July 15, 2019

Here is a quote from the neoconservative writer Michael Gerson, from a recent article in the Washington Post:

“The problem, however, is not merely a matter of management. The deeper scandal is this: Trump is trying to make desperate, suffering people the villains of our national story. He compares refugees fleeing repression and violence to snakes. He smears them as rapists and invaders . In his warped moral vision, mercy is a form of national weakness. Kindness and respect are crimes against the state. His approach to nationalism involves slander against the voiceless. It demands further oppression of the oppressed. Trump wants to change not just the policy of our government, but also the character of our country, into something hard, and dark, and dishonorable, and pitiless.

This is surely the kind of thing that people of faith exist to oppose. Christians in particular worship a God who put on the cloak of human need and weakness. A refugee God. A scarred God. A God sacrificed to political necessity, in front of a crowd claiming to serve justice and law.

What does “God is love” mean if it does not mean love for refugees? What does the “image of God” indicate if we refuse to see it in the wandering poor?”

read the entire article

 

A clear and heartfelt speech given on the steps of
Santa Barbara City Hall in July of 2019.

 

Click image above to view Facebook video recorded by Sarah Maiani

at Santa Barbara’s #LightsForLiberty event.

 


 A PENDLE HILL VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

We will explore developing a contemporary Jewish Theology of Liberation that takes into account our biblical tradition and yet cannot be limited by it.  Some  issues we will look at are the balance of particularism and universalism, inclusivity, balancing the Divine Nature of “I Shall Be What I Shall Be” with the Divine Nature of “This Is What Is”, or differently, “There shall be no poor among you” with “There will always be poor.” This will all be in the context of addressing the fierce urgency of now and will be informed by other traditions. There will be a significant experiential component.





Published by Pendle Hill. Pendle Hill is a Quaker study, retreat, and conference center welcoming all for Spirit-led learning and community, located in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Located on 24 tranquil acres in the heart of a Quaker community, Pendle Hill offers a relaxing “world apart,” yet is within easy reach by car, plane, bus, or train. Our vision, “to create peace with justice in the world by transforming lives,” is moved forward in worship, presentations, weekend workshops and retreats, short courses, and remarkable conversations.

 

 

alberta-tar-sands-photo-eric-walberg-com

Alberta Tar Sands — Photo from EricWalberg.com

 

Dennis Rivers, November 2016

 

This week I’ve been thinking about the struggles going on to protect water supplies on the Standing Rock Reservation, and about the Alberta tar sands projects only a few hundred miles to the north.  For native peoples around the world, the Earth Herself is sacred, and Her waters as well.  So poisoning the Earth, or building industrial projects that create an ongoing unknown risk of poisoning the land and water, are not just material or political issues.  They are spiritual and religious issues as well.  This is not a theoretical risk at all.  Large amounts of  Dine (Navajo) land and water have been permanently poisoned with radioactive waste from uranium mining, causing a giant spike in cancer rates.  And the Alberta Tar Sands photos speak for themselves.  So native peoples have little reason to trust the assurances that they, their land, and their water, are not in danger from the white man’s projects.

Reflecting on the corporations willing to endanger someone else’s water supply in order to get rich building oil pipelines, I think it is time that we gave a proper name to the psychological illness that has been haunting us for several centuries: PIDM: profit-induced-destructive-mania. I intend to rally my friends within the counseling profession to have PIDM added to the DSM-5 as a recognized mental illness.

There are many strands of PIDM at work in U.S. culture. The long term effects of tobacco and greasy hamburgers kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, yet most of us prefer to look away from the spectacle of corporations enriching themselves by selling slow death behind smiling advertisements. We accept this as fairly normal, without really working through the implication that some forms of mental illness may be fairly common. The late psychoanalyst Arno Gruen explored this at length in his book, The Insanity of Normality (which I helped to republish after it was withdrawn from publication by its bought-out publisher).

People suffering from PIDM, a syndrome I see as a spiraling disorientation of both thinking and feeling, experience a chronic narrowing of the attention until they no longer recognize the people, animals, plants, oceans, forests and waters essential to their own survival here on Planet Earth, and begin a autism-like repetitive pattern of screaming, “Drill, Baby, Drill!”. PIDM is the economic parallel to Lord Acton’s observation that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, namely, that profits tend to disorient, and enormous profits disorient enormously. The contemplation of giant wins appears to disable people’s normal survival instincts. The same processes of disoriented thought appear to be associated with nuclear power as well, where the hope of generating mind-boggling amounts of cheap electricity causes otherwise sensible people to abandon their critical faculties, leading to catastrophes such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Just as anorexics cannot bear to face that fact that they are killing themselves, PIDM sufferers cannot bear to face the fact that they are killing their own planet, and the life-support system for their own children and grandchildren. Because of this self-injury component, some elements of self-hatred and suicidal ideation cannot be ruled out.

PIDM is like a Zika virus of the heart (it causes people’s hearts to get smaller). We need new clinical intervention strategies to reconnect EVERYONE on the planet with their own life energies (approaches such as Joanna Macy’s “Work That Reconnects”) and slow the lethal spread of PIDM and poisoned aquifers.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/military-force-criticized-dakota-access-pipeline-protests/






A Theology of Liberation
History, Politics, and Salvation

By Gustavo Gutiérrez

This is the credo and seminal text of the movement which was later characterized as liberation theology. The book burst upon the scene in the early seventies, and was swiftly acknowledged as a pioneering and prophetic approach to theology which famously made an option for the poor, placing the exploited, the alienated, and the economically wretched at the centre of a programme where “the oppressed and maimed and blind and lame” were prioritized at the expense of those who either maintained the status quo or who abused the structures of power for their own ends. This powerful, compassionate and radical book attracted criticism for daring to mix politics and religion in so explicit a manner, but was also welcomed by those who had the capacity to see that its agenda was nothing more nor less than to give “good news to the poor”, and redeem God’s people from bondage. [Description from Fishpond Books Australia].
Continue reading

 

By Dennis Rivers — January, 2013

An introduction to Conscience Behind Bars / the Prison Letters of Norman Lowry


Is it possible to quietly and unobtrusively live an honorable life in the middle of a dishonorable society?

