Literature in Review
by Richard Barbieri, Ph.D.
The Spiritual Roots
of Restorative Justice
Ed. Michael L. Hadley
SUNY Series in Religious Studies (2001)
ike most people born during the “American Century,” I grew up with what historian
Herbert Butterfield called “the Whig view of history”: that the ages had been a slow
but steady progress from barbarism to enlightenment, despotisms to democracies,
and so forth. Certainly in the realm of justice this was true. Drawing and quartering,
public hangings, caning and trial by fire, had all slowly—a few very slowly—given way
to somewhat more humane treatment of the wayward, with Europe and America leading
Setting aside broader questions of social and political progress, many are beginning to ques-
tion this paradigm, as the dominance of retributive justice and punitive legal systems is being
challenged by more communitarian and restorative ideas. Learning about these ideas often
begins by when one discovers that ”primitive” peoples around the world have been employing
these methods, with apparent success, outside the mainstream of jurisprudence.
What if we were also to learn that all our major faith traditions have at least a strand of restor-
ative ethics? The essays here allow us to consider that possibility.
In a probable effort to decenter both the Judeo-Christian tradition and Eurocentrism, Hadley
orders his chapters thus: Aboriginal, Buddhist, Chinese, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Judaic, and
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