on being my sister’s keeper

Perhaps the most profound question asked in the Bible, is the one Cain poses to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” As I’ve been thinking this week about the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa, this is the question I’ve kept returning to. Do we have a responsibility to watch out for and care for those around us? The answer for me is undoubtedly a resounding “Yes!” In the light of the many stories of violence against women this past week, I want to call us all to become – day-by-day – our sister’s keepers.

See that girl in the club, looking really uncomfortable as three guys come around her and hit on her? Move closer. Eavesdrop. And if need be, be ready to stand in and defend her.

The girl in the bathroom wiping mascara from her eyes? Ask her if she’s okay or if there’s someone you can call.

The little kid walking alone from school? Park your car discreetly up the road and watch over them til they reach a more populated area.

The girl bent over the toilet vomitting cos someone spiked her drink? Take her hand, sit with her, get her hydrated, walk her home, call a friend, hold her hair back while she’s sick in the bushes. Do whatever it takes. Keep her safe.

That single girl at the braai? She should never have to ask you to walk her to her car, and should never feel like she is being a burden. Take stock at the beginning of the night of who arrived alone and keep watch for when they leave and walk them to their door.

That group of 14 year old girls walking along Tokai main road at 10pm? Stop and offer them a lift. And if they decline tell them you’re going to follow them from a safe distance until they make it home safely.

The woman with the black eye and the cut lip? Ask her name and see if she needs medical attention. Open the door to conversation. Give her your phone number. Just in case.

These are all stories of times I’ve tried to “be my sister’s keeper” – in only one of these situations did I actually know the girl’s name beforehand. Sometimes people thought I was wierd, occassionally they may have been creeped out, often they were grateful. But maybe once or twice I even helped to save a life.

If I am not for them, I am against them. And woe that God’s reply comes to me, as it did to Cain: “What have you done?” [The echo in my head, “What have you not done?] “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!”

sister's keeper

 

on doing something

In the wake of several highly reported rapes, the brutal attack on Anene Booysen and the recent killing of Reeva Steenkamp, many South African’s are asking themselves, “What can we do?” Wearing black, protesting on social network platforms, and even calling for higher penalties on convicted offenders all have their place. But how about we went a step further and started targeting the opinion-makers, the  places where mindsets and attitudes are being sculpted, the voices that are headline-by-headline daily erroding our country’s sense of value for life, desensitising us to violence and degrading women? How about flooding The Daily Voice and Die Sun papers with letters of protest around their irresponsible reporting, sensationalist stories and shockingly offsides headlines that devalue life and women and increasingly create spectacle out of tragedy?

While letters to the Editor are certainly a start, I’m guessing we’re going to have to go a couple of steps further. Let’s be honest: folk who write a letter of protest against insensitive headlines are not generally the people who are buying The Daily Voice. With a daily readership of just over 500,000 even a deluge of outrage may not affect The Daily Voice. But hitting their bottom line will.  40% of the Voice’s content is advertising. So how about we call for higher standards of social responsibility from advertisers and call for companies to pull their ads from The Daily Voice and Die Son until such time as we see a marked difference in their reporting on women and violence.

Justice

Too often, South Africans underestimate their power to influence the media and public opionion and social norms. We can be activivists and advocates, reformers and revolutionaries – empowered to forge, and form, and frame. Instead, we become passive consumers of media and of mindsets. We become bystanders, then victims and, inadvertently, perpetrators.

On dreaming

It’s snowing today. This snow’s beauty lies in its falling down, reflected in the street lights. But that beauty fades as it hits the ground, mixing with the messiness of the lives which have passed this way throughout the day. Its promise dies as it becomes tied up inextricably with the dirt, trash and discarded mess which are mere symbols of structural inequality, poverty, cycles of abuse and destruction and violence, marginalization, and isolation from centers of power. The debris of the American dream.

