Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing

By Dennis A. Jacobsen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
A Spirituality for the
Long Haul

“As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time
of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have fin-
ished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved
for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all
who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:6–8)

The summons to do justice is an invitation into an interesting life, into an unleashing of one’s inner power, into authentic community, into the possibility of fulfillment in a vacuous society. But it must also be admitted that, at times, the summons to do justice feels like a life sentence. Dorothy Day spoke of the “harsh and dreadful love” demanded of her in her “long loneliness” of struggle for justice and devotion to the poor. No pursuit of justice is undertaken without sacrifice, risk, and loss. A cloud of emotional heaviness may descend. Now and again the temptation surfaces to give up, to abandon the struggle, to seek instead a life of normalcy, ease, and security for oneself and one’s family. After all, one has to contend with the tentative nature of any “victories” in the public arena and the obdurate nature of systemic evil. An added pain comes from seeing the “righteous” in the struggle caught up in petty outbursts and displays of vain ego. And an additional aspect is the unhappy discovery of one’s own limitations, cowardice, and mediocrity.

Amidst such realities, what keeps one going year after year, decade after decade? For those who have been summoned to do justice, the Spirit simply will not let go. The lament of Jeremiah puts it this way: “O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed.… For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:7–9). Those summoned to do justice would like a more

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Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1- The World as It Is 1
  • Chapter 2- The World as It Should Be 8
  • Chapter 3- Engaging the Public Arena 13
  • Chapter 4- Congregation-Based Community Organizing 23
  • Chapter 5- Power 38
  • Chapter 6- Self-Interest 50
  • Chapter 7- One-on-Ones 59
  • Chapter 8- Agitation 65
  • Chapter 9- Metropolitan Organizing 70
  • Chapter 10- Building and Sustaining An Organization 79
  • Chapter 11- Community 87
  • Chapter 12- A Spirituality for the Long Haul 96
  • Appendix 104
  • Notes 106
  • Study Guide 109
  • Index 139
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