Sunday, March 17, 2013

Which do you value more? Mercy? Or Justice?

Dear Fred,

A question on the Myers-Briggs test asks: Which do you value more - mercy or justice?

It is a splendid question and cuts close.

Conservatives, I imagine, answer justice - and liberals mercy. Not always... but typically.

The heart leans to the left.

Cold-hearted justice is not justice at all, for the fullness of Love - which is to say the fullness of Incarnation - is justice not only tempered by mercy but made warm and convivial by it.

Without infusion of mercy, justice is a bloodless corpse. 

Useful perhaps but not vibrant.

In the end, it is not necessary that justice partake of charity. 

Justice is what we deserve, what we earn; in effect what we have vouchsafed unto ourselves -- with no need to beg The Court's mercy.

Without mercy, justice is a settled, self-sufficient account - rugged individualism at its most perfect. 

And in that perfection, at its most diabolic.

There is no gift, no gracia, no grazie in the rudiments of justice. 

No for giveness.

In Spanish, gracia means "fun" and "good cheer" as much as it means "grace" and "gift." 

In general, Anglo-Saxons are too literal to get past "the letter of the law." 


Just ice.

A cheap pun but telling.

I find myself wondering if merciless justice is a form of injustice.



PS  Although Shylock is a caricature, there is truth in his epitomization of justice. It is as if he has no blood of his own and must bleed others to get it, to remember its heat, its passion. He knows what "the scales" say. But he knows nothing of "hundredfold returns," much less how to give them. For gracia. For graciousness. For fun.

My sister Janet was delighted to find her new neighbors called their cat Portia, only to discover they spelled it Porsche. Ah, the ravages of cowboy capitalism, conservatism's completely unacknowledged sin. Pope Francis is about to have at it. 

The piggishness of America's ruling class -- and the lickspittle adulation of debased populists -- arises from the desperation of conservatives who have lost faith in everything but the salvific power of miserliness. They will learn -- and Francis will help teach them -- that misery and miserliness arise from the same uncharitable impulse. Despite all the Christian pretense, American conservatives have lost Faith, Hope and Charity.

At bedrock, American Christians believe in violence.
"Gun Cartoons and Gun Violence Bibliography"

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