Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Theologians pan “cheap grace”

November 22, 2017

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Matthew 26:27

Who are we? We are the crucified Christ-with us. This is our new identification.
Kosuke Koyama in Water Buffalo Theology

Koyama a Japanese Protestant theologian born in Tokyo in 1929 was sent to evangelize farmers in Thailand. Here he developed his unique brand of speaking to farmers.


One of his memorable designations of Jesus was very Pauline. He called Jesus “the spat-upon Christ.” Koyama reasoned that If Jesus Christ was nocked, spat upon and stripped, then his finality is shocked, spat upon and stripped . . . The spat-upon. Jesus nears the spat-upon finality of Jesus. It must mean then the. “spat-upon bishops’, ‘spat-upon theology’, ‘spat-upon evangeism’, ‘spat-upon “combat-against-racism”, “spat-upon churches’
We see very few “spat upon churches” these days, very few Christians who will risk the opprobium of the public  lulled to sleep with the silent and deadly song of the consumer culture.


Bourgeois Christianity is most evident but not exclusive to evangelical Christianity where Trump and his Wall street values reigned supreme. This sad fact reflects a faith riven by the cultural norms not of the nonviolent spat-upon Jesus but by a kind of Republican Fox News Christianity. The classic example is not evangelical but the shameful value system of “Catholic” Paul Ryan the Republican leader who genuflects not to a crucified lord  and his cross but to the highly individual capitalist ethos of Ayn Rand.



Since the 1945 and the advance of turbocapitalism in the USA, Christianity in all denominations has taken a major hit. The power of the market has sapped the vital countercultural elements of the gospel. The good life has levelled the God life and allowed putative Christians to pursue consumer comforts and vote in whomever will defend “the American way of life’ and ignore the victims of a rapacious economic system.


300 hundred Christian theologians attending the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, an annual meeting of nearly 10,000 professionals in religion.The Boston Declaration calls Christians to follow the Jesus Way, bearing prophetic witness to Christ through fight racism, sexism, poverty and all forms of oppression.”



Theologian Susan Thistlethwaite of the Chicago Theological Seminary one of the signers t writes about the dispensation of “cheap grace” a phrase made fanmous by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred Lutheran theologian. This is regularly doled out in capitalist countries by clergy too afraid to challenge wealthy congregants with the demands of the cross which cost Jesus his life and should cost us at least some discomfort.


Such Christians are “losers” in Trump language.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Christian pastor who was arrested and ultimately executed by the Nazis for his opposition to Hitler, contrasted what he called “cheap grace” with the costly grace of the Gospel. “Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits.”
The Christianity Bonhoeffer denounced is the Christianity we denounce today. It is a Christianity that literally enables hate, hate for people of color, for immigrants, for those of other religions, for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender human beings, for women and girls, for the poor and the most vulnerable among us.

And why do these so-called Christians do this? Not out of obedience to the teachings of Jesus, because Jesus taught the exact opposite of their hate-mongering. No, they do it for power, for political gain. Jesus asks, “What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul?” Mark 8:36 We are not here merely to denounce, however. The most important thing we can do as Christian theologians is announce the good news of the Gospel. The good news is the radical inclusivity of God, for God so loved the world. Not just some in the world who are white, or rich, or male or heterosexual. God loved the whole world of animals and plants and the entire ecosystem that is a victim of this same rapaciousness and nearly mindless drive for political domination.
The good news, and it is very good news, is an invitation to turn away from greed and turn toward love of neighbor. Turn away from hate and turn towards love. It’s actually more fun here in the circles of radical hospitality.



Dorothy Day: Saved by Beauty

March 30, 2017

Kate Hennessy the youngest granddaughter of Catholic icon Dorothy Day (1897-1980), has written a fascinating biography of the not yet canonized Day, and her own mother Tamar, Day’s only child.

This book, Dorothy Day:The World will Be Saved by Beauty will be jarring reading for the fainthearted Catholics who want their saints and icons to be Hallmark cards of unalloyed piety and perfection.


