catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 3 :: 2004.01.30 — 2004.02.12


Building a just house

The other day, I was purchasing some books from the local bookstore when a petition on the check-out counter caught my eye. On the top, in big and bold red, white & blue, it said, “Protect your fREADom!” The petition gave citizens the opportunity to sign their names in support of cutting back allowances in the Patriot Act that make it possible for the government to demand information on what people are reading—bought, borrowed or otherwise.

While I didn’t necessarily fear the government finding out that I had purchased The Secret Life of Bees and We Were the Mulvaneys, I signed my name. Because I don’t believe terrorists will be caught through public libraries, because I believe the government should not restrict the knowledge inside our heads, and because unrestricted access to people’s reading lists strikes me as one step before restricting suspicious books from the library shelves, I signed my name.

A couple of days later, I was doing research for the human rights quiz that appears as part of this issue’s feature. The knowledge of children being forced to kill, people of faith being targeted for their religion, and governments that are water-tight when it comes to controlling every drip of revolutionary thought made our efforts to keep our reading lists private seem trivial. So what if I can’t check out a pile of books on militant faith tactics when women around the world are being raped with no legal recourse?

But I come back to Abraham Kuyper’s architectonic critique of society as justification for preserving and enhancing the social rights of both the privileged and the oppressed. Kuyper sees the structure of every society as a building, some parts of which were built with the goodness of God infused into the bricks and the builders and deserve to be maintained. Other parts, however, were built hastily and do not function as well as they ought; the builders did not consider the master plan or the people who would live inside those walls and buildings throughout the world are in widely varied states of disrepair. Each building, then, needs to be constantly remodeled to suit the needs of the people who dwell there and the master builder, who alone has the perfect vision for a diverse community of beautiful, functional buildings.

This work is endless and can feel a bit like waking up every morning to find out an overnight crew has dismantled half the previous day’s efforts. Or we may feel like the task of clean-up crew is tedious and less glamorous than that of raising walls to the heavens. But by working together as a whole body of believers, we can keep watch over all of our projects, sheltering God’s children and shaping the world for the Kingdom that is to come.

The language of “rights” seems strange sometimes, in light of the undeserved grace that has been revealed through Jesus Christ. But when we all focus on the call to treat all human beings as the images of God that they are, our own rights will be secure as all of humanity cooperates to rise above the destructive impulses of the proud. The Good News is the promise of eternal success for those who humbly seek the heart of the master builder.

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