"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Use of Restorative Justice Principles to improve outcomes of Workers’ Compensation Cases

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I prepared this presentation as the end project in an introductory course on restorative justice through Simon Fraser University. The idea is to use a new approach to dealing with injured workers that 1) includes screening of all workers for the existence of early-life severe trauma so intervention can be made before the workplace injuries causes a total decompensation and total disability 2) training case managers to use RJ principles in dealing with injured workers to avoid re-traumatizing them through adversarial interaction with the WCB (in the person of the case manager). I saw those two dynamics repeatedly in appeal cases.

The original presentation in pdf: Humingbird Project RJ Intro Course April 2017

This is the text from the PowerPoint slides laid out for reading. This wasn’t a formal paper, but a presentation on an application of RJ.

Workers’ Compensation Injuries
Detection and Early Intervention in Cases of Pre-existing Complex Trauma


  • Case manager: WCB employee responsible for management of the case, and the principle approver for most financial and treatment benefits
  • Compensable injury: the work-related injury which is the cause of the WCB claim
  • Non-compensable injury: anything which pre-existed the workplace injury and was not in any way impacted by the workplace injury
  • WCB benefits: include both treatment and financial (wage replacement, compensation for loss of function, medical aid)
  • Disabling injury: any injury which results in a loss of time at work
  • Permanent disability: any injury which limits an ability to work permanently, meaning no hope of recovery

Experience from the WCB Appeal Process

  • I served as an Appeal Commission on the appeal tribunal for the Alberta WCB for nine years, sat on over 500 hearings, wrote over 350 decisions
  • I am a disabled veteran who experiences chronic pain (19 years so far)
  • Chronic pain cases form a large portion of complex WCB appeal cases
  • Several years in to my term, a pattern started to emerge in appeals:
    • Middle-age injured workers (more women than men)
    • Relatively minor injuries (sprains, soft tissue, bruises)
    • An adversarial experience with the WCB case manager that resulted in benefits being stopped
    • Later development of a seriously disabling chronic pain condition, far out of proportion to injury
    • In many cases, the medical file would contain evidence of early-life complex trauma (abuse usually)
  • Idea 1: If there had been an early psychological intervention, it might forestall development of chronic pain
  • Idea 2: If there had been a healthy relationship with the WCB case manager, this may have lessened severity
  • There is very little research into this phenomena
  • This suspicion is highly anecdotal, but the pattern occurred so often that I could anticipate the outcome of a particular medical history by assessing:
  • The early-life medical history (we reviewed the complete WCB medical file prior to appeal)
  • The lack of a supportive relationship with the case manager
  • The existence of an overall adversarial relationship with the WCB
  • The elimination of wage replacement benefits, and the failure to return to some form of employment (because of the presence of claimed complete disability)
  • In managing the hearing process, we could often become a source of some healing which stabilized and improved the overall outcome of the case to date (but most cases the damage had already been done).
  • An adversarial relationship served as a source of re-traumatization of an injured worker who had already been through at least two sets of trauma (early life; the accident at work).
  • The existence of an adversarial relationship with the employer would exacerbate the re-traumatization.
  • Worst cases were when an adversarial case manager and an adversarial employer appeared to work together against the worker.
  • This represented a further re-injury which sometimes awakened complex, untreated, early life complex trauma.
  • In general, processes intended to heal (and achieve a return to work) should not cause further injury.
  • One factor which could derail this trajectory was the presence of a supportive case manager.
  • Many of those cases did not make it to appeal, as the worker was receiving benefits.
  • We did see some where it was an issue beyond the case manager’s authority.
  • Even with the existence of the pre-disposing conditions, a caring case manager was often able to facilitate a return to some type of employment.
  • An adversarial relationship with the case manger became the defining event that moved the minor injury to serious disability.
  • The benefit of a supportive relationship was often attested to in the appeal process.
  • A worker would say, “I do not want my case manager to get into trouble, as she has been doing an awesome job. But I think I am entitled to this benefit, and she told me her supervisor would not allow it to be granted.”
  • The injured worker becoming an advocate for their case manager reflects an underlying significant relationship between patient and care provider.
  • In the limited sample I observed, this relationship was pivotal in determining outcome

Relation to Restorative Justice

  • When considered with the content of this course, and particularly the article by Green, Johnstone and Lambert, it is apparent that restorative principles have a place before things fall apart in any relationship. (Green et al, 2014)
  • Restorative Justice training of case managers assigned to cases screened to be ‘high-risk’ could serve to improve outcomes, and potentially limit or eliminate development of chronic pain conditions.
  • An admittedly cursory literature review revealed very little specific research in this area. Most investigation involves the efficacy of physical intervention programs such as work hardening.
  • Very few studies dealt with the detection of early-life trauma as a means of early intervention in cases which ended up with serious disabling chronic pain.
  • My goal is not to prove anything, but to highlight an area worthy of focused research.


  • Restorative Justice techniques have been presented as a means of resolving damaged relationship post-incident (after crime, after conflict, after injury).
  • The post-incident approaches appear to have good preventative value, and have merit if applied pre-incident.
  • In this case the initiating incident is the development of an adversarial relationship with the WCB, so post-injury, pre-case management is the intervention location.
  • With restorative principles governing relationship between injured worker and WCB case manager, the potential re-traumatization which awakens early-life complex trauma may be avoided.
  • Restorative principles may improve the skill of the case manager to intervene constructively rather than destructively.


  • Early/Earlier Complex Trauma pre-disposes injured workers to the development of chronic pain conditions
  • Early screening and detection of the presence of complex trauma would permit intervention
  • That intervention, if done promptly after the injury, could forestall the development of a chronic pain condition
  • Restorative principles, applied to the case manager/worker ,would lessen the potential of the case manager exacerbating the development of disabling injury
  • Early screening could also lead to assignment to special restorative-trained case managers who could use restorative principles

Research into the Phenomena

  • Evidence exists that early-life or earlier complex trauma can exacerbate or predispose to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Chronic pain conditions

“…somewhat higher levels of PTSD symptoms were reported by those who reported experiencing a traumatic event prior to the target stressor…” and particularly an occurrence during childhood.  (Ozer et al, 2003, p. 57)

“A clear finding was that childhood physical abuse, stressful life events, and depression were generally associated with chronic pain…” (Roy, 2006, p. 56)

“[Somatization] is sometimes expressed as diffuse physical pain, sometimes as particular conditions.” (Randall et all, 2013, p. 513)

  • Detecting a pre-disposition to chronic pain in the existence of early-life complex trauma can forestall development of chronic pain

“…patients at greater risk of increased pain severity and chronic pain can be detected in the acute hospital with enough accuracy to warrant their identification prior to discharge.”  (Holmes et al, 2010, p. 1603)

  • A relationship exists between prior-life events and length of absence from work.

“A prior history of psychiatric illness or post-trauma morbidity have been shown to increase length of absence from work.” (Hensel, et al, 2011, p. 553)

“…the presence of secondary psychiatric diagnoses was significantly associated with not working.” (Hensel, et al, 2011, p. 558)

  • While this study did not explicitly look at early-life complex trauma, it did establish a linkage between secondary diagnoses (i.e. those not related to the injury, and pre-existing the injury) and worse outcomes for injured workers.
  • Early intervention can reduce length of disability.

“Early intervention has been associated with more rapid recovery and return to work.” (Hensel, et al, 2011, p. 553)

  • The entire injured worker must be considered in the treatment process, not just the compensable injury.

“So psychosocial factors must be taken into consideration in treating patients with chronic pain.” (Roy, 2006, p. 56)

  • Patients who had reported early-life physical and sexual abuse were more likely to develop chronic pain syndromes.

“Abused subjects reported a higher number of areas of pain in the body, more diffuse pain; also, there were more frequent diagnoses of fibromyalgia…Clearly, abuse had far-reaching health consequences in these persons’ adulthood as compared with psychiatric patients and normal persons.” (Roy, 2006, p. 58)

  • The linkage between early-life trauma and later development of chronic pain conditions was demonstrated by some studies.

“…(2) patients with chronic pain were more likely to report childhood abuse than health controls; (3) patients with chronic pain were more likely to report childhood abuse than nonabused patients with chronic pain… The conclusion was that childhood experience of abuse and neglect increased the risk of later life chronic pain as compared with individuals who were not abused.” (Roy, 2006, p. 59)

WCB-particular situation

  • An injured worker has a single point of contact with the organization, this being the case manager.
  • The case manager is presented as a trusted agent who will explain, assist and provide treatment and financial support.
  • Injured workers present with a wide variety of pre-existing conditions.
  • When an adversarial relationship develops, the care-giver becomes an enemy.
  • This can fracture trust and relationship, and converts the worker from a client to someone engaged in battle with the WCB.
  • That shattered human connection will exacerbate prior trauma that involved violation of trust, so the case manager/WCB becomes a proxy for events that occurred years earlier.

Research into the Phenomena

  • Traumatic pre-events are common in the worker population

“…somewhere between fifty-five per cent and ninety per cent of people have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.” (Randall et al, 2013, p. 503)

  • A ‘traumatic event’ is any which is, “subjectively experienced as a threat to the person’s survival.” (Randall et al, 2013, p. 507)
  • The injured worker becomes dependent on the WCB for financial survival.
  • Therefore further trauma can occur which meets Randall’s definition, as the WCB money becomes necessary for survival.
  • The primary determinant is the person’s perception of the threat. (Ibid)

Conclusions so far…

  • Early-life trauma may pre-dispose injured workers to more complicated post-accident outcomes.
  • Particularly in cases of childhood abuse, individuals were pre-disposed to the development of pain conditions and chronic pain.
  • That those pre-disposing conditions could be detected immediately after the presenting acute injury.
  • While there was some call for early screening, no study has yet assessed the effectiveness of such a program.

What can RJ offer?

