The Justpeace website was published to cyberspace in December 1997. In the middle of January, I added a page in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and then in February, in response to the Iraq crisis, a page on that. In March I added daily Lenten meditations, after that came the Holy Week Home Page, a remembrance of the Oklahoma City bombing, and then when I added the sixth new page, I christened it the "Justpeace Front Page." I actually started numbering them with issue 9, so the first 8 are kind of post numbered. With issue 26 in September 1998, I began writing a short column at the top of each edition, entitled "This week". 1998 had the greatest publishing frequency.
This page collects the miscellaneous running commentaries from all of the Justpeace Front Pages and puts them together with no graphics or decorations, as just one long story commencing in January 1998 and continuing to the present. Oldest is at the top, newest is at the bottom.
Robert Waldrop, Justpeace webservant, urban hobbit, Catholic Worker
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A Meditation on the 25th Anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life: Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life wih honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae
On this the 25th anniversary of the declaration by judicial fiat that some people in the United States are not people and these non-people are not protected by the laws and thus may legally be killed because they are not wanted, inconvenient, or burdensome, we remember with heartfelt sorrow the murders of 37 million children, deprived of life before birth, the pain this has caused to their mothers and fathers,the tragedies that brought them to that place, and the damage this evil has done to our communities and nation.
We pray for healing, justice, and reconciliation, and for the recognition of the human personhood and dignity of all people, from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.
"Why, Lord, do you you stand at a distance and pay no heed to these troubled times?
Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor; they trap them by their cunning schemes. The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the Lord. In their insolence, the wicked boast: God doesn't care, doesn't even exist." Yet their affairs always succeed; they ignore your judgment on high, they sneer at all who oppose them.
They say in their hearts, "We will never fall; never will we see misfortune." Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies; discord and evil are under their tongues. They wait in ambush near towns; their eyes watch for the helpless, to murder the innocent in secret.
They lurk in ambush like lions in a thicket, hide there to trap the poor, snare them and close the net.
The helpless are crushed, laid low; they fall into the power of the wicked. Who say in their hearts, "God pays no attention, shows no concern, never bothers to look."
Rise up, Lord God! Raise your arm! Do not forget the poor! Why should the wicked scorn God, say in their hearts, "God doesn't care"? But you do see; you do observe this misery and sorrow, you take the matter in hand, to you the helpless can entrust their cause, you are the defender of orphans. Break the arms of the wicked and depraved; make them account for their crimes.
The Lord is king forever; the nations have vanished from God's land. You listen, Lord, to the needs of the poor; you encourage them and hear their prayers. You win justice for the orphaned and oppressed; no one on earth will cause terror again. Psalm 10
We give thanks to Our Lady of Victories for the movement towards peace (or at least, the step backwards from imminent hostilities) in the Persian Gulf. On February 19th, we began a nine day Novena of Prayers to Our Lady of Sorrows, and published a special Angelus for devotional use during this grave international crisis. They are linked at the top of this page. The novena continues, as the crisis is far from being completely resolved, and the embargo continues, which is also problematic from the viewpoint of Catholic just war teaching.
Catholic Worker resources about the crisis in Iraq
Appeal of the Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq to the American People
US Cardinals Declare: Iraqi Escalation is not a Just War (and the embargo isn't much better).
Statement by Congressman Ron Paul upon introducing HR 3208, a resolution to stop President Clinton from initiating hostilities in the Persian Gulf.
Fools With Tools: American Power and Iraq Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Denver, critiques the conventional wisdom on American power in the world.
-- Secretary if State Madeleine Albright, speaking through "jeers" at Columbus, Ohio, called Iraq's arsenal the "greatest security threat we face." UN workers are evacuating from Iraq. Dutch and Canadian ships head through the Suez Canal, bound for Iraq and Belgium decides to send a frigate. . Jordan closed its air space to Israeli aircraft attacking Iraq. The British Defense Secretary George Robertson said the use of Iraqi citizens as "human shields" would not deter an attack. French government advises against military strike. New Zealand sends planes and troops. (LA Times) And the Security Council voted to increase the amount of oil Iraq could sell. President Clinton released a tape made for airing in the Islamic world, where he talks really tough and blames everything on Saddam.
Government talks about Operation Desert Thunder (thus deploying the essential propaganda trio of desensitization, depersonalization, dehumanization. It's not a "war", it's an "operation" with a hot power name. Hear Clinton and Newt Roar! All Bad People Beware! (Or at least, "Bad People" that we aren't currently on good terms with.) Intense diplomatic activity in Baghdad and elsewhere. Riots in Jordan and the West Bank. Military forces continue to converge on the Persian Gulf and Kuwait. Saudi Arabia keeps quiet. Prayers for "those who may die in war this week, especially the children, that they will be prepared for what is about to happen to them".
CBS 60 Minutes says that Iraq got its anthrax from the US under export licenses pushed by the Commerce and State departments under the Reagan and Bush administrations in the 1980s. They did an end run around congressional and Pentagon procedures for review of export licenses to prevent such potentially dangerous materials as live anthrax from getting into the hands of enemies or potential unfriendlies. Some were approved even after gas attacks on Kurdish villages in 1988. CBS and other networks report that Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, has negotiated a deal resolving the situation with Iraq. Let us all pray that Clinton, Newt, and Saddam all take the out that is offered them.
At all four masses I attended this weekend, I heard strong sermons against war in Iraq (I am a church musician, so I attend four masses just about every weekend). I heard zero talk after the masses that condemned the "politicking". I did hear talk about this or that member of the armed forces reserve who has been notified to be ready in case of being called up. Watching the congregation during the masses (at a large suburban parish), I saw a lot of solemnity, and the singing after the sermons was noticeably more fervent. It was truly providential that the Gospel for the day was part of the Sermon on the Plain in Luke, regarding doing good to your enemies and the Golden Rule. I suspect a lot of Catholics heard similar messages today, as well as those in Protestant churches following the common lectionary. It's not over until it's over, and the economic embargo remains. Let us continue to pray the novena to Our Lady of Sorrows for a firm and lasting peace in the Persian Gulf that respects justice.
Today's headlines are about the agreement that, if accepted by the U.S., heads off imminent hostilites. But the embargo is on, and thus the poor and weak are most at risk in this on-going political confrontation between U.S. and Iraqi politicians. Today's memorial of Our Lady of Victories recalls an image of Mary taken in battle by the French (against the Greeks) in the 13th century, and the miraculous restoration of a ruined church in Paris that had been desecrated during the French Revolution, thus causing a spiritual renaissance in the area. The link to the novena of Our Lady of Sorrows has been upgraded to a page on this site, and includes a new prayer written by me for children at risk of death from war or economic chaos.
As the Catholic bishops suggest, perhaps it is time to refresh our memories regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding Just War. The following quotations are taken from the US Bishops pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response. They seem a bit timely given current news.
83. . . . Only the most powerful reasons may be permitted to override such objection (to war). In the words of Pope Pius XII: "The Christian will for peace. . . is very careful to avoid recourse to the force of arms in the defense of rights which, however legitimate, do not offset the risk of kindling a blaze with all its spiritual and material consequences."
84. The determination of when conditions exist which allow the resort to force in spite of the strong presumption against it is made in light of jus ad bellum criteria. . . 85. Jus ad Bellum. Why and when recourse to war is permissible:
86. a. Just Cause: War is permissible only to confront "a real and certain danger," i.e., to protect innocent life, to preserve conditions necessary for decent human existence, and to basic human rights. As both Pope Pius XII and Pope John XXIII made clear, if war of retribution was ever justifiable, the risks of modern war negate such a claim today.
87. b. Competent Authority: in the Catholic tradition, the right to use force has always been joined to the common good; war must be declared by those with responsibility for public order, not by private groups or individuals. . .
92. c. Comparative Justice. Questions concerning the means of waging war today, particularly in view of the destructive potential of weapons, have tended to override questions concerning the comparative justice of the positions of respective adversaries or enemies. In essence: which side is sufficiently "right" in a dispute, and are the values at stake critical enough to override the presumption against war? The question in its most basic form is this: do the rights and values involved justify killing.
95. d. Right intention. Right intention is related to just cause -- war can be legitimately intended only for the reasons set forth above as a just cause. During the conflict, right intention means pursuit of peace and reconciliation, including avoiding unnecessarily destructive acts or imposing unreasonable conditions (e.g., unconditional surrender.)
96. e. Last Resort. For resort to war to be justified, all peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted.
98. f. Probability of success. This is a difficult criterion to apply, but its purpose is to prevent irrational resort to force or hopeless resistance when the outcome of either will clearly be disproportionate or futile.
100. g. Proportionality: in terms of the jus ad bellum criteria, proportionality means that the damage to be inflicted and the costs incurred by war must be proportionate to the good expected by taking up arms. Nor should judgments concerning proportionality be limited to the temporal order, without regard to a spiritual dimension in terms of "damage", "cost", and the "good expected". In today's interdependent world, even a local conflict can affect people everywhere; this is particularly the case when the nuclear powers are involved. Hence a nation cannot justly go to war today without considering the effect of the action on others and the international community.
104. Moreover, the lives of innocent persons may never be taken directly, regardless of the purpose alleged for doing so. To wage truly "total" war is by definition to take huge numbers of innocent lives. Jus response to aggression must be discriminate; it must be directed against unjust aggressors, not against innocent people caught up in a war not of their making. The council therefore issues its memorable declaration: "Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.
105. When confronting choices among specific military options, the question asked by proportionality is: once we take into account not only the military advantages that will be achieved by using this means but also all the harms reasonably expected to follow from using it, can its use still be justified? We know, of course, that no end can justify means evil in themselves, such as the executing of hostages or the targeting of non-combatants. Nonetheless, even if the means adopted is not evil in itself, it is necessary to take into account the probable harms that will result from using it and the justice of accepting these harms. It is of utmost importance, in assessing harms and the justice of accepting them, to think about the poor and the helpless, for they are usually the ones who have the least to gain and the most to lose when war's violence touches their lives.
107. Finally, another set of questions concern the interpretation of the principle of discrimination. The principle prohibits directly intended attacks on non-combatants and non-military targets. It raises a series of questions about the term "intentional," the category of "non-combatant," and the meaning of "military."
108. These questions merit the debate occurring with increasing frequency today. . . Mobilization of forces in modern war includes not only the military, but to a significant degree the political, economic, and social sectors. It is not always easy to determine who is directly involved in a "war effort" or to what degree. Plainly, though, not even by the broadest definition can one rationally consider combatants entire classes of human beings such as school-children, hospital patients, the elderly, the ill, the average industrial worker producing goods not directly related to military purposes, farmers, and many others. They may never be directly attacked.