Day of course had a fascinating life from bohemian friend of the young Eugene O’Neill and communist Mike Gold, a woman who had an abortion to serious Catholic with a penchant to priest idolatry  and a rigid spirituality. She appeared to be a hip anarchist with many lovers who found herself pregnant by the elusive Foster Batterham. The latter absolutely refused to marry Day. He wanted no truck with Catholicism which Day had embraced. It finally drove them apart and in n the end and after 5 years Day gives up on Forster but continues an on gain a off again relationship with him until she dies.

Day’s naked carnality puts Augustine to shame. This note to Forster is typical:

My desire for you is a painful rather than pleasurable emotion. It is a ravishing hunger which makes me want you more than anything in the world and makes me feel as though I could barely exist until I saw you again…I have never wanted you as much as I have ever since I left, from the first week on, although I’ve thought before that my desires were almost too strong to be borne.”

Tamar grows up with an absentee father off the scene and sadly marries the troubled David Hennessy with whom she has 9 children.

This movie is painful as we watch Hennessy disintegrate and Dorothy, now the founder of the Catholic Worker, combines the work of a hands on anti-poverty and anti-war activist with being a devoted grandmother.

At times her life appears out of control, absolutely chaotic. She only survives by taking off on speaking tours, riding buses and retreats to the Catholic Worker farm.

Hennesy’s mother, Tamar, who was Day’s only daughter. had a tempestuous but loving relationship with her mother. Tamar left the church in 1967 and was followed by all her children. There is a profound lesson to be teased out of all this. Patriarchy,misogyny and triumphalism would be good places to start.

This is a stunning book, sensitively written. It brings fresh light on the extraordinary Day whose freenetic  life was only saved by holding tight to a rigid Catholicism which many will find incredible. It is highly dubious if her harsh spirituality, highly judgmental and rigid until late in life could ever be duplicated today. At the same time it must be said, it saved Day but did have unforseen consequences.

Granddaughter Kate has rendered a great service to the Catholic community for fleshing out the visionary life of her extraordinary grandma whose love of books, music, beauty and the sacraments allowed her to persevere in her love for the poor and her own flesh and blood.

Who remembers Ben Salmon?

January 6, 2017

I wonder how many Catholics ever heard of Ben Salmon.

It seems to me his life would have made Christmas come alive as we welcomed the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In 1989 Torin Finney wrote Ben’s life Unsung Hero of the Great War (Paulist Press, 1989 —in my library somewhere. Maybe I lent it out. His life was inspiring. That of the official leadership, less so.

At Christmas Jack Gilroy wrote his homage to this saint.always trust the Catholic Worker to maintain pacifist New Testament principles.

Then the great Jesuit John Dear picked the story up in 2010

The story begins April 6, 1917. It was the day President Woodrow Wilson, the “peace president,” declared war on Germany, and the next day, Congress ratified the decision, bringing the United States. into World War I. Two weeks later, Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore, the de facto head of the U.S. Catholic church, issued a letter, to this effect: all Catholics were to support the war.

The letter was soon followed by the founding of the U.S. Bishops’ “National Catholic War Council,” which set out to mobilize Catholics for, what it called, “war work.” Peacework? Peacemaking? That was never an option. (According to historians, this War Council eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.)As the darkness descended, on June 5, 1917, 28 year-old-Ben Salmon took up his pen. He wrote the president, saying he would refuse to fight. “Regardless of nationality,” he wrote,

all men are my brothers. God is “our father who art in heaven.” The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” is unconditional and inexorable. … The lowly Nazarene taught us the doctrine of non-resistance, and so convinced was he of the soundness of that doctrine that he sealed his belief with death on the cross. When human law conflicts with Divine law, my duty is clear. Conscience, my infallible guide, impels me to tell you that prison, death, or both, are infinitely preferable to joining any branch of the Army.

A brave missive in those days. Congress, suddenly fervid for war, wasted little time getting a new law on the books. It outlawed activities “detrimental to the war effort” — public anti-war statements, anti-war literature, utterances that might encourage draft resistance — all these punishable by up to 20 years behind bars.

