Growing up, I have led a rather privileged life and as an adolescent, topics relating to poverty and justice just bored me silly. As I grow older, my appreciation for this area grew hand in hand. I forgot which magazine it was that I saw a review for the Poverty & Justice Bible, but after glancing through the blurb I thought this sounded like an awesome read, so I immediately ordered it off Paddyfield.com.
Although the book is called the Poverty & Justice BIBLE, I was fully expecting it to be a bible in a metaphorical sense, so more like an authoritative guide to the matter in perhaps an encyclopedic arrangement. As the book arrived at my doorsteps, you can imagine my surprise when I found out that it is a bible in the most literal sense. Everybody should have several spare copies of the good ol' conventional bible tucked away in their bottom shelf, quickly gathering dust. I am sure your church-going friends would have given you a trusty New International Version or even the impossible-to-decipher King James Version. Maybe you might have heard Bono from U2 recommending the Message, which is in very trendy street language, and accidentally got a copy of that. True, the Poverty and Justice Bible is in the Contemporary English Version, different from any other versions I already own and apparently, in everyday English, is a very easy read. But then a bible is a bible, how different can it be? I honestly already have a copy too many.
But as soon as I started flipping through it, I can see how it is distinctive from the normal adaptations. They went through the trouble of highlighting every bit in the bible that mentions poverty and justice (more than 2,100 passages!), so that you can get a quick feel of what the oldest book has to say on the issue. Smacked in the middle of the book was exactly what I expected the entire book to be: definitions of important words relating to poverty and justice, and some to do list for us to execute. At the beginning and the end of the book there are also small sections that tries to give you some background to the stories. What's more? They do urge you to pick up your highlighter and customise your copy to tailor to your views and needs.
Published by World Vision, this book gives quite a bit of food for thought. For example, they have mentioned that back in ancient Israel, each new king was expected to write out a copy of the law. Why? To remind him to rule the kingdom according to what the law requires of him! Can you imagine the head of state ever wanting to single-handedly copy all the legislation and ordinance out, word by word? Or can you picture the CEO of a listed company replicating the full version of their Memorandum and Articles of Association? This is what true leadership really means: to know what rules you have to abide to, meticulously.
They offer quite down-to-earth action plans as well. To actively help those who don't know better or don't have the resources to build better sanitation systems, they recommend that we gave a look down the gutter, and imagine sleeping next to it. Well, that is a bit of a nasty shock, but how can we actually help? Try placing a coin box in our bathroom. Every time we use the toilet, make ourselves pay a toilet toll. At the end of the month, send the toll we have collected off to a charity that builds toilets for people who need them.
So as they suggested, get your copy here, pick up your highlighter, stop reading the Bible as a noun and, instead, start living it out as a verb.