But first, a word from our Sponsor. . . Http://www.justpeace.org/whatGodsays.htm
Holy Week is an important time and place in the spiritual journeys of Christians. Many of us this week go through the rites of initiation. Let's all remember to carry them along in our prayers as we celebrate these holy mysteries.
During Lent, we have talked about many issues and situations relating to justice and peace. Our discussions ranged far and wide and covered both specific details and broad structures. Holy Week is a time to remind ourselves that ultimately this is a spiritual battle. The Enemy of God is at work in the world, seeking the ruination of many souls. As Paul writes, our battle is not against earthly power, but rather against spiritual powers and dominions that work against God and His Providence.
Thus, our work for justice and peace is rooted in our own personal Christian conversion, which happens moment by moment, day by day. As we practice virtue, we grow in the gospel. As we practice the works of mercy and justice and peace (both corporal and spiritual), we grow in our understanding of the spiritual dimensions of this apostolate.
As we consider how to change unjust structures and bring about peace and reconciliation, during Holy Week we are reminded that massive societal changes grow out of the individual change of heart, the personal conversion, that is available to every human being. This isn't to say that changing structures should wait on universal conversion -- the conversion of individual souls and the conversion of societal structures is kind of a "process in tandem".
I hope and pray that all who visit here will be touched by the power of this Week, so that the One whose journey we remember may become a living reality in our lives. May we find the strength and joy that is necessary to live the mysteries of Holy Week every day of our lives. May Jesus who gave His life for the world be resurrected in our lives. May His spirit give us hope and creativity for daily living and for living the works of mercy, justice, and peace.
Come, let us go and be with Jesus the son of Mary on this journey.
* Two Hearts + One Love *
April 19, 1995; 9:02 AM; Murrah Federal Building; Oklahoma City.
A Remembrance, A second Good Friday in the midst of the Easter season. A reminder of the importance of our Easter hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. First letter of Paul to the Thessalonians.
The names of those who perished
The Easter Letter to Oklahoma City, a literary redaction of extracts of Paul's letters, as though he had written a letter to Oklahoma City following the bombing
This week our eye is on Microenterprise. We start small or we don't start at all!
If a person needs a job, there are two alternatives. One is to find a job provided by somebody else. A second alternative is to create your own job.
Microenterprise is "entry-level" business. It's starting a business on a shoe string, with one employee -- yourself -- or perhaps as a co-op, with several people pooling talents and resources and skills. It is "what'cha do with what'cha got". It may be selling tamales from a wagon or handicrafts at a flea market or homemade clothes, quilts, blankets, or toys.
Microenterprise projects are the leading edge of the movement to redeem the structures that perpetuate, enable, and transmit poverty across the generations.
The concept and the practice is strongly supported within the justice teachings of the Catholic Church, which clearly proclaim the dignity of work, and the importance of encouraging a multiplicity of organizations within society. Larger businesses and organizations should not combine together to drive small operators out of business. Society, culture, and government should protect a place for the economic activity of poor people.
One of the tragedies of the modern era is the hostility that micro-entrepreneurs face from city, county, state, and federal governments. Here in the United States, a wide variety of honest work can be classified as criminal -- depending on the status of the worker and whether they have the resources to comply with the many demands made upon them by unelected bureaucrats. Many of these tax, licensing, and zoning/planning regulations were encouraged by large businesses, as a way of reducing competition from upstart newcomers.
Each year, Catholics in the United States support two major offerings which devote significant resources to funding microenterprise opportunities for very poor people: Operation Rice Bowl, which funds the Catholic Relief Services organization, and the Campaign for Human Development.
This week our eye is on Cooperative Enterprise, an alternative to corporate capitalism. The "twin pines" logo is recognized as a symbol of cooperative enterprise.
"Many visitors come here and ask us why we have such an unusual business. But, I say to them: Don't you think it's strange that more organizations in the world aren't like this one?" comment by a worker-member of the Mondragon Cooperatives of Spain, quoted in Democracy in the Workplace.
"A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others." International Co-operative Alliance, Geneva, Switzerland
The ICA estimates that 750 million people worldwide are involved with some kind of cooperative economic activity. The largest sector of cooperative enterprise is the financial, with credit unions having the most members.
Catholic social teaching demonstrates that the sanctity of work derives from the dignity of the human person. The popes -- John Paul II in particular -- have clearly taught that markets are important, but they also have limitations. Further, there are values which the marketplace doesn't always embrace, but which are fundamental to the vision of Catholic social justice.
Co-operative enterprise is one possible way of realizing this vision of justice for all people. It has the virtue of being accessible to even very poor persons, who by combining their efforts can establish businesses that provide social, personal, and financial benefits to the members. In an era in which transnational corporate capitalism is triumphalistically touted as the only economic alternative to hard-core Marxist collectivism, it is refreshing to remember that this claim just isn't a true statement, it is corporate propaganda masquerading as social and economic analysis. There is a third way, and it isn't theory, it is in practice, every day, in every country in the world. It is rooted in both natural law and the explicit teachings of the Roman Catholic magisterium.
The "co-operative movement" began in 1844 with a pioneer consumer co-operative in Rochdale, England. In the 20th century, however, there has been significant Catholic participation and today there are thousands of cooperatives throughout the world that owe their genesis to either Catholic seed money or Catholic organizational activities. Two large scale co-operative movements -- the Mondragon Cooperatives of Basque country in Spain, and the Antigonish movement founded at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia -- were fruits of Catholic action. There are links regarding these movements listed below. Also linked are various secular sites relating to the co-operative movement, many of which include information on the practical how-to-do-its related to "starting your own co-operative".
Remember: if a person needs a job, there are two alternatives: he or she can get a job provided by somebody else, or they can invent a job, either individually or in cooperation with others.
Pope John XXIII on the importance of cooperative enterprises from his 1961 encyclical, Mater et Magistra (Christianity and Social Progress).
Two co-operative movements that began through activities relating to the teaching and practice of the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church:
The Antigonish Movement of Nova Scotia began in 1928 as the result of the activities of the Extension Department of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. In response to the great suffering caused by the Depression, the Extension Department presented a series of public speeches and lectures in communities throughout the province regarding self-help and cooperative economic enterprise, under the leadership of two Catholic priests: the Reverend Doctors J.J. Tompkins and M.M.Coady. This began the Antigonish Movement, which organized farmers and fishers co-ops, credit unions, and mutual aid societies. It's principles are:
+ the primacy of the individual
+ social reform must come through education
+ education must begin with the economic
+ education must be through group action
+ effective social reform involves fundamental changes in social and economic institutions
+ the ultimate objective of the movement is a full and abundant life for everyone in the community.
This movement continues today, with a world-wide focus. The University sponsors the Coady International Institute, which offers a Diploma program in social development, a five month program of study, and three to six week Certificate Programs in Adult Education and People-based Development, Community Economic Development, and Participatory management for social change. The Coady Institute has four decades of experience, and has trained more than 22,000 men and women in Antigonish and in overseas programs. History and Philosophy. ...Partners and Linkages an overview of the Institute's activities worldwide, in areas such as savings and credit, producer's organizations, tribal development, women and development, community health, food and water security.
The Mondragon Cooperatives of the Basque people of Spain began in the apostolate of a Catholic priest, Fr. Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta to teach the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, at a technical school he had organized. In 1956, five of his students began making paraffin stoves. By 1959, the movement had its own bank. Its 1991 gross was $3 billion in sales, it's productivity and profitability is twice that of similar enterprises owned by corporations. It is one of the 12 largest business enterprises in Spain.
This week we consider the Catholic response to the crisis of heavily indebted countries.
"Thus, in the spirit of the book of Leviticus (25:8-12), Christians will have to raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the Jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among other things, to reducing substantially, if not canceling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations. From the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millenio Adveniente
Back in the 1970s, the West offered "Third World" countries cheap loans. They spent a lot of it buying stuff from us. Some of it was siphoned off into secret Swiss bank accounts and other corrupt schemes. These countries now suffer greatly from this burden of debt. They are closing schools and hospitals to pay interest on these loans. In most cases, the entire principle of the loan has been paid, but not all of the interest. This in turn is capitalized, so that the loan values continue to climb.
In civilized countries, when somebody gets this deep into a hole, we provide for bankruptcy procedures. Yet, on an international stage, we are willing to snatch food from the mouths of starving babies so that western bankers can have their loans repaid. This is not just hyperbole or propaganda. It is a very sad fact and a tragic commentary on the morality of the political and economic elites of "Western Civilization". If any of us treated somebody in our own towns like this, we would be scorned (and righteously so) for persecuting the poor. But throughout the Third World, land is planted to cash crops while people are malnourished and in some cases actually starving. Peasants growing food are driven off land so that large corporate farms can efficiently produce cash crops for export.
The links below discuss the campaign of people of faith to encourage forgiveness for these debts on the occasion of the celebrations of the second Christian millennium. This campaign has the support of Pope John Paul II, who has repeatedly called upon the West to live up to its humanitarian ideals and stop squeezing these very poor people to produce the last nickel of interest for the Scrooges in the banking industry.
Putting Life Before Debt. Start HERE! This is the statement (30 pages when I printed it out) of Caritas Internationalis and International Co-operation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE). These are two major international Catholic organizations. They are alliances of Catholic organizations working international regarding poverty alleviation and justice issues. I'm not sure of their canonical status, but the organizations that compose these groups are all officially sponsored by national conferences of Catholic bishops. Has complete contact information, a suggested plan of action, and a complete explanation of the whys and wherefores of the issue. Considers the theological and the practical.
This week we consider a philosophy and economic theory which drew heavily from the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church in the first decades of this century, and to which Catholic philosophers and essayists such as G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc contributed greatly. And now, the word of the day, which is. . . . .DISTRIBUTISM!
A mouthful of a word, no doubt, but clearly evocative of its meaning, which is a concern for the distribution of the goods and bounty of the Earth. It's not particularly fashionable these days, and everybody from Marxist-Leninists to hardcore laissez-faire capitalists kind of wrinkle their noses, curl their lips, and sneer at it as an anachronistic relic of a bygone agrarian era. With such enemies, we do well to consider that it may have a positive contribution to make to modern public policy debates. It advocates broad ownership of property and capital within a society. Features of our modern economic systems that derive at least in part from the Distributist philosophy include cooperative enterprises, microenterprises, income tax deductions for interest paid on home mortgage loans, Employee Stock Ownership Programs and credit unions, this last being undoubtedly the largest and most important legacy of the philosophy. It is a historical and philosophical and moral base on which the previous Front Pages regarding microenterprise and cooperatives rest.
