Friday, February 20, 2015

Expanding Our Response To the Call of Justice: An Interview with Gerda Kits

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Gerda Kits is Assistant Professor of Economics at The King's University in Edmonton, Alberta. Her research brings the insights of economics to bear on real-world problems, notably ecological issues such as agriculture and conversations surrounding the Alberta oilsands. Additionally, Kits is concerned with the ways in which people of faith interact with issues of justice, and her work attempts to help professionals and non-professionals better understand their place and role in the complex web of social and environmental issues facing us today.
The following is an interview carried out by e-mail between Dean Dettloff, Post-Conference Animator for the CPRSE, and Dr. Kits.
Ground Motive: Thank you for your willingness to participate in this interview, Gerda. To start, let’s talk a bit about the intersection of justice and faith. Our society seems to be ambivalent about whether or not faith makes a difference when pursuing questions of justice and their solutions. Some say it should be treated neutrally, as a personal commitment that should be held away from one’s research and projects. Others suggest faith is inextricably part of how one interacts with identifying injustice and working toward justice. What have you found in your work on these issues?

Gerda Kits: First, faith is one of the reasons many of us work for justice. Pursuing justice is an imperative for Christians – it’s all over the Bible. That’s not to say that all Christians have to work for justice in the same areas, or in the same ways; there are many different forms it can take. But we all need to be engaged somehow, because it’s an integral part of our faith.

But faith also shapes how we understand justice. Sometimes justice is perceived narrowly as simply respecting the rule of law, or not discriminating against people, etc. In my understanding of the Bible, Christians ought to have a much fuller and more holistic idea of justice as restoring right relationships, and making sure people are able to live out their God-given calling. That goes far beyond simply obeying the law, towards taking positive steps to ensure people have access to all the different kinds of resources and relationships they need to flourish. So the specific issues we decide to pursue, and the solutions we propose, are going to be fundamentally shaped by our faith as well.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Tarantino's Leap: Miracles and Faith in Pulp Fiction

This post is part of our "popular mythology" series, investigating the intersections of religion and popular culture.

By Benjamin Shank

Pulp Fiction changed my faith. This might seem like an extraordinary thing for a film by postmodern violence-meister Quentin Tarantino to have accomplished. After all, the movie features criminal activity, senseless brutality, prolific profanity, drug use, and sexual bondage and domination, to name only a few elements that many Christians might question.

But, seeing it again soon after it hit Netflix a few months ago, I was reminded that accomplishing the extraordinary in a strange fashion could be just the point. In a concluding monologue, Jules, played by Samuel L. Jackson, states:

“Now, whether or not what we experienced was an 'according to Hoyle' miracle is insignificant. What is significant is that I felt the touch of God. God got involved.”