Under the law, the authorities arrested hundreds, harassed thousands. And when challenged, finally, the law was upheld by the Supreme Court. Necessary for “national security,” they decreed.

Salmon had voted for Wilson. Like most, he had expected the president to lead the country to peace. And when the brilliant and upright candidate came to power and unleashed war, Salmon’s disappointment burned deep. Wilson outdid even his hawkish predecessors in warmaking. (A pattern, need it be added, quite obvious today.)

Undeterred by the chill on the air, Ben rose to leadership in Denver’s “People’s Council for Democracy and Peace,” a national anti-war organization. In defiance of the law, he wrote letters, gave speeches, and distributed pamphlets. Soon, he caught the attention of The New York Times, which hotly denounced him. He had become notorious.

Meantime, the gears of war turned feverishly, with a kind of census going full tilt to unearth prospective recruits. On Christmas day, Ben’s Army registration questionnaire arrived. Ben returned it, unfilled-out, accompanied by a letter explaining why. “Let those that believe in wholesale violation of the commandment, ‘Thou Shalt not Kill’ make a profession of faith by joining the army of war. I am in the army of peace, and in this army, I intend to live and die.”

Jan. 15, 1918, Denver policemen arrived at his door. The papers hurled slander his way, all sulfur and fire. The Knights of Columbus, the prominent Catholic lay association, in a fit of indignation revoked his membership. In March he was tried and convicted. And then the sentence came down — nine months in the county jail.

Gilroy writes that he was refused a priest and the eucharist. For 135 days prison guards poured liquids down his throat to keep him alive.

No support from the hierarchy.Cardinal James Gibbons encouraged RCs to join the war effort. .Cardinal Farley of New York: “Criticism of the government irritates me, it is short of treason.”

Hello Pontius Pilate!

Salmon was sentenced to death. This was commuted to 25 years. The government begged him to take an office job. For Salmon even non-combatant service, he said, entails cooperating with an institution “antithetical to Christianity.”

The war ended but not for Ben — solitary confinement — when he refused all orders. Five months he suffered in a dark, rat-infested cell. No toilet but a pail, bread and water his only food.

Matters grew worse yet when in June, 1919, the authorities transferred him to a military prison in Utah, where sadistic guards took a dim view of conscientious objectors. The guards inflicted beatings, withheld food, and kept prisoners underdressed against the cold.

“Christ’s doctrine to overcome evil with good” is the “most effective solution for individual and society ills that has ever been formulated. It is a practical policy…My life, my family, everything is now in the hands of God. His will be done.”

Two weeks later, death loomed, and he asked to see a priest. The priest arrived, but refused to offer him Communion, hear his confession or anoint him. Two other priests arrived some days later. And, after sizing things up, one of them agreed to the request for Communion. The sacrament was done. When word made its way back to the diocese, a fury descended. The priest was sent packing. Off to minor and punitive assignments in Oregon for pitying a traitor. Another instance of church colluding with warmongering state.

Today From the ACLU archives we have the fruits of Ben’s efforts, a 200-page, single-spaced essay on the fallacy of the just war. Much of it a refutation of the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on war by Father Macksey, a Jesuit from the Gregorian University in Rome. Point by point Ben refutes the lofty scholar.

“Either Christ is a liar or war is never necessary, and very properly assuming that Christ told the truth, it follows that the State is without [in the words of Father Macksey] ‘judicial authority to determine when war is necessary,’ because it is never necessary.”

Much of Salmon’s thinking depended on the Apostle Paul. “Overcome evil with good,” admonished Paul. (Rom 12:21).

We do not attempt to overcome lying with lies; we overcome it with truth. We do not try to overcome curses with curses, but we overcome with silence or with words of friendship. Sickness is not overcome with sickness; it is overcome with health… Anger is overcome with meekness, pride by humility. And the successful way to overcome the evil of war is by the good of peace, a steadfast refuse to render evil for evil.

A sad matter when faithfulness, nonviolence, sanity, as it was in Jesus’ own day, is regarded as — insanity. Finally the well-respected Msgr. John Ryan of Catholic University got wind of the news and personally lobbied the Secretary of War.