  • Zehr’s model of threes illustrates the applicability:
  • When people and relationships are harmed, needs are created
  • The key to successful intervention is a supportive and trusting relationship between case-manager and worker. Adversarial relations by someone with the authority to provide or withhold money and care causes great harm.
  • The needs created lead to obligations
  • Unfortunately, the obligation is sometimes submerged in the focus on policy and procedure before care. A case manager challenged by a distraught worker has two options: to be relational, or to protect self by using the power of policy and process to displace responsibility for doing what is right on “the system”.
  • A just response is to heal and put right what has been wronged
  • Following policy becomes a “just” outcome in itself, regardless of the impact of the person seeking service. (Zehr, 2015, pp 92-3)
  • Zehr highlights a fundamental difference between supportive and non-supportive case managers – their mission
  • Is the mission to ensure policy is satisfied, but no more?
  • Is the mission to provide as much benefit as possible without exceeding that permitted?
  • Stated another way…is a case manager’s primary role to say:
    • Yes? Or
    • No?
  • Too often a focus on customer-service is submerged in the protection of quoting policy to explain why something is not possible.
  • Is the fundamental truth the interconnectedness of individuals, or the protection of the corporation? (Zehr, 2015, p. 48)
  • Can a process which is all about the negative (injury, loss of income, loss of identity, awakening of previous suppressed trauma) become one which is positive?
  • This is foundational RJ: conflict transformation explicitly creating positives from the difficult or negative (Lederach , 2003, p. 19)
  • The workplace injury could thus become an occasion of healing other traumas, not related to the work injury.
  • The fracturing of a work community by injury, is replaced by a supportive recovery community which aims at a restoration of the work community.
  • This transformation could ultimately reduce costs to the system.
  • Elliott discusses post-battle rituals (cf. Grossman) as a necessary transition for soldiers returning from combat.
  • This identifies a potential parallel: workers returning from the ‘battle’ of a workplace injury. (Elliott, 2011, p. 175)
  • Multiple traumatic experiences have more than an additive effect, so intervention is important. (Elliott, 2011, p. 176)
  • Harm caused by a person expected to be a care-giver can exacerbate a person’s experience with fractured trust from prior injury.
  • But, those exposed to harm respond when “buoyed by relational support”. (Elliott, 2011, p. 187)
  • “Dependency erodes the sense of personal power…”. Need to focus on services which lead people out of dependency and into community; contrasted with those which create dependency. (Pranis, 2001, p. 299)
  • Can cause particular trauma as the injured worker becomes dependent on the WCB for sustenance and care, and then those benefits are removed suddenly without a transition from dependency.
  • Injured workers are often isolated from all prior support systems, and have no place to turn after the final relationship (with the WCB) is severed.
  • The training of service providers to screen for indicators of complex trauma before the workplace injury could allow early intervention. (Randall et al, 2013, p. 523)
  • The ‘misbehaviour’ of workers previously traumatized can lead to an assumption that they are deliberately being difficult, as they are not behaving as a “real” injured worker should behave. (Ibid)
  • RJ principles offer a relational response to such misbehaviour.
  • A new concept for WCB case management is present in the concept of organizations which build “restorative capital”. (Green et al, 2014, p. 44)
  • The new approach must be very self-aware to avoid re-creating symbolic violence which it seeks to displace (Ibid, p. 45)
  • Rebuilding of fractured community needs to be key, to allow worker recovery and transition back into the work community. (Ibid, p. 62)


  • The pre-screening of injured workers for the presence of early-life complex trauma could identify cases with high potential for serious disability.
  • The assignment of such cases to case managers specifically trained in restorative justice principles could provide the recovery support system.
  • That would allow the development of a supportive transitional community of healing with the ultimate goal of restoration to the work community.
  • This could result in healthier outcomes and lower costs to the system overall.


Braithwaite, J. (2014).  Evidence for restorative justice. View in a new window. The Vermont Bar Journal,   Summer 2014, 18-22.

Elliott, E. M. (2011). Security, with care: restorative justice and healthy societies. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Pub.

Green, S., Johnstone, G., & Lambert, C. (2014). Reshaping the field: building restorative capital. Restorative   Justice, 2(1), 43-63. doi:10.5235/20504721.2.1.43

Hensel, J. M., Bender, A., Bacchiochi, J., & Dewa, C. S. (2011). Factors associated with working status among   workers assessed at a specialized worker’s compensation board psychological trauma program.   American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 54(7), 552-559. doi:10.1002/ajim.20944

Holmes, A., Williamson, O., Hogg, M., Arnold, C., Prosser, A., Clements, J., . . . O‘Donnell, M. (2010). Predictors   of Pain 12 Months after Serious Injury. Pain Medicine, 11(11), 1599-1611. doi:10.1111/j.1526-  4637.2010.00955.x

Lederach, J. P. (2003). The little book of conflict transformation. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Ozer, E. J., Best, S. R., Lipsey, T. L., & Weiss, D. S. (2003). Predictors of   posttraumatic stress disorder and   symptoms in adults: A meta-  analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 129(1), 52-73. doi:10.1037/0033-  2909.129.1.52

Pranis, K. (2001). Restorative Justice, Social Justice, and the Empowerment of Marginalized Populations View in   a new window. In G. Bazemore & M. Schiff (Eds.), Restorative Community Justice: Repairing Harm   and Transforming Communities (pp. 287-306). Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing Co.

Randall, M. & Haskell, L (2013). Trauma-Informed Approaches to Law: Why Restorative Justice Must   Understand Trauma and Psychological Coping. Dalhousie Law Journal. 36(2), 501-533.

Roy, R. (2010). Psychosocial interventions for chronic pain: in search of evidence. New York: Springer.

Zehr, H. (2015). The little book of restorative justice. New York: Good Books.


Written by sameo416

August 5, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A Sermon for Pentecost 5 – 9 July 2017

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St Paul’s Edmonton, 9 July 2017:  Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30; Romans 7:15-25, Pentecost 5

Pray.  The central idea I’ll discuss today is the Gospel contrast between the wisdom of the Father, the Lord Almighty and the wisdom of this world. This is one of the areas where believers (and non-believers for that matter) struggle with our faith. In fact, if you spend much time reading theology or commentaries on the Bible, you may have noticed that there is a lot of ink spilled trying to debate the question of why certain things have been written the way they were – rather than just accepting the text as presented and trying to figure out the more important question: what does that text mean to us today?

This passage begins after a section of teaching to the crowd concerning John the Baptist.  Jesus then laments the state of the world by speaking of children in the marketplace: “We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” The image of the children who fail to entice the others to either mourn or dance, parallel the two ministries of John and Jesus – one who called to repentance and grief and the other who called to a time of rejoicing.  However, in spite of these two different ways, the world rejects them both: In response to John’s ministry of denial the world concludes he must be possessed; and in response to Jesus’ message of the coming of the kingdom, the world concludes He was a glutton and a drunkard. Godly wisdom versus earthly wisdom.

People of faith know this to be true: it doesn’t matter how God is presented to the world, the wise reject that appeal while we foolish embrace it. Even within our lives of faith we constantly run into this dichotomy – Paul affirms this in Romans when stating, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I know that nothing good dwells in me…For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” Paul identifies that this earthly wisdom in conflict with Godly wisdom is very much alive and active in each of our lives.

The call of Christ is that we each give up our lives: death to sin and rebirth in Christ.  Our minds, very much conditioned by the wisdom of this world, respond…maybe it would be alright if I died a little bit, but not too much.  Compared to the wisdom of this world, God offers us his own inverse wisdom, a left-handed wisdom (Robert Capon) – a wisdom that requires we turn all of our carefully crafted lives upside down to follow the radical path of Christ.  That inverse wisdom is no place clearer than in the cross of Christ; where might and power do not save the world, but only meekness and death.  Inverse wisdom.

This wisdom contrast is again proclaimed a bit further on in the gospel.  Jesus switches to a prayer of thanks that begins with this: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”  As someone who has spent over 10 years of my adult life in some form of higher education, this can be a challenging thing to hear! Yet this is what we are called to as Christians, because it is only in the innocence of a small child that we can truly see the gift that God offers to each of us. Young children understand – When people are dancing, it is time to dance.  When people are mourning, it is time to mourn.

This inverse wisdom of God confronts the wisdom of the world, and that is nowhere more true than in our need for security.  The world’s wisdom demands that we build careful frameworks in order to secure a certain future which we cannot predict.  The wisdom of this world bombards us with a message of scarcity and anxiety – which contrasts strongly with God’s message of abundance for all.  We are told many times per day that we need to grab on to all that we can or we won’t get our fair share. (cf Walter Bruggemann, The Litany of Scarcity) This quest for security was presented in Luke’s Gospel (Ch 12) in the parable of the rich farmer.  He has a great harvest and builds new barns for all his goods, so he can retire and take it easy.  As he sits back in his Laz-y-boy recliner with his feet up – do you recall what happened next? // God arrives and makes one of those incredibly difficult pronouncements: ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’  The wisdom of the world versus the inverse wisdom of God.

What this inverse wisdom of God asks us to give up is the lie that we can control our destiny and our lives.  Certainly we can influence things, by eating well, exercising, practicing stress management…but none of us know the day when we or our family members will die or be involved in a horrible accident.  This leaves us with a choice – the way of God’s inverse wisdom, and the child’s approach to life knowing that the new day will bring the sun, breakfast and a new set of adventures // or the wisdom of this world which tells us to worry endlessly to compass ourselves with anxiety and to work to maintain our safety.

Jesus moves on to next talk about taking up the yoke of Christ.  A yoke is a beam that is used with animals or people in order that they may bear a load, or pull a plough. Seeking such security by our own efforts and the sweat of our own brow is to accept onto our shoulders the yoke of the world’s uncertainty.  Following the way of the world’s wisdom is to bind ourselves to worry and anxiety.

Now, just to step back a moment, this message of not taking on ourselves the yoke of the world does not mean that we never plan, or think about danger, or take steps to mitigate possible dangers.  It does not mean we stop wearing seat belts, or installing smoke detectors, or asking our children to let us know where they are.  What it means is that we pass back to God the things we were never able to control in the first place, and refuse to take upon us the yoke of this world.

Christ’s request is that we take up the additional burden of Christ, an easy yoke and a light burden.  The Greek word used here for burden refers either to the loading up of a ship or a beast of burden, or figuratively to overburden someone with spiritual anxiety or an obligation to ceremony (Strong’s G5412).  There is no doubt Christ is discussing an additional burden to be taken on with his yoke, but the burden is a light one – which is what we’ll talk about in our home stretch.

Consider the promise of rest which proceeds that request to take up the yoke of Christ.  The Greek used there, “I will give you rest”, means to permit someone to cease from a labour in order to recover and regain strength.  It is interesting that many times when I hear this passage explained, it is suggested that Christ’s promise is to remove from us all of our earthly burdens.  That is not what is promised – the passage does not say I will remove from you the yoke of your burdens. Rather Jesus asks us to take on an additional yoke, his yoke, and he will give us rest for our souls. The reason carrying Christ’s yoke is a light burden, even while it demands of us that we die to sin to be reborn into Christ, is because of the way that Christ offers us that burden.  This is what makes this another narrative of God’s grace, even when we are in the midst of a road of suffering.

In 1993 I participated in the Nijmegen Marches in the area around Arnhem and Nijmegen in the Netherlands.  These marches have special significance for the Allied forces from WW II as this area was the site of the ill-fated operation “Market Garden” documented in the file “A Bridge Too Far”. The march is 4 days long, totals 160 km and military teams march in full military kit with 15 kg packs – what we used to call ‘fighting order’.  It requires a lot of physical stamina and mental focus – the final day I completed the marches with a stress fracture in my right foot..  Each day begins well before sunrise, and involves about 8 hours of fairly rapid walking through the humid heat of the day.

What does this have to do with our passage on rest?  Well, the image of what I have related concerning our burdens and Christ’s role reminds me of my experience in Nijmegan.  We would march for 13 or so kilometres and then come into a British rest area where we could bandage feet, fill canteens and eat slices of melon.  The first thing one did on entering the rest area was to drop our heavy packs and remove our boots…which was heavenly.  But, after a rest stop of 20 or so minutes, it was time to lace up your boots, shoulder the weight of your pack and head off for another 13 kilometres.

This is very much how I read this passage containing Christ’s words to us.  There is no promise that our burdens will be removed from us, but only that we will be given rest.  So we enter this rest stop in our life, are refreshed by Jesus, and then step out with the original burden along with Christ’s added yoke.  The next 13 km are still ours to push through in sweat, pain and perseverance under our burden but knowing that there is refreshment available for us. That truth has only been confirmed for me in the years since that marching, as I now bear the daily burden of chronic pain that ended my military career and continues to limit me. The one constant that keeps me going is that yoke of Christ, which brings meaning into the midst of my suffering.

