16 May 2012

Judgment begins with the house of God… or does it?


This is part one of two parts on Judging
The news today and these days continues with arrests and trials of lowlife criminals and larger-than-life politicians who seem to escape every bit of scrutiny. That is, for a while. Take the names of people we barely knew in Parliament like Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson. By the way, today Thomson was cleared of almost all allegations of dodgy election funding following an investigation by the Australian Electoral Commission. He still has to answer other charges and will do so on Monday, about using his credit card for personal and sleazy activities.[1]
What’s even more fascinating is that Peter Slipper, Speaker of the House, who has stepped out of the Speaker's chair while sexual harassment and Cabcharge rorting allegations against him are resolved, is the one who will decide whether Craig Thomson should face a parliamentary privileges committee investigation into his declaration that the Labor Party paid his legal fees in the Health Services Union scandal.
As the Coalition contemplates a motion to refer Mr Thomson - who has suspended his membership of the Labor Party pending the outcome of allegations he used HSU funds for personal expenses including escort services - to the parliamentary privileges committee, The Australian has confirmed Mr Slipper, who still holds the Speaker's post, is the one who is required to make a "considered decision" on the merits of the move.
The privileges committee would be able to recommend a punishment - including suspension. Federal Court judge Geoffrey Flick approved an attempt at


[1] All this followed the release earlier this week of the 1100-page Fair Work Australia report into the Health Services Union’s (HSU) national office, which alleged the embattled MP spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of members’ funds on escort services, cash withdrawals, spouses’ travel, hospitality and federal election campaigning.
Mr Thomson continues to maintain his innocence and in a statement released earlier this week described the investigation as “nothing short of a joke”. He says he will defend himself in parliament later this month.

private mediation this week among various HSU East factions and the federal government.
I share this with you, and maybe you will understand it much better than I do, to show you that this aching in our gut, this desire for justice, will not be found in the current Australian system. And maybe it won’t be found in the UN or any other system.
There is hope, though.
A new book was released this week, and the Melbourne Age wrote today, “When Colin Campbell Ross was sent to the gallows at the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1922, few would have guessed his name would be cleared by a humble librarian more than 80 years later.
Kevin Morgan was the librarian, historian and author whose book, Gun Alley, was instrumental to Ross receiving a pardon in 2008 for his wrongful conviction for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in a Melbourne alley.”
(Read more:
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/the-curious-case-of-the-librarian-and-the-detective-20120516-1ypqk.html#ixzz1v07VbJUh)
It’s not uncommon for Patty and me, and maybe you do this also, to spend an evening at home watching one crime show or another, which really isn’t about the crime but about the puzzle of the solving of the crime and how our heroes have done that. Whether it was Miss Marple or other Agathe Christie tales, NCIS, or Sherlock Holmes in his first portrait or even the latest versions which bear almost no resemblance to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s personae of London at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. [1]


[1]  Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases.
Holmes, first appeared in publication in 1887, was featured in four novels and 56 short stories.

Friends, the Torah teaches us “Justice, justice shall we pursue that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deut. 16.20). Establishing courts is a hallmark of the sons of Noah, that is the Gentiles who convert to the Jewish way of life.  And what is that justice to be about? To help the downtrodden, to set captives free and to make sure the voiceless have voices.
The story is told of Esau, Jacob’s brother. The story is designed to teach the ungodly about justice and eternity and to stop living for sinful pleasures in this life. Seems that Esau was told that Abraham had died. Esau responded, “If evil has befallen even Abraham, there can be no justice and no Judge.”[1] The rabbis give “two reasons for the custom of eating lentils in connection with mourning the dead. 1) Their roundness reminds us that death comes in an inexorable cycle to all, and 2) their absence of a mouth represents the mourner who sits in silence.”[2] Esau hardly represents a righteous person and his grumbling and lentil eating is a highlight of rabbinic opposition.  Esau misses the point of justice, and so does the evil one in today’s world.
Now with this in view, listen to these words from Y’shua our Messiah. [Read Matthew 7.1-7]  “Judge not, lest you be judged. ..for in the same measure, you will be judged…” It’s clear that Y’shua is emphasizing that we should err on the side of kindness and fairness. It’s clear that judgmentalism and what will later be titled Phariseeism is not the way to go. That said, even so, listen to the following words, “Do not give what is holy to dogs.” That means we have to decide about someone whether they are being dogs or not. What’s the problem with this? It sounds like ‘judgment.’ In fact, Y’shua also said, “Judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7.24)
So what’s a person to do? Judge or not judge? What do you say?




[1] Genesis Rabbah 63.11
[2] Jonathan Eybeschuetz, “Ethical Rebuke”, page 330-331, recorded in Jewish Preaching (1200-1800: An Anthology, Marc Saperstein)

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