Having gone to such great lengths to outline a rather nuanced ethic concerning idol food consumption, Paul then flips the entire set of instructions on its heels when he insists that "if a brother or sister stumbles, may I never ever eat meat for all eternity!" (8:13). The freedom to forsake one's rights for the love of a brother and sister in Christ trumps an ethics of pleasure and any entitlement I have for food or other material goods.
The mass incarceration system in the United States has created an "under-class" among a particular demographic: African American males. By "under-class," Alexander means to say: the way our current legal system is structured and the social stigma attached to those who have served prison time, many African Americans with prison records find it nearly impossible to obtain employment, housing, educational opportunities, and public benefits. They are the "under-class" because they are, in many ways, treated as less than human by people and civic systems much in the same way as our laws of segregation did during the civil rights movement of the 1960's (and hence the title: "The New Jim Crow").
Many Americans, especially Christians, are simply unaware, unmoved, and even apathetic to the plight of our neighbor. The challenge to be involved, listen, visit those in prisons, minister to families whose loved ones suffer from incarceration, march with the "People Are Not Illegal" campaign (which, by the way, is supported by the Evangelical Covenant Church, North Park Theological Seminary, and their constituencies), and develop an empathy with those who swim in the structures of injustice was my take away from Josh Debois.
|Josh Debois at North Park University (Palm Sunday 4/13/14)|