I live in an inner-city neighborhood called Kensington in Philadelphia. Over 42% of our neighbors live below the poverty line, 46% have less than a highschool education, and most are unemployed. The neighborhood’s primary industry is the drug trade. Ours is a community full of violence and chaos, addiction, abuse and poverty – but it is also full of hope and beauty and good people trying to improve their own and neighbor’s lives. We are not naive about the challenges Kensington faces; nor are we overwhelmed by them. Fundamentally, we believe that another world is possible and that maybe it starts by dreaming, by relocating to the broken and neglected places of empire, by living with our lives what we speak with our mouths, by being good neighbors. We seek to re-spark imagination in our interactions. We have built a beautiful neighborhood park at the end of our street, and a neighborhood garden where folk can grow their own vegetables, we run a food distribution, and give out blankets and toiletries and bedrolls when folk knock on our door. We do homework help three days a week with kids from the neighborhood, throw holiday parties, hand out school supplies to over 550 kids, celebrate birthdays, put bandaids on scrapes, share our chocolate sprinkles, make popcorn, open up opportunities for summer camps, and play in the fire hydrant in summer. Most importantly we try to live our lives on our streets. And we always seek to dream.

A few short weeks ago, I thought that most of our neighbors had lost their imagination, their ability to dream of a different way. Many have. In places of violence, war, conflict, poverty, destruction and despair the privilege of dreams is often secondary to the necessity of survival. For others, years of walking a trail of broken dreams has only served to crush any hope for a future. I do not doubt that there are many in my community who have lost their imagination, their daring to hope and dream.

But I have also learnt that I have not had ears to hear the many dreams that do exist on my block. These are streets of pain; but they are also fields of gold. Some are dreaming of an orchard at the end of our road. Another longs to see an aquarium where children can learn to run their own businesses. Someone wants to paint all the post boxes on the block. There are dreams for a compost business which will serve Kensington, a vegetable garden which will feed our block and provide low cost healthy food to our broader community. A neighbor has a file full of contacts for emergency services, heating, food, jobs and education which she pulls out anytime anyone is in need. Someone else has a file full of clippings from magazines and printouts from online – of fences and parks and benches around trees. Someone sweeps our streets each morning – and each day it fills again with trash. But for those few hours this is another world. And slowly others are joining in.

I dream of the day when these dreams become stories celebrated not regrets mourned. I pray these dreams breathe life into the here and now, in the time when these dreams are not…yet. I dream that the debris of the American dream can be swept off our block so that the snow can fall, creating a new world on our streets.

The shopping list

I have spent a few hours putting together my shopping list and meal plan for the R12 a day Live Below the Line Challenge. It was challenging – I won’t lie! Buying food for the week for R120 is one thing (i.e. R12 x 5days x 2 people), but maintaining a healthy, balanced meal plan is quite tough. So here is my shopping list. Feel free to make alternative suggestions or adjust to your own likes if you are taking the challenge. More thoughts on the challenge itself will follow next week.

Shopping List:

Oats (500gr; 3 breakfasts) – R11.39

Whole Wheat Low GI Bread (1 loaf; 2breakfasts [w/ eggs] + 2 lunches [w/ soup] – R7.29

Eggs (2breakfasts) – R7.49

Brown Rice Parboiled (500grm; 2suppers) – R6.49

Noodles (2 suppers) – R7.78

Lentils (400grm; 2 lunches soup) – R5.99 – can also use soup mix with lentils, beans etc

Pork Bankers (8pieces; 2 suppers; can also put in other suppers or soup) – R16.49 – can rather use chicken pieces, or substitute for other protein such as kidney beans (R10.99 for 500gr) or for more veg (Swiss Chard at 4.99) etc.

Carrots (1kg) – R6.99

Butternut (1.5kg) – R6.24

Potatoes (1.2kg) – R9.70 – can do 600gr potato and 600g sweet potato for the same price

Beans (1 punnet) – R6.99

Onions (2) – R2

Mielies (4pieces; 2 lunches) – R8

Soup stock – R4.89

Lite medium fat spread (for cooking with too) – R8.49 – apparently a medium/low fat spread is better than butter if low in transfat

TOTAL: R116.22

What will we do with that last R4?? Ha ha – well, maybe cost out spices or add in more veg or buy an apple or two or jelly or orange juice concentrate (in the sachets). So many options!

So there it is – if you have any other creative ideas feel free to share – remembering we only have R120 for all food items! (and you can check out the rules here. Good luck to all who are taking on the challenge and I hope it really does change your perspective on the poor, the poverty line, and how you live.

