Last week, Faith in Public
Life asked Rick Santorum if he agrees with the Catholic teaching that public
policy should include a "preferential option for the poor." He appeared to be
unfamiliar with the concept.
Jennifer Egan's novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and a clutch of other awards this year. It is at once a sharp social commentary, a showcase for the author's virtuosity, and a constellation of stories so good they invite fast, compulsive reading but also reward more careful attention. It is also a book with particular relevance for Christian theology and ethics.
The interface of Jewish and Christian theology has always been vexing. Partly this is because of the intrinsically incommensurate realities of the two faiths. And partly it has been because of Christian interpreters' uncritical practice of supersessionism, which has been combined with political power that is used in controlling and abusive ways.
As states have been moving away from mass incarceration patterns, restorative justice models have become more popular. Thirty-five states now have legislation that encourages using restorative justice. Even without statewide legislation, many police departments have made use of local nonprofits that work with law breakers to try to keep them out of prison. Restorative justice brings offenders and victims together in an attempt to find ways that offenders can make restitution for their misdeeds. The hope is that both offenders and victims will have more empathy for each other. Recidivism rates tend to be lower in such cases, compared to rates in the traditional court system (PBS, July 20).