1 St. Catharine College Journal of Peace & Justice April 2014 Dr. Nancye McCrary Matt Branstetter Dr. Harry Toder In this issue of the Journal of Peace and Justice, we have different points of view represented. We begin with a piece by Dr. Nancye McCrary, in which she criticizes the U.S. government s handling of the Manhattan Project during World War II, with its utter disregard for the safety of the women working with hazardous substances, as well as its actual conduct of the war. Next, Mr. Branstetter gives his interpretation and plea for interfaith understanding. He also includes an interview with a Lexington business owner concerning the relationship between inner and outer peace as well as the role women business owners might play in creating a just society. Finally, Dr. Toder writes a piece culminating his discussion about the practical value of Sociology, another vehicle for peace and justice in our society. Dr. McCrary, Mr. Branstetter and Dr. Toder illustrate the diversity and diverse interests of our faculty at St. Catharine College. Each, in his or her own way, strikes a practical chord, but in a much different manner. While Dr. McCrary and Mr. Branstetter operate from a humanistic perspective, Dr. Toder does so from more of a scientific perspective. This is not to say which is right or better than the other, but the analogy of different slices of the apple might apply. Dr. McCrary is from the Department of Education, Mr. Branstetter from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Dr. Toder from the Department of Social Services. Each person has his/her own practical take on peace and justice in our society, and presents it in an invigorating manner. Dr. Harry Toder
2 Secret Sharers By Dr. Nancye E. McCrary 2014 After little more than half a century that included four major wars, President Eisenhower warned the American people of a rapidly growing military industrial complex in the United States. we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together (Eisenhower, 1961). Certainly a free public education for all, one that is equitable in which resources are distributed fairly, is hopeful in producing an alert and knowledgeable citizenry. In fact, an important aim of public education in the United States has long been in service of an engaged democratic citizenry. Unfortunately, many believe that public education in the United States is quickly becoming corporate education and, should that happen, short-term capital gain will become the driving force rather than the creation of informed and active citizens (Chomsky, 2013; Giroux, 1999; Ravich, 2013; Tierney, 2013). This, however, is more about the gate keepers of knowledge than public education in the United States. It is a story within a larger story about complicity, blind obedience, and misplaced trust. It takes place in a secret city in the rural South, described by one inhabitant as surrounded by: barbed wire, spies, privation and the biggest secret the nation ever kept. This was a city called paradise by some, where workers came from all over the United States, secret sharers who had uprooted themselves live sealed in privacy, under military dictatorship, driven by wartime urgency for a project only a fraction of us understood (Searcy, 1992). Write it all down, she said, write everything I tell you. My mother was slipping in and out of consciousness as she was dying of cancer and asked my younger brother to take notes as she recounted her work in a secret city (17 miles long, 7 miles wide, with 75,000 inhabitants) between 1943 and She insisted all of her co-workers had died of cancers. She worked with a cohort of 12 women who wore dosimeter badges that recorded daily radiation readings in deep basements at the Y-12 uranium enrichment plant. Sworn to secrecy, these women dutifully did their assigned jobs. There were secrets, kept for nearly 30 years, about leaving their dosimeter badges at home when the radiation reading was too high the day before. The private contractors and the government knew these workers were being exposed to lethal doses of radiation that not only would cause their eventual deaths but would affect genetic changes for generations. This story is not told chronologically. It reaches back and forth across time and place, through personal accounts, official policies, asking what we have learned and how might we act on that knowledge toward a more sustainable future. As Arundhati Roy (2004) insists: The American way of life is not sustainable [because] it doesn t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America. Roy, a writer and activists from India, has written and spoken eloquently about the potential of the