On living below the line

One of the biggest things I have learnt over the last few months is how incredibly blessed Brett and I have been when one or both of us have had a fixed salary.  In December, Brett resigned from his job and soon after my bursary money came to an end. Since the beginning of the year we have not had any regular income and have had to trust God sometimes from day to day for our needs. This has taught me firstly, how many of the things I used to think of as “needs” are really just “wants” or “nice to haves”.  Secondly, it has taught me how little we can get by on without really actually struggling. We never ate or lived lavishly before, but our grocery bill has almost halved during this time and we are still eating healthily. Thirdly, it has taught me that living on less is not easy and comes with a whole set of  stresses, pressures, and relational challenges.

Earlier this month, I stopped writing out shopping lists and instead started writing what I called “wish lists”. I would put on there all the things I thought we needed and some things we just would have liked (like coffee and cheese) and hoped that by the time we had used the last eggs and milk, there would be money to take the wish list to the shops. There always was because our God is faithful and always came through. But waiting was not easy. Neither was counting out and making the difficult decisions on how to allocate our money towards petrol, electricity and food.

From May 2-6,  I will be taking the Live Below the Line challenge. I will be living on the equivalent of 1 Pound a day, or  R12.  I am doing this to raise awareness for and to better understand the challenges faced by the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty. The money that I would have spent on food during the week (check out the rules), I will donate to a poverty alleviation project. This is not a warm-fuzzy-feeling initiative though. The truth is that most of us have absolutely no idea what it is like to live below the poverty line. Conversely, we lose sight of the abundance we enjoy daily. Yes, I will be limiting my food and drink costs to R12 per day while the truth is that for those 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line, their R12 or $1.25 or 1 pound has to cover far more than food. It is all they have to cover their health, housing, transport, food, education, hygiene, electricity and other needs. I cannot even begin to fathom such living.

“Almost a quarter of the world’s population face challenges that are varied and complex, and which prevent people from developing financial safety nets – ensuring they are unable to escape the cycle of extreme poverty. ” (Live Below the Line, on Extreme Poverty)

Redistribution of wealth must start with those who have. And what better way to begin than by realising what wealth we really possess.

(Here is my proposed menu and here is the shopping list for our week)

on immoral wealth

It is months since I have last written and months since I had the privilege to attend the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town. The months since have been full and busy and I have not had the time to think or integrate or even remember all that happened at Lausanne. I think the time is now – to start at least.

I do remember one conversation. I was in a session in which Richard Stearns (The Hole in our Gospel) gave one of the first unequivocal positions and statements on immoral wealth, greed, capitalism, consumerism, the creation of desire, and entitlement I have ever heard. During the comment session, I got up and said so. As I left the building a man approached me and asked if we could meet to chat about something I had said in my comment. During supper, I went and sat down with him and he introduced himself as a German MP and asked me what I had meant by “the creation of desire”. I went blank for two reasons: first, he was an MP and I felt completely out of my depth even sitting down to dinner with him. This was excacerbated by the fact that as he asked the question I realised I had nothing more to say on the topic. I didn’t really know what I meant by it. But it was something that stirred me, something that had come up in the past week and somehow felt like one of the keys. And so I sit now with the sense still that all of this – poverty, immoral wealth, consumerism, the prosperity gospel, the creation of desire – is all vitally linked and must be spoken too. I guess I am trying to “understand the times, with knowledge of what [the Church] should do” as the men of Issachar did (1 Chronicles 12:32). Someone else at Lausanne spoke of the need for a prophetic critique of how we live – but what must be said?

I guess I am tired of a “Gospel that protects the injustice of the status quo” (Richard Stearns). I am tired of wealth that perpetuates and sustains itself at the expense of the majority. I am tired of greed that justifies itself by itself . I am tired of a christian culture that buys into consumerism and the creation of desire. I am tired of the problem continually being defined as “poverty” without any consideration of the counterpoints of wealth and greed. I am tired of a prosperity doctrine which is insiduous in “western” conceptualisations and responses to wealth – “I am entitled to all the wealth I have because my wealth is a sign of God’s blessing. I deserve what I have”. I am tired of all the justifications that absolve our consciences – that say that conviction is condemnatory and therefore can be ignored. I am tired of not knowing how this all fits together and what is right and how much is too much and how this plays out in my life. I am tired because I think this is another one of the myriad things that is “too big for a divided church”.

