A few weeks ago I received the 75th anniversary issue of the Catholic Worker. The Catholic Worker is a progressive Catholic newspaper that was started by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin to apply Catholic Social Teaching to the issues of poverty in American society. I’ve always been a fan of Dorothy Day from biographies that I’ve read and from hearing of people who really admire her. I bought a used copy of her book By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day 5 or 6 years ago, but only started reading through the whole book last year. Inspired by the book, I subscribed to the Catholic Worker in December through Amazon and received my first issue in January. Since then, I’ve looked forward to looking in my mail and finding a new issue to read.
Dorothy Day kept the company of socialists, anarchists and communists in Greenwich Village when she was young, and she shared their radical views on politics and life. Her abiding passion was to help the poor, and she converted to Roman Catholicism when she found the same love of the poor in Catholic Social Teaching that she found in the radical politics of her friends. She did not forsake her radical political convictions, but melded it with a spirituality that nourished her inner self as she worked to help the outer world.
During the 1980s, I thought it was funny, and sadly appropriate, for the head of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to be a man called Cardinal Sin.
Certainly, the crimes committed against the Filipino people at that time was a sin. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos had been ruling the Philippines for 20 years, and they greedily plundered the economy and lived lavishly while much of the economy was mired in poverty. I remember reading news about the Philippines at that time with a certain sense of dread. Benigno Aquino got shot and killed. The Marcos government was cracking down and seemed to have friends in the Reagan administration that would let them get away with murder. The opposition turned to Aquino’s widow, a housewife with no political experience and no desire to lead a country. And the church stood by for 20 years as Marcos terrorized the country. I didn’t have high hopes for the Philippines as Marcos called snap elections in 1986. I didn’t see how things could wind up as anything except tragic.
A few times this year bloggers got the wild hair to start talking about the potential we have to bring more people to our government by making Congress more 2.0 friendly.
Stoller went off about the Franking Laws that are out of step with reality back in March and I've not stopped thinking about it since then. Well, in reality I had been thinking about it before that back when Obama's campaign announced that it would make the Chief Technology Officer a cabinet position.
Franking Rules are decided by a committee who decide what members of Congress can do in outreach to their constituents. Sometimes too much outreach from a Congressional office can be seen as "campaigning" and the Franking Rules protect taxpayers from essentially paying for campaigns and creating an unfair advantage for incumbents.
We have just celebrated Memorial Day. This day was declared and set aside, originally, to honor all those who served and died in the defense of our nation. It has been expanded to include, not only memorializing the men and women who have died in the defense of our nation and culture, but to honor all those who served in days gone by or are serving today. It has also been expanded to include a formal recognition of family and friends, whether they served militarily or not.
I have received several emails urging me to become actively involved in flag waving and eulogizing the military causalities and the need to heap praises upon those actively serving today. Most of them expand the idea that our military might is what has created and protected our freedoms.
I fully agree that we owe those who have served or are serving our recognition of the sacrifice and dedication of all who gave up their civilian freedoms to serve. But I disagree with the indication that it is only the military who have given us our freedoms and protected them.
[Continuing on here from my last post. Sorry about the meandering style, but it really helps to get feedback on these little unfinished fragments. I tried writing one giant argument on this topic, but it just got too long and crazy.]
Both mainstream and radical Christians seem equally as uncomfortable with the image of Jesus as the practical leader and organizer of a real, live, gritty movement. Movements always eventually make mistakes and turn ugly. And Jesus’ movement sure went on to make a lot of mistakes. Therefore we go back and try to cleanse Jesus of getting his hands dirty as a practical organizer. We like the image of him getting his hands dirty hanging out with sinners and serving the poor. But we don’t like the image of him ordering around a large insurgent organization, because we know from our own experience that that always has many unpleasant consequences for everyone in the end.
I’ve been left of center all my life. My early politics was influenced by my admiration of Martin Luther King Jr., the Kennedy's, and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and the social teachings of the time I was in the Catholic church. In the mid 1990s, I attended an evangelical church for 8 years, and I learned to keep quiet about my political views. Since leaving that church due to conflicts, I’ve been on a mission to rediscover myself, to revisit my liberal roots. I’ve written in a Christian progressive site, and discovered the divide between liberals and progressives, and it got me interested in knowing where I stand in the liberal/radical spectrum.