3 Patricia O Connor McCrary (front row far left) and her cohort of women who worked on the Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge, TN American people to change the world, to demand peace, to embrace justice. She speaks about how we appear to much of the world in hopes of awakening citizens of the United States to call our leaders to the task of improving conditions for all. More than any other citizenry, Roy says Americans have the opportunity to move the most powerful leaders in the world toward a greater good, to end war, to feed the hungry, and to educate children. Roy reminds us with urgency to examine ourselves, our privileges, our mistakes, and to tell and retell these truths. She does so, not so much to criticize the United States, but rather to call us to action, continually reminding us that we are the only citizens who can save the world from total destruction. Her appeal is much like Eisenhower s warning in 1961: Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. Both seek to awaken us to truths we may not speak but certainly share in the collective consciousness of the United States. For, when we make hard truths secret, we leave lessons to be framed by profiteers who would have us act on false assumptions. When we view truth as unpatriotic, peace-talk as disrespectful of our brothers and sisters serving in the military, we subvert a most critical conversation and may be more likely to repeat mistakes of the past, risking the destruction of the very republic so many died to protect. It is no longer possible for the United States to proceed as we have, with so little regard for the rest of the world, without terrible consequences. The intent here is to illuminate and to resist a long and unsustainable path toward the illusion of preserving a way of life that cannot endure. Contemporary thinkers, such as Arundhati Roy, who dare to unveil how we in the United States appear from the perspectives of others, awaken us to an urgent critical viewpoint that is too often lost in our privileged day-to-day lives. Eisenhower recognized the meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense and was compelled to warn us of the potential for dire consequences. Manhattan Project, the dropping of Little Boy on Hiroshima, and the subsequent bomb, Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki, which was not to stop the war but to seize the opportunity to test a different kind of bomb, changed everything, except, according to Albert Einstein, the thinking of the people. The experiences of the women working on the Manhattan Project were as bizarre as any. The secrets they kept for many years veiled their shares in the murder of 240,000 people (according to some estimates). Half of the victims died the first day of the bombings, the other half died from burns and radiation sickness over the following months. Most were unsuspecting citizens. As art often does, Picasso s Guernica illuminates the experience on the ground of the first aerial bombing of a civilian city during the Spanish Civil War in It was not a nuclear bomb, nor did it contaminate the city of Guernica for generations to come, but it was dropped from above on unsuspecting citizens. Exhibited for the first time in Paris in the summer of 1937, Guernica horrified some. Depicting the devastation of the city by the Nazis, Guernica might have given the world caution, yet by August 1945 the United States
4 dropped the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later we tested another type of nuclear bomb, dropping the plutonium-based implosion bomb on Nagasaki even though we knew the war was already essentially over. Guernica, Pablo Picasso 1937 (11 X 25.6 ) Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain As children, my brothers and I saw our mother s fears grow as Christmas cards told of another woman diagnosed with cancer. One-by-one the women in her cohort from Y12 died from breast or lung cancers or lymphoma. Each time my mother heard of another coworker with cancer, she would recall the working conditions in Oak Ridge. Their jobs were to record radiation levels during the enrichment process. They would enter the plant through tall barbed wire fences, go several levels underground and spend their days reading and documenting radiation levels in just their street clothes, with no protective clothing. She told us once she opened a door in the basement of Y12 and saw a full size train moving on underground tracks. As they checked out each afternoon, they presented their dosimeter badges and were told whether to wear them the following day. All they knew was that they were part of a top secret war effort. With husbands off to war and young children to feed and house, they needed jobs and they were proud to contribute to the war effort. The intersections of power and privilege unfold throughout their stories. As women, the workers at Y12 were sharers in the production of the first nuclear bomb dropped indiscriminately on civilians but they did not share in knowing the trajectory of their labor. Their generation of women largely observed the conventional role of women in society. Most had been schooled to think their roles were to serve silently, asking few questions and trusting men to know best. As working class women, largely untrained for working outside the home, they were lucky to have jobs. It was never theirs to question the work of men, particularly well-educated men like the scientists who had descended on this small town in East Tennessee. These women grew-up during the Great Depression, determined to work hard and live frugally. Little did they know that their own lives and those of their children were compromised each day they worked at Y12 and returned home bringing increased doses of radiation to their families. Knowing what they had done in Oak Ridge, the United States government set aside a fund to support the healthcare of the workers at Y12 and other nuclear facilities, yet failed to tell anyone it existed. Most victims