What does our current era of change mean for the future of spiritual communities? What are the questions and challenges facing us in terms of belonging, justice, ecology and beyond? Common Era brings two guests around our table to talk about spirituality in an age of change.
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The Justice at the Heart of God
In this final episode of the season, Annmarie and Matshidiso return to an ongoing theme: what does a just society really look like, and how can we get there? To bring all the threads together, they ask how the church can lead the way in demonstrating a justice mindset, and what questions we need to ask ourselves. Ultimately, it all leads back to the radical love of God, who is the very basis of our justice laws and our sense of right-ness: how can we represent that love and justice in our everyday selves?
Does Punishment Even Work?
In this episode, Matshidiso and Annmarie put the very concept of crime and punishment under scrutiny. If the prison system we've created is ultimately a failure, what kind of approach could take its place? The conversation moves from the need for acknowledgment of wrong, and consequences of that wrong, to establishing a humane, case-by-case understanding of criminality that views offenders truly as human beings made in the image of God. In particular, Annmarie brings her 25 years of experience in the youth justice space to deeply challenge our presumptions about crime and a whole section of society that we find convenient to forget about.
References in this episode:
Reoffending rates - in the UK, 75% of ex-inmates reoffend within nine years of release, and 39.3% within the first twelve months
A Church That Gives Up Power
In the New Testament of the Bible, the church is often referred to as a Body. In this episode, Annmarie and Matshidiso draw on this language to consider the lack of action on racism from the church in the UK, explaining why we should expect the church to look different from other institutions. They discuss why this is so important specifically in a white-majority country like the UK, the radical ideas that are open to us to take, and why the love of God is so necessary to achieve change. At the centre of this is power: will we live to see a church, and followers of Jesus, prepared to give up comfort and power to address the sins of the past?
Michael E Taylor, The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery
Black population in London 13.3% as of latest regional gov.uk data:
Former footballer Dalian Atkinson murdered by PC Benjamin Monk:
Racism is Not What You Think
Annmarie and Matshidiso begin this episode redefining and clarifying the definition of racism, and the very concept of different races among human beings. Looking at racism as a mechanism of maintaining power, they break down the differences between racism and prejudice; or the classification of people groups; or the pre-judgments that might come about from people who have suffered at the hands of others. It's a conversation that will be familiar to many, and yet, as it unfolds, it's clear why the discussion is still ongoing, and why we still need greater, radical honesty from white voices in this sphere.
What Does Justice Mean?
Justice is increasingly a word at the forefront of our social conversations, but like any word it's subject to interpretation and misunderstanding. In this episode Annmarie and Matshidiso talk about a Biblical view of both justice and fairness, how these have influenced our legal systems, and yet how they might differ from what we expect. They talk about the prevalence of injustice, and justice from the perspective of the most marginalised in society, including those who are incarcerated. The conversation reveals just how muddied the concepts of love and justice have become, in comparison to the commands of Scripture, and the testimony of Jesus himself.
Introduction: The Road to Justice
Welcome back to Season 2 of Common Era! In our second season, we’re hosting a conversation between Annmarie Lewis, a leading business, youth and justice consultant, and Matshidiso, a composer, songwriter and podcaster with a background in human rights law.
In this episode Matshidiso and Annmarie discuss the sense of justice - and injustice - that has been an unavoidable part of their own lived experiences. Annmarie shares her journey towards working professionally in the justice space, in prisons and with youth in particular. She begins to talk about the struggles for young people in the prison system, the circumstances that bring them there, and the importance of representation, as a black woman in those places.