The May-June issue of the Houston Catholic Worker, published by the Casa Juan Diego Catholic Worker House has a large front-page article on "Distributism and the Catholic Worker Movement, which is the 14th in a series of articles about the roots of the Catholic Worker movement. It is by Nicholas Lund-Molfese, a professor of Salve Regina University, Rhode Island. Quoting Dorothy Day from the article:
"The principles of Distributism have been more or less implicit in much that we have written in the Catholic Worker for a long time. We have advised our readers to begin with four books, Chesterton's What's Wrong With the World, The Outline of Sanity and Belloc's The Servile State and Restoration of Property. The aim of Distributism is family ownership of land, workshops, stores, transport, trades, professions, and so on."
Lund-Molfese goes on to explain that the principles of Distributivism are derived from Leo XIII's encyclical, Rerum Novarum. It was this encyclical that inspired Hilaire Belloc to go looking for a new solution to the economic problems of his own day.
The article quotes historian Dermot Quinn, writing in First Things magazine in defense of distributivism, says, "Distributism is less an economic theory than a moral anthropology. Its economic claims proceed from anterior moral claims about the acting person and the nature of charitable community. It is concerned above all with the creative subjectivity of human persons, their openness to transforming grace, and their capacity for dignity through work and property." Read the entire article HERE.
"If working people can be encouraged to look forward to obtaining a share in the land, the consequence will be that the gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged over, and the respective classes will be brought nearer to one another. A further consequence will result in the greater abundance of the fruits of the earth. Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them, nay, they learn to love the very soil that yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. That such a spirit of willing labor would add to the produce of the earth and to the wealth of the community is self-evident. And a third advantage would spring from this: men would cling to the country in which they were born; for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his own afforded him the means of living a decent and happy life. . ." Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 1891
This week we feature 7 paragraphs, 13 sentences, and 150 words on the Works of Justice and Peace.
+ Live simply and justly in solidarity with the poor and marginalized and be a good neighbor. Make no war on them, rather, be one with them in spirit, truth, and love.
+ Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of the times and speak truth -- to power, to the people, and to the Church.
+ Make injustice visible -- witness, remember, teach, proclaim, tell. Light candles, do not curse the darkness.
+ Protect the poor and powerless-- listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.
+ Work for reconciliation with truth, evangelism, catechesis, orthopraxis.
+ Celebrate life, goodness, beauty, virtue, responsibility, and joy. Practice peace, non-violence, servant leadership, harmony, community, voluntary cooperation, and the proper stewardship of God's creation. Pray without ceasing.
+ Ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere.
Robert Waldrop, Kansas City, Missouri, Memorial of St. Mary MacKillop, AD 1998
And if you need a reminder, the spiritual works of mercy are: instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, forgiving, and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy are: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead, and giving alms. Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 2447
Note: this was the first publication of this statement of the "Little Way" of justice and peace.
Each week this page highlights aspects of the study, spirituality, and practice of the justice and peace teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The previous Front Pages may be accessed at the bottom of this page. This week was so busy I am presenting three issues: Land Reform, a Congressional Legislative Alert, and an overview of what's happening with Welfare Reform. Plus, our first ever "Site of the Week".
On the Solemnity of Christ the King last November the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace issued an important document on Agrarian Reform. Thanks to those wonderful people over at the Catholic Information Network, the text of this important teaching document is now available in cyberspace. Check it out at http://www.cin.org/docs/agrarian.html . For a front line report about this issue, read this shocking email from a Brazilian Bishop and learn how Japanese corporate interests are conspiring with Brazilian government officials to dispossess small farmers and convert the land to factory farming for export: Letter from a Brazilian Bishop
The House has passed an African trade and aid bill that mandates continued progress in "family planning services", which sure sounds like abortion to me. Call your senator now to urge him or her to oppose this bill and invite your representatives and senators to support an alternative bill that does not mention family planning services or abortion. DETAILS ON THESE BILLS
Information on the performance of welfare reform. Everybody seems to be bragging these days about how many people are off welfare due to welfare reform. But what is really happening? Are these people getting jobs and improving their lives, or are they callously being thrown into the street because they make a mistake with their paperwork? Check it out here.
If you haven't been to Al-bushra, check this one out for sure! Justpeace Site of the Week
www.al-bushra.org created by Fr. Labib Kobti, a priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, has documents and links relating to justice and peace in Palestine. Lots of stuff, highly recommended by this webservant. Offers several mailing lists through CIN.
If you need some ideas for action and contemplation for justice and peace, here's some ideas. The Justpeace List
The bad news is in. New Jersey was the first state to enact a "welfare cap", a policy of denying welfare benefits for additional children born after a cutoff date. A new study from Rutgers University indicates that hundreds of additional abortions resulted from this policy in one year. 20 states now have such laws. Click here for this sad story.
This is not a Catholic site, but its webmaster is a person of faith and there is a lot of material that should provoke a lot of thought. From the site: "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. But teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime. . . is the greatest half-truth ever spoken, for. . . If the man has no tools to fish with nor a place to fish, all the knowledge in the world will not produce the next day's catch." The Sticky Wicket A site in serious and loving solidarity with the poor.
A former Chinese official reveals horrific details of the Chinese government's "one family one child" policy implementation. Violent and coercive tactics, including forced abortions and destruction of property of families with more than one child are common. Read the sad details HERE. And here's an offer from Studies in Pro-Life Feminism that is worth checking out.
A conference in Rome kicks off a discussion about the need for a new international court that would consider issues such as genocide. The idea is derived from the Nuremburg and Tokyo war crimes trials. The Vatican weighs in on the side of the court, but warns it must respect human rights and not be a forum for the advancement of the pro-abortion cause. Read the New International Court news for more information. Click HERE for a late update regarding convention debates surrounding "enforced pregnancy."
Films about justice and peace. How many have you seen? Access Here. Check out the Homeless Home Movie!
A Week of Novenas for Justice and Peace A journey of prayer, beginning the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 20th) and ending on the vigil of the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary (August 21).
A growing on-line archive of the many writings of Dorothy Day, mostly from the files of the Catholic Worker. Dorothy Day Library on the Web
Some African countries have a 25% HIV infection rate; others are moving in that direction. World wide deaths last year are at 2 million, Glaxo-Wellcome's profits are doing fine. AIDS in Africa.
From Father Labib Kobti, a priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, outlining the tragic history of the Zionist invasion of Palestine. Click here for details.
The Mexican bishops plan a trip to Chiapas to listen to the poor and hopefully set the stage for direct talks between the Zapatistas and the Mexican government. Details here.
A journey of prayer, beginning on the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 20th) and ending on the vigil of the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary (August 21). Details/prayers.
Happy Canada Day to our Canadian visitors! And happy Fourth of July to our United States visitors! May these days of celebration remind of us the principles of justice and solidarity which are fundamental to free societies.
The Zenit News Agency (a Latin American Catholic news sources located in Rome) this week published an exclusive interview with Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, a world pioneer in microcredit lending to the poor.
East Timor has been under attack by Indonesia for many years. The predominately Catholic country has suffered much from its annexation to its larger and more powerful neighbor. Changes in Indonesia may bring hope. Access to East Timor
News from Voices in the Wildnerness, a group in opposition to the US embargo of Iraq. Fast for Life July 25 - August 13, with special call for actions August 6-9.
The Week in Review extracts from the weekly report electronically published by the Zenit News Agency in Rome. Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, Jubilee amnesty for prisoners?. Lots of good and interesting news
Pope John Paul II makes a major statement on human rights and pastoral ministry. Papal Statement
Fellow travelers along the road of justice and peace offer inspiration, ideas for action and praxis, and even a few "warm fuzzies" to help us keep on keeping on. Internet Express
The Latin American bishops issue a scathing indictment, drawing a direct connection between poverty, corruption, and politics. Celam Meeting
The Week in Review extracts from the weekly report electronically published by the Zenit News Agency in Rome. From Rome to Ho Chi Min City, a grab bag of what's happening and them that's doin'.
Read and weep. $1.7 billion was spent by Corporate America to lobby Congress. http://allpolitics.com/1998/07/08/ap/lobby/
A tragic story about the demolition of the house of a Palestinian family. As told by an eyewitness. Lena's Story.
Solidarity, the path for development and economic integration, a speech to a UN organization by the representative of the Vatican. VIS Story.
Extracts from the Zenit Weekly Report: Troubling information about slavery in the Sudan, more on sterilization in Peru, the latest from North Korea, Brazilian bishops elect social justice champions as officers.
From the United Kingdom, Edges, an on-line publication in solidarity with the poor. Excellent reading from the front lines.
A new apostolic letter from Archbishop Chaput of Denver, re-visiting Pope Paul VI's famous encyclical "On Human Life". To the People of God of Northern Colorado
'The International Court meeting in Rome adjourns with an agreement on a charter -- but the proposal is rejected by many major countries, including the United States and China. New International Court
Zenit Weekly Report, human rights statement from Vietnamese bishop, prostitution, immigration, gambling, a new bishop for Algeria, and much more.
This week we present three great links relating to "making injustice visible. These aren't necessarily Catholic links, but they are certainly fellow-travelers along the road of justice and peace.
The next issue of the Justpeace Front Page will be posted in two weeks. I am going on vacation to visit family and friends in the Oklahoma City and Denver areas commencing Friday, August 7th, returning to Kansas City the 17th. Email sent to me will await my return and be answered then.
On June 11, 200 new links were added to just about every page accessed from the Home Index.
A Lament Concerning the Foreign Policy of the United States of America August 20, 1998
A Thought for the Week. . . If the world was a "nation" of 1,000 persons, there would be:
609 Asians, 126 Europeans, 125 Africans, 85 Latino-Americans, 50 North Americans, 3 Australians and 2 persons from Oceania.
There would be: 335 Christians, 177 Muslims, 160 persons professing no religion, 134 Hindus, 57 Buddhists, 44 professed atheists, 31 practitioners of Confucianism and Taoism, 3 persons of Jewish faith, 3 practitioners of Sikhism and 57 other religions with fewer than three persons in each.
