Making Peace With Proximate Justice: A Speech and Questions with Steve Garber

I'm sitting upstairs in Skye Lounge, listening to Steve Garber speak.

Did you hear that? Steve Garber. My parents gave me his book The Fabric of Faithfulness and I thought I was too young for it, not even going to college yet, and it was dense, pulling together pieces of pop culture and the Bible and classics and questions. But I waded through it -- probably more because I am stubborn than anything else -- and it was like Till We Have Faces, pieces of it nagging at the back of my mind. I don't think I could have been more than fifteen or sixteen. That gave me time to reread it, to let things percolate through the filter of my life.

And it has been good.

So it is a huge blessing to get to hear him speak.

He began talking about Jon Stewart and Rush Limbaugh. Here's his summary.

Jon Stewart: If you knew what I knew, you'd be cynical too.
Rush Limbaugh: If you knew what I knew, you'd be angry too.

And Garber asks, Can you know the world and still love the world? Or do you simply become more detached and disinterested the more you come to know.

About how John le Carre's novels, and how people read them and say That's just the way it is, Garber asks -- really? If that is just the way it is, what are we doing here? What is the point?

About his time in Washington DC, he says, I've lived there to push back the cynicism of the city.

Is justice just crap? If it isn't, what is it? How do we live that out in the context of American pluralism?

He talks about how people come to Washington full of visions, sure that they can change everything because they deeply care about what is right and God does too. And about how making politics is no clean business and you have to find a way to stick with it. To make peace with proximate justice and accept what is something, even if it is not everything, and to continue on rather than dropping out. That you cannot say it must be everything that I am envisioning or it will be nothing because it hurts too much. That you have to have enough confidence in God to accept something.

About Israel and a friend of his who has come to deeply care for it, how if you are serious about it, you have to take seriously the hopes of the people who live there. On both sides. The solution may not be perfect, but it will be something.

About Blood:Water Mission, and the difficulty of continuing a charitable project when people rip you off and take advantage of you. How do you make peace with proximate justice?

About Mars and M&Ms and the search for a vision that cares for economics and people and earth. How all these things should weave together in a fulfillment of the shalom promised in jubilee.

So we make peace with proximate justice, accept that the world is not yet as it one day will be, live in the tension of redemption before the consummation.

He talks about how the culture is upstream from politics. What we want shapes the policies that we have, and it is not easy or cheap to change politics. But what needs to be changed will not be addressed until we care about it, until it matters to us.

And he wraps up with a question and a challenge to this roomful of college students: Does Christianity provide the answer to the complexity of these questions? You need to be able to answer this.

And I am glad to have heard him.


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