died with no support and the funds remained secret for nearly 40 years. After all, it was blood money that satisfied the intent to support victims, if not actually doing so. Given that these places and deeds appear disconnected: Oak Ridge, TN, Hiroshima, Japan, Guernica, Spain, Picasso, my mother s cohort at Y12, they intersect around important, albeit simple, questions such as: What have we learned? Who benefits from war? What sort of consciousness permits the making and dropping of bombs indiscriminately? What narratives or false narratives preceded and followed such events? Philosopher, Hannah Arendt, a victim herself of the purification of Germany under Hitler s totalitarian regime, offers insight through the notion of the right to have rights. She says that in war or resistance, we should ask what we are fighting for rather than what we are fighting against. Arendt s answer: when we fight for the right to have rights, we fight for the basic principle of human solidarity. In other words, solidarity is not found in the rights of some but in our collective struggle for the rights of all. Arendt also discusses morality as the actual-
5 ization of consciousness or thinking with oneself. Put simply, she proposes that such thinking requires an interaction with self in a manner that an inner plurality exists and demands agreement. For example, Socrates is said to have preferred death to living apart from his inner self or his thinking partner. Arendt found that evil flourishes in mindlessness. She explained that Nazi war criminals, particularly Eichmann, could say nothing nor show any emotion during his trial because he had disconnected from his thinking partner and thus could and was convinced to act on orders without question. Accounts from public interviews with workers in the Manhattan Project indicate most were shocked when the bombs were dropped in Japan and they realized they had been part of making those bombs. Such unknowing complicity in what some thought were crimes against humanity was a source of confusion and sadness for my mother. Would she have worked at Y12 had she known they were producing a nuclear bomb to drop on civilians? Would so many have kept their work secret had they known? Workers were faced with such unanswerable questions as they became increasingly aware of their connection to the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Perhaps, some would have severed the relationship with their thinking partners. Many may have found other work, being Public sign at the entrance to the Y-12 plant in 1944, Oak Ridge, TN unable to tolerate separation of inner morality from the reality of what they were producing. The point is that thinking people, those who maintain an active relationship between inner thought and external experience are unable to act mindlessly. It is only in the disconnected self that we are able to act on orders without question, that we are instruments of the powerful, or that we are able to commit crimes against humanity with little disturbance. So disturbing was my mother s sense of complicity, that she dictated every detail to my brother with dying urgency. Write down everything I say, every detail. Those notes were packed away along with family photos and old Christmas cards. Years later National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story about a largely untapped fund set aside in the early 1950 s to support healthcare for thousands of workers exposed to deadly levels of radiation while working on the Manhattan Project. After hearing that story on NPR, my brother recovered the notes my mother dictated 15 years earlier. He was able to help many victims file claims and receive relatively small compensation. Most had already died and their descendants were able to claim only a percentage of the original amount. The etymology of peace includes the Hebrew shalom, meaning safety, welfare, and prosperity. It is often used as a verb connected to agreement or covenant (pacisci), a compact, treaty of peace. At times, such as the 1960 s in the United States, peace became the cry of resistance from a generation. Cries for peace have also symbolized unpatriotic citizens or weakness in the face of adversity. Of late, it seems peace has become nearly obsolete on a global scale. It is used more often in religious contexts, in prayers and rituals but rarely in the secular. Yet, as its etymology suggests, peace is both a noun and a verb. At once, peace is object and action. As a covenant, peace requires agreement and mindful action or praxis. Perhaps most challenging is that it requires agency or the belief we can indeed live peacefully. The Dominican Sisters urge us to BE PEACE. Arundhati Roy says: change will come. It could be bloody, or it