In the nation, you find the following number of persons speaking in their native language: 152 Mandarin Chinese, 61 Hindi, 60 Spanish, 59 English, 35 Bengalese, 34 Arabic, 32 Russian, 31 Portuguese, 23 Japanese, 18 Germans, 13 French and 482 speaking the remaining languages.
Of all these persons: 60 would control half of all income, 200 would be hungry, 270 would be illiterate and 600 would live in barrios of extreme poverty.
Thanks to "La Cosecha," the newsletter of the Hispanic Community of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee. The sources are the World Almanac and World Book Encyclopedia, 1994, posted in the CINJUST email discussion forum.
NOTE: The web server of this site experienced a hardware meltdown commencing Thursday evening, September 3; this site returned to the web on Tuesday, September 9th. This issue of the Front Page will remain the current issue until Sept. 14th.
A LAMENT for the SUMMER of 1998, a view from Oakley Street by Robert Waldrop.
Send email to James Wolfensohn, chairman of the World Bank. Share your concern for his immortal soul due to his bank's cruel and wicked persecution of the poor. Read Robert Waldrop's Letter. . . Pray for the conversion of James D. Wolfensohn
President Clinton Should Resign, a Justpeace editorial.
Racist Oklahoma County charges black man with possessing medicinal herbs, read and weep, a sad story of tyranny, racism, and the War on Drugs.
No comments this issue.
It's been an interesting week along the social justice web. The Pope, using what is called "unusually blunt" and "emphatic" language, attacks the "illicit and immoral" economic arrangements of the world. The world economy continues to be chaotic, with one of the largest US hedge funds in danger of going belly-up; the Federal Reserve convenes a meeting of the 24 largest banks and brokerage houses to organize a bailout. NATO is threatening the Serbs. Meanwhile, a new report is issued confirming that some countries in Africa have an HIV infection rate of twenty-five percent, and guesstimates that despite high birth rates, Africa will reach Zero Population Growth in 2005 due to high death rates from AIDS. This week the Front Page looks at sites regarding corruptionin government, Medicare, Africa, racism, HIV, structural adjustment, population control, the World Bank and various other items of note and interest, not forgetting Pope John Paul II..
China signs the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Russia threatens to veto any UN military action in Kosovo. Amnesty International launches a campaign regarding human rights violations in the United States, and in Indonesia poor people are planting gardens on golf courses and race tracks. The leaders of the G-7 nations plot their latest moves in response to the deepening global economic crisis; the World Bank and IMF meet to count their ill-gotten gains stolen from the rice bowls of the poor, the Heritage Foundation says that poor people really don't have it so bad, and in Washington, D.C., nothing much is getting done about anything. The Vatican denounces world oppression of the poor. In Missouri, the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph plans to spend $150,000 to touch up the gold on the dome of its Cathedral tower. Meanwhile, me and some friends are learning to make "Buddy Burners", an improvised stove/heater made from tuna fish cans, cardboard, wax, and a large #10 can (that's the institutional size), for distribution to the homeless this winter. Just another week along the journey of justice and peace. October is COOPERATIVE month. Support your local cooperative business enterprise! Robert Waldrop, Justpeace webservant.
The news this week? The Pope continues to call the world to justice towards the poor, so far, not very many are listening. NATO is walking right up to the line with its threatened air war against the Serbs. The newspapers keep reporting good times, but lines at food pantries and homeless shelters are longer than ever. The sanctions against Iraq continue to kill children.
This week along the way. . . the sanctions against Iraq continue to kill children. People worldwide are battered by storms and floods, 3 million people remain homeless in makeshift camps on top of levees in China. Five hundred poor people in Nigeria are burned to death in a fiery pyre of despair. All over the world, the cry of the widow and orphan is heard. Sow not in the furrows of injustice, lest you harvest it sevenfold. Sirach 7:3
This week along the way. . .Newsweek Magazine's Millennium Notebook of November 2nd reports the beginnings of Malthusian "demographic fatigue" in poor countries, noting the rising death rates, increased social chaos, and various other threats in these areas, all rooted (allegedly) in overpopulation. How convenient this analysis is for many people, especially those who wield political and economic power. Many will eagerly buy this racist explanation because the alternative is becoming aware of the systemic injustices of the world and few want that. Much better to close our eyes, blame the poor for the problems of the world, and connive new ways to protect the haves from the allegedly over-populating have-nots. Way to go Newsweek. Nice piece of work. No good comes to him who gives comfort to the wicked, nor is it an act of mercy that he does. Sirach 12:3
MYSELF THE STATE
Cold and clean the floors of stone
Here's your mother and your father
Otherwise you are alone
Who's to get the biggest bowl
Of kasha or the warmest coat?
The one who has the smallest soul
But keeps a razor in his boot
Too young to shave but not to cut
The eyes of all who perpetrate
Crimes against myself the State:
Stomachs bigger than their luck
Did you ever hear of God?
The hungry orphan in the sky
Here below they gave him food
Then sent him back to die.
October 26, 1998
(c) copyright 1998, by Pavel Chichikov
As the Justpeace Front Page is published this week, hurricane Mitch -- a powerful and deadly storm -- is headed towards Central America. Go to ReliefWeb for breaking news updates about this situation, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. See also Complex Emergencies, information about on-going emergencies and various countries of concern to the humanitarian community. There isn't very much good news here.
US ELECTIONS: "Disasters and Emergencies" is probably the proper place to file news about the upcoming United States elections, Tuesday November 2. It is a tragedy of historic proportions that at this crucial time in world history, the United States is burdened with sociopathic ruling political and economic elites. I invite all to join in an Election Day of fasting, prayer, and the works of justice and peace next Tuesday. As the people's judge, so are his ministers, as the head of a city, its inhabitants. A wanton king destroys his people, but a city grows through the wisdom of its princes. Sirach 10:2-3
Justpeace Front Page Special Edition + November 1, 1998
Solemnity of All Saints, Witnesses of Justice and Peace
"For this reason they stand before God's throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
By their lives and heroic witness, the saints give us examples to follow. Many saints model the preferential love for the poor, the deep commitment to the realization of Gospel principles in everyday life, and the passion for justice that are all desperately needed in the modern world.
Welcome to the Justpeace Front Page SPECIAL EDITION for Election Day 1998, USA. + Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ +
Today we offer only prayer and the Word of God, reparations for the evils of this age, prayers of hope for a better tomorrow.
Mention should also be made of the practical and as it were experiential dimension of this teaching, which is to be found at the crossroads where Christian life and conscience come into contact with the real world. This teaching is seen in the efforts of individuals, families, people involved in cultural and social life, as well as politicians and statesmen to give it a concrete form and application in history. Centesimus Annus 59
+ Lord God of all creation,You rule and judge all nations, You scatter the arrogant of mind and heart, You cast down rulers from their thrones and raise up the lowly.
Today we elect those who will serve in our government: the voices that call us to go this way or that way are confusing, the signs of these times that we must discern are tragic and unjust, the culture of death that afflicts all people is powerful.
Open our eyes to see your Reign in history, our hearts to share your love with all people, our ears to hear the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger among us.
Send your Holy Spirit upon the people of this land: Teach us to make wise and prudent decisions. Increase our faith and hope. Help us to live the Gospel we profess.
May all who are elected this day: do justice, love goodness, and walk humbly before You and all people.
We ask for these blessings, confident in your providence through all time, calling upon Mary our Mother and all the saints who have served the cause of justice, through your Son, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Savior, Amen.
The background of this page has been turned black to graphically represent the gravity of the political situation in the United States on this Election Day. Crises abound at home and abroad, while the ruling political and economic elites of this country frivolously squander time, resources, and credibility on an orgy of greed, lust, and injustice.
To discover solutions to this tragic situation look in the mirror. Try your neighborhoods and communities, churches and schools, coffee shops and beauty parlors and barber shops. Look around the dinner table, as you eat and pray with your family. Poli-tricks are not the path to the Kingdom of God.
Today's problems are pre-eminently moral. We must seek the Truth which makes us free sothat we can discern the signs of the times and make prudent and wise decisions.
Fast and pray this Election Day. Fulfill your civic duties and responsibilities, pray for guidance so that you make wise choices for candidates and causes to vote for, do the works of justice, mercy, and peace. To learn more about what is necessary, consult the Gospel of Justice and Peace.
Robert Waldrop, Justpeace Webservant, The Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, AD 1998.
Judge of the Earth,
Give the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, shall the wicked glory?
How long will they mouth haughty speeches,
Go on boasting, all these eVildoers?
They crush your people, Lord,
They torment your very own.
They kill the widow and alien;
The fatherless they murder.
They say, "The Lord does not see;
The God of Jacob takes no notice."
Understand, you stUpid people!
You fools, when will you be wise?
Does the one who shaped the ear not hear?
The one who formed the eye not see?
Does the one who guides nations not rebuke?
The one who teaches man not have knowledge?
The Lord does know human plans,
They are only puffs of air.
Hear the Word of the Lord, O house of David! Thus says the Lord: Each morning dispense justice, rescue the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury break out like fire which burns without being clenched, because of the evil of your deeds. Jeremiah 21:11-12
Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened, Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication, with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared. Isaiah 35:3-5
For strange are the works of the Lord, hidden from men his deeds. The oppressed often rise to a throne, and some that none would consider wear a crown. The exalted often fall into utter disgrace. Sirah 11:4b-6a
The death toll in Central America continues to climb, NPR reported Tuesday evening it would be higher than 7,000 and that the homes of hundreds of thousands have been destroyed, and people are at risk of hunger and disease.
