Judgment or Judgement

The short answer: both are correct. I looked them up.

Scholars disagree which is the preferred spelling. I prefer the latter spelling, which looks more complete to me.

Perhaps I prefer the spelling with the “e” because decades ago I nicknamed a dear judge friend, now of blessed memory, “Your Judgeness” or “His Judgeness.” I also nicknamed his Lincoln Town Car “The Judgemobile.”

Daytime television, which is “day off television” for me, is flooded with judge programs. My favorite is “Judge Judy.” She is, indeed, controversial at best, but I like her because of her years of experience in the New York juvenile courts, where I hear that she served faithfully and with distinction.

I am also convinced that she tells the truth without fail, painful though it may be to some.

There is much judgement going on in today’s world, about most any topic that you can name, and most of it is not helpful. We are quick to judge, which means that we then turn off the dialogue, along with our ears. Communication is then shut down, and we find ourselves stuck.

The Holy Bible has much to say about judgement and about justice. Each of the canonic gospels include the concept of the Second Coming of Christ to be the last judgement or the final judgement, the day when Christ will return with his angels to establish his kingdom on earth.

The Last Judgement has inspired numerous artistic depictions throughout the ages. Two significant ones are the portals of the western facades of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Bourges.

Sunday’s lectionary readings include references to God as a just God. In this Sunday’s gospel reading from Luke, Jesus tells a parable of an unjust judge and a just God, who “will grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night” and who will “quickly grant justice to them.”

But Jesus does not let us off the hook, probably with good reason. “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Great question.

The Psalmist also frequently references law, commandments, judgement, and justice throughout the psalms, and this Sunday’s citation from Psalm 119 is a wonderful example:

Oh, how I love your law! *
     all the day long it is in my mind.

Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies, *
     and it is always with me.

I have more understanding than all my teachers, *
     for your decrees are my study.

I am wiser than the elders, *
     because I observe your commandments.

I restrain my feet from every evil way, *
     that I may keep your word.

I do not shrink from your judgments, *
     because you yourself have taught me.

How sweet are your words to my taste! *
     they are sweeter than honey to my mouth.

Through your commandments I gain understanding; *
     therefore I hate every lying way.

Psalm 119:97-104

Hymnody tradition includes a marvelous text about social reform, mission work, and Christ Our Judge in Glory. Again, this concept and this text in particular has inspired composers since it first appeared in a 1902 edition of The Commonwealth¸ the journal of the Christian Social Union.

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918) edited The Commonwealth from its beginning in 1892 until 1912. This hymn, “Judge eternal, throned in splendor,” was his only hymn text. However, it was included in The English Hymnal (1902) and has endured the test of time through many hymnals in the 20th and now the 21st centuries.

The Parish Choir’s anthem for the 10:30 service this Sunday is a rhythmically tricky but delightful setting of this text. With its uncommon time signature of 7/8, English composer Malcolm Archer (b. 1952) keeps us all on our toes and provides a delightfully worthy musical setting of this significant text.

Two of my favorite phrases are, “Crown, O God, thine own endeavor; cleave our darkness with thy sword” and “Cleanse the body of this nation through the glory of the Lord.”

In other words, let’s leave the judgement (or judgment) up to God.

Photo Credit: Christ in Glory, western façade portal of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Bourges, France. Alamy Stock Photo, courtesy of www.alamy.com. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 2:57 PM
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