6 could be beautiful. It depends on us. It may be that Arendt s inner dialogue is actually what so many religious call prayer, a dialogue with God or the divine within us. However termed, it seems that thinking with ourselves is a source of agency and a way of knowing peace. Once internally recognized, it may be realized among us as a covenant and a promise. We can enact communities of peace, hopeful communities that weigh action against the extent to which it leads to safety, welfare, and prosperity for all. When I am quiet, I often hear my mother s voice and I wonder if it was necessary to build that last bomb, to drop it on Nagasaki, to lose her so young, to incinerate the people in that city across the globe. Was it necessary to keep those secrets from the workers in Oak Ridge? Was it fair? Who decides what can be known? Who decides to live in peace or war? Is it the power to control information or to wage war that is prized; or is it the strength to enact peace that we seek? Is it simply the hunger for accumulating capital that disregards peace in favor of conflict? Such questions are being asked around the world. When people begin to see the concentration of wealth narrow as their own safety, welfare, and prosperity diminish, revolutions happen. Sadly, most revolutions involve violence rather than patient and steady resistance and in violence ideas are often lost along the way. Yet ideas are the only real tools we have to change the world and ideals, such as peace, the only guidance for building great ideas. In sum, at St. Catharine College we are fortunate to be working, living, and learning in a place where ideas can flourish, where guidance is abundant, and where we are surrounded by people who embrace peace. It really is up to us to think, to read, to know, and to pursue the dialogic with ourselves and among us. Arundhati Roy offers a thoughtful and hopeful prayer. To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget. BE PEACE. Cited Works Chomsky, N. (2011). The corporate assault on public education, University of Toronto at Scarborough: AlterNet, Aug. 5. Giroux, H. (1999). Corporate culture and the attack on higher education and public schooling, Phi Delta Kappa International Fastback. Kelly, C. C. (2005). Robert W. Holmberg s Interview. Atomic Heritage Foundation. Oak Ridge, TN. September 22, Ravich, D. (2013). The reign of error: The hoax of the privatization movement and the danger to America s public schools, New York: Knopf. Roy, A. (2004). Public power in the age of em pire, New York: Seven Stories Press. Searcy, J. (1992). My nuclear childhood, Philadel phia, PA: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Au gust 9. Tierney, J. (2013). The coming revolution in pub lic education: Why the current wave of reforms, with its heavy emphasis on stan dardized tests, may actually be harming students, The Atlantic Monthly Group, Apr. 25.
7 Jesus and Interfaith Relations By Matt Branstetter 2014 Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself Confucius, Analects That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn - Rabbi Hillel, Talmud Shabbat See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do? - Buddha, Dhammapada Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets - Jesus, Gospel of Matthew For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. - Paul, Galatians One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one own self. This, in brief, is the rule of the Dharma - Brishaspati from the Hindu Epic Mahabarata None of you believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself - Muhammad, Hadith For some folks belonging to a particular religious tradition means that it is somewhat of a duty to misunderstand, ignore or misrepresent other traditions. It s relieving to me that in our College Strategic Plan for , we as a collective body have committed ourselves to strengthen our engagement in programs that sustain interfaith dialogue and promote a greater appreciation of religious differences. In this spirit, I hope that seeing these quotes from the great religious traditions of the world gives us pause. Hopefully, this pause is not to prepare an attack or a yes, but but simply to appreciate that they illustrate a deep (and for the most part independently acquired) insight into that which is good both spiritually and materially for human persons and societies. On the other hand, we may pause to wonder how these teachings can be at the heart of so many religious traditions when the history of interreligious relations has been so fraught with bloodshed and intolerance. It seems practitioners from all these traditions have fallen into the all-too-human trap of applying the golden rule only to people of their own background and belief system. This is, surely, what the Pharisee in the Gospel of Luke 1 is attempting to do. Jesus has just given the instruction that one should love one s neighbor as oneself when the Pharisee asks, And who is my neighbor? The implication of this question is clear some are my neighbor and some are not. Jesus responds to this question by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. Many of us are familiar with this parable and the fact that Jesus here gives a practical example of love of neighbor in action. What is often overlooked is that by making the hero of this story a Samaritan, that is a religious other, while making the Levite and the Israelite Priest the goats, Jesus is speaking directly to the human tendency to see only those who think and worship as we do as our neighbors. The Levite and the Priest are the living embodiments of the sacred traditions of the Israelites yet they do not fulfill the golden rule. In fact, Biblical Scholarship tells us that they may have been extra scrupulous at keeping the law of the Torah for Jesus 1 See Luke10: I am working from the New Revised Standard Version. (Feel free to Google the verse and choose any translation you wish!)