This week along the way. The 1998 elections have come and gone, and the "experts" say it was a victory for the status quo. "People are doing fine economically," they say. "It's a good election to be an incumbent." 22% of the seats in the House were contested by only one major party candidate, more than in any other election since 1958. Meanwhile, across the world, poor people starve so that the World Bank and IMF can collect their interest payments -- and Congress just ensured that life would get worse for these people, with its "conditions" attached to the recent appropriation for their macabre dance of the culture of death. How many Kenny's will we kill this week? (Answer: too many.) Hear, you leaders of Jacob, rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not your duty to know what is right, you who hate what is good and love evil? You who tear their skin from them, and their flesh from their bones! Micah 3:1-2
It is necessary to state once more the characteristic principle of Christian social doctrine: the goods of this world are originally meant for all. The right to private property is valid and necessary, but it does not nullify the value of this principle. Private property, in fact, is under a "social mortgage," which means that it has an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods. Likewise, in this concern for the poor, one must not overlook that special form of poverty which consists in being deprived of fundamental human rights, in particular the right to religious freedom and also the right to freedom of economic initiative. Centesimus Annus 42
This week along the way. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in the year of our Lord 1918, the first phase of the Great World War of the 20th century came to an end. Europe was in ruins, hundreds of thousands were dead and injured, a flu epidemic was killing millions worldwide. A year later, the United States bishops issued a pastoral letter written in the letter and spirit of Rerum Novarum: Pastoral Letter of 1919, the 80th anniversary of which will be next year. At this time of year, the readings of our liturgies turn our minds to the Last Things, apocalyptic visions of the triumph of justice and peace over structures of sin and oppression. Winter comes upon the land in the North, the South welcomes summer. We approach Advent as we anticipate Nativity, Epiphany -- great martyrs and Holy Innocents, Mary Mother of God, followed by the starkness and penitence of Lent, the passion of Holy Week, death on a Cross, Resurrection to New Life. These are the rhythms of our lives and our worship, patterns of justice and peace laid as templates over the chaos and beauty of Creation. "The church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the gospel if it stopped being. . . a defender of the rights of the poor. . . a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society. . . that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history." Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, August 6, 1979.
Here's what God says about the poor and justice.
ALERT: The United States is dispatching additional military forces to the Persian Gulf, in preparation for an attack on Iraq. Let us remember in prayer all those who are about to die at the hands of the United States government, and let us all take the responsibility of contacting our federal representatives to oppose this mindless military adventurism. Iraq Crisis Justpeace Index Page. I remind all who read this that we gain responsibility for the sins of others when we order, advise, praise or approve them, when we participate directly and voluntarily in them, when we do not disclose or hinder them when we have an obligation to do so, and when we protect evil-doers. Send Email to President Clinton
Pray for strength to stand against the demonic powers who are the authors of this military misadventure by the US government. Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows for Peace in the Persian Gulf.
Conditions in Central America continue to deteriorate. The following is from the Hartnett Jesuit News Service report from Central America of November 5th:
From Jack Warner, Director, Teatro la Fragua (Honduras)
"The situation of many thousands (no one is sure how many) in the banana camps is desperate. We are afraid that at any moment they will start to jump and try to swim in here out of desperation. Aside from the local authorities, the attitude of the Banana Company is a disgrace to humanity. They have done absolutely nothing that anyone here can see to lift a finger to help their own workers. If anyone can make any noise about this, it's Chiquita Brands with headquarters in Cincinnati. Somewhere I have their address and all that, but I'm sure up there you can find it.
Their attitude is a crime against humanity of the first magnitude. Which is especially ironic because they are the one entity that has gained immeasurably by all this: Millions of tons of rich topsoil have been snatched away from poor campesinos who eke out a miserable subsistence on the hillsides, and deposited free on the land of the company.
"The amount of money they stand to gain from this catastrophe is immeasurable. And they have more equipment and resources which they refuse to put to use than any entity in the country other than the government and the army. I shan't go on for the moment. The situation of the camps was again complicated today by the fact that there was a hot sun -- which is helping to dry out many things, but which is turning the tin roofs on which they are stranded into hotplates.
"They continue to stream into Progreso along the dikes (the last word I got on this is that the water on the dikes in at least many places is about a meter, which makes walking difficult but possible.)"
(End Hartnet Jesuit News Report)
This week along the way. Sometime on the 15th, my modem was fried by some random electrical event. This put me and this publication into cyber-purgatory, which is why we didn't publish this past week. Meanwhile, cyberspace moved along quite well without me, but there was some interesting stuff in the mailbox when I returned. The bishops set the wires to burning with some of their decisions, and they are asking us to make a Jubilee pledge. (See Crossroads below.) An escalation in the US violence against Iraq was averted at the latest possible moment, but the embargo continues. The weakest and most defenseless in that society are paying the price. Let us keep all those who reside in places of violence in our prayers during this holy-day season. Be sure to come back for a visit on the First Sunday of Advent, and view the Justpeace Advent Wreath and meditations on the lectionary readings for the season. The Holy Father has dedicated this coming Advent year of the Millennium Jubilee to the poor and charity. Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice. Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991
This week along the way. On December 2, 1980, three nuns and a religious worker -- Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan -- were murdered by the El Salvadoran Army. Some low-level troops were eventually convicted, but those who ordered this crime remain at large. In other news, Boeing is announcing 48,000 layoffs, and the new merger of Exxon and Mobile will destroy 20,000 jobs. Boeing is blaming the Asian economic meltdown, and Exxon-Mobile cries "globalization." Merry Christmas America from your friendly neighborhood Transnational Corporation. A given culture reveals its overall understanding of life through the choices it makes in production and consumption. Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991
This week along the way. Two interesting anniversaries this week: the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 100th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty ending the Spanish-American War, under whose terms the United States "acquired" Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines and Cuba. This birth of the overseas US Military Empire provoked much domestic discussion at the time, some of which we access this week. Returning to the present in our newly acquired Way-Back Machine, we find that during Advent 1998 CHILD workers making the popular "Furbies" earn 24 cents an hour, working 14 hours a day under appalling conditions, even for China. This factoid is worth a repeat of last week's tag line from the Pope: A given culture reveals its overall understanding of life through the choices it makes in production and consumption. Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991
A Prayer for the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
WAR ALERT: THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT HAS ESCALATED ITS WAR AGAINST IRAQ WITH ATTACKS BY BOMBERS AND CRUISE MISSILES.
Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows for Peace in the Persian Gulf
Angelus in Time of War
LORD GOD OF ALL CREATION, OVERTURN THE THRONES OF TYRANNY!
SCATTER THE UNJUST! JUDGE THE BLOODY RULERS WHO MAKE THE CRY OF THE WIDOW AND THE ORPHAN RISE TO HEAVEN WITH THE SAME MERCY THEY HAVE SHOWN TO THE POOR! GIVE US YOUR GRACE AND STRENGTH TO STAND AGAINST THE DEMONIC POWERS WHICH PROWL ABOUT THE WORLD SEEKING THE RUIN OF SOULS. GRANT THAT PEACE WITH JUSTICE WILL COME TO THE PERSIAN GULF. AMEN.
Advent 1998 and a wreath of blessed candles.
This week along the way. The thrones of the arrogant are shaking, the proud are being scattered during this Advent, but as with everybody else, the responsibilities and joys of the holiday season are upon all of the Justpeace Elves and so we will be taking a bit of a holiday break until our next issue, which will be published on December 29th, the feast of St. Thomas Becket. Come back on Christmas Eve for my Christmas Letter, and the 4th Sunday of Advent candle and meditation will be published as usual. So this week there are just two items, plus some of our regular stuff, but those two items are of great importance.
On December 22nd we will celebrate one year of this website's presence in cyberspace. Justpeace has grown to more than 290 pages with over 1700 links and with hundreds of visitors everyday. Since October 14th alone, the site has registered 20,508 user sessions, viewing a total of 41,459 pages, with an average number of user sessions per day of 325; the Front Page has been viewed 2,483 times. More than 300 sites are linked to one or more of these pages. We give thanks and praise to Almighty God and to our Blessed Mother for the growth in the interest and readership of these pages, and we hope that this apostolate of information, service, and action will result in more justice and more peace for all people.
May the blessings of this Holy Day season be with all of us!
Leo XIII is repeating an elementary principle of sound political organization, namely, the more that individuals are defenseless within a given society, the more they require the care and concern of others, and in particular the intervention of governmental authority. In this way what we nowadays call the principle of solidarity. . . . is clearly seen to be one of the fundamental principles of the Christian view of social and political organization. Centesimus Annus 11
Into this world, this demented inn,
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ has come uninvited.
But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
his place is with those others for whom there is no room.
His place is with those who do not belong,
who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied the status of persons,
who are tortured, bombed, and exterminated.
With those for whom there seems to be nothing
but the world at its worst,
Christ is mysteriously present
With these he conceals himself,
In these he hides himself,
for whom there is no room.
---- Thomas Merton
On this holy celebration of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us pray for an increase in justice and peace on earth. Robert Waldrop, Justpeace webservant.
In cooperation with other citizens, you will also want to seek out the structural reasons which cause the poverty in the world and in your own country, so that you can apply the proper remedies. Do not be intimidated or discouraged by oversimplified explanations, which are more ideological than scientific and which try to account for a complex evil by some single cause. But do not recoil before the reforms -- even profound ones -- of attitudes and structures that are necessary to create over and over again the conditions needed by the disadvantaged if they are to have a fresh chance in the hard struggle of life. The poor of the United States and of the world are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Never be content to leave them just the crumbs of the feast. Take of your substance, and not just of your abundance, in order to help them. Treat them like guests at your family table. John Paul II, Homily in New York City, October 1979
This week along the way. I hope everybody had a merry holy day season. On Oakley Street, another house burned under suspicious circumstances (the fourth since mid-November); the slumlord owner of the house next door to me that burned the night before Thanksgiving has not made one move to clean up his property. All 4,000 of the Better Times printed in early December, except for 250 or so, were distributed by Christmas, mostly in Kansas City, although bundles and a bunch of single copies have been sent out of state. So I'm immediately initiating another begging project to raise funds to reprint, as everybody wants more. I'm also hoping to print a second publication (currently in production, with the working title: "Neighborhood Technology"), which is all about how to e.g. build a solar heater that fits in a standard window, greenhouses, methane production, making your own electricity, more on co-ops, community gardens, raising 3 tons of trout in your basement, community canning kitchens, composting, recycling, food circles, and other practical aspects of empowering the poor and building a more just and humane social order from the ground up.
"The works inspired by the Gospel must always be sensitive toward those who are most in distress; those who are poor; those suffering from physical, mental, and moral ills that afflict humanity, including hunger, neglect, unemployment, and despair. Pope John Paul II, Homily in New York City, October 1979
Economic or political power should never be used to protect the interests of one group to the detriment of the others. The whole of society ought to be one with all people and in the first place with the poor. Justice for the poor is a Christian option; it is also the option of a society that is concerned with the true common good. Those who exercise power must do so as a service of social justice. Power must be at the service of people, especially those who are the neediest. Pope John Paul II, Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 1980
This week along the way. More like this month. The publication schedule of this webzine has been interdicted a bit by the duties and joys of ordinary life during this period of "Ordinary Time". Now we begin the Lenten season of reconciliation, examination, and fasting. During these Forty Days the lectionary readings and the rites of the Church show forth powerful images and symbols of healing and the journey to peace and wholeness. The catechumens walk down the path with our Lord into darkness and death, rising in the waters of baptism to the joy of new life and conversion. These are mysterious days, but through our proper observance of them, we are called to be more than we have been, to turn away from sin and wickedness, to reject and redeem the structures of sin that bind so many in poverty and despair, to do penance and the works of justice and peace, and to rise from the ashes of the old ways of sin into a new life in Christ. So now we fast in a desert, opening our hearts and minds to a "waitfulness" that flows from our "watchfulness" of Advent and Christmas.
