Captain Justice, Laudable Saints and Convenient Fantasies (by Margot Starbuck)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

This weekend’s guest post comes to us from Margot Starbuck.

I had the pleasure of meeting Margot for coffee when she was in Dayton to speak at Bryan College last semester, and I just loved her. Funny, warm, and comfortable in her own skin, she’s the kind of person that instantly feels like an old friend. A graduate of Westmont College and Princeton Seminary, Margot is passionate about communicating to others the promise that God, in Jesus Christ, is with them and for them. She’s the author of several books, most recently Small Things With Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor. Margot lives in Durham, NC with her husband and three kiddos.  Check out her website at 


Captain Justice, Laudable Saints and Convenient Fantasies
by Margot Starbuck 

Before my friend David, then a law student, spent the summer in Bolivia—working with International Justice Mission—I made him a most excellent supersuit.  Stitched to a stretchy blue and red cape was a sparkly gold “J.”  For “Captain Justice,” of course. Two eyes were cut out of a pair of boys’ underwear, to be worn upside down on his head as a mask.  And, for his nether regions, I bought the largest boy-size superhero Underoos underwear available. (Still keeping my fingers crossed that he can, one day, still spawn offspring!)  I considered tights, but wanted him to retain some shred of dignity.  But clearly not too big of a shred.  


I did that weird thing—like Edna Mode of animated Incredibles repute—because I was certain that anything called International Justice Mission had to be just as awesome as The Justice Leagueexploits of Superman, Wonder Woman and Aqua Man.  Though I would later come to learn that the requisite IJM superhero dress code actually called for “business suit,” David was really a very good sport about the whole thing. 

This is how I do.

Knowing how the Bible paints a picture of a God who is on the side of the poor, I really admire any number of folks who, like my friend David, cast their own lot in with those in need.

My father-in-law LarryPa is one of these.  He’s retired.  If he’s not leading a Bible study at a local prison, Larry is sawing boards to build accessibility ramps for local folks or he’s swinging a hammer in Haiti to assemble emergency shelters. I really do admire that Larry.

My neighbor Jillaine, a student doing her field ed at a number of group homes in our county, is another.  As a result of her study, she rubs shoulders with folks who are under-resourced in all kinds of ways on a regular basis. Because she’s a student.  I actually think that Jillaine is a little bit of a saint.

Though I’m not tempted to call my friend Hugh a saint, his life does reflect the priorities of Jesus. Hugh runs a nonprofit, in an urban location, that facilitates authentic friendships between the well-sheltered and those without homes.  So Hugh ends up interacting with the poor, in that urban location, on a sort of professional basis.  Which is so admirable.

I hope you see how terribly convenient all of this is for me. If “loving the poor” is something that only red-caped superheroes do—because they’re retired, or because they’re young and single and kid-free, or because they get paid a teeny tiny salary to do it—then I’m off the hook.  (Because I’m unprofessional, old, married, mothering and decidedly not retired, that’s why.)  If I make engaging with a world in need a really big thing, then it’s kind of like I’m no longer responsible for it.  Which really works for me.

On the other hand, if engaging with a world in need were to be a very small thing—like learning more about the bagboy who tirelessly bags my groceries every week, or shamelessly begging for a baby shower invite to celebrate my favorite waitress at my favorite restaurant, or stopping to help the teen whose car is broken down by the side of the road—then I’d become responsible for it.

Which is why, I think, I went to all the trouble with the awesome Captain Justice costume.

It works, right?

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