And after all I am left thinking about two things:

“Use honest scales, honest weights, and honest measures. I am the LORD your God, and I brought you out of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19v36)  In other words, “don’t you dare oppress people when I’ve just gone to all this effort to save you from being oppressed.”  (Peter Houston – http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/resources/detail/10767#article_page_1)

And this:

“I was hungry; while you had all you needed. I was thirsty; but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger; and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes; but you needed more clothes. I was sick; but you pointed out the behaviours that led to my sickness. I was in prison; you said I was getting what I deserved.” (Richard Stearns; paraphrase Matthew 25:42)

on the honeymoon phase

I hate the idea of the “honeymoon phase” in any relationship. It is one of the things that grates me most when people talk about marriage – especially people who have been married for many years. I especially hate it when people look at Brett and I – how much we like each other, love each other, laugh, touch, talk – and say, “ah, that’s cute, you’re still in the honeymoon phase…” and the dot dot dot they leave hanging at the end implies that it will all come crashing down and reality will set in and we will soon see what its really like. We will fall out of love and into “marriage”. I hate it.

That said. I wish people had talked a little more honestly about how hard marriage is and how much daily work it takes, in the months leading up to our wedding. They were very quick to tell us about sex, but not much beyond that.

I also hate it how people don’t speak honestly and truthfully about marriage and their marriages now. Especially people who have been married for years. I don’t like how there is no space for honesty, truth, for saying “it really is tough. so worth it but tough” or “we’re having a hard week and really need your guy’s support” or “B and I are struggling to find time to fit in all the people in our lives and we’re taking a hit” or the myriad other things that are never said, but should be.

B and I are doing marriage prep counselling with a couple in our church. As we were talking the guy used an analogy – he said, “Marriage is like a movie. You can tell us what it’s like and recommend it to us, but we have to go and watch the movie and experience it for ourselves.” Which is cool. And reminded me of another analogy.

Recently B and I went and watched a fun hip-hop/streetdance style play at the Barnyard Theatre. It was great fun and we really dug it, but there were one or two things that detracted from the greatness. So when we recommended the show to our friends we said, “It’s great, especially the purple crew dancing in the second act, but watch out for the narrator. We found him very annoying and mis-cast.” They went and watched the show and loved it, but thanked us for warning them about the narrator.

This is like marriage. We need people to highly recommend it, to rave about it, to build-it-up, to love it – but we also need those people to tell us “the narrator sucks, watch out”.

Pre-marriage counselling is great and highly recommended. But I think we would have benefitted a whole lot more from a monthly catch-up and re-cap with Mr Basson in the months following our wedding.  You see, the thing is, what happened with me is I got into this marriage thing and suddenly it was hard and tough and I thought I was doing something wrong, I wasn’t good enough, I was failing. At times I thought there must be something fundamentally wrong with our relationship. That’s lies. There isn’t. But if someone had been there and told us and shared their vulnerability and their falling and their learnings, it would have all made a lot more sense and been easier to get through.

So, marriage is wonderful, I love it, I love B and am always always glad and confident in the choice I have made. I highly recommend it. But let’s face it, sometimes “the narrator sucks”. Anyone for a little honesty?

on marriage not being a reward…

On Namrock this year I really felt pressed to share this stuff and so did. I believe it was God. If it turns out to be vastly theologically incorrect then either I got it wrong or popular theology did. I’m willing to take the risk, because I really believe this to be true….

I think there are a lot of lies, misconceptions, and false teachings that have gone on about Marriage and Singleness and so am very excited about speaking truth and life into those areas. Here goes: (Bullet points are just two things I said before the main part.)

1. I know that what I am going to say is not for everyone and there are some of you who are going to be sitting there and getting frustrated that it’s “that” topic again. I would like to ask you as a part of your worship tonight that you keep quiet and put up with it because there are a lot of people here who are really struggling with this issue and hurting a lot over it.

2. As we were sitting worshipping after communion I looked around and got a huge sense of loneliness. As I looked around at that group at Namrock I saw a LOT of people who were very very lonely and hurting.

There have been two primary bad teachings about marriage and singleness which the church has been responsible for over the years. The Catholic church has tended to lift singleness up as more spiritual and something to be attained. Nuns and priests and monks have been honoured over the years, while marriage – still one of the sacraments – has often been portrayed as a weak capitulation to the “things of the flesh”. Teachers of this view use Paul’s writings on singleness a lot. On the other hand, the Protestant church has glorified and spiritualised marriage, lifiting it up as the pinnacle of relational living. Teachers here will draw, ironically, on Paul’s teaching about husband’s loving their wives as Christ loved the church. I think both of these extremes have done the church a huge disservice. I want to speak into the Protestant view. I strongly believe that truth needs to be spoken directly into this area to bring release from guilt, condemnation and bad teaching.