I acknowledge that this is a difficult interpretation. We would much rather be healed in a blinding flash of light. But more often than not God does not free us from the burden of the long journeys of our lives, those 3-day roads we are called to walk.  What Jesus promises us is relief along the way, much as Elijah was given bread and water part way through his 40-day journey, so he would be strong enough to continue walking into the wilderness (1 Kings 19:7).  The Christian who suffers from serious disease or has horrific family problems such as abuse or addiction will not always be instantly freed from these burdens through faith or prayer.  A person who has lost a spouse or child suddenly, tragically and too young, will not mysteriously have everything restored – those burdens will be with them for the rest of their lives.  What they will have is renewal and support to guide, comfort and strengthen them in their suffering. Sometimes those burdens are ours to bear throughout our 3-day road, but it is the yoke of Christ transforms the burden.

How does Christ offer us God’s grace through this?  Here are four aspects that offer us true grace.  First, God favours the weak over the wise, arrogant or self-assured.  The place that God brings his greatest blessings upon us is not when we have completed an intense bible study, or an act of charity, but when we are brought into the full reality of our weakness and when we drop to our knees and call out, ‘I cannot take anymore, O Lord!’  Second, as Jesus proclaims, He is the true knower of God and has opened that previously closed path to all of us. Third, Jesus offers us rest for the burdens we carry, and a yoke that will continue to grant us that rest.  Finally, the reason we find that yoke easy is because we are not left alone to bear our life’s burdens, for Jesus continues to walk along with us, and continues to bring us the rest we so dearly need.

I want to emphasize that last point as it is the real nexus of the grace in this promise.  As a contrasting example, consider the physicians treating a gravely ill person.  They come and examine, offer their medical wisdom, prescribe treatments and interventions, make honest mistakes, and then leave at the end of their shift to return to their homes, their families and their own lives while the gravely ill person continues to bear their burden of sickness.  The radical difference in this invitation from Christ is that he not only offers us that rest, but remains with us and in fact invites us into his-self…for he is the physical and spiritual embodiment of that rest.  Jesus is not a rest-dispenser who provides measured doses of rest when we request, but the companion who invites us into his own and through that grants us the help we need continuously.  Jesus provides us a hiding place within himself that resolves both our burdens and our sin.  The final crucial difference between the rest of Christ and the world’s rest is that we have to seek out rest in this world whereas Christ pursues us and invites us into his rest even as we sometimes flee from his presence.  Christ does not wait until we meet some absolute conditions of membership, but asks that we come to him heavily laden and in need of rest, and promises relief and the continuing relief of his light burden and easy yoke. The reason carrying Christ’s yoke is a light burden – even while it demands of us that we die to sin to be reborn into Christ – is because of the way that burden is offered to us by Christ.  This is what makes this another narrative of God’s grace, even when we are in the midst of a three-day road of suffering.

Now, what we seek most often is the relief from our burdens: that is, the wisdom of this world tells us that true relief comes only if the burden is eliminated.  This is not God’s promise.  Christ does not promise us a removal of burden and a path to an earthly paradise where we will neither sweat nor labour anymore.  He does not, with a wave of His hand, convert this world of sorrows into a place of endless joy and delight.  All that waits for the final remaking of the world that comes with Christ’s glorious return. (as the Lutherans sing in their Eucharist, ‘grace our table with your presence and give us a foretaste of the feast to come’) a foretaste is what we receive in this world.  What Christ does demonstrate through his own life, is that our burdens can be light even while the associated suffering is heavy.  Accepting the yoke of Christ onto ourselves converts the heavy burden to the light; and provides us a perspective on our suffering that allows us to receive Christ as companion even as we struggle in the midst of that three-day road.  (ack here material drawn from articles “The Invitation”; “When the Burden is Light”; and “Anxiety and Despair” from the ebook “Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard” ed. Charles Moore, 2007 available at: http://data.plough.com/ebooks/Provocations.pdf)

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, summarizes this truth beautifully: 2 Cor 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

That which we do not see, is the yoke of Christ and his companionship and support as we travel through our journey and “outwardly waste away”, while the yoke of Christ allows us to be inwardly “renewed day by day”.  Accept upon yourselves Christ’s yoke, and he will bring you rest, and will continue to bring you rest for your weary souls, for Christ’s burden is easy and his yoke is light. And that is truly good news!  Let us pray.

Father in heaven! Draw our hearts to you so that our longing may be where our treasure is supposed to be. Turn our minds and our thoughts to where our citizenship is – in your kingdom, so that when you finally call us away from here our leave-taking may not be a painful separation but a joyful union with you. We do not know the time and the place, perhaps a long road still lies before us, and when strength is taken away from us, when exhaustion fogs our eyes so that we peer out as into a dark night, and restless desires stir within us, wild, impatient longings, and the heart groans in fearful anticipation of what is coming, oh Lord God, fix in our hearts the conviction that also while we are living, we belong to you.  Amen. (Kierkegaard)

Rough and unused materials…

The Litany of Scarcity, http://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/the_liturgy_of_abundance.pdf

You may not know that I’m a person who lives with chronic pain, the result of an injury to my lower back that ended my military career.  One of the truths I’ve learned in the past ten years living with that pain is that the burden is very much defined by how I perceive it.  When I focus on the pain, and on the unfairness of that condition, and how it has limited me, the burden grows, quickly and considerably.  When I focus on living into each moment of each day in Christ, it is surprising how the burden becomes lighter and easier to bear.  I am certainly not a sterling example of how to bring this into reality, as I fall to my humanity more times than I would like to admit even to myself; however, it is an illustration of what Christ offers to all of us.

The other aspect of this dancing/mourning duality reflects the two ways that God deals with us.  The Gospel, the true freedom of Christ, the limitless joy that exists in a life lived in obedience to God’s will, these are all occasions of dancing.  There are also times of what Matthew Henry termed God’s, “calamitous, afflicting providences” which, while they occur, have been set beneath the joy of Christ and God’s grace and mercy.  This is challenging language, as it impacts directly upon our nature to seek only comfort and certainty, to build our storehouses well for the day we may sit back and enjoy the bounty that we have created.

The problem with that image of the self-filled barns is not only that it places our ability to obtain security above that of God’s providence.  But also that it involves the idolatry of stuff, and the lie that things of this world can bring us salvation…they can perhaps bring us comfort of a sort for a short time, but ultimately all things of this world will pass away so that comfort too will pass.  Only God’s providence provides a lasting source of certainty and sure security.  Again, this is the inverse wisdom of God.

One of my past commanding officers, had just spent six months in Haiti as the commander of the United Nations force working there.  He told the story of a life-changing encounter.  The city of Port-au-Prince is built on the side of the mountain with the wealthy homes high on the hill, and the destitute living in shacks in the shantytown in the valley below.  Poor so poor with that we likely cannot even conceive it here in Canada.  Most of the city’s sewers are open so, literally, the sewage flows down the hill into the valley.  Not a pretty picture.  On this day Don Matthews was in the valley and came across a man standing in the ditch.  The man was up to his waist in sewage and was shovelling the ditch clean.  Unimaginable.   Don stopped and asked him what he was doing.  The man answered through his translator-I’m working so my children can have a better life.  I am working so my children can have a better life.  Imagine, a man up to his waist in sewage speaking of a better life for his children.  I’m not going to attempt to spiritualize that image, except to say, behold the inverse wisdom of God at work.

“Laughing With”  Regina Spektor

No one laughs at God in a hospital, No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God, When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God, When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God, When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God, When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God, When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else, And they hope that they’re mistaken

No one laughs at God, When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God, When there’s a famine or fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny, When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital, No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God, When they’ve lost all they’ve got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us, And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny, When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital, No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughs at God in a hospital, No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughing at God in hospital, No one’s laughing at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God

Written by sameo416

July 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Omar Khadr

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A friend provided me with an article from the National Observer, discussing the question what if Omar Khadr was not guilty. Since about 2012 I’ve had my perspective transformed, mostly through interactions with the King’s University where my daughter was a student. King’s took on the Khadr case as a social justice advocacy at great risk to the institution, because they saw a holy calling in advocating for “the other”, as Omar had been designated by successive Canadian governments.

As a soldier, my first reaction to the case was visceral and violent, and reflects what many Canadians are saying now. He was a terrorist, why would we afford him any special consideration. Since early 2012 as I’ve followed the case, there are things which have troubled me deeply as both a soldier and a Christian. My attitude shift is reflected in two prior blog posts. My first where I was starting to realize that branding Omar as ‘the other’ was something I had preached against related to other people, and I was caught in my own worlds and re-convicted that my visceral reaction had been inconsistent with what I was teaching to others. Physician, heal thyself!

I do understand the military perspective, and feel it myself. When you have had friends killed by the actions of the enemy (as I have), it is challenging to see the enemy as human. That, I would argue, is the call of anyone who is a person of faith, or even a secular humanist.

Discussing the other in My first post

Discussing a talk by Omar’s military psychiatrist that was convicting in Second post

The case is exceptionally complex and involves national and international legal provisions that are beyond understanding except for experts. If you are truly interested in engaging the facts of the case (as you should before pontificating on the subject publicly) there is a lot of reading to do, and all of it will be morally and ethically challenging. There’s also the reality that our Supreme Court has found in Omar’s favour several times.

I just recalled being interviewed about the work of some of the King’s faculty with Omar, but never read the article until just now.

“What I particularly value about Arlette in our community is her witness to gospel imperatives,” adds Rev. Matthew Oliver. “Whether you agree with the particular focus of her work with Omar or not, she presents a compelling icon of a Christian struggling to make a gospel-centred witness in the world.” 

That article is interesting – I was at the Diocesan synod when Arlette spoke, and she did get a standing ovation from most people. Several of the people at my table refused to stand, and said they could not support advocacy for a ‘terrorist’. What was really fascinating was several of those people were also advocates for performing same-sex marriages in our denomination. So a clear example of what I was outlining in the first blog post (above) about “the other”. It is clear that we are often guilty of welcoming some others, and condemning others dependent on our personal like or dislike of the person or the situation. That is normally called hypocrisy (If you argue the love of Christ welcomes all, as my table-mates did that day; but then condemn Omar Khadr as unworthy of advocacy or basic human rights…I would suggest that’s a dictionary definition of hypocrisy. The knife of acceptance in love cuts both ways, and resists attempts to apply human limits).

In response to a question I wrote the following, which I think briefly outlines where I’m sitting on the question today.

The whole Omar case is a mess of unlawful actions by governments. I’m friends with one of his support team and have met Dennis Edny and been at one of his presentations…and I hosted the US Army psychiatrist who treated Omar when he was here for a presentation. All to say I have a different perspective than the loudest Canadian voices (including most of my old military friends who are outraged). He also attended my daughter’s university for the last year (King’s University).

It’s pretty clear to me that the US altered the reporting, and the best evidence is the original after-action report from the company commander who was there. The photos are pretty clear that Omar was buried, and I would guess that was probably consistent with the effects of either an airstrike or use of artillery (light infantry would likely not be using weapons that would produce rubble adequate to bury someone). He also had a wound in his leg (from the air strikes) that made him unable to stand. The best he could have done was thrown the grenade kneeling. As someone who has thrown grenades, it is hard standing and requires you use your whole body – can’t imagine doing that kneeling. So the article is quite accurate in stating that if this had come into a real court, there is no way he would have been found guilty.

