Envisioning the Common Good from Broken Institutions

How can we reach for excellence and the common good when we stand on the shoulders of enduring sin?

Menorah” (1993) by Roger Wagner depicts the Didcot nuclear power station in front of three crosses and a field of genocide survivors. The painting is on display in the sanctuary of St. Giles Church in Oxford.

Six Ways to Understand the Common Good in Broken Institutions

1. Pursue the Common Good With Excellence

2. Don’t Mistake Human Excellence for God’s Work

“Are we really agreeing with those who say that when we build with our very best endeavor, it is the same as if the Lord builds? … Are we so blind that we do not see that all our work always carries the scars of the past, the signs of sinfulness? Do we no longer see that we are in the world and remain only with our own ideas, even the most pious of us?

— Bonhoeffer, 1926

3. Protect Those Affected by Injustice

Practise love and charity within the given worldly institutions, i.e., to inspire these institutions so far as possible with a new outlook, to mitigate hardships, to care for the victims of these institutions.

— Bonhoeffer, Ethics

4. Prevent Injustice

Has the Church merely to gather up those whom the wheel has crushed or has she to prevent the wheel from crushing them?

— Bonhoeffer, Ethics

5. Take the View from Below

6. Seek Mercy

By acknowledging wrongs, we stay honest before God, protect our capacity to imagine better, and position ourselves for considered steps toward change

Putting it together

Acknowledgements & References

Dr. Javier Garcia, (1987–2021)



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
J. Nathan Matias

Citizen social science to improve digital life & hold tech accountable. Assistant Prof, Cornell. citizensandtech.org Prev: Princeton, MIT. Guatemalan-American