March 01, 2008


"It is impossible (fortunately) to have justice without compassion, but it is possible (unfortunately) to have compassion without justice. That sequence of justice and compassion is, therefore, significant. We are back, in fact, with the distinction between, on the one had, individual good or evil and,on the other systemic good or evil. Where there is justice without compassion, there will be anger, violence, and murder. A thirst for justice without an instinct for compassion produces killers. Sometimes they are simply believers in a Killer God. Sometimes they are assistant killers of a Killer God. But compassion without justice is equally problematic. In any unjust system, there are people needing immediate assistance. And even in an perfectly just system, there would still be those who would need compassion. But compassion, no matter how immediately necessary or profoundly human, cannot substitute for justice, for the right of all to equal dignity and integrity of life. Those who live by compassion are often canonized. Those who live by justice are often crucified."

John Dominic Crossan, The Birth of Christianity

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