Thursday, March 31, 2011

Week Twelve

Reading Reflections & Vocational Discernment:
Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies
           This week, I would like to focus on the concept as biblical scholarship as “critical public discourse” (Schussler Fiorenza 45). This seems like a natural move after discussing the scholar as citizen last week, since that identity certainly plays into biblical scholars’ contributions the discourse of the field. Schussler Fiorenza lays out a liberating vision of biblical scholarship echoing from the community of the ekklesia to every part of the cosmopolis (62), and this vision helps me imagine what she means by the term “critical public discourse” (45). First of all, biblical studies must be critical of the biblical text, not in a negative sense, but for the purpose of the liberation of all people. It is the responsibility of biblical studies to question, to explore, and to seek the liberating message of Scripture; further, biblical scholars also must work to dismantle oppressive structures in the biblical text and seek out opportunities in the text for transformation and liberation. Further, biblical scholarship is a public and therefore political affair. If biblical scholarship fails to proclaim its liberating message outside the walls of academia and the church, it has missed the point of its public proclamation to cosmopolis. This public aspect of biblical studies requires scholars to be connected and accountable to the wider world, and its proclamation must be for the liberation of all people. Finally, biblical scholarship is a form of discourse. Engaging in biblical scholarship means attending to and participating in many levels of dialogue within the biblical text, with the biblical text, and with others. Thus, biblical scholarship is a multifaceted, dialogic discipline. On the whole, this vision of biblical studies as critical public discourse is an exciting one for me because it provides a framework to think about what biblical scholarship does. I think about these three words— critical, public, and discourse— as characteristics by which I can test my own scholarship. Ultimately, if my work does not contain these elements, I have missed the mark for which I strive.
Journal Article Reflections:
Claims Of Border Program Success Are Unproven- NPR

Book Review- Justpeace Ethics: A Guide to Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding- Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace
            First, I read the second article in the NPR series about Operation Sreamline, a border patrol program pushing the limits of the criminal justice system in the United States. This article, by Ted Robbins, explores the so-called successes of Operation Streamline according to the Border Patrol. First, they claim that the rate of recidivism is very low after being convicted in this program. Second, they claim that illegal immigration in general has decreased as a result of the program. And third, they claim that this program has freed time and resources so the criminal justice system can focus on more serious issues. Interestingly, NPR interviewed individuals in Nogales who had been convicted in Operation Streamline, and 85 percent of them claimed they would cross the border again. Further, NPR points out that while some areas in which Operation Streamline is in effect have seen a decrease in serious crime, others have seen an increase. Thus, the statistics do not tell a clear story of these so-called “successes” of the program, and the costs (especially in terms of human rights) may well be outweighing the benefits.
            Next, I read a book review by Sebastian Garaycoa on the book Justpeace Ethics: A Guide to Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding, which is written by Jarem Sawatsky. I chose to read this book review because we have it in our library at Bluffton, so it is available for me to read and/or use as a source if I so choose. In Justpeace Ethics, Sawatsky “[creates] an ethical framework for justice and peace,” outlining specific virtues that create a framework for thinking about justpeace. The term justpeace is used to describe the fact that “justice and peace are intrinsically linked in a value-framework and should be studied as one concept.” This idea resonates with me, and it sounds like Sawatsky expands on the concept of Schirch’s values for peacebuilding (Schirch 13). These connections are likely, as Sawatsky holds a M.A. from the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at EMU. On the whole, Justpeace Ethics sounds like a great book for me to engage as I am interested both in symbolic peacebuilding and the concept of justpeace.

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