Also note the lack of all forensic evidence. The grenade fragments that killed the US soldier could have positively confirmed what type of grenade it was.

Omar’s psychiatrist commented that the assault on the compound was completely incompetently done which I would be inclined to agree with. A handful of people inside, and 100 soldiers with air support assaulted the compound for 4 hours? That sounds not like an effective assault, so the US had some reason to alter the facts.

Worst of all was the US declaration that all combatants in Afghanistan were legally ‘unlawful non-combatants’. They did that specifically to strip Geneva Convention protection from prisoners, and to allow them to criminally charge prisoners under military law. That was done retroactively so the US could torture and prosecute people at Gitmo. It is all highly unlawful and would not stand up in any real court. That’s the reason Omar has won 3 times at the Supreme Court of Canada, in spite of the Canadian government fighting him with all it’s ability. The US also denied him medical care in Gitmo, which has only been resolved in the last year or so in Canada (he’s had surgery to both his shoulder and his eye).

As a soldier, the US actions in that declaration are really troubling. I knew that my troops and I would always be afforded good treatment under the law of war – no torture, medical care, adequate protection and food and shelter. That law is designed to take a fundamentally inhumane activity and put in place basic guarantees. By suspending that law (which is a highly questionable action), the US stripped their opponents of what international law says are fundamental rights, even for irregular soldiers (although the Taliban was arguably an organized fighting force, closer to a military than civilians). That is a fundamental attack on the rights of a soldier, and I would argue transformed the war on terror into a fundamentally immoral activity. (Omar’s psychiatrist suggested this all started with George W Bush’s ‘the gloves are off’ speech, as he authorized the use of unlimited force which is never, never done in a first world military).

Another victim in this is the wife of the US soldier who was killed. She has been led to believe her husband was ‘murdered’ by Kadhr by her own government as a political tool. (although how a soldier can be murdered in combat is equally confusing and another example of the US twisting international law).

Final point. Although Omar was 15 at the time (one year older than the UN guidelines for child soldiers), he was a child soldier and a Canadian citizen. Both should have afforded him special protection. The actions of both Canadian governments involved tell me that Canadian citizenship is no guarantee of protection if the government decides you are undeserving. Giving a citizen up to be tortured by a foreign nation is evil – as happened with Maher Arar – and is a pretty clear example of institutional racism. It’s not surprising to me as it reflects the Canadian government’s treatment of indigenous citizens for the last 500 years or so. They are fighting court cases today to limit social services funding for indigenous children in spite of being found to be a discriminatory practice by the federal human rights tribunal, and that’s just one of many examples. There are something like 3 times the number of indigenous children in the care of the state today than were ever in the Residential School system. Canada is sometimes not a safe place to be depending on your racial identity!

Other reality – if Omar had gone through the court case for damages, it is likely the government would have been ordered to pay a much larger settlement. What price is 10 years of torture worth?

Stephen Harper posted a commentary today about how he feels for the family of the US medic. Sigh. Maher Arar tweeted yesterday that the clearest manifestation of white supremacy is when the US invades a country and labels all the opposition as ‘terrorists’. It permits all sorts of immoral activities.

A really good interview with Dennis Edny on CBC Ideas where he talks about the last 15 years. He is a man of rare moral character.


Written by sameo416

July 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Memorial Tattoo

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While receiving a haircut today, I happened to notice that my barber had a lovely tattoo on her shoulder. It was hard to miss, as her upper arm was about 2 inches from my eyes…which is, of course, the only way I can see anything without my glasses.

The centre of the image is a wolf howling, and then I noticed a large skull, apparently aloft looking at the wolf. The imagery was very unusual, so I asked if it had particular symbolism for her.

The present wide-spread use of tattoos is fascinating. I remember it was not that long ago when you would only see such ink on soldiers and sailors. My military time was surrounded by both men and women who had extensive ink – one man I worked with got a different tattoo for each deployment, and was working on his eighth the trip I was with him. Out of Afghanistan came the tattooing of blood type on your upper arm, just to make sure someone didn’t have to look to your dog tags (or ‘identity discs’ as we properly called them in Canada). Also out of that war came the practice of tattooing the names of friends who had been killed, as a living memorial.

It has a strange beauty in the permanent marking of a body to commemorate the dead, it is in a sense capturing a piece of that person literally under your skin – a deliberate letting of someone under your skin. The spiritual symbolism is pretty profound (even with the Old Testament prohibitions against marking of the skin).

In response to my question, she told me the tattoo was a memorial to her brother. When I boldly asked (and then realized that it was probably too personal and tried to retract the question) if the wolf was her brother, she indicated that days before his death they had seen wolves together and she always remembered that moment when thinking of him.

What I wanted to ask in follow-up was if she had ever thought about the significance of the wolf encounter (I did not as it was clear from a moment of prayer that it was not to be pursued in that moment).

Wolves are highly significant in most plains indigenous societies – the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) consider the wolf sacred, as Ma’iingan was created at the same time as man, and travelled the new creation together naming things (the name itself means the one put here by Creator to show us the way). Once the naming was done, Creator told the two that they would have to walk separately but that they were linked – what would happen to one would happen to the other. Wolf is a relative to the people.

The wolf is a guide and teacher, and in the Cree teachings brings the lesson of humility. It is said that when a wolf encounters a human they will always bow their head as an acknowledgement of their shared existence within creation. My barber’s association of the wolf with her brother was not mere happen chance from a spiritual perspective, for other teachings see the wolf as a spiritual guide, and particularly a guide for those who have died.

I’m not surprised to find these sorts of encounters, as it highlights that there is more of heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our sciences (stealing a line from the Bard). Each moment is shot-through with the sacred, and sometimes it is only in the rear view mirror that we see the significance of our past. A shared momentary encounter with the sacred may be the thing which carries you through great loss and sorrow, and was not a chance encounter, but a gift precisely because of the need that had not become apparent.

So, a chance encounter that led to some inspiration because of the profound beauty of a tattooed memorial to a family member gone beyond. I pray someday she (if she doesn’t already) will encounter the deep meaning behind those encounters.

Written by sameo416

May 14, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Blessing of Pain

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Lent 4, 5 March 2017, SJE ©2017  James 1:1-18, Ps 23, Matthew 16:25-26 (this was a hard time coming, so I’m not too sure about the flow of ideas…and my back hurts today)

This continues in our series about pain and the abundant life, today with the challenging title, ‘the blessing of pain’.

My approach to the question of the blessing of pain is necessarily contextualized in my own 18 year experience with chronic neuropathic pain – pain that ended my military career, and has continued to limit my ability to thrive and survive in terms of what employment I can tolerate, and what I am able to do for recreation.  So how is it I can speak of blessing in this situation in life?

Pastor Aiden Tozer stated that “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” This fits well with the CS Lewis quote I used in my last pain sermon, that “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. These are challenging thoughts, as we would much rather think about our God as a God who only takes away hurts, who only makes things better, where better is something which fits our definition of better. In this it is important to distinguish between our thought, and God’s thought. How is it then that it is the blessing of pain which we focus on today?

One of the most fascinating articles I have read was written by a high-performance physician and academic about how he ended up with severe chronic pain which was initially untreatable. After seeing scores of specialists, having multiple tests run, there was no diagnosis. He was flabbergasted to experience some of the things he had heard patients complain of: physicians who give up when a diagnosis is not apparent, those who said it was purely psychological, and those who said that there was nothing which could be done, and that he would just have to learn to live with it. On the other side of chronic pain, this physician realized how poorly his profession is set up to deal with unremitting chronic pain (and probably how poorly he had treated patients although that is never mentioned).

As a chronic pain person, I can attest to similar frustration. It reflects an aspect of humanity’s response to those things it cannot control or understand, which is to minimize, moralize or to remove the reminder. You hear this in other contexts, such as friends and acquaintances trying to help you deal with your own serious diagnosis, or with the sudden death of a loved one. How many times have we heard (or said) things like, “Everything will work out for the best”, or “It is probably for the best” or “you will just have to get over it”.

There is a real danger here for Christians in communities of faith. We are fundamentally called to be a people of joy, but sometimes that joy becomes forced and then suppresses our ability to sincerely be with people who are in the furnace of trial…because of some idea that Christians are supposed to eternally happy. This is a lie of the modern world and when we bring it into our communities it can stifle our abilities to journey with those who are enduring trials. These empty bromides do far more harm than good, which is why my usual advice when people ask what they should say to a friend in trouble is simply to say nothing but to be there with them. This follows the example of Job’s friends before they ruin everything by trying to explain what’s happening. Sometimes we don’t need to do anything, but just be.

But, if we are to take James’ words seriously, what I should advise those askers is to respond with this, “You’re suffering? What a great opportunity for joy!” “You’re suffering? What a great opportunity for joy!” Rejoice, for your sickness / financial disaster / death of a child / death of a spouse / loss of job is an opportunity for God to bring you real blessings. This is exactly what James speaks about in this introductory portion of his letter. It is an interesting comment on the modern church that this passage is excluded from the normal cycle of readings, when it speaks so directly to something we all understand so intimately.

James starts with the zinger up front – “count it all joy when you meet trials for your testing produces steadfastness which, in full effect, will leave you perfect and complete” (paraphrasing). The word ‘trials’ here is the same word which we hear in the Lord’s Prayer “lead us not into temptation” or “save us from the time of trial”. James tells us that there is specific outcome from the process of facing trials of different kinds, and that that outcome is spiritual maturity and completeness. This refrain will be echoed again in the 12th verse when James reiterates the blessing present for those who stay steadfast under trial who will receive God’s crown of life.

Now, this is a nice thought. But, it can easily become yet another of those bromides that rolls so easily off the tongue. One of my neighbours experienced a traumatic brain injury a few years back that left him blind and disabled – we frequently see his wife walking with him around the neighbourhood. That sort of reality, life with a chronic disabling condition, is not one that you want to speak into by saying, “as long as you remain steadfast you’ll be blessed”. I know how I want to respond to those sorts of suggestions when they’re said to me. Some future state of painlessness and blessedness doesn’t do much in the midst of the torment of trial here and now!

The fact of the matter is that life with a chronically limiting condition is not something which intuitively translates into an understanding of God’s blessing being somehow imparted either immediately or at some future point. So it is fine and good to speak about steadfastness or perseverance leading to the perfection of self, but what does that perfection look like when it exists within the same context of the chronic condition? This is such a contrary thought to the way of this world.

You can see that clearly in my earlier comment about the experience of physicians who develop a chronic health condition – I’ve not encountered one of those pain conversion stories where the physician relates how positive their encounter with the health care system has been. This is a reflection of our culture’s imperative to remove suffering as quickly and with as much finality as is possible – to deal with suffering with ‘extreme prejudice’ if you like. I suspect one of the reasons those physicians have those experiences is because once the usual suspects have been tried and failed, their peers become highly uncomfortable in the face of a condition which they do not know how to fix. We, as a culture, are pathologically addicted to the quest for a quick fix for everything, as this is a symptom of our endless quest to control everything.

