1. Vocabularies of virtue
David Brooks does it again with another insightful and timely column:
Many people today have not been given vocabularies to talk about what virtue is, what character consists of, and in which way excellence lies, so they just talk about community service, figuring that if you are doing the sort of work that Bono celebrates then you must be a good person. Let’s put it differently. Many people today find it easy to use the vocabulary of entrepreneurialism, whether they are in business or social entrepreneurs. This is a utilitarian vocabulary. How can I serve the greatest number? How can I most productively apply my talents to the problems of the world? It’s about resource allocation. People are less good at using the vocabulary of moral evaluation, which is less about what sort of career path you choose than what sort of person you are.
[E]ffectual civic engagement activity is ultimately rooted in a theology of mission and a recognition that the presence of the kingdom of God is real and consequential for all areas of life, not just for when the church is gathered. Moreover, fruitful engagement has intentional longevity associated with it; it is generational. It involves decades of practicing faithful stewardship and blessing of a city, her inhabitants, and her leaders. Finally, it’s not about merely “doing ministry in the city” as much as being a minister—a call to care for a people and their place. I love Costa Mesa not only because I live here but also because I am called to love my neighbor here. I care for where they dwell; I care for them and their leaders.
3. Peace in Medellín
I enjoy reading MCC’s Latin America Advocacy Blog to follow along on the great work the organization is doing, and this week there was a post by Jessica Sarriot, who’s working in Medellín, Colombia, which to many of us is known for drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and the city’s eponymous cartel. It’s an encouraging update from an otherwise difficult place:
The Medellín I have gotten to know most intimately is a peace-focused minority in an increasingly wealth and miracle-focused Protestant demographic. This sub-group is speaking a different language. It is preaching restoration to the victimizers, life to the youth set on a path of death, hope to the widows who were left without any, and a faith in peace that flies in the face of the continued promise of war. More than anything I have been moved and impressed by who my partners in Medellín are: these are pastors being threatened, victims unsure the authorities will help or persecute them further, understaffed and over-worked followers of Jesus oftentimes donating their time to the pursuit of healing and hope.
4. Debate about Latin America’s drug war
The New York Times is hosting a discussion in its “Room for Debate” opinion section about the merits of the drug war. Contributors include current Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina, who calls the drug war a failed policy and has begun campaigning for legalization. Greg Weeks, one of my go-to Latin American politics bloggers, questions the usefulness of the NYT’s approach, saying it reduces a complex issue to soundbytes.
Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!
[Photo credit: Downtown Medellín, Colombia via discovercolombia.com]