Week in Review: Justice System, Performancism, Stillborns, & Luther
(This is the second installment of Vista’s Week in Review, a weekly column highlighting interesting reads and media across the web. Media ranges from politics, religion, technology, social science studies, health, art and more.)
This article was written by Ricardo Huerta. Read his bio.
1. First up, this week The New Yorker, in partnership with the Marshall Project, released a set of nineteen short videos of people involved in the American criminal justice system. Some of them police officers, others victims of crimes, and four ex-prisoners, the Marshall Project uses the power of narrative to question the current system in place. It’s powerful and the stories force you to see that there is more to people than the crimes they have committed. Check it out here.
2. A shorty but a goodie, the crew at Mockingbird has posted a fantastic piece by the Reverend Scott A. Benhase, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, on how performance-based culture is killing us. Rev. Benhase puts it bluntly: it doesn’t matter if you’re from Appalachia or Chicago, your value is wholly dependent on your economic contribution to society. Quoting UC Irvine psychiatrist Aaron Kheriaty, Rev. Benhase writes:
“‘When the useful replaces the good and efficiency becomes the highest value, human beings are instrumentalized. Rather than opening new vistas of freedom, economic and social liberation has made [us] subject to a logic of utility.’ The social Darwinism of our current socio-economic model is making us sick. Only those with the greatest utility and capability can survive and thrive.”
We’re sick, but now what? Rev. Benhase prescribes the strongest dose of grace known to humankind: the Gospel of Christ.
“The unmerited grace of the Gospel of Jesus is the only medicine that can cure this socio-economic disease. That Gospel tells us that we’re not valued for what we produce. We’re valued because God graced humanity in Jesus and the imputed righteousness of his cross declares we all have infinite worth. But such a Gospel can only be taught by a church that sees our “performacist” culture clearly. And our culture is literally killing us.”
3. The next story comes to us from The Guardian. “A Very Private Grief: The Parents Breaking the Stillbirth Taboo” is one of many touching articles I came across the web this week (go back to #1). For every 1,000 babies born in the U.K., three of them are stillborn, placing the country 24th on a list of high-income earning nations. But the article is about more than just finding solutions to halt stillborn births; it’s a glimpse into the parent’s story of pain and grief that ensues after losing a child. It’s these stories that make the most marked impression on us and, like The Marshall Project above, helps to humanize those we would have otherwise never thought about. This article is heartbreaking, but you feel more human after reading it.
4. Over at First Things, a journal working at the intersection of religion and public life, Philip Jeffery writes a review of Eric Metaxas new book on the German reformer Martin Luther. As many of you know, this month marks the 500th year of Martin Luther’s famous protest against the Roman Catholic Church. It has recently become fashionable among some Protestants and many Catholics to bemoan this separation and to that I say: sorry, not sorry. Luther was onto something and I think his message of unmerited grace, the belief that God’s love is a one-way street towards us that we never deserved and can never repay, is the only thing that can save the world.
Jeffery’s review of Metaxas book is a fair one and what he comes away with is simple yet deeply profound, especially for those of us who revere Luther as a hero:
“Metaxas proudly identifies Luther as the founder of this modern world, in which individuals are responsible for discerning truth from falsehood—a burden that drives many young Christians into crippling doubt. In Martin Luther, Metaxas intends to show us a saint, but all he really shows us is ourselves. Young Protestants need to be directed toward Christ—which may or may not be the same as being directed toward Luther.”
5. Halloween is around the corner and The New Yorker has some great cartoons to go along with the season!