Where then do we find the blessing in trials of various kinds? Let’s look at a bit more of James. If we look at life as a series of episodes of trials, instead of a single incident we’re trying to figure out, things start to fit. Perhaps the message is that a life of faith, dealing with trials as they come, in turn prepares us for later (and potentially greater) trials. Rather than one 50 metre sprint to the finish, James is speaking about a mode of living that accepts trials as a part of our existence, and sees trial as a way of training for what comes later.

So like John Wesley’s idea of progressive sanctification, our life, with its trials, becomes a training event for the next trial we must face. So the coming of a trial is an opportunity which allows us to grow in steadfastness and spiritual maturity. This highlights one of the key aspects of facing trials which James speaks of when he tells us if we lack the wisdom of how to deal with trials then we should turn to God and ask in faith. The wisdom of God is what allows those trials to be transformed into occasions of the development of spiritual maturity and steadfastness.  In this sense, the trials of our lives are like trips to the local gym with a personal trainer, each visit teaches out bodies, our muscles to be stronger, more responsive. Under the wise eye of a skilled trainer, we undertake those developments safely, in a way that allows us to avoid injury. This is a metaphor for what James is speaking of, where the gym trainer forms the fount of God’s wisdom for dealing with life’s trials, which strengthens us and so prepares us for future challenges.

It is also clear in James that this is not always a happy process. In verse 12 he states that “Blessed is the person who remains steadfast under trial.” Note that being blessed, contrary to the world’s perception of blessedness, has little to do with being happy and contented. One can be mightily blessed and yet not possess happiness. One of the reasons for this seeming dichotomy is that these words about suffering can only be understood in an eschatological sense, that is, when grounded in a reality that places Christ at the centre, and looks toward an end time when all things will reach a culmination in the person of Jesus. That we are speaking in that sense is clear through the Gospel reading, where we are called to take up our crosses to follow Christ. Jesus teaches that to save your life is to lose it; while losing your life for Christ will result in life being found. Real life, true life, abundant life, only comes through the process of surrendering that which was never ours to God. The word used for ‘life’ in the Gospel is psyuche life, or soulish life as opposed to purely biological life. We are speaking here not of finding your life in this world, but truly finding real life at the end of time when Jesus returns in glory to judge both the living and the dead. The teaching is fundamentally eschatological, that is, having to ultimately do with salvation. The answer comes in an image: Jesus riding on a white horse bringing righteousness and completion to everything.

This passage, about bearing one’s cross, has been often misused to explain why people should not take action to address injustice. Bearing a cross does not mean we accept our world as it is, and do not advocate or work to change it. We are fundamentally called to bear witness to the world, which is a radical and transformative act. Rather, bearing a cross can be seen as dealing with those trials which are not, and have never been under our control. It is also important to emphasize that Jesus is not speaking about each of us carrying the cross of Christ. Rather, the taking up is of our crosses – that is, each of us has our own trials to bear and our task is to bear those trials. This is not a passive process, but one which is actively engaged with those trials. Yoder goes so far as to state that our cross-bearing life is an active one which sees us seizing a public discipleship that contains a willingness to be countercultural and counter-state in the public arena. That is, at the heart of meaning on this question is our willingness to be humbled in many ways, including publicly, for the sake of bearing our crosses.

For many years I kept my Metis heritage secret because it was easier that way, easier because I didn’t have to reveal to people that I was one of the “them”, that is, indigenous people. About 20 years ago I realized that I was leaving most of the heavy lifting of reconciliation to others because by virtue of genetics I was able to hide in plain sight. I came to see that my public declaration of who I really am was necessary so that I could speak out against the things which continue to threaten indigenous people because it is my obligation to do so. Taking up that cross, in this case, picking sides in a painful and centuries-old colonial conflict, has exposed me to racism and hatred in ways I could not have imagined. Particularly because I look white, that public outing of who I truly am is an important witness because I can’t be categorized in the same way the culture looks on other indigenous. It also required me to embrace generations of pain and brokenness and denial as my family attempted to survive through the terrors of colonialism. This, I believe, is the essence of what both Jesus and Yoder are speaking of, a willingness to bear those slings and arrows for the sake of spiritual integrity to live into your Godly calling.

We see that question of spiritual integrity come through in James. Right after the direction to pray for wisdom in faith, James contrasts that approach with one who doubts, who is double-minded. The Greek word double-minded literally means double-souled, and links us back to the psuche – soulish life – of Matthew’s Gospel. What is double-souled? A person who does not maintain a consistency of purpose and intent, that is, spiritual integrity. The double-souled person will pray, but also work to protect themselves from the world because they expect that God will not respond to their petition. You can see in that duplicity the presence of great brokenness – I’m going to do what I should in asking God; but I know that I need to still need to stay in control because I can’t really trust God.

By contrast, a person who has a soul-anchor in Christ, approaches God with consistency and sincerity of purpose – that is with intentionality, is demonstrating spiritual integrity. This is not an unobtainable standard that places the onus for failure back in our lap because we have not achieved some absolute standard of spiritual integrity. Rather, this is a reminder that we are to approach God with singleness of intent and blamelessness in action, to the best of our abilities, and as consistently as we can (and not like a wave tossed by the wind).

What does it mean to trust God? It means an admission that it is not possible to do all things with only our power and ability, and that ultimately we are not in control of our lives. So we approach God in faith knowing that we cannot do this ourselves. It also reflects the ancient creed used by the Israelites, the “Hear O Israel”, The Lord our God is one God, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind and strength. This is the first and great commandment. Loving God with one heart, and not saving part of your heart to love the things of this world.

This also contains a model for how our communities are supposed to enter into sharing of trials with each other. We do not stand on the outside looking in, offering those minimizing statements to others in order to protect ourselves from pain. Rather, we are called to be Christ-like, and to enter into the trial itself with the person who is suffering. We join together as fellow cross-carriers who are linked by the one who carried the ultimate cross for all our sakes, linked through our mutual understanding of pain and trials and our steadfastness, learned as a community over centuries of encountering suffering and pain.

So, where then is the blessing in suffering? Suffering, Godly suffering, defines us as individuals and as a community. Suffering, Godly suffering, refines us by bringing us back constantly to focus on what is important and not the distractions of this world. Refining is never a hurt-free process, as you are converting one substance into a purer form. At the end you are left with something precious. It is adversity that allows us to see what is really valuable and important because the things of this world, transient and thin, quickly fall aside when the trial begins. Suffering also allows us to better understand the trials of others: and so my trial teaches me, and I can in turn be in community with someone else in trial, and together we can offer mutual support.

Note the importance of this reciprocity of being in trial, as there is a bit of a trap here. I do not support my brother or my sister in the faith because of obligation, or because I am able to ‘fix’ their situation. This is a position the church, and clergy in particular, fall into.  I do not support you in community because I am somehow expert in facing trials, but because I come out of my trials acknowledging that I’m a broken person, and cannot do this alone.  So I offer support in community as a form of reminder: you are not alone; others see your pain; others have experienced pain like yours; others have survived pain like yours…and all this provides for a reciprocal blessing because ultimately we are here to remind each other of the ultimate sufferer, Jesus Christ.

Bringing this back to my opening illustration of physicians who become chronic pain patients, one of the dynamics that works out in their professional practice is usually a radically shifted perspective on patient pain. The one example I opened with left his practice as an internist and became a specialist in pain and addiction, and now takes the cases other physicians refuse to accept: opioid addicts with chronic pain. While his pain was resolved through surgery, the blessing of that trial was a remaking of his life, so that he is now blessing many who live with similar trials. This is the model of how trial becomes blessing in the context of the faith community: our trials transform us, so that we can in turn be transformative within the community.

This is very much the image of Christ upon the cross. It is in His person that we find the ultimate answer to the question of blessing in trial.


Most excellent article on pain by Ephraim Radner – certainly one of the best I’ve ever read.  Anyone talking about physician-assisted suicide should read this, “That should tell us something about our vocation in the midst of a culture that, feeling the pain everyone feels, can only seek to destroy it, even if it means destroying the life that bears it.” http://livingchurch.org/covenant/2017/02/15/the-craft-of-suffering/

CS Lewis’ equally excellent book, The Problem of Pain.  This, along with A Grief Observed, set out Lewis’ theology of suffering, and then how he lived it after the premature death of his wife, Joy.

Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, Pillar New Testament Commentary

Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary

A book titled, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free, by Tullian Tchividjian.

This series was conceived and first preached at St Paul’s Bloor St, Toronto.  Their sermons are marvelous, preached some by our own Barry Parker.  http://www.stpaulsbloor.org/sermons  This particular series is available: http://www.stpaulsbloor.org/sermon-series/path-through-suffering Podcast subscription too.

What happens when physicians end up with chronic, untreatable chronic pain?

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1306467 Lessons in Pain Relief — A Personal Postgraduate Experience, Philip A. Pizzo, M.D

https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2016/1/6/a-doctor-learns-what-its-like-to-be-a-chronic-pain-patient My Journey From Doctor to Chronic Pain Patient, Lisa Kehrberg, MD

Miroslav Volf on how Revelation explains how all will be made right:  I was particularly interested in Volf’s discussion on violence and peace in the final chapter. He proposes that without a clear understanding of the Christ of Revelation (riding on that white horse, judging in blood), there is no way that violence can be deterred in the present. Jesus of the cross must be married with the Christ of Revelation. This is a powerful counter to the textual critics who attempt to reduce Revelation to a vague metaphor in an attempt to square the loving Jesus of the Gospels with the image in Revelation. Volf states clearly that understanding the depth of the coming judgement is the only way a Christian can understand the command to non-violence in the present.




Written by sameo416

March 25, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

healing journies

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I sat quietly in the darkness of the woods, my grandfather’s rifle across my lap, in a gentle snowstorm. As the sun came up crows began flying tree-to-tree calling to their families to join together, and the flock grew. I knew that I was sitting at one with the woods when mice came out of the leaves to forage around my boots. As a mature 8-point whitetail walked through the pasture before me, and I decided not to shoot, I realized that I was in a place which was truly home.

I was 33, and I now knew why the woods felt that way with a sense of primal rightness of presence and being. 12 years earlier, I would probably have just said, I like the woods. That was before I found out about a long-hidden part of my family heritage. We were Metis, part of the Scotch-breed community of Red River, and a part of the grand narrative of the western prairies. In a conversation about hooked roots on wisdom teeth, my dad casually mentioned our Metis heritage for the first time.

For a boy who grew up as white, in a typically white Manitoba community – meaning typically racist, this was a bit of an identity shock. Typically racist not in a mean or hateful way, but in a worse sense, where the racism is just a part of your world view. Thoughts reinforced by my mom who told me to stay away from ‘dirty Indians’ when I was young. Typically racist in the comfortable way arising out of knowing you are a part of the dominant people of your world. Typically racist in my assured perspective that others, who were not like me, were somehow lessor, somehow thin, somehow opaque, in contrast to my very present whiteness in power.

To then find out that I was, in fact, and had always been, a part of that “other” required a reworking of all I knew to be true and certain. That reworking was necessary because of the shattering of the comfortable lie of my whiteness. The irony of that unveiling occurring just metres away from the shores of the Red River did not sink in until much later.

What emerged in place of that shattered falseness turned out to be the real understanding of the why and of the what I am, and an arrival at a home I never dreamed could exist.