8 says the beaten man in the parable was half dead and Leviticus 2 tells us that coming into contact with a human corpse makes one ritually unclean. Thus, in their obedience to the law they neglect the rule which Jesus (and his contemporary Rabbi Hillel) says is the essence of the law. A principle here emerges: When a conflict arises between our adherence to the laws and formulations of our tradition on one side and the universal call to love of neighbor on the other, which should we choose? Jesus answer is clear though history shows us that this has not always been the official Christian (or Islamic or Hindu etc ) response even as it was not the response of the Israelite religious officials in the parable. I wonder, if Jesus were to tell this story in a contemporary context who the hero would be. Would it be the good Catholic? The good Protestant? The good Hindu.the good Muslim? I suspect he would choose the category for which his interlocutor had the most deep-seeded resentment and animosity. For the first century Jewish Priest nothing could be more goat-getting than a Samaritan who would deny the centrality of the Temple cult in Jerusalem. Such heretical audacity surely made them worse than the Gentiles. In fact scholars tell us that the orthodox Jews of the Galilee were to take a longer alternate route around Samaria when making their pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem specifically to express their disapproval of Samaritan religious practice. 2 Leviticus 21:11 This brings to mind the fact that in the Gospel of John 3 Jesus completely brushes off this tradition and walks directly through Mount Gerzim (it is this mountain rather than Jerusalem that formed the cultic center for Samaritans). Here he does something even more radical. He has a conversation with someone who is doubly an outsider. For one they are a Samaritan, a heretic, a religious outsider. (We should remember that Jesus is himself condemned as a heretic in this Gospel) Secondly she has the nerve to be born a woman in a patriarchal society. So Jesus walks into a forbidden land and makes direct, personal contact with a woman heretic. (Perhaps we should also remember the many woman heretics who were burned at the stake in his name during the Inquisition.) During this conversation the woman asks a question about the sensitive issue of where to worship; Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, yet you Jews say the place to worship is in Jerusalem. 4 This is no small matter. It is the basic difference in how the principal ritual forms of these two traditions are oriented and formulated. Jesus answers her by saying that true worship is neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. But the hour is coming and is now here, Jesus concludes, When the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth. 5 Again, I can t help but to wonder how Jesus would express this in our contemporary setting. Would he say, neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem but only in those places and architectural structures that reflect an explicit Christian intent? Somehow I doubt it. Would he perhaps say, neither on this mountain, nor in the temple, nor in the church, nor in the mosque The question is would he be content to remain squarely within the jagged lines of sectarianism that we ourselves have drawn? Or would he, again, point us towards and embody a living spiritual truth which transcends all traditionalism and the various divisive taboos of religious conventionalism? Of course, many Christians have acknowledged this radical dimension of Jesus teaching and 3 John 4: John 4:21 5 John 4:23
9 embody it in practice. However, from another perspective, when we see the violent history between various Christian denominations precisely because of the religious formalism that Jesus so consistently repudiates are we to assume that Jesus would approve of all of us of any of us? Is this not the exclusionary divisiveness he seems to be so critical of? And yet in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says of a Roman Centurion, a pagan, a religious other, truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. 6 It should be clear that the Roman was not Jewish and that by Faith Jesus must have meant something besides subscribing to religious dogma. That is, he is speaking of the essence of faith rather than its formalized expression. In fact, he spent his entire preaching career emphasizing this distinction. Are we to assume that the same Jesus who walked and talked freely with pagan, Greeks, Romans and Canaanites, not to mention the Samaritans and who performed for them some of his most powerful miracles and who sometimes found in them models of faith and humility are we to assume the Jesus who seemed to have moved beyond the sectarian boundaries of his day would be content to tip-toe around the hard and fast sectarian divisions that we have multiplied in his name? Imagine with me the confusion a discerning Hindu might feel if he were visited in a single day by a Catholic Priest, a Greek Orthodox Priest, an Anglican Priest and an Evangelical Minister. All might urge him to convert to Christianity yet he would find that by joining one of these denominations he would violate the formal constraints of all the others. He would be faced with divergent and (apparently) incommensurate theological claims and a disturbing history of interdenominational war and bloodshed. If we take the New Testament as our model are we not compelled to ask what Jesus himself might say in the face of such circumstances? Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees Jesus says of the would-be converters of his own time, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and yet you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. 