"New forms of poverty and the pressing questions which trouble many hearts await a concrete and appropriate response. Those who are lonely, those on the margins of society, the hungry, the victims of violence, those who have no hope must be able to experience, in the Church's loving care, the tenderness of the Heavenly Father who, from the very beginning of the world, has kept every individual in mind in order to fill each one with his blessings." John Paul II, Lenten Message, 1999
PRAY FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN KOSOVO AND SERBIA +
"More and more, in many countries of America, a system known as 'neoliberalism' prevails, based on a purely economic conception of the human person, this system considers profit and the law of the market as its only parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of and the respect due to individuals and peoples. At times this system has become the ideological justification for certain attitudes and behavior in the social and political spheres leading to the neglect of the weaker members of society. Indeed, the poor are becoming ever more numerous, victims of specific policies and structures which are often unjust." Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, 56
This week along the way. March 24, 1999 is the 19th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. As we begin these days of the passion of the Lord, we remember that this is not only a historical event far-removed in time and place from the present day, but an on-going reality. On that day 19 years ago in El Salvador, Christ was crucified -- again. Even as these words are written today, NATO and the Serbian government are crucifying Christ -- again. In Iraq, children continue to die as a result of the United States embargo, and Christ is crucified -- again. In Nike's plush corporate headquarters, profits from injustice to wage owners are counted and distributed, and Christ is crucified -- again. In the gold-leaf-ceiling rooms of the World Bank offices, very rich peoples take note of the interest payments they have squeezed from the rice bowls of the poorest of the poor, and Christ is crucified -- again.
"Hearing their voice, the Church must live with the poor and share their distress. By her lifestyle, her priorities, her words and her actions, she must testify that she is in communion and solidarity with them. . . God's grace enables Christians to work for the transformation of the world, in order to bring about a new civilization, which my predecessor Paul VI appropriately called the Civilization of Love. . . " John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, 58, 10
PRAY FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN KOSOVO AND SERBIA +
This week along the way. This will be the last edition of the Justpeace Front Page published from Oakley Street in Kansas City, as I am moving about 1400 miles west (this is talked about more in the Easter letter linked below). This edition is not as busy as recent issues, but one thing this move will bring is more time to devote to projects such as Justpeace. Look for the next issue in two weeks or so. These links primarily relate to the on-going increase of violence in Kosovo and the expanding humanitarian crisis ordered by our political leaders and bought with our tax money.
"In the face of persisting evidence of war, and the countless grievous defeats of life, Christ, the conqueror of sin and death, urges us not to surrender. Peace is possible, peace is a duty, peace is a prime responsibility of everyone! May the dawn of the third millennium see the coming of a new era in which respect for every man and woman and fraternal solidarity among peoples will, with God's help, overcome the culture of hatred, of violence, of death. " John Paul II, Urbi et Orbi message, Easter 1999
+ Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King + Christ has conquered + Glory fills you +
Woe to the city soaked in blood, full of lies, stuffed with booty, whose plunderings know no end! The crack of the whip! The rumble of wheels! Galloping horse, jolting chariot, charging cavalry, flash of swords, gleam of spears, a mass of wounded, hosts of dead, countless corpses, they stumble over the dead. Nahum 3:1-3
PRAY FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN KOSOVO AND SERBIA + This week along the way. More than 40 days into the NATO war on the people of Serbia, a primary result of our aggression is a serious tragedy for the people we are ostensibly helping. While the leaders of NATO sip champagne and party, the refugees are ill-fed, ill-clad, and ill-housed. NATO daily dehumanizes the Albanians and Serbians in speeches and press comments as "collateral damage." Here at home, the response of the general public has been, "ho hum." We've seen some pretty surreal images -- President Clinton decrying "those who have recourse to violence" in the wake of the Littleton tragedy, while at the same time authorizing increased air strikes against the Serbian people and continuing to pursue his murderous economic embargo on the Iraqi people. With the recent strikes on electrical plants serving the people of Serbia, NATO is fast escalating to general terror bombing. Meanwhile, the "Free Press" of the West continues its blackout on the forceful statements of Pope John Paul II against the war on the Serbian and Albanian peoples in Kosovo. "Nothing is lost by peace. Everything can be lost with war. " John Paul II, March 24, Easter 1999
The thrones of the arrogant God overturns and establishes the lowly in their place; the roots of the proud God plucks up, to plant the humble in their place. Sirach 10:14
"Look at the guilt of your sister Sodom: she was proud, sated with food, complacent in its prosperity, and they gave no help to the poor and needy. Rather, they became haughty and committed abominable crimes in my presence; then, as you have seen, I removed them." Ezekial 16:49-50.
PRAY FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN KOSOVO AND SERBIA + Snapshots of life during the collapse of the American Empire. Still the war continues in Serbia (and Iraq, and a number of other places too). With the escalation into terror attacks on the civilian population, gasoline for the harvest will not be available, famine is on the horizon. Civilian deaths are rising steadily, electricity supplies are disrupted, and hundreds of thousands of people are out of work because their jobs have been destroyed by bombs. The refugees flee into the arms of an indifferent and apathetic West, NATO continues its policy of dehumanizing all concerned, the Russians are rattling their nuclear saber and talking about a Tripartite Alliance of India, China, and Russia. In other news, the light at the end of the Y2K tunnel may be an on-rushing train, see the new Y2K Watch department below. Pray for the rich and powerful, that they will forsake their oppressions of the poor. Pray for the poor and powerless, that they will be protected from the wickedness of the rich. A repeat from the last issue, but it bears repeating: "Nothing is lost by peace. Everything can be lost with war. " John Paul II, March 24, Easter 1999
Snapshots of life during the collapse of the American Empire. The bombing has ended in Serbia, but Kosovo still burns. Today, the fires are set by our allies the Albanians and the targets are the Serbs and the Gypsies. The war against Iraq continues. The Israelis copy a page from Clinton and attack power plants in Lebanon. Three kids in Bellingham (Washington) were incinerated when a computer failure pumped 250,000 gallons of gasoline into a creek. Meanwhile, the seven richest countries (and their banks) offer the people of the 52 poorest countries $2.83 each in debt "relief" on their total per capita debt burden of $573. (Wow. Memo from the rich to the hungry: Eat Cake.) Truly these are troubled days for the cause of peace and justice. In such times, I am reminded of Dorothy Day's devotion to the Little Flower, St. Therese, and her thoughts of the "little way" of justice and peace. Where can you find this Way of justice and peace today? In a hundred thousand not-very-well-known places, such as a demonstration farm in Appalachia with low-cost buildings and Catholic schools and base communities in the barrios of Latin America, where unknown saints pick up the pieces of the lives shattered by the indifference and cruelty of the rich and the powerful, promoting healing, reconciliation, justice and peace. These are not times for procrastination or sloth. Whatever it is that you are doing for the Gospel of Jesus Christ -- do more! "May Christ's followers show forth their love for the poor and the oppressed; may they be one with those in need and abound in works of mercy; may they be compassionate towards all. . . " Prayer of the Holy Father for the Jubilee Year
Journeys of justice & peace during the collapse of the American Empire. Lots of local news this month, including the opening of the Archbishop Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House here in Oklahoma City, and the soon-coming birth of a new Justpeace page: Better Times: the Webzine. The Community Food Security and Living on the Earth sections of this Front Page webzine will be the basis of the new Better Times webzine. We hope to publish one of them each week, putting our webzines on a three week cycle. There has been a huge increase in visitors to the Justpeace pages. Since June 27th, 43,066 visitors found us (from 66 countries); we are currently averaging 767 visitors, viewing 1,955 pages every day (there are now 400 different pages at this site). We invite you to keep this ministry in your prayers. We have made a commemorative poster and some holy cards for this occasion, send us email with your postal mailing address and we will be happy to send you some. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor and peace to all nations. Amen. RMW. PS. In response to many requests, I have put a picture of yours truly on this page, but you have to scroll all the way down to find it.
"If you believe that Christ has revealed the Father's love for every person, you cannot fail to strive to contribute to the building of a new world, founded on the power of love and forgiveness, on the struggle against injustice and all physical, moral and spiritual distress, on the orientation of politics, economy, culture and technology to the service of man and his integral development." Pope John Paul II, Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World, on the occasion of the 15th World Youth Day in the Jubilee Year 2000
Journeys of Justice and Peace through the Jubilee Holy Year 2000. "There should be no more postponement of the time when the poor Lazarus can sit beside the rich man to share the same banquet and be forced no more to feed on the scraps that fall from the table (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Extreme poverty is a source of violence, bitterness, and scandal; to eradicate it is the work of justice and therefore of peace." John Paul II, Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (Incarnationis Mysterium)
"Solidarity with the poor becomes more credible if Christians themselves live simply, following the example of Jesus. Simplicity of life, deep faith and unfeigned love for all, especially the poor and the outcast, are luminous signs of the Gospel in action. The Synod Fathers called on Asian Catholics to adopt a lifestyle consonant with the teachings of the Gospel, so that they may better serve the Church's mission and so that the Church herself may become a Church of the poor and for the poor.' John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia
It is easy enough to say the cultured man should be the crowd's guide, philosopher and friend. Unfortunately, he has nearly always been a misguiding guide, a false friend and a very shallow philosopher. And the actual catastrophes we have suffered...have not in historical fact been due to the prosaic practical people who are supposed to know nothing, but almost invariably to the highly theoretical people who knew that they knew everything. The world may learn by its mistakes; but they are mostly the mistakes of the learned." G.K. Chesterton
Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! +++++ In mid-February, the number of men and women in jail or in prison in the United States surpassed 2 million. This is 1/4 of the world's total of 8 million. Two-thirds are imprisoned for non-violent offenses, 1/4 are drug violators who have received little or no drug treatment. Operating expenses are about $40 billion annually. (Source, NY Times). This is a tragic confession of the failure of American government and culture at this beginning of the new millennium to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before God".
+++++ Since the last edition of this webzine, we have started a print publication, the Oklahoma City Catholic Worker, if you'd like to be on its free mailing list send me email with your postal mailing address.
+++++ Our local campaign encouraging Oklahoma Natural Gas corporation to moderate the harshness of their business practices has produced no direct response to us, but it does seem to have provoked a disinformation campaign from the company. The last two month's bills have had inserts in them themed "We don't want to discontinue service to anybody." The content however is less than the headlines promise. Someone without much experience with poverty might think they were being generous and reasonable, when the reality is quite different. We may yet end up with picket signs and icons praying the Rosary outside of their director's various offices (which are scattered from Wichita, Kansas through Oklahoma to Ft. Worth, Texas, so we may be doing some traveling during Lent). Please pray that the directors of ONG/ONEOK will hear the cry of the poor and respond with compassion, thus making their corporation a better corporate citizen and making a significant contribution to the common good..
+++++ There's news from Hazelton, Pennsylvania, about an itinerant, barefoot, robed, devout Catholic "holy man" who is bringing peace, joy, and healing to people of that area. He seems to have a special apostolate to alienated youth. Let us all keep this situation in our prayers. Such sudden outbreaks of grace in a community are very precious.
+++++ We had a nice visitation recently from Sylvia and Andy Tribble of the Columbia (Missouri) Catholic Workers, they were headed home from a week's visit at Casa Juan Diego in Houston. We're going up there for a visit soon -- the Columbia CWers are giving us an old van they don't need, we'll use it in our homeless outreach. They said we didn't have enough non-working appliances (we have only one in the back yard) or empty cardboard boxes on our porch (a few by the back door), but otherwise things looked fine. We talked CW "shop", I asked a lot of questions, and we both shared stories. Any of y'all who happen to be traveling through, please do stop and say howdy. (Schedules are very erratic around here, call to make sure somebody's home, we're at the southeast corner of NW 21st and North McKinley.) "Good food served here." We indeed leave our porch light on for you. Our phone number is 405-557-0436.
What a sight to see. As this issue is going to press, I have been watching the national news reports of Cardinal O'Connor's funeral in New York City. When Cardinal Law mentioned his colleague's support for the "pro-life cause," a spontaneous standing ovation broke out, and the President and Mrs. Clinton actually stood up with the rest of the congregation. Unfortunately, it seemed to me that blood dripped from his presidential hands as he clapped them, and the cries of Iraqi children joined a chorus of people whose lives had been ended by abortion in a mighty shout of protest against the sins against life of the United States government. May he and all who would rule hear their call to justice and repentance!
Some miscellaneous quotes found in my inbox since the last edition of this webzine. . .
A British biologist, Roger Coghill, says he expects the depleted uranium (DU) weapons used by U.S. aircraft over Kosovo will cause more than 10,000 fatal cancer cases ... In mid-June scientists at Kozani in northern Greece were reporting that radiation levels were 25% above normal whenever the wind blew from the direction of Kosovo. And Bulgarian researchers reported finding levels eight times higher than usual within Bulgaria itself, and up to 30 times higher in Yugoslavia." --BBC News, "Depleted Uranium 'Threatens Balkan Cancer Epidemic,'." July 30, 1999
+++++++"A [UN-sponsored] truth commission report has concluded that the United States gave money and training to a Guatemalan military that committed 'acts of genocide' against the Mayan people during the most brutal armed conflict in Latin America, Guatemala's 36-year civil war [1960-1996]. The report of the independent Historical Clarification Commission, which was released on Thursday, contradicts years of official denial about the torture, kidnaping and execution of thousands of civilians in a war that the commission estimated killed more than 200,000 Guatemalans." --New York Times, February 26, 1999
+++++++"I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street." --U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, in Common Sense, November 1935
+++++ Your webservant now moderates a new CIN list (as of May 8th) -- Caelum et Terra -- which continues the conversation started by the magazine of the same name (published 1992-96), which is to say, Catholic, Chestertonian, agrarian, distributist, personalist; we will explore the topic of Catholic intentional communities rooted in these concepts. Yes, it's true, the OKC Catholic Workers want to start a farm community. You can make a designated donation for the "farm purchase savings account". Send to Oscar Romero Catholic Worker, 1524 NW 21st, Oklahoma City, OK, 73106, designate it for the "farm". We invite everybody to add this to their prayer intentions.
+++++++ Commencing on the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (July 1st), we will be praying a "week of novenas for justice and peace," 63 days of summer prayer ending September 1st (originally offered in the summer of 1998). More information will be forthcoming at this website, via the email listservs, and a special tabloid edition of the OKC Catholic Worker; we'd be happy to send you a bundle to distribute at your local parish, coffee house, Catholic school or wherever.
++++++ In other news of the Oscar Romero House, we continue to deliver groceries each month. Our garden is making great progress (this year we're growing tomatoes, peppers, several kinds of squashes, black eyed peas, pole beans, we have huge compost heaps and will be taking some compost during the summer to community gardens.)
Our meeting with one of the directors of ONEOK/ONG went well; she seems to think there is enough money for emergency assistance but that people had problems accessing it. ONG has established a task force to consider the justice of their "roommate rule." See ONG letters for the background of this justice issue. My conclusion is that piped in natural gas is an amenity that the very poor can't afford in Oklahoma City. We intend to pay more attention to helping people break free of the ONG gas monopoly. Meanwhile, 3 kids were killed in Oklahoma City last month in a fire caused by candles. The electricity had been cut off, the mother had taken the day off from her low-wage job to look for emergency assistance, she got fired, that evening she had to go to the emergency room of a hospital because of a migraine headache, while at the hospital a candle got knocked over at home and her 3 kids were killed in the resulting fire. Such is the life of the poor in our robust expanding prosperous economy. Like I said, we need a farm as a home place for a community. There's no room for the poor in the globalizing US economy, it's time to start founding alternative communities to provide refuge. If the Hutterites and Amish can do it, so can the Catholics. It's part of the vision of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin for the Catholic Worker movement.
+++++ It is turning out to be a long hot summer. We moved the kitchen to the porch to help reduce the heat buildup in the house. My grandmother said that this is what everybody in Oklahoma used to do during the summer, so I guess we're remembering the wisdom of our ancestors. We're using a 2 burner gas grill and a 1 burner propane cooker, and have even managed to bake biscuits on the grill. We've also feasted on fresh blackeyed peas, yellow squash, tomatoes, and green beans from the garden, and are about to start picking corn. Alas, the pumpkins and winter squash were munched by various bugs, and the yields all around are down due to a July storm. We replanted the winter squash on the opposite side of the house, and so far the bugs haven't found it. The late sunflowers we planted are about to bloom.
+++++ Requests for assistance have remained steady throughout the summer, but resources have been scarce. As of last week we were down to beans, rice, flour, sugar, salt, tuna, ramen noodles, and canned mixed vegetables in our emergency grocery pantry. This week we've been given some juice, frozen vegetables and potatoes, so we have a little more variety, but the cupboard remains a bit bare. Praise God a member of my choir gave us a freezer last week, so we had room for the frozen food.
+++++ Every time we make up bags of groceries, I look at what we put in and think, "How will the person receiving this be able to use these particular foods?" I find myself hoping that they have baking powder and soda and yeast and know what to do with it, but worried that they don't have that knowledge. We also have requests for milk for kids that we haven't been able to meet. We've written four flyers -- (1) Saving big bucks on your summer energy bill, (2) family food security, (3) how to make your own snacks, and (4) Ideas for tasty and thrifty meals. They're all based on material in our Better Times Cookbook and Almanac of Useful Information for Poor People. We include them and a copy of our newspaper with each bag, plus a Rosary. Feel free to reprint them, they will eventually be available at this site as adobe acrobat files.
+++++We've had some visitors this summer. Jesse from the Rochester house stopped by (he was on an odyssey to visit as many CW houses as he could, I hope he sends out a little report on his journey). Cliff from Pittsburgh sojourned with us a few days during his recent trans-continental journey in search of community. He got appointed our director of holy research and blessed development -- we want to make our own solar cells for alternative energy purposes, and of course, teach others how to do the same -- and since he's working on a degree in some kind of materials engineering, he has more science than the rest of us combined. We've put this project under the patronage of St. Ambrose of Milan, one of the patrons of candlemakers (there wasn't a patron saint listed for "PV Solar Cell Makers", so we figured that candlemakers was close enough. Fiat lux!) Two expatriate Okies -- Margaret from New York and Christy from St. Louis, both volunteers at the houses in those cities, also stopped by for a visit. Margaret's mother died recently, let's keep that family in our prayers.
++++ A friend in Texas has sent us some photographs and maps of 20-30 acre parcels of land about 60 miles east of Oklahoma City near Wetumka (also Henrietta and McAlester). 30 acres runs $490/acre, a mixture of woodlands and pasture. Payments are low. Don't know about the water, though, but we'll find out. She's thinking about starting a Catholic Worker house in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, so that's another item for the prayer list. I told her, "It's easy to start a Catholic Worker house, just hang out your shingle and let God do the rest." We continue to make things up as we go along; as they say, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
+++++ We are a year old this month. Since August of 1999, from a standing start, we have provided 1,211 nights of lodging and 3,752 meals to guests, as well as delivered groceries to 726 people. We connected 54 people with Christmas presents, and provided a bunch of clothing, as well as blankets, sheets, and the occasional stove or bit of furniture. We've also paid for some electric bills, prescriptions, doctor visits, and veterinary treatment (6 dogs and 2 cats), and delivered food, water, and "hospitality bags" to the homeless. We keep track of most of this in our house Journal -- a purple spiral notebook in which we write down requests for assistance, people who visit, guests, phone numbers, etc. It's a bit on the tattered side after a year of being packed around everywhere I go, but it's still hanging together, and just about full. Time for another notebook. Currently there are 7 people (6 adults, 1 kid), 4 dogs, and 4 cats in residence. Regarding internet activity, since December 27, 1997, there have been 370,054 unique user sessions, viewing a total of 713,248 pages; in the past year (roughly, August 23, 1999 to July 24, 2000) there were 161,943 user sessions, viewing 311,168 pages.