Whiteness brings with it a powerful disassociation of place and family. We move, we change jobs, all with the goal of progress and the collection of power. That disassociation left me separate from home, separate from a sense of who I really was, not surprising given the deep seated lies that started to come to light as I dug through the sedimentary layers of family existence.

Lunch with a cousin I had never met included his reveal that he was Metis. When I said, so am I, he was shocked. So successful had my family severed itself from its history that it was not even known within branches of the family also living in Red River. That disassociation started between the first and second rebellions (1870 to 1885), when many families retreated into whiteness for safety from the murder and rape that was brought to their community through the benevolence of the Red River Expeditionary Force – British Regulars with Protestant Orangeman from Ontario who hated all things indigenous, and french indigenous even more. My Scotch-Breed family stepped back into the shadows and became European settlers.

When I started to dig into that history, things about me suddenly started to make sense. At a weekend workshop on indigenous community a lecturer’s explanation of indigenous humour suddenly explained my particular sense of humour. Learning the teachings of the land, and of my place in reciprocal relationship with all of reality, suddenly explained why I worship best in the woods. Learning of indigenous mysticism suddenly explained my perception of spiritual realities around me. Learning of the way of the warrior, suddenly made clear why I was a veteran.

Today, 30 years after that moment by the Red River, I understand who I am in a way I never could. That is something I passed on to my daughter from her first days. That completeness and understanding is something she has always had, and it fits her comfortably in a way that mine has not. Reconciliation is made real in that generational undoing of the lie that we were that which we were not.

Written by sameo416

March 24, 2017 at 8:40 pm

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Restorative Justice through Hebrew Eyes

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Just finished a paper for a course in restorative justice. It’s pass-fail so I decided to take some risks and do an analysis of restorative justice in the context of the Hebrew concept of rightousness (tsedaka), particularly using the David-Bathsheba cycle of narrative as the interpretative foil. This is (c) 2017, your’s truly, as it hasn’t been marked yet.

It was interesting to see criminologists and sociologists attempting to use this Hebrew idea as an illustration of the different paradigm that restorative justice presents. The one author spoke of mistranslations in early bibles, but then chose to use ‘justice’ as the translation, which I think is incorrect or missing an important nuance. The word means ‘righteousness’, but understood in the context of the covenant between Israel and Yahweh – I am holy, therefore you shall be holy. Within that is based all of the need to care for those who are victims of the society, widows, the poor, orphans, those displaced or crushed by power.

But if you don’t understand all those deep linkages, you translate it as ‘justice’ and then attempt to demonstrate why it is so insightful.

What it tells me is that you need to be cautious when you appropriate terms from other fields of study, because someday someone with some formal training in what you’ve appropriated will come along and say, hey – that’s not entirely correct.

Second observation: academic writers have little problem digging into indigenous teachings. Not so much when it comes to Christian teachings. A bunch of what I’ve read are ideas out of the Christian tradition that are not credited that way. In one paper the author spoke about how we didn’t need to follow any faith tradition, and then used a quote from the Dalai Lama to support her position. Just like I often quote the Pope when I want to prove that organized religion should be abandoned. Bias is most painful when it’s not recognized! That’s the reason I’ve written soundly out of the Hebrew tradition of thought just to see what will happen.

Been a while since I wrote an arts paper – a bit more formal than I’m used to.


Elliott (2011, pp. 51-52) cites Herman Bianchi’s work Justice as Sanctuary and in particular his introduction of the Hebrew idea of (tsedaka) as a contrast to modern, inquisitorial justice. This idea of tsedaka contains a more fulsome incorporation of restorative justice principles than modern parallels, and forms an interpretive bridge to access concepts which otherwise might be obscured by modern values and biases. It also opens up to us a rich tradition of social justice contained in the Hebrew Scriptures, referred to as The Tanakh, a compilation of historical, metaphorical and prophetic literature. The presence of restorative principles in such ancient literature reflects one reality of the modern restorative justice movement: it is not so much about developing new ideas, as it is reclaiming ancient approaches. These ancient sources, like traditional indigenous teachings, offer us the opportunity to be modern practitioners of ancient ways. To explore the foundational ideas of restorative justice and the presence of those ideas in ancient sources this paper will use the narrative cycle of David and Bathsheba contained in The Tanakh, 2 Samuel 11-12, as an interpretive framework for the course materials. This will illustrate the value in considering diverse ancient sources in the modern exploration of restorative justice.

The Value of Ancient Narratives

Restorative justice theory contains philosophies and themes which resonate strongly with traditional teachings contained in ancient cultures, but also in the wisdom passed through long-standing faith traditions. There is value in pursuing study of other philosophies as it can, “…open space for us to question some of our own basic assumptions.” (Elliott, 2011, p. 58). While there are clear parallels between restorative pedagogy and, for example, Christian or Hebrew faith teachings, this is not often emphasized in the academic works reviewed. There may be an unspoken bias against overtly acknowledging such parallels. This is in spite of acknowledgement of the benefit of making such inquiries into the “great teachings”, as Harris, citing Bo Lozoff, asserts (Harris, 2004, p. 129). One reason for pursuing a Hebraic narrative for this integrative paper is to illustrate those parallels.  For example, an analysis of the story of Omar Khadr, a Canadian child-soldier who was held in Guantanamo Bay for his role in the death of an army medic, is illustrative of the power of biblical narratives. In her application of René Girard’s theories of human violence, Zinck (2013, p. 15) makes the following observation as to the power of the Biblical narrative, “…the biblical story calls its readers to account. It forces a self-interrogation of its readers. It unmasks the effective but ultimately immoral act of scapegoating that seeks, and often secures, relative peace at the expense of a human life.”  This unmasking reveals the underlying relational brokenness which requires redress if there is to be restoration, paralleling the relational nature of restorative justice (Elliott, 2011, p. 5). Relationality is at the foundation of restorative justice, as Zehr (2015, p. 51) identifies in setting the guiding questions: “Who has been harmed? What are their needs? Whose obligations are these?” Christian and Hebrew faith teachings are similarly foundationally relational, and speak to common dynamics to those which restorative justice seeks to engage. Attention to this “network of relations and circumstances” (Harris, 2004, p. 120) should encourage us to look to any source where similar values are shared.

Similarly, the parallels between restorative justice and indigenous teachings are equally apparent, and more overtly acknowledged.[1]  Lederach (2003, pp. 15 – 22) uses the image of a person on a journey to illustrate conflict transformation through the roles of head, heart, hands and legs. His analysis echoes indigenous teachings on the integrative nature of reality: that all aspects of reality are interrelated fundamentally, and any understanding of transformation must begin with an understanding of that interrelatedness. Pranis (2007, p. 65), with many other theorists, similarly asserts an underlying assumption of restorative justice, that we live in an interconnected and interdependent universe.  This is an ancient teaching in both indigenous traditions and several faith traditions.  Lederach references a seminal work in the study of religious community system dynamics, Friedman’s Generation to Generation, so there is acknowledgement of aspects of faith traditions. Lederach’s (2003, pp. 34 – 47) conceptual work on process models for transformation bears a striking similarity to indigenous teachings around the medicine wheel with the exception of counter-clockwise rotation on page 42. The teaching of the medicine wheel is of immense value in conceptualizing the interrelatedness which underlies all restorative justice theory. We find the same idea of interconnectedness reflected in faith-based writings in the ancient Western traditions such as that of John Donne, in a famous excerpt from his Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624):

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

In the analogy between land and humanity, the loss of any piece of land diminishes the land overall. So too the loss of any one person diminishes humanity as a whole. This contains, in an entirely different cultural context, a wisdom teaching that parallels that of the medicine wheel.

Elliott (2011, pp. 141-2) looks to Jane, P., Bopp, J., Bopp, M., Brown, L. & elders (2012) in an earlier edition to summarize the teaching of the medicine wheel. Harm to the individual requires attentiveness to all four aspects of the person, mental, spiritual, emotional and physical. The wheel also teaches us that there must be balance in relationship, as all things are interrelated and part of a single wholeness and imbalance in one area will impact all other areas (Jane et al., 2012, p. 26-27). This applies both individually and collectively and serves to illuminate the world view which makes restorative justice approaches very suitable for indigenous communities. The exclusion of an offender through incarceration or exile diminishes the community and so reintegration is always the first goal of indigenous-driven restoration attempts. Rupert Ross (2014, p. 232) deals with this in great depth when he identifies that all indigenous individual healing is in the context of social or group healing, with the goal of returning all people to “…useful role within Creation.”  The medicine wheel also teaches the idea of cycles of life, growth and healing and that all Creation is in a constant dance of interaction, change and development embedded in a sacred reality. This echoes Lederach’s (2003, p. 35, 42, 44, 46) models of transformation and particularly his emphasis on the progressive and cyclical nature of all interactions.[2]

The strong linkages between modern restorative justice theory and many streams of ancient teaching illustrates the value in pursuing other ancient narratives as a potential source of deeper modern understanding. That net can be cast wide geographically and temporally as both secular and faith-based ancient traditions may be sources of useful understanding. This approach is also supported by Pranis (2007, p. 67) in her statement that there is substantial agreement on fundamental values across race, culture, age, education, gender, income, geography, political beliefs and occupation. It is easy to extend Pranis’ listing to include time to see that consistency of foundational values even in ancient contexts. It also reflects the syncretic nature of criminology as a field of study, identified by Walgrave et al. (2013, p. 159) as looking critically to institutional responses to wrongdoing as a source of theoretical and methodological approaches. From the perspective of criminology this study is still in its infancy, and connection with pre-modern and pre-Enlightenment sources can only be of assistance (Walgrave et al, 2013, p. 160).  Such “institutional” responses are recorded in early historical writings such as the Hebrew scriptures.  Such benefit may be seen in the following analysis of the David and Bathsheba narrative cycle, beginning with some analysis of the Hebrew concept of righteousness.

Word Study on the Hebraic Concept of הצְדָקָ (tsedaka)

The Mosaic practice of justice seen through modern eyes reflects, “…disturbing practices that are gender-based and class-biased.” (Brueggemann, 1997, p. 644). Nevertheless, Brueggemann asserts a foundation of Mosaic wisdom is the focus on social justice and provision for support and good relationships in community. In this regard we receive these writings as contextualized by a particular place and time, without the intrinsic cultural biases lessening that value. A critical reading allows the extraction of timeless teachings, while leaving behind the dross. He goes on to note that the ultimate voice in this system was that of the prophet who conveys both conviction of those who fail to act justly, and the hope of a different future. In this tradition there are no, “escape hatches or exceptional treatments” for those who hold temporal power, for their destiny is tightly integrated with that of the entire community (Brueggemann, 1997, p. 645).  It is an exceptionally egalitarian world view. Diamond (2012, p. 103) highlights a similar contrast between Western and Navajo ideas of peace-making. The Western mind seeks to “make the plaintiff whole” through the provision of money as compensation. There is an implicit value judgement conveyed through making a being whole by payment of cash. The ancient concept, also present throughout Hebrew teachings, establishes that a person’s true being can only be conceived fully in relationship; while the Western mind conceives of being only in the calculated financial loss. The reflection of previously outlined concepts of restorative justice is plainly apparent in this emphasis of both ultimately classless consideration and the interconnectedness of individuals in community.