Firstly, marriage is not your reward. It is not the thing you get once you have reached an acceptable spiritual level, once your relationship with God is right, once you have dealt with all your junk. Well-meaning christians promote the marriage-as-reward view with comments like this, “Just keep praying…” “Focus on your relationship with God” “God is jealous and He wants you all to himself” “Only when God is your everything – your provider, comforter, and Husband – will he give you a spouse” “Maybe you need to be getting into the Word more/doing more quiet time/praying more/working on your relationship with Him before getting into other relationships”. This is crap. Those are things that are not reserved for singles – married people should be doing them just as much! Marriage is not the thing you get when you have attained spiritual well-being and right relationship with God. This view is dangerous because 1. it puts married folk on a pedestal as the “ones who have arrived” – which believe me we are not! and 2. it puts single folk under an incredible amount of condemnation, guilt and worthlessness for not being “good enough” for a relationship. It condemns their relationship with God because, if you’re not married, obviously you are doing something wrong and haven’t earned a relationship yet. Once again, this is Crap. I have to say it that strongly because I really do believe that this is a HUGE lie taking down people in the church.

Secondly, a lot of people – naively and sometimes intentionally – teach that God will purposefully keep you in a place of singleness so that He can work on your character, teach you things, etc. Nonsense. I do not believe that God puts you in or keeps you in a place of singleness so that He can mold you. I do believe that in whatever place you are, God will work in that place and use the strengths of that circumstance to work in and through you. Yes, there are some things that would seem to be easier worked out while we are still single. But I can say this because if it were true that God keeps you single to work on you, then believe me I would still be single! There was a lot of stuff in my life before going into marriage that would have been much better worked out while I was alone. In fact, bringing it into marriage caused B and I a lot of pain and confusion, and was incredibly difficult. Singleness, according to the “working on your character” arguement ,would have been a much better place for all that to happen. But God did not keep me in that place til I or He had sorted it out – but in His incredible grace when I moved into marriage He still worked on it. You do not have to be single for God to be able to work on certain things in your life. But if you are – if that is the space you find yourself in now – then He will make use of that and work on those things. But He can do that just as well in marriage. He does not put you in or keep you in a place of singleness; He will work and use whatever place you are in to grow you.

This said, I have to say that marriage is wonderful. I love it. I am not trying to diss or put marriage down at all. If you desire marriage then by all means bring that continually before Him. But remember that marriage is not your reward and it is not something withheld until you tick all the boxes. Also, if you are in a place of singleness and you desire a relationship and to be married, do not live in the place of desire. Live in the place you are in. Live it to the full. Don’t miss out on the incredible adventure and the wonderful things that being single allows you to do because you are longing to be somewhere else.

on heroes

Husband-man and I have just, delayedly, finished Heroes Season One. As I was thinking about dreaming and the ‘individual call’ question, I think I found a pretty good analogy in the series. On Heroes, everyone is special –  each with a distinctive special ability – and most of them feel the call to “Save the World”. So they set out, on their own, to fulfill their own personal destiny. In the process they cut off, undermine, endanger, kill, destroy, misunderstand, question, and manipulate all the other ‘heroes’ whose tasks, also, are to save the world. In so doing, they very nearly screw  things up entirely ending with that dismal picture of the world in five years time.

I think we tend to do that. We stand with our own unique abilities, character, talents, or giftings (if you want to use Christianese). And we set out, by ourselves, to save the world – believing that we are the destined one, the chosen one; rather than the destined ones and chosen ones. The church. And so we set out longing to hear the specific call and to see the unique path layed out before us that will lead us to “hero-hood” and saving the world. And we cut off, undermine, endanger, kill, destroy, misunderstand, question, and manipulate everyone else who is doing the same. The church.

I don’t think this is necessarily intentional or spiteful. I think it rather comes from a fundamental misunderstanding and misreading of Scripture, combined with a world-view which puts the individual at the centre and elevates self-hood. In light of these two, the quest for “God’s  individual plan for MY life” becomes completely understandable. A re-reading of Scripture, I believe, clearly demonstrates that while God does on occassion work through individuals (Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, Esther, Daniel etc), His primary concern is with the destiny and path of nations, societies, people groups and communities. Secondly, I believe that God’s overall ‘plan’ – the coming of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven – can most efficiently, effectively, and exquisitely be achieved through individuals acting in their special capacity/ability/talent/gifting or dream IN COMMUNITY. I’ll do my little part, you do yours, and together we will have done something GREAT.