I’ve been reading a lot of books in that time and found a beneficial relationship between liberals and radicals. Though the two groups have at times been hostile to each other, they both were needed to instigate needed social changes in American society.
From what I read, it seems that a basic difference between the liberal reformer and the radical is the extent of the changes that they hope to bring to society.
Many apathetic and disaffected people ask me about my drive, dedication and determination to change those politics that are not right. They're going to do what they want regardless of what we say... How are you going to change these things... Washington is corrupt... These problems are too big
These are all things I hear. What our forefathers must be thinking. To see our own countrymen surrendering without having even fought. How can we take our country and hand it over to these corporations? Have we forgot what it is to be American? How did we get to this point were we handed it all over without any questions or accountability?
As an activist and organizer, I used to have a vision of my role in social change that kept me protected in a certain way from people and their problems. When I was a union organizer and community organizer, I spent countless hours at workers’ kitchen tables listening to their problems. Often they cried. I consoled. By a few months into a campaign, I knew enough about so many interconnected lives in a workplace or neighborhood for 100 John Sayles screenplays.
But my purpose wasn’t to help people, it was to “help them help themselves.” I wasn’t a social worker. In fact, as hard-nosed organizers, we were taught disdain for social workers who ministered directly to people’s short term needs. We were even advised by many of our mentors not to socialize with the people we were organizing, “because it could complicate things.”
When I met her, my wife Elizabeth became a new mentor to me. As a Christian who had always led a “missional” life, there had never been a time in her life when she wasn’t personally intertwined with a whole bunch of troubled lives....
My wife has given me many things that I’m grateful for since she came into my life. One of the nicest things she’s given me is a whole new range of music that I never listened to before.
When we first dated, one of the first places she took me to was an Indigo Girls concert in Berkeley. I had heard the name of Indigo Girls, but I never really listened to their music before. Ever since that concert, I really started listening to them, and found out they are deeply involved in progressive activism and promoting issues of peace and sexual equality.
I was tipped off to this outstanding video from a friend who went to the same high school as the kid who did this video. Justin Benefiel is an 18 year old senior at Yukon High School in Yukon, OK, and will be attending NYU in the fall. He only recently moved to Oklahoma. Where did he live before but our own Leavenworth, KS.
While living in Leavenworth, Justin saw the school's gay/straight alliance and a teacher accused of pushing homosexuality onto students. The school board got involved. Amusingly enough, Leavenworth, Kansas is the hometown of my favorite singer Ms. Melissa Etheridge. (Can't be a real Kansan without giving props to Melissa.)
Justin made this film to educate the public about tolerance, which he says he "believe is losing its identity in today's society."
I got a phone call from my friend, Mike Davis, this evening.
"Can you get some people together? DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) is reinstating their route through Turner Courts."
I immediately called Lori and Evette, who were at our Saturday Town Hall meeting with DART and had done their best to explain why bus service was needed through the apartments after 8:00. DART had promised that service would be reinstated by March 15, but didn't follow through on their promise. Their representative talked about statistics and dangerous conditions. Evette, Sheila, Lori, and Sylvia tried to help them understand the situation of people who get off work late and don't want to walk through a dark field at 10:00 at night; they told of people who take jobs based on bus service; Ms. Dana Arnette, with the Dallas Housing Authority, commented that she sometimes struggles to lease apartments because transportation is a concern for incoming residents.
Lori, Evette, Dana, Mike, and I met at Turner Courts at 10:00 this evening to anxiously await the bus's 10:15 arrival.
In today's newspapers, I've been reading a lot about the breach in the relationship between Senator Obama and Reverend Wright. It must be a painful time for both men, as it's tough whenever a conflict occurs. I can understand both sides though. If I were Obama, I'd be angry that any person is assuming that he can speak for Obama's real feelings. I think Reverend Wright should only speak for his own opinions and not assume he can speak for Obama. It must be frustrating for Obama to have to try to defend himself for opinions that he has never espoused. I can also understand Reverend Wright's side too, though. He must be frustrated to have his words be taken out of context by the media and to have his views be caricatured.
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