An understanding of the Hebrew idea of righteousness, one principle meaning of the word, הצְדָקָ (tsedaka), must be placed in the context of Israel’s understanding of the concept. Righteousness was tightly tied to the place of the king as a mediator of the holiness of their God. The idea is displayed in Psalm 72 (English Standard Version, vv. 1-2, 12-14):

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!  [וְצִדְקָתְךָ֥]
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice! […]

For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.  [underlining added]

The king’s righteousness (tsedaka) is tied to the righteousness of the Creator. At the core of that righteousness is care for the weak, the needy, the poor and those oppressed or victimized by violence or power. This is distributive justice, tied into the idea of a covenant relationship between Israel and their God, which extended into a covenant with all citizens to share in the bounty of the nation, including goods, power and access to justice. This is coherent with the readings conducted in the course, as it reflects an aspect of the foundational philosophy of restorative justice, seen in the high degree of coherence with the values provided by Braithwaite (2002, p. 569). The idea of the covenant reflects a restorative justice perspective on the role of community and shared values as a path to restoration when there has been a fracturing of that covenant. “Restoration is the key objective of restorative justice.” states Doolin citing Walgrave (Doolin, 2007, p. 431). Indigenous communities operate with a similar implicit, traditional covenant that mediates relationships, knowledge and the sharing of goods and power in a fundamentally egalitarian way (cf. Diamond, 2012, p. 89).

With that context it is possible to look closely at the word in question, הצְדָקָ (tsedaka).

Use of the word is deliberate around the idea of righteousness, as the translation as justice easily leads to modern misunderstanding, for many of the same reasons that restorative justice is cautious using terminology associated with the modern legal system. This concern is reflected by Elliott (2011, p. 52) from Bianchi’s writings where he identifies that early English translations of the word confused understandings of justice, including using the word retribution. Modern translations attempt to render the word by context, using translations such as: honesty, vindication, justice, merits, rights, and righteous or righteousness. However, only in the Hebrew concept of righteousness as covenant is the full scope of meaning for the word illuminated. Looking at the lexical description (Appendix B) of this form of the word is helpful: righteousness in government; righteousness of a judge, ruler or king; righteousness of The Law (Torah); righteousness of God; truthfulness; righteousness in terms of salvation; righteousness in terms of vindication for behaviour previously thought to be unrighteous. In the specific context of the covenantal understanding of the requirements to treat the vulnerable with הצְדָקָ (tsedaka), this informs the fulsome use of the word in a restorative justice context.

This meaning resonates with Elliott’s (2011, p. 52) presentation of Bianchi’s thought. She echoes his statement that righteousness requires three criteria be met: 1) there must be a way to achieve release from guilt; 2) there must be confirmation of the truth; 3) there must be “substantiation” meaning righteousness that is known by its results where all achieve justice and peace. Peace refers to the all-encompassing Hebrew peace of shalom. The movement is from discord, through tsedaka and into the intended normative state of shalom[3]. The parallel between the restorative justice goal of real justice, lived out, is therefore synonymous with the deep meaning of the word, tsedaka in the context of the covenantal relationship between the nation Israel, its king, and its God, with the deep understanding of infused righteousness that this context brings. With this understanding, it is now possible to examine the David and Bathsheba narrative cycle as a way of exploring modern restorative justice concepts.

Restoration and Justice in the David and Bathsheba Cycle

A copy of the narrative cycle is contained at Appendix A to this paper.

In the opening verses of the story, we hear repeated violations of the expected state of shalom in the action of the person of David. First we learn that he has remained in Jerusalem, even though it is the time, “when kings go out to battle.” (2 Samuel 11:1) Something is amiss in the usual order of kingship. David spies Bathsheba and sends messengers to bring her back to him, violating her privacy and then her marriage vows (2 Samuel 11:2-4).[4] This was punishable by death for both parties under Hebrew law. In the midst there is a deeper violation, as he had seen Bathsheba in the midst of a ritual purification bath in her family miqvah (2 Samuel 11:4). This is a particular moment of sacred encounter as the Hebrew person travels from impurity back to a state of ritual purification, a key requirement to return to right relationship with community. Finally, an additional violation occurs to the integrity of Bathsheba, the result of the huge power imbalance between her and the king. In the first four verses we hear of five violations, cemented by Bathsheba’s pregnancy. That declaration is made by the now nameless Bathsheba who in the final verses is now referred to only as “the woman” (2 Samuel 11:5) or “wife of Uriah” (2 Samuel 11:26). David has systematically removed from her every aspect of her individuality, and she will remain nameless in the narrative until David has successfully murdered her husband and she is named as his wife (2 Samuel 12:24).

In light of the expectation that the king to be a paradigm of righteousness in the full meaning of הצְדָקָ (tsedaka), it is hard to conceive of a more direct and systematic destruction of shalom. We are left with the sense that the violation is worse than if this had been an outright violent assault, as the grasping king has acquired what he sought through the abuse of an office founded in a covenant idea of tsedaka. The subsequent verses (2 Samuel 11:6-27) flow quickly as David deals with his problem by ordering that the battle proceed such that Bathsheba’s husband is killed. This is done with the assistance of David’s general Joab, who is the one afield executing the work that was properly David’s. Now Joab is drawn into the intrigue as it is his order that leads to Uriah’s death. Uriah’s name literally means ‘my light is God’, and that light is extinguished through brutal conspiracy.

The initial violation of Bathsheba through a kingly peeping tom quickly leads to offenses against a large number of people. This is the inverse of the integration that restorative justice seeks and confirms that the act of violation or offense is never victimless or limited to a particular victim. An offense against righteousness impacts an entire community. David co-opts his messengers, his servants and his soldiers in his pursuit of something which was never meant to be his, drawing them all into to the act of either violating, or being violated. David’s betrayal rings particularly harshly for a soldier because he not only assaults the wife of one of his soldiers, but actively participates in his betrayal and murder – two things which a commander is honour-bound to not do.[5] One of David’s attempts to cover up his crime is to get Uriah drunk, which also fails, marking that Uriah is more ethical drunk than David when sober (Gordon, 1986, 254). So the web of violation spreads wide and even acts to poison people distant from the physical events. The process of restoration, if it is to be effective, must undo that wide web of damage. We are left understanding that this disruption has lasting impact leading to the end of his kingship and ultimately the downfall of Israel as a nation.

When the king fails, it falls to a prophet to pronounce judgement on the offender (Brueggemann, 1997, p. 645). Nathan arrives and proceeds to tell a judgement narrative to David about a rich man who steals a poor man’s only lamb, a lamb that the poor man loved as a daughter (2 Samuel 12:3). When a guest arrives the rich man is unwilling to slaughter from within his flock, and so steals the poor man’s lamb and serves it as a meal for his guest. The violation here is strikingly similar to that of David’s, in that one with plenty has stolen the only wife of one with little, and done so callously and capriciously. The rich man’s offense draws in others, as his unwitting guest has participated in the destruction of tsedaka. As David reacts with fury at the injustice of the story, he pronounces judgement: the rich man deserves to die, and must restore the lamb four times over because he had no pity. What follows is a classic prophetic reversal as Nathan reveals that the judgement David has just passed actually falls on his head as he is the breaker of shalom.[6]

David’s response is to confess his actions, and because of this he is saved from death. It appears that the only voice which could shame the king, that of a prophet, has been successful. There is a hint of reintegrative shaming (Elliott, 2011, p. 161), but it stops with David and does not extend to the greater web of those impacted. That web encompasses the entire nation and reflects a fundamental failure by David to make full amends to the community which Nathan represented (Sherman, 1993, p. 448). David has an apparent lack of empathy and is unable to move to the space where he recognizes that his grasping narcissism has caused harm to his people, empathy identified as a key skill needed to transcend violence (Pepinsky, 2007, p. 197).  Nevertheless, his repeated violation results in considerable impact to his legacy: the rape of his daughter by one of his sons (2 Samuel 13); the rising of his son Absalom in an attempt to overthrow his father (2 Samuel 15-19); and finally Bathsheba’s son will die. While it would be comfortable to dismiss this death of an innocent as a literary device to raise emotion, there is a harsh reality reflected in the impact of any violation: it is usual that the innocent suffer even when separated from the initial event. The intergenerational impact of the Canadian residential school system on indigenous families is a stark reminder that violation and injustice impact widely without restoration and reconciliation both externally and internally (Ross, 2014, p. 143).

While David displays remorse, and there is an aspect of reintegrative shaming, this is not extended to the community, leaving us to question the sincerity of his remorse as he continues to fail to show mercy broadly as required (Braithwaite, 2002, p. 570). There is no indication that the community, who would be aware of David’s transgressions, are engaged in the process, which curtails the community ability to achieve restoration (Ross, 2012, 147). Zehr’s (2015, p. 34) three pillars of restorative justice, harms and needs, obligations and engagements are not completely engaged (Elliott, 2011, p. 89). While the central actor has shame and remorse, the full restorative ability of restorative justice is not allowed to act.

In this narrative restoration is only seen between David and Nathan with no outwards extension. Elliott cites Braithwaite (Elliott, 2011, p. 74) that one of the powerful aspects of restorative justice is that it offers meaningful space for individual democratic participation, which brings healing broadly. Equality of voice is at the heart of restorative processes. She offers Braithwaite’s comment that the popularity of restorative justice comes partly in that it hands a, “little piece of power back to the ordinary people.” This is particularly crucial if the offender occupies a place of great authority, as restorative justice also requires addressing root causes (power imbalance and abuse) and leveling of status to create safety for all impacted (Harris, 2004, p. 124). Dekker (2017, p. xxxi) also emphasizes this “view from below” to include those who have little ability to voice their injury and a lack of misuse of power to deflect responsibility as key to restoration. If David had turned his incipient restoration outwards this empowering restoration could have spread to all those injured in the web.

A final point relates to the concept of the “second victim” present in restorative justice applications in organizations where a failure has caused harm to others, identified as the “first victims”. The second victim is the person who committed the error, an acknowledgement that those who are responsible suffer deeply and differently than those directly impacted. This is discussed partly in the work of Dekker (2017, p. xxiii-xxiv) who notes that treating error as crime ensures there will always be losers. Dekker highlights that restorative approaches refrain from pleonexia (greed or avarice) where personal gain is achieved by blaming another. David’s failure to continue the process of admission of guilt and restoration with the balance of his kingdom is perhaps due to his limited vision conditioned by power, by dwelling within pleonexia as the reality of a monarch. By failing to act David causes further harm to himself as the “second victim” as he is unable to undertake restorative actions with the greater community. He allows himself to remain insulated from that greater community of first victims, and so guarantees his continued suffering (Doolin, 2007, p. 433). Failing to act on the general duty to forgive through not engaging the other first victims perpetuates the chaos and discord that will follow David’s remaining time as king (Radzik, 2003, p. 336).


The use of ancient narrative cycles as a means of exploring restorative justice theory has been explored through the David and Bathsheba account from the Hebrew book of 2 Samuel 11-12. This powerful account reflects numerous serious violations against Bathsheba, and against an expanding web of people who are drawn into the impact of David’s lack of righteousness. While David experiences a partial restoration through reintegrative shame at the hands of the prophet Nathan, he does not continue that process outwards in order to bring restoration to the greater community. We are told in later portions of the historical book that David’s rule began to fail the day he gazed unrighteously on Bathsheba as she underwent ritual purification.  The impact of incomplete application of restorative justice at the community level can result in lasting impact through a failure to heal. This review has helped to confirm the benefits of exploring ancient narratives from diverse traditions as a way of better understanding the developing modern philosophies and values that guide application of restorative justice. While we are modern practitioners, we are necessarily inheritors of many ancient traditions.