7 Imagine with me the scandalous meaning in context of his words to the Centurion mentioned above, when, while surrounded by people of his 6 Matthew 8:10 7 Matthew 23:15 own Israelite tradition Jesus says to this pagan religious other: I tell you many will come from the east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs to the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness... 8 Again, how would he express this in our time? Must we heirs to the kingdom not apply this warning to ourselves? And who are those who will come from the east and west and dine in the kingdom? The question I am pursuing is this: How does Jesus relate to the religious other? He does not categorically dismiss them because they had the nerve to be born into another culture with another tradition. He does not try instantly to convert them to the religious tradition in which he was born. He does not engage in divisive and technical theological discussion. He looks to the person. He finds people within his own tradition who are outwardly pious but inwardly full of greed and self-indulgence. 9 However, he also finds Israelites in whom there is no deceit. 10 Likewise he finds people of other faith traditions morally wanting at times. 11 And yet in others he finds faith greater than any one in Israel. We have in Jesus a master of discerning between what we might call the outward form of religion and its inner essence. He sees through religious vestments to the human heart. Thus he can be critical of people within his own tradition and praise those of another. In fact, the religious behavior and attitudes that Jesus approves have little to do with formalized religion. In Matthew Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and Scribes as making void the word of God for the sake of your tradition. He echoes the sentiment found in Isaiah: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines. 12 It should be clear that Jesus criticism of the Pharisees is of a kind of hypocritical religious formalism rather than the fact that they are Jews rather than Christians. The word Christian will not be used until decades after Jesus, who was born, lived and died as a Jew, was crucified. It has 8 Matthew 8: Matthew 23:25 10 John 1:47 (Jesus says this upon seeing Nathaneal) 11 (See the story of the woman of Samaria above) 12 Matthew 15:8-9
10 long been a strategy of Christian fundamentalists to regard Jesus issues with the authorities of his day as a question of Jewish convention versus Christian convention rather than seeing that Jesus is here pointing out the issues with religious formalism as such. Such anti-semitism protects Christian formalism even as it embraces the Phariseeism Jesus so adamantly opposes. Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus exclaims, For you tithe mint, dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law; Justice and mercy and faith. 13 If he were here today would he not have similar criticism towards some of us Protestants, Catholics etc...? Let us remember that Jesus uses the example of a Samaritan as the model of mercy and a Roman Pagan as a model of faith! Let us also remember that he forbids his own followers to indulge in such shallow religious formalism. Towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus longest, most piercing sermon on right religion as something diametrically opposed to religious formalism, he says Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 14 It has long been argued as to whether Jesus was attempting to start a formalized religion at all. The religious others that Jesus praises do not always become followers and certainly not Christians in any formalized way. The Roman Centurion turns and leaves after a brief conversation with him. 15 After Jesus praises the faith and persistence of a Syro-Phonecian woman and assures her that because of her faith her ailing daughter has been healed she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon had gone. 16 Even more dramatically, Jesus first foray into Gentile territory in the Gospel of Luke has him healing a Gerasene of demonic possession. The healed man was so moved he immediately wanted to become a follower of Jesus but Jesus sent him away, saying, return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. 17 There is no question here of converting anyone to some particular religious form. It is rather a case of celebrating that faith 13 Matthew 23:23 14 Matthew 7:21 15 See Matthew 8 and Luke7: Mark 7:30 17 Luke 8:39 that can heal the un-healable and that unifying spirit of love that can bridge the seemingly unbridgeable gap of formalized religious divisions. What would he say of a prophet Muhammad who declared, I am the closest of all people to Jesus, son of Mary, in this world and the Hereafter; for all prophets are brothers, with different mothers but one religion. 18 What would he say of a Mahatma Gandhi? What would he say of a Dalai Lama? Would he say, Pagans be damned or would he say, In no one in Christendom have I found such faith? Jesus capacity to look to the heart of the person rather than the form of their religion is our model for interfaith relations. Whether we are relating to people inside our traditions or outside we are to remember that we are dealing with human persons, neighbors and not mere religious categories. We are to develop that wisdom which allows us to see into the heart, which as modeled by Jesus is the only true way to see another person s religious merit. Of course, Christians are not the only ones who must develop this discernment between outer and inner religion. Nor are they the only ones who have. On God s pathway there are two Ka bas, sings the Islamic poet Awhad al-din Kirmani, One is the Ka ba you can see; the other, the Ka ba of the heart. As much as you can, make the pilgrimage to the heart The heart s value is greater than a thousand Ka bas Cleary, T. (2001) The Wisdom of the Prophet: Sayings of Muhammad pg Fideler, D. and S. (2006) Love s Alchemy pg. 86 (the Ka ba is the central shrine in Mecca)
