Friday, January 25, 2008

Spirituality and Social Justice: Is It What We've Been Waiting For?

I watched an interesting interview on The Daily Show this week with Jim Wallis, the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of Sojourners. You can watch it here. During the interview Wallis said,
"The two great hungers in the world today are the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social justice. And the connection between the two is the one the new generation is just waiting for."
This isn't a new topic for Wallis. Kathy Pozos posted this quote by Wallis on her blog post, Spirituality and Social Justice - Quote of the Day:
“The connection the world’s waiting for is to connect the hunger for spirituality with passion for social change. Because spirituality, when it isn’t disciplined by social justice, in an affluent society, becomes narcissistic. We buy the books, we buy the tapes. We hear the guru speaker. Barnes & Noble has a whole wall of how to be spiritual, balanced, healed, whole. Spirituality becomes a commodity to be bought and sold. So spirituality has to be disciplined by social justice."
Wallis was on the show to promote his new book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith and Politics in a Post-Religious Right America. In his January 18th blog post, Why I Wrote the Great Awakening, he explains:
The Great Awakening explores the new broader and deeper faith agenda and shows how a new spiritual 'revival' could spark real social and political change. Already, in the early primaries the clear victor is 'change,' revealing the deep hunger in America for a new direction in politics, which many on both sides of the spectrum believe to be badly broken. All the candidates are now competing to convince voters that they are the best change agents. . . .

. . . I am not just saying that another Great Awakening may be coming. I'm convinced that it has already begun, and the book begins to tell its stories. As I've often said, this could be a revival that calls us to find common ground by moving to higher ground. It could transcend traditional divisions and bring people together across the theological and political spectrum on the major moral issues of our time. It asserts that religion should not be a wedge to divide us, but a bridge to bring us together."
What Wallis said resonates with me. I think that as the world gets "smaller" people are becoming more aware of how interconnected they are.

Martin Luther King, Jr. described it well in a speech he gave that Joan posted on her GlobalGiving blog.
"All of life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."
The Dalai Lama echoes this sentiment in a quote posted on Mary Ann Testagrossa's Wire Jewelry Blog.
"Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of universal responsibilities, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life."
During the interview, Wallis also said that a "whole new denomination" is growing across the country, people who identify themselves as, "spiritual, but not religious."

It makes sense to me, that if through whatever belief system, more people believe in our interconnectedness, that can produce greater compassion, which provides the fire to take action for social justice.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Prayers by Giulio Bernardi.


  1. Connecting the two and taking action is the difficult part..but once the action is taken, the connection becomes clear.

  2. Anonymous8:50 AM

    Britt, you provoke me to be even clearer about my spirituality. Here is an excerpt from my blog that you inspired me to write:
    We act for social justice precisely because we have been given God's Grace. That grace which allows us to be fully human, which means that we see the world for what it really is and we are able to connect. We don't have to shut ourselves off, we can open our eyes and when it hurts what we see, we have God to fall back on.

  3. Hi Niels, I'm glad the post was helpful and thanks for the trackback to Have Fun * Do Good (:


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