The War Department, in a feeble way, finally relented — they would release 33 conscientious objectors. Ben would be among them. Thanksgiving 1920, he was released and, from the army he never joined, dishonorably discharged. The news made front pages across the nation.

Persona non grata thereafter, he struggled to find good work. And when the Depression set in, he and his family landed in deep poverty. His health never recovered — the forced feedings had taken their toll — and in 1932 he caught pneumonia and died.
The astonishing life and times of Ben Salmon, all but unheard of in our day and age.

John Dear’s summary of Salmon’s life:

I regard him as a saint for the ages. He took on the nation, he took on Christendom. He took them on in reverence toward the Christ of peace. He shows us what allegiance to the nonviolent Jesus looks like.

A handful of great peacemakers have been given us: Franz Jagerstatter and Dorothy Day, Philip Berrigan and Howard Zinn. Yet most bishops and priests, and following their lead, most of the laity, still cheer on state-sanctioned mass murder, especially when committed in Jesus’ name. They go along, they rock few boats.

More, among our military, a third are Catholic. Vastly more theologians than not, like Father Macksey, pursue justifications for war. I get the feeling that the bishops wish they could start a new “National Catholic War Council;” they certainly haven’t formed a “Peace Council.” And today, as in Ben’s own day, an eloquent president, elected on promises of peace, has taken warmaking to new heights. The times, Ben’s and ours, run parallel. And that being the case, one of the brightest beacons we have is Ben.

His example urges us to refuse to cooperate with the warmaking state. Is the stand costly, are the stakes high? No matter.

“Peacemaking is hard, hard almost as war,” to quote the poet,Dan Berrigan

The vocation falls to us, Christians everywhere, to follow the nonviolent Jesus.

The set decorator priests

December 28, 2016

I once kidded a highly placed bishop for picking up his own phone. He laughed and proceeded to needle me about a column I had written about how out of touch the JP2 bishops were.They appeared, and still do, like ghost figures whose life styles hardly embraced the human condition.In particular in the column the bishop alluded to, i jokingly said that you’ll know when the Parousia (end times) is arriving: you are at a jazz club and you look across the room and you see a bishop! Never happens in my experience. Early to bed early to rise and you never meet the regular guys.

40 years ago i wrote another article(in the flush of the great Vatican ll glow, that until you can tell a bishop to eff off, he wasn’t worth bothering about.
The Catholci people have had their fill of the “set decorator priests” as Eugene Kennedy once called them, all part of the princely past of hierarchical Catholicism. Kennedy quipped,”If they build the people will come.” Well they did build it and the people left because these wax dummies were so divorced from everyday life.Kennedy further stated, ”they share a bristling confidence that they are the defenders of the faith out to rid the Church of Vatican ll heresies… a new generation of true believers whose zeal for their father’s house earns them places of honour in the new restoration.” Those days are long gone when people slobber over an episcopal ring, refer to “You excellency” and worst of all, ignore your heartfelt letters because you disagree with them.

I used to meet a beautiful priest regularly in his day off. He was the real deal, had gone to Latin America, seen another reality, actually read critical books on the church.He had had it with the local bishop, a real piece of the Canadian shield and told me he was leaving. I never tried to convince him otherwise but really hoped he would stay, because he was authentic. 6 months later I ran into him—and he was back!
What happened?
He lived in his brother’s basement apartment, saw the struggle his bro had with his young family, contrasted it with his own privileged life and he came back to earth—still on the job.

Which brings me to the new archbishop of Newark, Joe Tobin .Next time.


Pope Francis disses reactionary bishops

December 26, 2016

On December 22 Pope Francis denounced the resistance he’s encountering in reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, saying some of it is inspired by the devil and that the prelates who work for him must undergo “permanent purification” to serve the Catholic Church better.


Wow, strong albeit metaphorical language.

But dead on.

We have a few high ranking prelates in Canada who really do need “permanent purification.” They are the JP ll -Ratzinger brigade who unsuccessfully tried to stem reform in the church.