+++++ So let this be a lesson to you. Starting a Catholic Worker house is not an impossible task. Sure, there's a certain precarious nature to everything we do, but that's part of our solidarity with the poor. They are always on the edge, one foot on a banana peel and the other slipping. See also, "We start small, or we don't start at all." And, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." We certainly don't have a huge shelter or soup kitchen, but at night our living room turns into a bedroom. We've managed to keep at least one vehicle running and legal for the entire year (there are five vehicles around our place these days, 3 belonging to us and 2 to our guests, one is currently running and legal). We started with no money, essentially with just the space we live in, our vehicles, and the website. "How do you find people to help?" This hasn't been a problem, word gets around, they find us. We don't have a big strategic plan or a fund-raising campaign, nor a 501-c-3 corporation. But willing hearts and lots of prayer and the help of friends seems to be doing the job thus far. As we are praying in this week's novena, "Help me to not lose my faith, hope, and love."
+++++++The Daily Oklahoman business section reported on the Feast of the Transfiguration that the top 5% of households own 82% of stock market shares in the United States, and the top 1% own 51%, which means that the other 95% of the population splits 18% of the market. Only 30% of the population have more than $5,000 invested in the stock market.
+++++ Everybody here is waaaay dubious about the escalation of US military involvement in Colombia under the pretext of suppressing the illegal drug trade. Sounds like Vietnam II. If we were a betting house, we would be doing a "house pool" on the date of a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident designed to inflame domestic opinion in the US to support armed intervention in the country. So there's a special section to this Front Page about Colombia and the war on people who use drugs. My invitation is to take notice of this issue, because it is not a matter of major national discussion. When are the presidential candidates going to discuss their policies towards US military involvement in Colombia?
+++++ This Front Page also looks at income inequality and economic justice. To be sure, we do not begrudge anyone that which they have honestly earned, although we do remember the teaching of the Bible that "the love of money is the root of all evil," and have not forgotten Jesus' advice to the rich young ruler. The hypothesis around these parts is that a lot of what passes as wealth these days is not honest money, but rather politics and corruption, a reverse (perverse!) Robin Hood economy that steals from the poor to give to the rich. In spite of the tremendous economic boom of the 1990s, only the top 20% (in particular, the top 5%) shows serious gains. The next 20% has gained some income (not much, though), and the other 60% of households have incomes that are stagnant or declining. Memo to Washington: The "rising tide" is not lifting all boats. Combine this news about household income with the percentage of stock asset ownership, and it augurs a rocky and unstable future. A truly free and fair marketplace wouldn't produce this kind of injustice. The conclusion we draw is that the present system is cleverly rigged and politically manipulated to achieve this inequitable situation. One has to wonder how long the 80% will put up with this on-going legalized theft of their share of prosperity. Unfortunately, the powers that be appear to be as clueless as the Romanovs in 1917 or the French aristocracy in 1789.
+++++ Worldwide, the situation for the poor is grim, and getting worse. Promises of debt relief are not being fulfilled, the poorest of the poor are losing what little ground they have, and mortality is increasing. What's happening has almost a science fiction aura about it, as the prosperous North goes about its business oblivious to the millions dying in the South. We've been chronicling this since December 1997. We'll be glad when the news turns around. In any event, we watched parts of the Republican National Convention, and heard a lot of talk about Compassionate Conservatism. So we've compiled some Suggestions for Compassionate Conservatives (and Liberals, Socialist, Libertarians, and Greens), just in case somebody wants to take the propaganda seriously. We invite you to pass that list along the cyberways.
+++++"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.'" Revelation 21:1-4. Amen, even so come Lord Jesus.
On the feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr,
Robert Waldrop (and Sean, Josh, Nick, Shawn, Tammy, Ashley, plus Sally, Sassy, Pixie, and Bambi the dogs, and Mother of Nations, Crooked Paw, Callie, and Skitz the cats)
Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, 1524 NW 21st, Oklahoma City, OK 73106, 405-557-0436.
Justpeace Advent Wreath 2000
Sometime during the summer, it seems like the pace picked up a bit around here, and things haven't slowed down a bit. The last week of October our computer crashed, and we just got it back this week. It delayed a lot of web publication, but we got a lot of things done around the house, hehehe, especially on our library. We've collected about 8 good-sized boxes of justice/peace and sustainable living information, mostly stuff printed from the internet. Sifting through that has produced some great finds, the goal is to get it catalogued and indexed so it can be useful on a regular basis.
In January we begin our first weekly sewing class, to be taught by Mary Freeh here at the House. This will hopefully be followed by a cooking and a quilting class. We're distributing our "home extension department's" new flyer on keeping warm in the winter in both cyberspace and on paper here at home -- see Html version ... adobe acrobat version for the text. With Christmas coming, we've also released our Christmas Appeal.
The election has come, and hasn't apparently left yet. We remain convinced that the histories of this era written in the future will note our toxic leadership as one of the significant factors contributing to the distress of these times. We find the rhetoric coming from both sides to be hypocrisy of the worst order. These kinds of election shenanigans have been going on for a long time, and nobody has done anything about them because at one time or another both sides benefit from the ambiguities. Now the situation has risen up and bit them where it really hurts. A sensible country would take this as a wake-up call to fix the system, but while many things may be said about the United States, "sensible" is not one of them. If something doesn't work, we order up more of the same and expect that somehow we will get different results.
Fortunately, reality is not confined to what we are seeing and hearing in the United States. There remains a supernatural order and the rest of the tale remains to unfold. Our journey now takes us into Advent, we color our world with expectation and waiting, preparation and hope. We've told this story over and over, through decades and centuries, risings and fallings, growings and dyings. A virgin will conceive and bear a Son. We will call him Wonderful, Counselor, the Prince of Peace. The darkness, which is often so thick it seems it can be cut with a night, will be illuminated with light, our footsteps will no longer stumble, crooked ways will be made straight, valleys elevated and mountains leveled.
God will hear the cry of his people and send Redemption, Beauty, Justice, Wisdom, and Truth. The humble will be exalted, the proud will be humbled, and the mighty will be cast down from their thrones. It is a story so mighty, and yet so practical, that one almost is afraid to trust in its glorious hope. How can it possibly be that a child born to a humble working class family in a conquered land is the bringer of such promise? Yet we know this is so, not simply because it is written in a venerable and ancient book, a story handed down from our ancestors, but also because we experience this Redemption, Beauty, Justice, Wisdom, and Truth right now in real time. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
On the memorial of Charles de Foucauld, founder of the Little Brothers of the Poor, and the Commemoration of the Refusal of Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus.
Robert Waldrop, for the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House -- and also Sean and Shawn and Tammy and Ashley the humans (Josh and Nick having moved out of state to be with their families), and Crooked Paw, Callie, Skitz, and Mother of Nations, Salem and Scairdy-cat the kitties, and Sassie and Sallie and Pixie the dogs, (Bambi the dog leaving with Josh, we gained two cats and lost one dog)
I usually start these webzines with some personal notes, but the more I wrote for this edition, the more I realized, "this isn't very "personal note folksy" at all. In fact, it's more like a Veritable Rant." So be it, Bob's Rant . Now, back to folksy personal observations.
We have had a peaceful, productive, and busy springtime, we planted 58 different varieties of edible perennials on the yard (first step to getting rid of the lawn in its entirety), by the middle of the summer, if you're hungry and in the neighborhood, just stop by and nibble on the lawn. Visit our Better Times sustainable living webzine , and read all the details about our baby "forest garden". We've launched a new webzine, Energy conservation news and resources , which has big piles of info about energy conservation and frugality. Some of our "busy-ness" has been taking our own advice.
The line at the food pantry is longer than ever, but fortunately we only had to turn people away for only one episode of five days since our last edition (due to empty shelves). In kind donations are increasing quite a bit, but we run pretty close to empty most of the time. We had a St. Joseph's Table in March at my parish. Read about it and see some pictures here .
During Lent, seven college students from Creighton University visited us for their spring break as a poverty immersion/service trip. They picked up trash in a poor neighborhood, learned how to bake bread, attended a sewing class, toured a sustainable energy homestead, planted fruit trees and grape vines, distributed our Better Times energy almanac in a working class neighborhood, slept on the floor, made do without central heating, learned about justice and sustainable living issues, and organized our "free store" stock of clothing and miscellaneous household goods. They could have gone to the beach that week, but instead, they spent their time with us doing good works. They were champs and did a lot of good, hard, useful work while they were here. God bless them.
The heat of the summer is upon us, although the weather is quite nice these days. We've only had
one heart-stopping tornado warning which fortunately went away about as fast as the sirens got
going good and loud. We got through the winter just fine, there was a great outpouring of support
in December, and we were able to help a lot of families with both Christmas food and gifts. There
were several special heroes in this (you know who you are - and SO DOES GOD), and we are
grateful to everybody who is helping with our rather anarchic journey of justice and peace into the
Third Christian Millennium.
Come out of your Egypt of Oppression, was the message chanted by cantors, deacons, and priests at the beginning of the Easter Vigil. Long has been our sojourn in Goshen, now is the time to rise up and go out into the promised land of freedom. Fortunately, we don't have to wait for the objective circumstances to favor us, we can begin living in the Reign of God right now. That's what we're trying to do, as imperfectly and poorly as we do it. Most of the time we're just peering through a smoky glass, barely getting a glimpse of what's going on. But thus far that has been enough, and what more can any of us ask but to have enough of what is needful to do what we are to do?
Let us keep in our prayers Jeff Moebus, of New Orleans, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who is now a member of Pax Christi, who in April began a 42 day fast and public witness at the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Robert Waldrop, for the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City
What a busy summer, and then, what a crazy fall. It's hard to know where to start.
Lust for material things can be an addiction. Thus, it seems to me that consideration of the ways of recovery from alcoholism could be of use as we increasingly seek to break free from the chains of consumerism and gluttonous materialism. The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is a good place to start. Being as how we are coming up on Advent and Christmas, now is a good time to think about "who's birthday is it anyway?" Are we welcoming the baby Jesus, or are we engaging in an orgy of materialistic instant gratification? Will other children suffer so that we can give our children cheap toys? Will we snatch food from the mouths of the hungry in order to prepare our holiday tables?
Meanwhile, the war goes on, you'll find a new section in this edition, "The War on Terrorism," let us pray for peace and heed the call of our bishops to fast also, one day a week, until all this is over.
Our garden has been a great blessing this fall. We are having a long Indian Summer, it hasn't frozen yet in OKC (as of November 16th), my tomatoes are bigger and bushier and more loaded with fruit than they were in June, slow ripening though.
Here is our annual appeal, inviting folks to be part of our little ministry. Please keep us in your prayers.
Pax, Caritas, Justicia,
Robert Waldrop, for the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City
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