For Congregational Discussion April/May 2022: Restorative Justice: Prospects for Transformation & Penitence

Topics of racism and justice are some of the most difficult to discuss for Americans.  One way to start a discussion is to use a dialogic method of discussion.  Such a method asks small groups to agree to speak and to listen on a topic following a certain order that encourages time for silence between speakers and time for deep listening before responding.  Consider using this method to have a discussion about Restorative Justice. To do so, have members of a discussion group agree to the following rules. * Each person has the chance to speak on the first question before moving to the second question.  * Each person has only two-three minutes to speak on each question.  *Each person agrees to speak only for themselves and from their own experiences, rather than making broad claims.

  1. After reading both essays, name one story or example of the legacy of slavery or the systemic racism that you had not heard before.  Explain how hearing about this or learning about this affected your understanding of history and contemporary times.
  2. Having heard about the retributive, distributive, and restorative justice, explain what values you hold in trying to move forward after experiencing or witnessing an injustice.
  3. Having read the articles and listened to those in this dialogue, consider the idea of reparations as Smith describes them. Explain what reparations might look like for you in your own community.
  4. Follow up with any questions of curiosity you might have in order to learn more about the views of others in your discussion group.

Jennifer Hockenbery

Jennifer Hockenbery serves as Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics .  She is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at St Norbert College. She attends Grace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI.