5 Goals of Protest

“If we consider the ethical issues that have given rise to the forms of civil disobedience…we find that the specific goals of protest are few in number. It is true that in most of these forms of disobedience the protection of human dignity and the promotion of self-determination are involved, but the social and per­sonal values may be reduced to five, namely, equality, due process, the rejection of certain types of violence authorized by the state, the protection of private morality, and certain eccentric religious sensitivities.” — JLA, Civil Disobedience


“camouflage for egre­gious class or race interest or for jingoistic and destructive patriotism”

“A danger not taken into account…is the danger that the fabric of society at a given time may actually be too tightly woven as a consequence of demonic repression or the apathetic routinization of conscience. In this kind of situa­tion the civil disobedient holds that his protest is a public and not a secret protest against one law or policy and that by his remaining law-abiding in other regards and by his accepting punishment for his disobedience he shows his respect for law and helps to maintain the fabric, and yet that as a last resort his disobedience aims to improve the law and to rectify the fabric of society. The civil disobedient, and anyone else for that matter, may also rightly claim that what obtains under the rubric of law in the society often turns out to be only camouflage for egre­gious class or race interest or for jingoistic and destructive patriotism. He may also claim that, far from weakening the fabric of society, authentic civil disobedience is a means of reducing the demand for rebellious and violent protest against the law.” — JLA, Civil Disobedience

“The fundamental mandate is the renewal of covenant within the churches”

“We must overcome the moribund and routine conventions of activity in the parish and the denomination…The fundamental mandate is the renewal of covenant within the churches, the reaching down to the covenant of being itself where mutuality and sacrifice alone free us from the universal monstrosities, the reaching out to the promise making and promise keeping that constitute the substance of response to the covenant of being, the substance of faith and hope. And the greatest of these is love. The alternative is to batten on the grotesque. In short, the alternative is death, even though it be living death.
“The Grotesque and Our Future,” James Luther Adams

Churches, like other organizations, can dissipate their energies…

…by trying to do too many things. It is an axiom of theology as well as of psychology that both distortion and apathy are the children of lazy ambiguity, of ambiguity of purpose. The crucial question here is, What are the top priorities? The surest way I know to deal with the question is to respond to those who have the greatest need and to join those who are battling against rank injustice.

“The Grotesque and Our Future,” James Luther Adams

“We have all had some part in creating or appeasing Gestapos”

“We have liked to believe that we did not share (the faith of the Gestapo agents), yet we have all had some part in creating or appeasing Gestapos–and we could do it again. We have also had some part in stopping the Gestapo. In fact, the spirit, if not the brutality, of the Gestapo has to be stopped in ourselves every day, and we are not always successful, either because of our impotence or because of our lack of conviction. The faith of the unfree can raise its ugly head even in a ‘free’ country.
Recently this fact was impressed upon me in an unforgettably vivid way. During the Second World War it was at one time my task to lecture on the Nazi faith to a large group of U.S. Army officers who were preparing for service later in the occupation army in Germany. As I lectured I realized that together with a just resentment against the Nazis I was engendering in the students and orgy of self-righteousness. This self-righteousness, I decided, out somehow to be checked. Otherwise I might succeed only in strengthening the morale of a bumptious hundred-percent ‘Americanism’ and that was not the faith were were supposed to be fighting for.”

“A Faith for the Free,” James Luther Adams, The Prophethood of All Believers

The theists believe of course that they belong to a community of meaning;

but they believe also that this community is not ultimately their own, either in its actuality or its possibilities. They believe that as human beings, they possess some freedom to choose the ways in which they will participate or not participate in the social cosmos in which they find themselves. But for them, the human condition as creatures longing for fellowship and as creatures possessing some freedom is a gift. In religious parlance, it is a gift of divine grace. Fulfillment of freedom is seen also as a divinely given task – and peril.

“The Love of God,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams

The confident atheists,

in finding some meaning in life (even though it be partly expressed in “atheism”), have the sense of belonging to a community. They even place their confidence somehow in that community. But in doing so they do not characteristically think  of themselves as people of faith.

“The Love of God,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams

Nihilism, the sense of complete meaninglessness in life,

has been vividly depicted by the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre in his play No Exit…The author depicts the inferno of human loneliness and despair…For them, there is no exit from teh torture of loneliness even though they are together. They share no common values that can give them dignity either as individuals or as a group locked in their room in hell.

The Love of God,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams