Approximate Translation

Site Guide

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Every now and then I find something that cries out to be passed along.  Or someone writes to me with a question about liberation theology, or just plain theology for that matter, and I struggle to come up with a response that brings light to the topic.  This blog is a record of the most intense of those discoveries and exchanges.  You are welcome to submit questions and comments using the contact form on this site.  Time may not allow me to write in response to each question (I am a volunteer) but I will do my best to pick illuminating questions and write thoughtful answers.  I also include here occasional posts from friends that bring light to some corner of our predicament.

Dennis Rivers,  Editor

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

From the Editor, Dennis Rivers:

It feels time for a great awakening of reverence for life. One thing that amazes and terrifies me about the Sixth Mass Extinction now underway is the suicidal element in runaway industrialism: as we kill the living land and sea with our pesticides, herbicides and industrial wastes, we and everyone we love will also die. It seems to me that the blindness of greed can turn into a kind of suicidal mania. 

In the face of this madness, I find myself practicing what feels like a new meditation mantra for our time: 

“May every heart 
be filled with infinite kindness, 
including your heart and mine, 
and reaching out in widening circles.”

In this and similar practices may we find the strength the change our ways and nurture (rather than destroy) the web of life.

Here is a CNN documentary on the topic:




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Partners in Health founder and Harvard’s Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine Paul Farmer discusses how he was influenced by liberation theology. Farmer spoke with Davíd Carrasco, the Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, and HDS student Lauren Taylor on February 11, 2014. The event was sponsored by Harvard Divinity School’s Science, Religion, and Culture Program.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


What Do We Mean When We Say “God”? — A sermon by Rev. Dr. Roger Ray


Dr Ray is the author of Progressive Faith and Practice: Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By   

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel has said that there is a new commandment: “Thou shalt not stand idly by” This book articulates a progressive faith that represents a true marriage of the academic work of the modern biblical critical movement and the historical Jesus work of the Jesus Seminar applied within the life of an active parish. Setting aside the magic and superstition found in much of traditional religious life and affirming an evidence-based approach to faith, author Roger Ray strives to apply Wiesel’s injunction to actively respond to the injustice, violence, and discrimination in the world. In concrete terms, Ray describes what progressives can embrace intellectually and morally, and how those convictions can be lived out in a faith community.

Biography:  Roger Ray earned his masters and doctoral degrees at Vanderbilt Divinity School and was a 2004 Merrill Fellow at Harvard Divinity School. A native of Kentucky, Roger has lived in Springfield, Missouri since 1991. His sermons are available on YouTube and iTunes and are now among the most popularly downloaded progressive faith messages on the internet. He is the founding pastor of Community Christian Church and he is an adjunct religion and philosophy professor for Drury University.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


A one-page mini-manifesto by Dennis Rivers
and uncounted zillions of ecological kindred spirits  – 2018 revision

Painting from www.MeganneForbes.com.
Used with permission.

Most people accept that life, to at least some degree, depends on love, because we recognize that babies need food, shelter and affection, which they cannot arrange for themselves in the absence of loving parents and kin. But the idea that we have a need to care for the entire web of life and people, well known to many native peoples, is only beginning to be explored in Western countries.

The emergence of industrial society and its long-lived toxic by-products, from pesticides to leaking nuclear waste tanks, has fundamentally changed our relationship to the natural world, the ground on which we stand. For eons, wrecking the planet has been beyond human reach. But our impact on the Web of Life is now so large that I am drawn to the conclusion that complex life will only continue on Planet Earth if we care for all people as our beloved kin, and all creatures as if they were our beloved children.
Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


By John Aaron, Sculptor and Director of Chalk4Peace

Early this summer [2016], I was commissioned to create this tribute to the Emanuel Nine of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. It is a memorial to the people who lost their lives when a self professed white supremacist gunned them down during their Bible Study at the Church on the evening of June 17,  2015. This sculpture took more than 500 hours.

A memorial sculpture for those who died at Emanuel AME Church, Charleston


Emanuel AME Church is a glazed porcelain relief sculpture 5’4” x 3’8” x 6” whose details include the embossed names of the Fallen, The Emanuel Nine. Renditions of the floral tributes and messages and pictorial accuracy of this historic building. This one-of-a-kind portrait of the most significant church in the heart of the civil rights movement in America, it is ready to join the Charleston community, where it belongs. A custom crate was created to protect it as it crosses the country. It has been meticulously packed.

