A Criteria of Justice
"We start by subjecting all projects, initiatives, decisions, and politicies to new criteria: whether they make justice more possible for all of us and especially for those on the bottom; whether they allow us to live in more harmony with the earth; and whether they increase the participation of all people in decision making. In other words, we must learn to judge our social and economic choices by whether they empower the powerless, protect the earth and foster true democracy."
— Soul of Politics
The Truest Image of God
"At times I think the truest image of God today is a black inner-city grandmother in the United States or a mother of the disappeared in Argentina or the women who wake up early to make tortillas in refugee camps. They all weep for their children, and in their compassionate tears arises the political action that changes the world. The mothers show us that it is the experience of touching the pain of others that is the key to change."
— The Soul of Politics
Justice is Reestablishing "Right Relationships"
"The politics of community will also require a more profound understanding of the meaning of justice. Both liberal and conservative notions of justice are based on widely assumed and well-established Western doctrines of individualism. Justice is rooted in individual human rights for both the Right and the Left. But such an individualistic idea of justice is now failing us in the midst of a global crisis that cries out for a new and deeper sense of connection and community.
"Here again, religious insights can help us. In the Hebrew Scriptures, one finds the more holistic concept of shalom as the best definition of justice. It is a deeper and wider notion than the securing of individual rights. The vision of shalom requires us to reestablish 'right relationships.' It is a call to justice in the whole community and for the entire habitat. Shalom is an inclusive notion of justice extending even to the rest of God's creatures and whole of creation. Restoring right relationships takes us further than respecting individual rights. It pushes us to begin to see ourselves as part of a community, even as members of an extended but deeply interconnected global family, and ultimately as strands in the web of life that we all share and depend upon. The biblical vision of shalom could be a basis for a new politics of community and the social healing we so need."
— The Soul of Politics
The Best Test of a Nation's Righteousness
"Who speaks for God? God speaks for God. And it is the voiceless and powerless for whom the voice of God has always been authentically raised. It is up to us to make sure that our political vision bears some resemblance to the vision the prophets of God proclaim throughout the Scriptures. Then the people on the street corners will have a better idea of who the children of God really are . . .
"Compassion has less to do with 'doing charity' than 'making connections.' The word compassionmeans literally 'to suffer with.' It means to put yourself in somebody else's shoes, try to understand their experience, or see the world through their eyes. That always changes our perspective. True compassion has less to do with sympathy than it does with empathy.
"The call to compassion is not about somebody 'doing for' somebody else. Rather, its value is in the connection, the relationship, and the transaction in which everyone is changed. The Hebrew prophets say that we find our own good in seeking the common good. The prophet Isaiah says that when we feed the hungry, take in the homeless, and 'break the yoke' of oppression, then we find our own healing. He also says the act of compassion requires that you 'not hide yourself from your own flesh.' In other words,compassion means to recognize the kindred spirit we all share together. And the Bible insists that the best test of a nation's righteousness is how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable in its midst."
— Who Speaks for God?
The Moral Foundation for a New Social Vision
"A prophetic politics rooted in moral principles could again spark people's imagination and involvement. We need a personal ethic of moral responsibility, a social vision based on bringing people together, a commitment to justice with the capacity for reconciliation, an economic approach governed by the ethics of community and sustainability, a restored sense of our covenant with the abandoned poor and the damaged earth, a reminder of shared values that calls forth the very best in us, and a renewal of citizen politics to fashion a new political future. But to shape a new future we must first find the moral foundations and resources for a new social vision."
— The Soul of Politics