The Jewish Talmud, one of humanity’s great sources of wisdom, has a format much of the rest of the world -- our world, certainly -- would largely reject. The Talmud, the rabbinical interpretation of Judaism’s basic laws, does not depend on majority votes. It preserves the general opinions and major conclusions as agreed upon by most of the rabbis of a given era.
From Where I Stand
I've been muddling over this particular column for days now. And I have reasons:
First, I myself come from a union family and I know the pull of bias when I see it. Especially my own.
The first demonstration I ever attended I was huddled in my father's arms as strangers rushed by the front of our house. Late one night, I could hear the union men come roaring down the street, the men yelling, the torches burning, parked cars being rocked and rolled onto the sidewalks.
The country is in a new kind of national simmer these days, the boiling point of which may well determine the social climate of this country for years to come. All the signs are clear.
For the first time in history, the President of the United States has raised the nature of civil discourse to the level of a State of the Union address. Assembled for that speech, many members of the Congress of the United States sat together, intermingled, as if they really were all cooperating citizens of the same country.
The Monastics of the Desert didn’t have anything to say about New Year’s resolutions but they had a lot to say about life. “Abba Poemen said of Abba Pior” one collection of early records report, “that every day he made a new beginning.”
Monasticism, we can see, is an ancient spiritual tradition with an eye for wisdom. Obscured as this new year may be by an era of financial fear, personal pain, and the struggle to survive, this new year is also, ironically, a time crying for great creativity and change. We are in need of ‘a new beginning’ on multiple levels.
Ticking time bombs are among the world’s most dangerous weapons. Most of them are too small to see at first glance. Most of them are easy to make. You can plant a number of them at one time. They can do a great deal of damage, however small.
Change always happens one way or another. If it happens through the system, we call it evolution. If it happens despite the system, we call it revolution. The problem is that the spirit of revolution -- that unguided burst of change so often triggered by frustration or despair -- is in the air now, politically, economically and spiritually.
Almost half a century after the opening of the first session of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962, there is a new spirit in the church.
But the spirit that is rising in this church no longer pulses with the promise and energy of Vatican II. There is little sense of new possibilities now. The council’s mandate to welcome the fresh air of the Spirit has gone stale.
But not completely.
Read the full column here: 'Don’t even think about it' just isn’t working anymore
Some things never go way. The best ones, in fact, come back to us in whole new ways. Saints are like that.
The church calendar that formed me, for instance, provided the Catholic community one feast day after another designed to remind us of the heroes of the Catholic community. On those days, congregations held special masses, sang special songs, prayed special prayers and blessed special statues.
There are ministries. And there are ministries.
Some ministries in life a person can spend a lifetime planning. Like how to become a paramedic or how to join the fire department or how to go about being an advocate for people in need. In all those ways, and many more like them, some special kinds of people set out to serve those who need a hand up in hard times or continuing support even in good times. Those positions we institutionalize. Those things the rest of us take for granted these others will do. These people we call the professional guardians of a society.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is meeting in Dallas this week under scrutiny from Rome and with a cloud hanging over its head.
What shall we think about such a time as this when the women religious who have built, carried, led and staffed every work of the church from the earliest days of this nation to this present time of turbulence and transition are being accused of being unorthodox, unfaithful, and unfit to make adult decisions about what they need to hear and who they want to have say it?
The problem is that in the face of opposition they have also been unafraid.
Read Chittister's full column here: Wanted: women of spirit in our own time
"I don't understand it," she said to me. "We're Americans, too. Why don't they see the good of what we're doing."
She was Daisy Khan, who with her husband Iman Faisal Khan are leaders in the movement to open the Cordoba Islamic Cultural Center in New York City.
I could see the disappointment, the frustration, in her eyes as she spoke. What can you say to anyone at a time like this? After all, does anybody ever really 'see' what anybody else sees?"
Read Chittister's full column here: About that other shoe.