What is the first principle Catholics should consider when thinking about the current health care reform debate? Three Midwestern bishops recently offered two conflicting responses to this question.
Peace & Justice
KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Late summer and fall is a busy time for Lisa Ousley and Bernard Schneider. They have green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers and zucchinis to rescue. Tons of them.
Ousley and Schneider aren’t farmers. They’re gleaners. They take teams of volunteers into fields and orchards to pick fruit and vegetables that otherwise would be left to rot. Then they distribute the produce to food banks and agencies that serve the hungry.
Ousley and Schneider are the executive director and program coordinator respectively of the Society of St. Andrew’s Western Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.
“Basically our goal is to get produce that is not marketable for cosmetic reasons and get it to people who cannot afford to buy produce,” Ousley said.
Commercial food producers have exacting standards for size, color and appearance. Zucchinis that grow too large, potatoes that didn’t grow big enough, blemished tomatoes or oddly shaped cucumbers can’t be sold.
Welcome signs to Lao Family Community Development are printed in eight languages: Thai, Chinese, Bosnian, Mien, Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese, English -- and that’s just the beginning. This Oakland, Calif., office houses the energy and diversity of Pentecost. The works of mercy are practiced here daily.
I know honesty is dangerous, but let’s try it: I know it’s Labor Day and time for salutes to American labor and workers. But the American labor movement is dead or dying, take your pick, and American workers have, in the main, little power, often none. And the thing is, nobody -- well, almost nobody -- cares or, at the least, pretends what I say is untrue or exaggerated.
After winning the first contested election as president of the AFL-CIO in the fall of 1995, John Sweeney opened the important winter meeting of the labor federation’s executive council with a long discussion of plans to organize more workers into unions. For decades the union share of the work force had been shrinking, but Sweeney’s predecessors had given the decline only scant attention.
If you watch enough cable news you would think the fight over health care reform has been reduced to protestors screaming about socialism, "death panels" and the evils of government. A new campaign, organized by Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations united behind health care reform as a moral imperative, offers a stark contrast to the anger and misinformation distorting this critical debate.
Our coalition, 40 Days for Health Reform, hosted a national conference call with President Obama last week that featured religious leaders and engaged citizens sharing painful stories from the front lines of a broken health care system. One hundred and forty thousand citizens participated. Instead of shouting and demagoguery, there was thoughtful reflection, civil dialogue and factual analysis. Ministers and rabbis spoke about values that transcend partisan politics or narrow ideologies.
The “Great Recession,” we are told, is over. We pray this is true.
Walter Brueggemann (see story) forcefully reminds us, however, that there will be a reckoning; that a failure to learn the lessons of this economic crisis will have severe consequences for us, our children and their children.
Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the use of microcredit lending -- the making of very small loans with low interest rates -- to help the poor step out of poverty. With a 98 percent repayment rate, Yunus figured out that small Bangladeshi villages possess rules in which all borrowers are expected to repay their microloans for their own benefit and for the benefit of the community.
But can such organic, ground-up “banking for the poor” work in the United States? In Belleville, Ill., a Society of St. Vincent de Paul council thinks it can.
Foxtrot Seven brooded in its concrete silence near a grove of cedar trees perched on a glade overlooking a tiny stream. On a bright October day, the glade was colorfully spotted with wildflowers -- goldenrod, morning glory and mullein. I lay in the breeze-nudged grass and watched a flock of chickadees move through the cedars, then walked back to the Minuteman missile silo.
The following is an abridged version of a talk given July 30 in Cincinnati at the Celebration Conference on Effective Liturgy.
In the Bible Israel always has the hard work of transposing its treasured narrative memory into contemporary practice. It keeps treasured narrative memory and contemporary practice together by sustained acts of liturgical imagination. That liturgical imagination, regularly performed, is designed to raise the question from mesmerized children, “What is this about?”