One of my favourites is the auxiliary bishop in Ottawa who declared openly that he was not “a Francis bishop” but a JP bishop. Whoopee.
Sadly these men, imposed on the people of God from above, were noted for being Yes men, reactionaries to the Vatican ll agenda. They were simply unwilling to perceive the signs of the times, the insight that baptism trumped holy orders.Lay people by dint of baptism needed to be seriously consulted.

this has never happened. this is why female ordination has not taken place. A scandal which has alienated many Catholics.

The clerics will not listen—even to their own teaching:

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) 1998 states this:
Those who exercise episcope in the Body of Christ must not be separated from the ‘symphony’ of the whole people of God in which they have their part to play. They need to be alert to the sensus fidelium, in which they share, if they are to be made aware when something is needed for the well-being and mission of the community, or when some element of the Tradition needs to be received in a fresh way. (#30)

something is needed for sure. as of now the bishops got the words but they ain’t got the music

Francis is playing a new tune but these men appear to be tone deaf. they reuse to dance.

Chas McCarthy to Pope Francis

December 12, 2016



This is the mere opening of that incredible apostle of the  nonviolent Jesus, Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Dear Pope Francis,

Christ is in our midst. He is now and ever shall be.

I am aware that several hundred Catholics and Americans of goodwill have appealed to you by letter, petitioning you regarding your upcoming visit to the United States in September. They appeal to you to denounce the U.S. government—not the American people—for the nation’s military aggression, its ongoing nuclear armament, its use of torture, and its genocide of the Arab people of the Middle East. These conscientious Americans are, surely, representative of tens of millions of other people of goodwill who are sickened by the agony that the U.S. economic, political, and military elites have intentionally brought down upon the Arab people.

Many American Catholics have waited every Sunday—for more than a decade now—waited for their bishop or priest to say something to counter the prevailing U.S. culture of unapologetic militarism, war mythology, war profiteering, vicious Machiavellian morality, with its stealing from the poor in order to fund killing the poor, all the while watching their local dioceses and churches morph into breeding grounds of nationalistic sentimentality, patriotic fervor, and glorification of the military. It is not difficult to understand why many American Catholics and others are looking to you, Pope Francis, to finally, finally, say something about this nightmarish, cold-blooded, pre-emptive war, and its crushing, merciless consequences for the people of the Middle East.



Be not afraid—join a movement

October 19, 2016

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt.14:27

The contemporary Catholic church says,”Be not involved.” Do not sully yourself by diving into history. There may be a cross for you. You may lose friends. Instead be part of the clean up crew, the charity givers, the cheque writers, the historically disengaged. Stay out of coalitions which fight injustice—like Kairos. Go to church and use prayer as a substitute for action.

There is seldom a response to Come follow me. After all it might lead to a cross. Very uncool.
Jim Wallis the great American evangelist many years ago gave the clue to Catholic churches.
Ask yourself if this parish meeting is linked to an outside movement. if not you are wasting your time. More navel gazing, more evading a historical commitment.Take the exit ramp on the way to Jerusalem.
Show me a Catholic parish which openly joins the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Suzuki Foundation, all organizations addressing the greatest moral issue of our time climate justice. There are none. Too risky. Besides we would not be in control.Instead we have some cheap grace, prayers from the pulpit which evade our historical responsibility.


Was the Catholic Church there?


How do we stay compassionate in the face of constant global tragedy?” Presbyterian writer Chris Hedges replied that he tries to maintain a constant relationship with the oppressed; this, he believes, keeps him accountable, despite his own privilege as a white male American.
Hedges said we are watching the rise of fascism through neoliberalism in America. Trump is “imbecilic, idiotic, self-destructive, morally repugnant,” he said, and it says something about our country that Hillary Clinton “is only four points ahead” in the polls. Clinton, he said, “is basically Mitt Romney in drag.”
So how does the average American combat neoliberalism, if our current political process is such a shambles? For Hedges, it comes down to large-scale movements—such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the Dakota Access pipeline protestsand social justice movements that originated in Ferguson, Mo. “We can’t underestimate the power of living in truth,” Hedges said, “even though it’s outside of the formal mechanisms of power.”
Add to Hedges’ list Kairos Palestine. Catholic churches have turned a deaf ear to the 2009 request from all the Christian churches to fight Israeli occupation.
These movements have the power to influence the political elite, he continued. “The only things they have to offer you in this election is fear,” Hedges concluded. “The moment you stop being afraid, they become afraid.”


