave me a new outreach idea for NCC. It would be a great book for a small group. John Hasler wrote a review of this book here.


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