Shane Claiborne puts it this way:

Shane: Early in my youth, I spent a lot of time thinking, `What is God’s will for my life?’ You know how it goes – as if the whole universe kind of revolved around me. One day, I caught this idea from a priest: “Good things come to those who wait, but great things come to those who get off their butts and go find God at work.” That’s a very different way of thinking of things. And it’s very liberating to know that I don’t have to wait for God to write a magical formula on the wall for me, but I can look around for where God is at work and join in. Instead of staring at my sandals, I walk out my front door and look into the eyes of my neighbours.’

Sometimes it’s harder to be a part of a community than it is to just be a lone ranger or a vigilante. It can seem easier to be a soloist than part of a choir – but ultimately this is a story about community. I’ve got a quote on my wall that says, “I know you’re strong enough to do it alone, but are you strong enough to do it together?” …  Here’s another one: an old African proverb says `if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.’ In a sense, leadership is a choice to go far together rather than just to run as fast as you can on your own. Being someone who is always going fast, I am tempted to do things alone, but I have chosen to do life together. I have intentionally joined with others. Ultimately, we can do more together than I can on my own.” Excerpt from `Follow me to Freedom’ – Shane Claiborne and John M. Perkins

So stop. Stop waiting for God to reveal the individual plan for your life. Find where what you have to give intersects with what the world needs. See, God ‘may’ have a specific path laid out for you (a Moses-plan if you like), but in the meantime while you are waiting for Him to reveal it to you, I think He has laid out enough general ground rules to keep you occupied – love mercy, practice justice, go into all the world, preach the good news, baptise, make disciples, love God, love people, pray unceasingly, always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have, be salt, be light, spread the aroma of Christ…. the list goes on. Find somewhere God is already at work, and join Him and the others already there. Take out your crayons, and draw. Dream.

stolen words

This is cheating isn’t it? Not my own words, but there is something tearing at me, something that must start to be written and worked out and shared and grappled with. This is that start. I’ll be writing more on social justice and creativity and strategy in the next few weeks and sometimes I will repeat myself, because I’m working it all out too.

Quote from Jim Wallis’ response to Glenn Beck’s attack on social justice

“But we do say that while social justice begins with our own lives, choices, and sacrifices, it doesn’t end there. Those of us who have actually done this work for years all understand that you can’t just pull the bodies out of the river, and not send somebody upstream to see what or who is throwing them in. Serving the poor is a fundamental spiritual requirement of faith, but challenging the conditions that create poverty in the first place is also part of biblical social justice. In countering Beck’s misunderstanding of social justice on The Colbert Report, James Martin, an editor of the Jesuit America magazine, quoted a Catholic Archbishop as saying, “When I feed the poor they call me a saint; but when I ask why people are poor they call me a communist.” He suggested Beck has that problem.

Private charity, which Beck and I are both for, wasn’t enough to end the slave trade in Great Britain, end legal racial segregation in America, or end apartheid in South Africa. That took vital movements of faith which understood the connection between personal compassion and social justice. Those are the movements that have inspired me and shaped my life — not BIG GOVERNMENT. And my allies in faith-based social justice movements have wonderfully different views on the role of government — some bigger than mine and some smaller than mine — but we all believe social justice requires changing both personal choices and unjust structures. Apparently Beck thinks social justice ends with private charity, but very few churches in the nation would agree with him.

Listen to what we teach: you start by practicing social justice in your own life, then you act for social justice in your family, your congregation, your community, in the most local way possible. The Catholics call that “subsidiarity” — look it up. And you only work to change government when you can’t accomplish things on a smaller scale. Churches were the very best in responding to Katrina, for example, but churches can’t build levees. And Glenn, voluntary church action can’t provide health care for millions who don’t have it, or fix broken urban school systems, or provide jobs at fair wages, or protect our kids from toxic air, water, and toys, or fix a broken immigration system that is grinding up our vulnerable families, or keep banks from cheating our people. All that requires commitments to holding governments accountable to social justice, and advocating for better public policies.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-wallis/what-glenn-beck-doesnt-un_b_511362.html