John Perkins: an Appreciation

Last night, my family (except for my oldest daughter, who is away at college) and I went into town to hear a lecture by Dr./Rev. John M. Perkins at a local college in Portland. It was quite worthwhile!
It was delightful to see the (about) 80 year old servant of the Lord share his love and vision for community along the lines of the kingdom of God.

I don’t think there was an official title given to the lecture, but I took a few notes, and I think something like “A Curriculum for Justice Leaders” would be about the right title. That is what Dr. Perkins said that he was setting out to discuss, anyway, near the beginning of his lecture.

Dr. Perkins is a veteran in the decades-long civil rights movement. He was very enthusiastic, though, about the present generation—by which he clearly meant college age people. He called this generation “post-racist” and said that these are the ones who are going to make the real changes.

He enumerated four necessary ingredients for leadership (vision, energy management, intelligence, and character content). Then he identified Moses as the Bible character who best fits the “prototype of all justice leaders.” Drawing on Hebrews 11:23-29 and also a little on Torah, he made these points:
1. Moses came from a family.
2. Moses came from a family of faith (Levites).
3. Moses grew up in a family of purpose, a family that wanted him.
4. Moses came from a family of courage.
5. Moses had a sense of his identity.
6. Moses was willing to suffer with the people of God.
7. Moses was faithful.

As we drove away from the event, my family and I discussed what we had heard. We found that each of us saw different things. We all enjoyed it. But we all seemed to have questions or caveats regarding this or that point of the lecture or the Q & A that followed. All in all, we found that our few reservations were far outweighed by our agreement with and appreciation for this great man. We were thankful for the opportunity to hear him.
May the Lord bless his work!

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4 thoughts on “John Perkins: an Appreciation

  1. That guy looks ballin’ for an 80-year-old! His lecture sounds very fascinating. I have often mused on the purpose of justice in a Christian’s life. Justice is the Lord’s, and my heart breaks for the lack of it in our world today. How much of it then is up to me to do my part in bringing justice? An example is this, I (for many wrong reasons as well) would find incredible joy and exhilaration in joining the US Navy and bring justice to the world. Even assuming that justice is the outcome of such a career, I can’t abide by the means such justice demands. So I wonder, where is the line? Where is justice mine, and where is it the Lord’s?

    • I understand the tension very much. I wonder about it myself, though, for my part, I think I have arrived at the decision to be a warrior of words and ideas (II Cor. 10:3-6). I do not mean that I intend to talk and talk and never do anything. I mean that I hope to do the kind of talking and idea-wielding that does things. As far as physical action goes, it seems to me that there is more power in telling someone that their deeds are wicked and unjust while washing their feet than there is in telling them that Jesus loves them but we’re keeping an eye on them with our finger on the trigger. 😉
      Here’s one thing you might check out to keep the juices of justice flowing: http://www.thesimpleway.org/ 🙂

  2. BTW, I am about 1/3 of the way through Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution. As you might expect, I have both very positive and less-than-totally positive responses. Eventually, some of that will end up here on TLW, no doubt.
    But anyway, Claiborne is coming to town to speak at Warner on Tuesday, March 9th — same kind of thing as Perkins. Wanna go?

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