Whatever your answer to this question, I appeal to you not to answer it too quickly. I am convinced that if you live with the question for a while, you will come to see how impossible it is to turn away from the injustices of one’s time, and not, by gradual degrees, become an accomplice to them. I doubt that anyone on earth actually wants this realization, but when it arrives, you can’t send it back.

Norman Lowry’s time in prison and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s time in the Birmingham jail are separated by half a century.  Many things have changed in that half-century, but one thing is certainly the same: the struggle of a person to do the right thing when confronted with massacres and blatant violations of human rights and human dignity.

Continue reading


Luis T. Gutierrez

Working Paper, 7 February 2015

Summary

A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. In the sacramental churches, the main obstacle to the ordination of women is the idea that the masculinity of Jesus requires the priest to resemble him as a male. But this is a fallacy which is rooted in the patriarchal norm of the father as head of the family and not on divine revelation.

“This is my body.” What matters for the sacramental economy, and for the priest to be a visible sign of the acting presence of Christ, is not that Jesus is male but that in him the eternal Word assumed human nature in a human body, and “became flesh.” The proper matter for the sacrament is “flesh,” not “maleness.” Therefore, the necessary and sufficient condition for outward resemblance is the human body, whether male or female. The advent of women priests and bishops is also required to make the church hierarchy a complete image of Jesus Christ as a divine Person who became incarnate and abides in the Trinity. All the sacraments are nuptial. None of the sacraments was instituted by Christ to be gender-exclusive.

The choice of the 12 male apostles by Jesus is a particularity of his earthly mission to the people of Israel and should not remain normative as the church becomes incarnate in post-patriarchal cultures. Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate would be in perfect continuity with apostolic tradition.

read more…







From: Phillip Berryman, Liberation Theology, 1987, Pantheon Books, New York.

 

According to Amnesty International, 83 people were killed between March 10 and 14, 1980 in El Salvador. In San Salvador on March 23, the Sunday morning after soldiers had killed a student at a Catholic university, Archbishop Oscar Romero pleaded:

My brothers, they are part of our very own people. You are killing your own fellow peasants. God’s law, “Thou shalt not kill!” takes precedence over a human being’s order to kill. No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is against God’s law. No one has to obey an immoral law.

Romero had consulted a team of priests, sisters, and lay people for his sermon – they had agreed that the amount of violence justified a direct challenge to the military. Romero was shot while saying mass the next day. His funeral was the target of a bomb and automatic weapons. The church would later document 588 murders that month, almost entirely the work of official government and unofficial right-wing agents.

Those moments – that sermon, Romero’s murder, his funeral – are among the most important in my life. They also express the core of liberation theology…

Continue reading

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Scott Simon — Feb. 7, 2015

NPR News Story and Audio —  Listen to Story



Pope Francis and the Vatican have recognized Oscar Romero as a martyr. This may move the name of the late archbishop of San Salvador a little further in the process that could one day make him a saint.

But being deemed a martyr is also holy. It means the church believes his life can inspire people; Pope Francis has said Romero inspires him.

Romero was considered a kindly, orthodox conservative parish priest when Pope Paul appointed him archbishop in 1977. He did not question El Salvador’s ruling regime.

But that regime began to round up priests and nuns who said the teachings of Jesus led them to oppose El Salvador’s military rulers. Several priests were killed. And Romero was truly galvanized. Responsibility opened his ear, and made his resolve as hard as steel.

read more / listen to story…


 

Global Health and Liberation Theology

A dialogue between Dr. Paul Farmer and Theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez


When Dr. Paul Farmer came to campus in April to accept the Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity on behalf of the global health organization he cofounded 25 years ago, he was profoundly moved by the opportunity to talk to a member of the Notre Dame community who has deeply inspired his mission to bring high-quality health care to the very poor. 

Rev. Gustavo Gutiérrez, OP, the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Theology and a Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow, is known around the world as the founder of liberation theology. 

“Fr. Gustavo is one of my heroes and has inspired much of my own work in global health with a preferential option for the poor,” says Farmer, who is renowned for his efforts with Partners In Health (PIH).  He suggested that he return to campus to hold a public dialogue with Gutiérrez—and carved time out of his busy schedule to do so.

Their dialogue, “Re-imagining Accompaniment: Global Health and Liberation Theology,” took place on Monday, October 24 as part of the “Discussions on Development” series.

The dialogue was streamed live to a Harvard University auditorium, where Farmer’s students and colleagues and PIH supporters gathered. A publication will likely result from the public dialogue.

A medical anthropologist and physician, Farmer is Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University, chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a founding director of PIH. His work focuses on community-based treatment strategies for infectious diseases in resource-poor settings, health and human rights, and the role of social inequalities in determining disease distribution and outcomes.

The Kellogg Institute’s Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity hosts the Discussions on Development series to encourage thoughtful public discussion by the University community on issues related to human development.

This 2011 event was cosponsored by the Center for Health Sciences Advising, Center for Social Concerns, Department of Theology, and Eck Institute for Global Health.