I believe this piece belongs at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to serve as a touchstone for hope and healing- a monument to peace and love and the greater good. Those so affected by the losses, family and friends are who this memorial was truly created for.  It is one of the ways to insure they will never be forgotten. Getting this art to the Church is my priority. But now the project needs help. A ceremony- the lighting of nine candles and the reading of each name of the Fallen as each candle is lit manifested itself as a result of the first installation of the sculpture. It is my hope that this gesture becomes a tradition to assist in keeping the memory of these fine people alive.

The Emanuel Nine

Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

James Hal Cone in dialogue with Bill Moyers

(View on YouTube.com.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Ecological Ethics and Systemic Thought of Pope Francis

(from https://www.fritjofcapra.net/laudato-si-the-ecological-ethics-and-systemic-thought-of-pope-francis/)

Pope Francis

The title of the Pope’s new encyclical, Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You”), dated May 24, 2015, and published in eight languages on June 18, is an Umbrian phrase from the famous religious song “Canticle of the Sun” by Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. The encyclical’s subtitle, “On Care for our Common Home,” refers to the Earth as oikos (“home”), the Greek root of the word “ecology,” while caring is a practice characteristic of the liberation theology of Latin America.

The text of the Papal encyclical, one year in the making and written with the help of a large team of theologians, philosophers, and scientists, reveals not only the great moral authority of Pope Francis, but also his complete familiarity with many concepts and ideas in contemporary science.

During the last thirty years, a new conception of life has emerged at the forefront of science — a unifying view that integrates life’s biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions. At the very core of this new understanding of life we find a profound change of metaphors: from seeing the world as a machine to understanding it as a network. This new science of life is now being developed by outstanding researchers and their teams around the world. Their concepts and ideas are integrated into a grand synthesis in The Systems View of Life, a textbook I coauthored with Pier Luigi Luisi and which was published in 2014 by Cambridge University Press.

Fritjof Capra
Scientist and Author

We call the new conception of life a “systems view” because it involves a new kind of thinking — thinking in terms of connectedness, relationships, patterns, and context. In science, this way of thinking is known as “systems thinking,” or “systemic thinking,” because it is crucial to understanding living systems of any kind — living organisms, social systems, or ecosystems.

The systems view of life will be the conceptual basis of my analysis of the Pope’s encyclical in this essay. I will show that the radical ethics championed by Pope Francis, expressed sometimes, but not always, in theological language, is essentially the ethics of deep ecology, the philosophical school founded by Arne Naess in the 1970s. I will also show with many examples that Pope Francis reveals himself in Laudato Si’ as a truly systemic thinker.

read more…


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
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 PDIM added to the DSM-5 as a recognized mental illness.
There are many strands of PDIM 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 PDIM, a syndrome I see as a spiralling 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!”. PDIM 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 PIDM and poisoned aquifers.
For more about the Standing Rock protests, please visit:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Edvard Munch — The Scream

By Dennis Rivers — June 24, 2016

I find myself praying for Divine intercession a lot these days.  Even though I am not much of a believer in direct divine intervention any more.   As I read story after story about toddlers killing their mothers with loaded guns left carelessly available, I am reminded once again that God will not save us from the tragic consequences of our own carelessness.  And I have similar thoughts about the new military tensions rising between the United States and Russia.  Did the USA really have to park missiles right on the edge of Russia?  Would we accept Russia putting missiles on the Canadian border, pointing toward us? What a headache and a heartache of carelessness. Which leads me to some thoughts about the direction in which the United States appears to be drifting. 

I am convinced that since the start of World War 2, the United States has become profoundly addicted to war.

>> addicted economically (war industries, weapons research and arms sales are woven through the US economy — an unacknowledged sort of military socialism —  for example the $1.5 TRILLION program to build the F-35 high-tech fighter plane, and the more that $6  to $7 trillion spent so far on nuclear weapons and the systems, such as nuclear submarines, to carry and deliver them).

>> addicted culturally (having an enemy is a seductively easy way to know who we are and what we need to do, and the more flamboyant the enemy, the easier it is to blot out of our awareness the knowledge that we have not lived up to our own professed values of liberty and justice for all),

>> and addicted psychologically — aided and abetted by war movies and violent video games (focusing on our outrageously evil enemies allows us to avoid facing our own many mistakes and shortcomings, and to adopt the “It’s all their fault, they started it” attitude.)  This propensity to blame others, avoid responsibility for one’s own actions, and seek empowerment through violent fantasies and bullying, can become so pronounced that they function together like a mental illness, blinding a people to the ways in which they may be hurting others and radically diminishing their own lives. 

How we will extricate ourselves from such a deep addiction is one of the great creative challenges of our time, along with fighting global warming and moving toward global social justice.
Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

January 5, 2016

Leonardo Boff  (from the Tikkun.org web site)

There is an indisputable and sad fact: capitalism as a mode of production and its political ideology, neoliberalism, are so thoroughly established globally that it seems to make any real alternative impossible. It has in fact occupied every space and aligned almost every country to its global interests. Since society has been commercialized and turned everything, even the most sacred things, such as human organs, water and the capacity of flowers to be pollinated, into an opportunity to gain wealth, most countries feel obliged to participate in the globally integrated macro-economy and much less inclined to serve the common good of their people.

Democratic socialism in its advanced version of eco-socialism is an important theoretical option, but has a small worldwide social base of implementation. The thesis of Rosa Luxemburg in her book, Reform or Revolution (Reforma o Revolución), that «the theory of the collapse of capitalism is at the heart of scientific socialism» has not become reality. And socialism has collapsed.

The fury of capitalist accumulation has reached the highest levels of its history. Practically 1% of the wealthy population of the world controls nearly the 90% of its wealth. According to the reputable NGO Oxfam Intermon, in 2014, 85 members of the super-rich had the same amount of money as 3.5 billion of the poorest in the world. This level of irrationality and inhumanity speaks for itself. We are living explicitly barbaric times.

Read more on the Tikkun web site

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Spiritual-Activism-front-cover-300pxw Over the past half century the issues facing activists have changed, as has our understanding and awareness of spirituality. For activists, spiritual philosophy is rising up the agenda because it offers distinct, tried and tested approaches to deep questions: Where did it all go wrong? What does it mean to be human? What is the place of leadership? What is the nature of power?

The book begins by defining spirituality for a modern audience of all faiths and beliefs, and goes on to consider the problems and necessities of true leadership. Drawing on a rich history of spirituality and activism, from The Bhagavad Gita, to the Hebrew prophets, to Carl Jung, it is both guide and inspiration for people involved in activism for social or environmental justice.

Click here to read sample chapter.


Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams

Published on Friday, July 10, 2015 by Common Dreams.   Reprinted here under a Creative Commons license.

In a far-reaching speech in Bolivia on Thursday, Pope Francis offered his apologies to, and begged forgiveness from, the native people of the Americas as he acknowledged the brutal treatment they received throughout the so-called “conquest of America.”


In a speech that also touched on the need to rapidly move away from the destructive model of unbridled capitalism—which he described as the “dung of the devil”—Francis went much further than any of his predecessors in accounting for the crimes of the Church while it pursued and perpetuated colonialism and oppression across Latin America and beyond over the last five centuries.

“This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable. The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say – also finds it intolerable.”
— Pope Francis

“I wish to be quite clear,” said Francis. “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.” He added, “There was sin and an abundant amount of it.”

In response, it was reported, the large crowd offered rousing applause.

Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Download the PDF of the Encyclical:  English :: Español :: Française :: Deutsche ::  italiano :: Português :: Arabic :: Polski

10 key excerpts from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment (Washington Post 6/18/2015)

History is Made as Pope Francis’ Encyclical is Presented in the Vatican (America 6/18/2015)

From New York Review of Books

The Pope and the Planet (Review of Encyclical by Bill McKibben)

From National Catholic Reporter

Eco-Catholic: ‘We see this as an essential part of the solution, if we look for the common good.”

Peace: an unexpected reaction to ‘Laudato Si’

Peaceful. That is the only word that fully describes how I feel after reading “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” the encyclical on the environment release by Pope Francis this morning.For the past six years, I have worked within the Catholic church to address the pressing issue of human-forced climate change. During that time, I have experienced some hopeful glimpses of how the church might animate effective responses to this challenge.

Laudato Si’ arrives

Distinctly Catholic: On one of the most important issues of the day, our Holy Father has blessed the Church with a document that is accessible to virtually anyone.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What Gandhi Taught Me about Jesus
A Pastor’s Memoir  —  A.C. Oommen  —  June 17, 2015

This article first appeared in Plough Quarterly No. 5, Summer 2015.
Reproduced with permission and deep gratitude.

Xu Beihong, Portrait of Mahatma Gandhi

I first saw Mahatma Gandhi when I was twelve, when he came to our state of Kerala in south India to help remove the age-old injustice of caste discrimination. He addressed a huge gathering on a river bed near my school, and I found a seat on the sand near where he was sitting cross-legged on a raised platform. He spoke about vegetarianism, not about national issues, but it impressed me immensely – he spoke in Hindi rather than English, and I saw him as a symbol of the resurgent India.

At that time, Gandhi was already famous in Kerala because of his 1924 action in the nearby town of Vaikom to open the Shiva temple to Hindus of all castes. For centuries, outcastes had been forbidden to enter the temple, and notices even prohibited them from using the town’s roads. Gandhi’s nonviolent campaign to abolish this humiliating segregation had been the first major test of his teaching of satyagraha (“soul force” or “truth force”).

On coming home from hearing Gandhi, I told my mother that I was now a vegetarian. (I would remain one for the next eighteen years, until moving to Uganda, when I gave it up in order to dine in fellowship with my African brethren.) From that day on, I began to follow Gandhi’s teachings. Despite my conflicting feelings toward British missionaries, whom I admired for their sacrificial work to uplift the so-called untouchables in Kerala, I began to participate in the Quit India movement pressing for India’s independence from Britain.

Although as a twelve-year-old I would not have been able to articulate what drew me to Gandhi, I now see four facets of his life and teaching as keys to understanding him.

First, truth and nonviolence were identical to him; they supported each other and gave coherence to his life. Nonviolence was not just a methodology or a “Gandhian tactic” as some have labeled it, but his religion itself. Truth is the ultimate reality, the climax of our search – the point where all our coverings and curtains are taken off. We do not know if he saw truth as an idea or as a person (“I am the Truth”), but he openly lived out the answer to the question “What is truth?”

Gandhi reminded me of Saint John in his old age, who constantly repeated, “Little children, love one another.” Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

From the June 2015 issue of Celebration, A Comprehensive Worship Resource

Does beatification signal where Pope Francis is leading the church?

By Pat Marrin

oscar-romero-celebration-june-2015The beatification of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero on May 23, 2015, acknowledges what has been celebrated throughout Latin America since his assassination at the altar on March 24, 1980, in El Salvador. Blessed Romero gave his life as a good shepherd for his flock in a time of persecution. He modeled what a bishop looks like in a church committed to justice for the poor. Romero’s death and the baptism of blood endured by the people of El Salvador during its 12-year civil war (1980-92) inevitably have larger implications for the universal church, and for us in North America.

Pope Francis’ determination to advance Romero’s cause for sainthood recognizes this witness. It also reveals the influence Romero is having on Francis’ own goal as pope — to move the global church closer to the kind of church that emerged in El Salvador under Romero, whose story is a roadmap to such a church.

Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Eco Catholic Section, National Catholic Reporter

Ten years after the murder of Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Dorothy Stang, her alma mater is honoring the beloved “angel of the Amazon” with a week of special events marking her ongoing legacy of service in the mission field.Stang, a 1964 graduate of Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif., spent nearly 40 years in Brazil as an advocate for indigenous people and the rainforest. She was killed Feb. 12, 2005, by two hired gunmen while walking along a dirt road in Anapu, in Brazil’s Para state.Angered by Stang’s involvement in helping the poor gain legal access to land, wealthy Brazilian loggers and ranchers engineered her assassination. Five men were eventually linked to the her death. A coordinator with the Brazilian bishops’ Pastoral Land Commission told Catholic News Service [1] recently that only one remains in prison, while three are only required to sleep there, and the fifth has yet to serve prison time.

The Notre Dame de Namur celebration of Stang’s life and work comes during its Founders’ Week (Feb. 8-12). On Tuesday a panel of speakers — family members, in addition to religious community colleagues and supporters — will share memories of their treasured sibling and friend. Other events include a Wednesday screening of the film “They Killed Sr. Dorothy,” followed the next day by a tour of the campus garden and a candlelight prayer vigil that evening.

The Thursday events, marking the 10-year anniversary of Stang’s death, will conclude that evening with a concert, wrapping up the commemorative week.

read more…


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Luis T. Gutierrez
Working Paper, 7 February 2015

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…


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Greg Grandin on February 4, 2015


This week, Pope Francis declared Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero a “martyr” for the Catholic faith, the last major step on the road to becoming a saint. Romero was assassinated on the order of a US-trained and -backed death-squader, Roberto D’Aubuisson, almost thirty-five years ago, on March 24, 1980.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, there is unease with Romero’s case for sainthood among high-ranking prelates, including Benedict XVI, “because of Romero’s embrace of liberation theology, a type of Christian theology that posits that Christ did not just seek liberation from sin but every type of oppression.” In fact, there was an actual Vatican banon Romero’s beatification, which the pope lifted with his declaration.

Liberation theology, which had its origins in Latin America, was a powerful force within the Catholic Church, aligning the church with the poor and condemning US-backed militarism. InEmpire’s Workshop I made the case that liberation theology posed an existential threat for the rising New Right, both its secular and religious versions. It was, in many ways, the first “political religion” that united post–Vietnam War conservatives, before they moved on to Islam. Liberation theology’s threat was primal, since it represented a reformed and progressive version of Christianity that emphasized inherent rights—only not the kind of inherent rights our libertarian Mullahs emphasize (i.e., property rights). Liberation theologians had a vision of individual dignity based on social solidarity and earthly economic justice.

read more…


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Winslow Myers — December 2014

On Christmas Eve 1914, German and British soldiers crept out of their trenches, played soccer together, exchanged gifts of food, and joined in singing carols. Alarmed, commanders on both sides warned of the crime of “fraternizing with the enemy” and the war ground on for an additional four years, not only killing millions but setting the stage for the next world war two decades later.

From the safe perspective of a new century, those soldiers who tried to reach out peacefully to one another seem sane and realistic, while hindsight shows their generals to have suffered from a kind of mental illness based in rigid over-adherence to abstractions like flag, country and total victory.

A hundred years later it seems we would prefer to sentimentalize the story of Christmas in the trenches rather than using it as a measure of our own mental health. We suffer equally from group schizophrenia, made infinitely more dangerous by the presence of nuclear weapons combined with antique delusions of victory.

Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Deborah Gyapong Catholic News Service | Nov. 10, 2014
Ottawa, Ontario

Liberation theology, which interprets the teachings of Christ in relation to liberation from unjust social, economic and political conditions, is rooted in the Bible and the life of Jesus, said the priest who developed the concept nearly 50 years ago.

Dominican Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez told an audience Nov. 7 at St. Paul University in Ottawa that “theology is a hermeneutic of hope. Theology touches on the motive, the story of our Lord in history.”

“Theology is a letter of love to God,” the Peruvian theologian known as the father of liberation theology added during a program in which he received an honorary doctorate.

“Theology is not a perfect response to that question, but an effort to respond,” he said, noting the immense suffering and mystery of poverty.

Since liberation theology arose in the 1960s, its reputation has suffered from time to time through associations with Marxism, utopian thinking and even armed struggle.

read more…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The ordinary, extraordinary life of David Hartsough

Book Review by Ken Butigan — November 12, 2014
(from https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/ordinary-extraordinary-life/)

waging-peace-book-cover-300pxw Years ago, my friend Anne Symens-Bucher would regularly punctuate our organizing meetings with a wistful cry, “I just want to live an ordinary life!” Anne ate, drank and slept activism over the decade she headed up the Nevada Desert Experience, a long-term campaign to end nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site. After a grueling conference call, a mountainous fundraising mailing, or days spent at the edge of the sprawling test site in 100-degree weather, she and I would take a deep breath and wonder aloud how we could live the ordinary, nonviolent life without running ourselves into the ground.

What we didn’t mean was: “How do we hold on to our radical ideals but also retreat into a middle-class cocoon?” No, it was something like: “How can we stay the course but not give up doing all the ordinary things that everyone else usually does in this one-and-only life?” Somewhere in this question was the desire to not let who we are — in our plain old, down-to-earth ordinariness — get swallowed up by the blurring glare of the 24/7 activist fast lane.

Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A book by John Fairfield — Available free of charge in PDF format:  CLICK HERE
Published by Smashwords  as PDF, epub and mobi  —  Suggested by Rev. John Stoner

This book is about how to live well with people who deny our core beliefs, or whose actions we consider immoral, or who have traumatized us. Such people may be our spouses or kin, or international enemies.

Our societies are polarized around various issues—in the United States, it’s things like deficit spending, abortion, sexuality, race, Christianity/Islam, red/blue, the list gets long. Our polarization is fed by media which play on our fears to gain our attention. Political leaders rouse their base instead of speaking effectively to people on the other side. Leaders are chosen by favoring those who can denigrate the other side most convincingly. We have a political dynamic that says I win only if my opponents lose. This book is about depolarizing, while getting what you need. Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This sermon was given on April 18, 2014, by longtime peace activist Kathy Kelly outside the guarded fence of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, about forty miles east of Oakland. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has designed nuclear weapons for the United States military since the 1950s.  For more information about Kathy Kelly’s life and religiously inspired peace witness, click here.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email


I have a long trip ahead of me this weekend. It begins with the Shore Line East commuter train in Old Saybrook, Conn. I will transfer to the Metro-North in New Haven. From Grand Central Station in New York, my roller bag and I will walk across town to the Bolt Bus stop at 12th Avenue and 33rd Street. I’ll hop a bus to Baltimore and spend the night with my mom. Then take the MARC train — the Baltimore to Washington, D.C. commuter train — to our nation’s capital, where I’ll join friends who have been fasting and demonstrating since Monday for the closure of Guantánamo and the end of torture and indefinite detention.

I will be late. I will not be fasting. I have a pretty good excuse on both fronts: I am almost eight months pregnant.

Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Twenty Children, Six Adults

twenty children, six adults
what WERE their names?
I must remember!
Oh, God, I don’t want to remember!

twenty children, six adults
what shall we make
of their sacrifice?
to what strange metallic gods of ours
have they been given?

twenty children, six adults
the President says
they are in heaven now
I find myself seized
with the urge to scream

twenty children, six adults
please no more pleasant words of reassurance
to mask our sorrow and our shame
that beat as loudly as the telltale heart
under Edgar Allan Poe’s floorboards

twenty children, six adults
God hears the pious platitudes
of everyone who could have made a difference
and overcome with grief and rage
falls off the front porch of eternity
and drowns
in an ocean of tears

Dennis Rivers —  December 2012

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Freedom Plaza participant explains protests.


The Spirit of Freedom Square in Cairo, Egypt,

Comes to Washington, DC, October 6, 2011

Dear Friends,

The wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq rage on. For ten years the people of Afghanistan have suffered US bombing, invasion and occupation of their country. Thousands of innocent people have died. Through our military actions there we are recruiting ever more people to Al-Qaeda and the war on terrorism could continue forever. The wars and US addiction to militarism are bankrupting the United States and our government is forced to make drastic cuts in social services including funds for schools, libraries, job training, and programs for the young and elderly. 

We have prayed, we have written letters to our Congresspeople, we have vigiled, demonstrated and gone to jail, but our government has not listened to the majority of American people who want to end these wars. If not now, When, If not us, Who?

NOW is the time to speak with our lives and bodies that this senseless killing and destruction must end. This is the time the American people must DEMAND that we bring the Billions of dollars squandered in these wars home to meet human needs at home.  Security is found not through wars, military bases all over the world and a new generation of nuclear weapons, but in  building a world in which every person can live with dignity with food, education, healthcare and a home to live in. How much safer we would be if we contributed billions for improving the lives of people all over the world rather than for weapons to kill?

Now is the time to bring the Spirit of Tahrir Square in Egypt to the United States and demand that our government listen to the people instead of the military industrial complex and the corporations.

We invite you to join thousands of us who will gather in Freedom Plaza in Washington DC October 6 to begin sustained nonviolent resistance to the wars and American militarism and demand that we bring the billions of dollars home to our communities across this country which so badly need these funds.

Please look at the website www.october2011.org and if the Spirit moves you, join us for a day, a week or as long as you can. Thousands of us will nonviolently demand:

  • End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending and bring the billions of $ home
  • Tax the Rich and corporations
  • Protect the Social Security net, strengthen Social Security and Medicare for all
  • End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests
  • Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation
  • Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages
  • Get Money out of politics

Hope to see many of you in Washington and please help spread the word!

David and Jan Hartsough
September, 2011

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Dennis Rivers


This Easter I have been depressed
about the fate of the Japanese
as they face their natural
and man-made disasters.
It is hard to imagine
how they will extricate themselves
from their tomb of radioactive sorrows
kin washed out to sea
birth defects that will continue for centuries.

A friend sent me a link to a video
about Christians in a Beirut restaurant
suddenly standing up and singing
a beautiful Easter hymn.
He is risen!
Continue reading