[1] I will reference some sources in referring to indigenous teachings, but will also rely on traditional teachings which I hold personally as Métis.

[2] When reading Lederach I found it helpful to visualize his process model as a medicine wheel repeatedly circled.

[3] A personal experience of shalom was related by the sister of a murder victim reflecting on how unspoken forgiveness had been a burden, “…unspoken forgiveness does not actually weigh you down like guilt or shame.  It is almost like a sack of balloons. Because it does not often affect in a negative way, it is easy to dismiss the importance of it.” (Whistance-Smith, 2017, p. 1) That light yet ever-present weight was removed when they voiced their forgiveness of the offender, achieving the start of shalom for family and offender while restoring community.

[4] Other commentators note that Bathsheba may have been a willing participant in this sequence. I have preferred to focus on David’s actions rather than Bathsheba’s as it will ultimately be David who is convicted. There is also the potential of misogynist biases in those assertions, as Bathsheba is demonstrably without power (and name) throughout the narrative, contrasted with the king who holds literal life and death authority over her.

[5] Modern officers are still taught that they always eat last, so important is the honouring of people you command.

[6] The work of Victor Turner on liminal space associated with rituals of transition may have some direct application in restorative justice work. The entry into an effective restorative “ritual” is an entry into liminality, a place where real transformation may occur. Turner, V. W. (1970). The forest of symbols: Aspects of Ndembu ritual. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.

Reference List

Alter, R. (1999). The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel. New York: W.W. Norton Company Inc.

Braithwaite, J. (2002). Setting Standards for Restorative Justice. British Journal of Criminology42, 563-577.

Brueggemann, W. (1997). Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress.

Brown, F., Driver, S. & Briggs, C. (2003). The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers Inc.

Diamond, J. (2012). The World Until Yesterday. New York: Penguin.

Dekker, S. (2017). Just Culture: Restoring Trust and Accountability in Your Organization (3rd ed.). New York: CRC Press.

Doolin, K. (2007). But What Does it Mean? Seeking Definitional Clarity in Restorative Justice. The Journal of Criminal Law. 71(5), 427-440.

Donne, John. (1839). The Works of John Donne. vol III. London: John W. Parker. Pp. 574-5. Retrieved from http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/meditation17.php.

Elliott, E.M. (2011). Security with Care: Restorative Justice & Healthy Societies. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.

Gordon, R.P. (1986). I & II Samuel: A Commentary. United Kingdom: Zondervan Publishing.

Harris, M.K. (2004). An Expansive, Transformative View of Restorative Justice. Contemporary Justice Review 7(1), 117-141.

Jane, P., Bopp, J., Bopp, M., Brown, L. & elders (2012). The Sacred Tree (4th ed.). Wisconsin:Lotus Press.

Lederach, J.P. (2003). The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. Pennsylvania: Good Books.

Pepinsky, H. (2007). Empathy and Restoration. In Tifft, L and Sullivan, D (eds.), Handbook of Restorative Justice: A Global Perspective (pp. 188-197). Kentucky: Routledge.

Pranis, K (2007). Restorative Values. In Gerry Johnstone & Daniel W. van Ness (eds.), Handbook of Restorative Justice (pp. 59-74). London: Willan.

Radzik, L. (2003). Do Wrongdoers Have a Right to Make Amends? Social Theory and Practice, 29(2), 325-341.

Ross, R (2012). Telling Truths and Seeking Reconciliation: Exploring the Challenges. Contained in Volume 2 of Aboriginal Healing Foundation (Canada), Rogers, S., DeGagné, M., & Dewar, J. (2012). Speaking my truth: Reflections on reconciliation & residential school. Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

Ross, R. (2014). Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths. Toronto: Penguin.

Sherman, L (1993). Defiance, Deterrence, and Irrelevance: A Theory of the Criminal Sanction. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 30(4), 445-473.

Walgrave, L., Aertsen, I., Parmentier, S., Vanfraechem, I. and Zinsstag, E. (2013). Why restorative justice matters for criminology. Restorative Justice: An International Journal, 1:2, 159-167, DOI: 10.5235/20504721.1.2.159.

Whistance-Smith, N. 2017. Forgiveness in Christ’s name – a family’s journey. The Messenger, March 2017. Retrieved from http://edmonton.anglican.org/wpsite/wpcontent/uploads/2017/02/17_March_MessengerWeb.pdf

Zehr, H. (2015). The Little Book of Restorative Justice (revised). Contained in the collection: The Big Book of Restorative Justice.  Pennsylvania: Good Books.

Zinck, A. (2013). Love Knows No Bounds: A Christian Response to the Omar Khadr Story. Chester Ronning Centre Current Briefings – 1. Camrose, Alberta.

Appendix A

2 Samuel 11-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

David and Bathsheba

11 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going.Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” 16 And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died.18 Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. 19 And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, 20 then, if the king’s anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”

22 So the messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24 Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25 David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”

26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

Nathan Rebukes David

12 And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms,[a] and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned theLord,[b] the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house.

David’s Child Dies

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Solomon’s Birth

24 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah,[c] because of the Lord.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Appendix B

Brown, F., Driver, S. & Briggs, C. (2003). The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers Inc. p. 842.

הצְדָקָ noun feminine righteousness; — absolute ׳צ Genesis 15:6+81 t.; construct צִדְקַת Deuteronomy 33:21+5 t.; suffixצִדְקָתִי Genesis 30:33 +, etc.; plural צְדָקוֺת Isaiah 33:15+3t.; constructצִדְקוֺת Judges 5:11+; suffix צִדְקֹתֶיךָ Daniel 9:16, etc.; —

1 righteousness, in government:

  1. of judge, ruler, king:“” משׁפט Isaiah 5:7Isaiah 9:6Amos 5:7Amos 6:12; ׳משׁפט וצ 2 Samuel 8:15, עשׂה David executed justice and righteousness = 1 Chronicles 18:14, compare 1 Kings 10:92Chronicles 9:8; Jeremiah 22:3,15Jeremiah 33:15Ezekiel 45:9; יִכּוֺן כִּסֵּא ׳בּצ Proverbs 16:12, compare Isaiah 54:14; ׳עֲבֹדַת השׂ, ׳מַעֲשֵׂה הצ Isaiah 32:17, compare V:16; ׳נֹגְשַׂיִךְ צ Isaiah 60:17.
  2. of law, “” משׁפטים, ׳צִדְקַת י Deuteronomy 33:21.
  3. of Davidic king, Messiah, “” משׁפט, Psalm 72:1Psalm 72:3;Isaiah 9:6Jeremiah 23:5Jeremiah 33:15.

2 God’s attribute as sovereign Psalm 36:7Psalm 71:19; in government, עשׂה ׳משׁפט וצ Psalm 99:4Jeremiah 9:23; administering justice Job 37:28; punishment Isaiah 1:27Isaiah 5:16Isaiah 10:22Isaiah 28:17Daniel 9:7; vindication of his people Micah 7:9.

3 righteousness, in a case or cause, בצדקתי החזקתי Job 27:6 on my righteousness I hold fast; ׳מה ישׁ לי עוד צ 2 Samuel 19:29 what right have I yet ? of God’s judgments, ׳הגיד צ Isaiah 57:12 (iron.);׳השׁיב צ 1 Samuel 26:23Job 33:26; ׳כּצ, השׁיב 2 Samuel 22:25, גמל2 Samuel 22:21, נתן 1 Kings 8:52 2Chronicles 6:23.

4 righteousness = truthfulness, ׳באמת ובצ Isaiah 48:1Zechariah 8:8; in word Isaiah 45:28Isaiah 63:1, oath Jeremiah 4:2.

5 righteousness, as ethically right: Genesis 30:33 (J) Deuteronomy 6:25;Isaiah 33:5Isaiah 41:18Ezekiel 14:14,20Proverbs 10:2Proverbs 11:4,5,18,19+17 t., +צִדְקַת (ה)צַדִּיק(יםׅ Isaiah 5:23Ezekiel 18:20;Ezekiel 33:12; ישׁרים ׳צ Proverbs 11:6; ׳אֹרַח צ Proverbs 8:20;Proverbs 12:28; ׳דֶּרֶךְ צ Proverbs 16:31; ׳עשׂה צ do righteousnessPsalm 106:3Isaiah 56:1Isaiah 58:2Ezekiel 18:22; ׳עשׂה משׁפט וצEzekiel 18:5 6t. Ezekiel; ומשׁפט ׳עשׂה צ Genesis 18:10 (J) Proverbs 21:8; ׳רדף צ Proverbs 15:9Proverbs 21:21; ׳הלך באמת ובצ1kProverbs 3:6; ׳חשׁב לוֺ (ל)צ Genesis 15:6 (JE) imputed to him (for)righteousnessPsalm 106:31; וָחֶסֶד ׳צ Proverbs 21:21 (twice in verse) (strike out ᵐ5A B Toy).

6 righteousness as vindicated, justification, salvation, etc. (compare צֶדֶק6):

  1. of God“” יָשַׁע, תְּשׁוּעָה, יְשׁוּעָה Isaiah 45:8Isaiah 46:13Isaiah 51:6 7t. Isa2; “” בְּרָכָה Psalm 24:6; “” נַחֲלָה Isaiah 54:17; “” חֶסֶד Psalm 36:11Psalm 103:17; ׳שֶׁמֶשׁ צ Malachi 3:20 sun of righteousness (with healing); ׳בִּצ, ׳י delivers, guides, exalts his people Psalm 5:9Psalm 31:2Psalm 71:2Psalm 89:17Psalm 119:40Psalm 143:1Psalm 143:11; אַליָֿבאֹוּ בְּצִדְקָתֶ֑ךָ Psalm 69:28 (of wicked); as accusative after verbs of declaring, etc., his saving (deliveringrighteousness Psalm 22:32;Psalm 40:11Psalm 51:16Psalm 71:15Psalm 71:16Psalm 71:24Psalm 98:2Psalm 145:7; also ׳יִוָּדַע צ Psalm 88:13; עֹמֶדֶת ׳צ לָעַד his righteousness endureth for ever Psalm 111:3; compare Psalm 119:142.
  2. of people, = prosperity, “” הון, עשׁר Proverbs 8:18; ׳מוֺרֶה לצearly rain for prosperityJoel 2:23.

7 plural righteous acts:

  1. of GodJudges 5:11 (twice in verse); 1 Samuel 12:7Micah 6:5; vindication of right Psalm 103:6; redemptive Isaiah 45:24Daniel 9:16.
  2. of man’s moral conductIsaiah 64:5Jeremiah 51:10, also probably Ezekiel 3:20Ezekiel 18:24Ezekiel 33:13 (Kt singular) Psalm 11:7 (? gloss), Daniel 9:18; as adverb accusative, הֹלֵךְ צְדָקוֺת Isaiah 33:15.

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March 20, 2017 at 1:00 am

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