She is a woman who has had rare resources. She was raised in a loving and supportive family, is well educated and has had two supportive, able, good-earning husbands. And she has left some carnage along the way which she seems to feel is healed if folks can smile at one another and share a hug. She has had periods where she has been able to forgo employment in order to follow her passion and passion is not a highly worthwhile entity that supports her passion, at least to some extent. She has loving and able people to help when conflicts between family and passion collide.
In short, even if she did do it 'on her own' her passion for making this a better world will not make the sweeping changes at all levels of society that I believe she longs for when she leaves so many of us out of the equation.
Please understand, I am a huge supporter of Howard Zehr's work in restorative justice and I grow more enthusiastic every time I learn more. And I am not opposed to the culture trying to advocate for this outside of the church on earth when so many churches are not practicing this even within their own congregations.
But what if the sinner is not just a very young person with no prior record who just acted with poor judgement resulting in horrid damage to those who are not held in high regard in their community? It is hard enough to get church people to ACT as though they actually believe in redemption and reconciliation and rehabilitation. Really, if we are squeamish about including God in the discussion how can we help to make redemption a matter of universal availability. So if the position is, "in this instance the person who made the mistake is worth trying to save" then we are only more altruistically judging who may or may not find the response of the offender worth our forgiveness.
Now, I need to make something clear here. I am not suggesting that we throw the 21st century's vision of the old testament fire and brimstone Zues-ish sort of God at them with a heap of judgement and condemnation. Instead I am talking about sharing our faith, hope and experience with the God who sent His only Son to live and die in this weary, angry, mean-spirited world that we might be redeemed, and today sends the Spirit of God to tend us, instruct us, heal us and restore us, That God. Our God who did not create us to expend our time passing judgement on everything from someone's make-up to their criminal past.
I read this quote today attributed to the evangelist, Billy Graham: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” His son, Franklin, having established his own intimate relationship with God separate from his father's ministry, lives this vision everyday as his organization provides practical "hands & feet" acts of love to suffering people across the world. It is full-time work that beautifully reflects his commitment to love.
This is the difference between restorative justice without God and restorative justice with God: Restorative justice without God advocates for "another chance". Restorative justice with God advocates for relationship and reconciliation that offers each and every one of us the opportunity to start a new life today, no matter how badly we have messed up, no matter how unacceptable we are to society, no matter how many times we have fallen because God is wholly with us where we are and longs to give us hope and a future of purpose and love. And God is bigger than our mess every time.
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31