Join a movement. There is both strength and solidarity in numbers. Every parish has great people waiting to be set on fire. Don’t wait for father’s permission to act. A wet match can’t start a fire. History is changed by movements. The Lone Ranger died years ago and in the words of Ben Franklin,”We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Prayer of gratitude: teachers!

September 12, 2016




In several Anglican parishes there is the blessing of the back packs for the young ones going back to school .I do not know if RC parishes do this.

A nice liturgical overture. It got me thinking.
At mass on Sunday my prayer was for the gratitude of teachers who more and more find themselves in loco parentis. The highest pratyer is always one of gratitude.
Teachers today are faced with heavier burdens than other generations and in particular God bless those marvellous elementary teachers who step up when divorce rates have skied. More and more kids are acting out in classes because they demand the attention they do not get at home.Into the breach,teachers adding what is not on the curriculum TLC.


A few years ago the teachers’ union in New Zealand reported that of those 80 percent, 64 percent spent up to $200 a year, 22 percent spent up to $500 and 14 percent spent $500 or more per year. Similar results in Ontario.


There is an apartment building a block north of our Catholic community and here I pointed it out . There was no plaque honouring Mary Sheehan my grade six teacher, a woman way ahead of her time. No Walk of Fame for teachers but a lot of low level gratitude all over the world.
Not only did she pound out that Note Dame Fighting song on that old piano
Cheer cheer for old Notre Dame
Wake Up the echoes cheering her name

This was a time when Notre Dame gave Catholics a sense of pride when Toronto was Little Belfast. Miss Sheehan also taught us our Latin after school so we could become altar boys.

Mary Sheehan presenté. Never forgotten.

Man, St. Pete’s was rundown when my dad went here. No matter . Great teachers  like

Mary Sheehan thrive everywhere.


Paul Ryan the Man who Never Learned

September 9, 2016

Earlier this week, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson, both of Wisconsin, penned an op-ed stating—once again—their belief that charity and individual responsibility are the key to fighting poverty.

What is it with this guy and his Catholic cred?

Oh yeah, big C “pro-life Catholic but not when it comes to post-fetal life in the poor or his constant voting for bloated war budgets.
“This is how you fight poverty: person to person,” they write.

Ryan loves The Joseph project an admirable Milwaukee outreach which provides vans

Claire Markham described this:
To illustrate their point, they tell the story of The Joseph Project, a job assistance program run by the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee. Ryan and Johnson praise The Joseph Project for providing vans that drive Milwaukeeans to Sheboygan County, where they can earn $15 an hour working a factory job. In Milwaukee, by contrast, these workers would likely earn just $8 or $9 an hour.  The drive is an hour commute each way, but Ryan and Johnson assert: “That van represents the difference between poverty and opportunity.”

Yes, but no support for $15.00 per hour minimum wage.

and no understanding of the quality time lost taking thee workers out of town.

In Sunday school classrooms across the country, young Catholics are taught the simplest versions of the Catholic Church’s complicated theology: God’s love is represented by loving parents, Bible stories are boiled down to picture books, and stewardship of creation is taught by tending to one’s own little plant.  And one Sunday school classic, “The Two Feet of Love in Action,” makes it clear that larger systemic solutions are integral to fighting poverty.
“There are two different, but complimentary, ways we can walk the path of love,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains. “We call these ‘The Two Feet of Love in Action.’” One foot is charity: direct service to help meet the immediate needs of individuals. The other foot is social justice: structural change to end the root causes of poverty.
The van is charity; the minimum wage hike is social justice.

In April 2012 Ryan was taken to the woodshed when as a VP canmdidate he dared use Catholic Social Teaching, in particularly subsidiarity, as the basis of his budget proposal. 50 Catholic theologians and leaders blasted his proposals out of the water.

“Simply put, this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can’t be justified in Christian terms,” argue the signatories.

Give Ryan credit, he is not short of chutzpah he then marched over to Georgetown, the Jesuit university to defend the indefensible. Here he was met by a petition of 90 faculty members and administrators basically telling him he was totally out to lunch. They asked Ryan to justify  cuts to social programs which benefit the poor and no cuts to the shocking bloated military budget
Former America editor  Jesuit Fr.Tom  Reese, one of the organizers of the letter bluntly stated . “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

You can bet Ryan never heard of America Magazine

But he sure loves Ayn Rand, the high priestess of capitalism.



Here are a few choice bon mots of Ryan on his literary heroine:

•    “I just want to speak to you a little bit about Ayn Rand and what she meant to me in my life and [in] the fight we’re engaged here in Congress. I grew up on Ayn Rand, that’s what I tell people.”

•    “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.”

•    “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged [laughter]. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”
•    “But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”•
“It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are.”
•    “Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.”

Lots of Ayn Rand little of Jesus and Catholic Social Teaching

Church: thermometer or thermostat?

August 31, 2016

Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.

ML King Jr “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” April 16,1963

One of the sad developments over the years has been the loss of power and agency in the institutional Catholic church.

While it is inevitable that large institutions run down and in uber-capitalist countries will be co-opted by the culture, there will always be counter-movements fighting against such lassitude. History is full of examples beginning with the early church in the Roman Empire, then the Beguines, Francis of Assisi, Wesley’s challenge to high church Anglicanism, the Catholic Worker. the examples are too numerous to mention. The Church at Vatican ll stated that it was “ecclesia semper reformanda”, a church always in need of renewal.
Today a Vatican ll pope has arrived, a man who understands that the church must be thrust into society as leaven.his theology is focused on Jesus’s call to God’s reign. Too many bishops are still locked into the church as the heart of the gospel. Sadly they resist Pope Francis.  The world today ruled by corporate power will always resist the gospel. Vatican ll reminded us that “we to must shoulder the cross which the world and the flesh inflict on those who search after peace and justice.” As King reminded us the church should not be a thermometer

In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
Birmingham Jail

All of the above and below reminded me of a remarkable student I had in the 80s. John Popiel went on to do significant development in the Dominican Republic and today coordinates the Jesuit Volunteers in Canada.

In the nuclearized 80s I sent out students 2X2 to knock on doors and join the resistance to Canada  testing the Cruise Missile. Johnny came in with  a harrowing tale of some guy running him off his porch , telling him to eff off , saying he was all for testing.

I just laughed and had John read the gospel for that day in home room class.The gospel was Luke 10:5 ff

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.'”If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Earlier the Jesus of Luke gave this advice If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

John was stunned. The gospel had leapt off the page as it always does when we turn it into action. It’s like putting on 3D glasses—you see a new reality.

Chris Hedges recently wrote (below) about an Anglican bishop who basically asked the church to become the leaven, stop mirroring the corrosive culture and take a stand for God’s reign of peace and justice.
Carrying out sustained acts of civil disobedience is the only option left to defy the corporate state, says retired Anglican bishop Packard, who over the years has been arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest and other demonstrations. It will be a long, difficult and costly struggle the decorated Vietnam vet says. But there are moral and religious laws—laws that call on us to protect our neighbor, fight for justice and maintain systems of life—that must supersede the laws of the state. Fealty to these higher laws means we will make powerful enemies. It means we will endure discomfort, character assassination, state surveillance and repression. It means we will go to jail. But it is in the midst of this defiance that we will find purpose and, Packard argues, faith.


This is the renewed presence of the church, people of spirit wandering around in the darkness trying to find each other,” Packard said to me before he was taken into custody by police during the Montrose protest. He stood holding one corner of a large banner reading, “We Say No to Spectra’s Algonquin Pipeline Expansion.” “When you find a cause that has spine, importance and potency you find the truth of the Scripture. You find it inside your gut. There is an ache in the culture.” Gesturing toward his fellow demonstrators, he added: “These are a few of the people who are speaking to it. This is what the church used to be. It used to be standing in conscience.”