11 What happens when people from two different traditions encounter in one another this same discernment of the heart? Thomas Merton was to say of the Buddhist Monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh, He is more my brother than many who are nearer to me by race and nationality, because he and I see things in exactly the same way. It is vitally important that such bonds be admitted, he continues, they are a new solidarity and a new brotherhood which is beginning to be evident on all the five continents and which cuts across all political, religious and cultural lines to unite young men and women in every country in something that is more concrete than an ideal and more alive than a program. 20 Is this not the vision of all those who labor to love the neighbor as themselves without committing themselves to the constraints inevitably placed upon it by sectarianism? And who is my neighbor? It should be clear that I am not condoning a new syncretistic religion or some vague new religion of pure love or pure spirituality. To assume that would be to miss my point entirely. It is not a question of rejecting religious forms, nor a question of finding or manufacturing some spiritually immaculate, external religious form. An external form is a means to worship rather than an object of worship. Because it is something fixed and static a form can never guarantee the living, dynamic spiritual purity that religions at their best seek to nourish in their followers. It is not the recipe that is eaten, but the food. Likewise it is not the religious form that loves its neighbor but 20 From Merton s Essay Nhat Hanh is my Brother newlotusbuddhistdoor.com the human person who has used the form to grow into spiritual maturity. So how should we behave in this interfaith, global society, where people of myriad traditions interact on a daily basis not to mention the fact that we live in a country founded on ideals of religious liberty and tolerance? Love your neighbor as yourself. (And do we dare ask ) But how can we discern religious merit in such a world, a world so similar to the religiously diverse Palestine of Jesus time? We do it by following his example. Not by their professed creed Jesus tells us but, You will know them by their fruits. 21 What is to be our criterion? Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets (And, as we have seen, the fundamental ethical precept of many world religions) 21 Matthew 7:16
12 Sociology and Its Basis as Tool for Peace and Justice By Harry Toder, Ph.D In this journal I have written several articles about Sociology and its potential as tool for peace and justice. This final article is intended as a summation and to point the way forward. By way of review, Sociology is basically a study of the group and the group influence in society. Its practical application is to change the
13 group, or society, in a constructive manner. In the Spring 2011 issue of this journal, I spoke of pocket neighborhoods as a way of making urban life more livable and personable. In the same issue I spoke of the village movement, an effort to allow elderly persons to live in their own homes with support. In the Spring 2013 issue, I spoke of the efforts of Michelle Rhee as superintendent of the Washington D.C. school system, and how she made that system, and the culture within that system, better by introducing greater accountability. In each of these instances authorities, without realizing it, were practicing Sociology, by making the social environment better. The key question, in this writer s mind, is how to make Sociology a more recognizable, visible discipline within our society. The answer to that lies in the very nature of Sociology. Sociology deals in the realm of ideas. Making the environment better, in each instance, has its source within an idea as to how to do so. Ideas are not a tangible commodity, like a feat of engineering might be. So, the question becomes How do we create more respect for ideas as a medium for social change? I would like to answer that question by drawing an analogy: Martin Luther King used the ideas of equality and justice as a means of paving the way for the civil rights movement. His ideas had a measurable impact, and everyone knows so. Why did they have such great impact? For one, he believed in his ideas passionately. Secondly, they were religiously based. According to Thomas Merton, the basis for nonviolence for the Christian(King being one) is the belief in salvation of all people, even the opponents of civil rights. King, through his actions and thoughts reflecting this idea, made it almost impossible for people not to believe in his message.. How can Sociology learn from King s success, in essence? In this writer s view, the general goal of improving the environment has to be linked to an even higher purpose, in the public s mind. What might that be? A couple of ideas along these lines might be harmony and peacefulness in society. Through education, it must be made apparent that an application of Sociology leads to these goals. In terms of the examples previously given, the village movement produced greater harmony for the elderly; pocket neighborhoods led to greater harmony within urban areas(to a certain extent); and the efforts of Michelle Rhee, though drastic at times, produced greater results for her students. The growth of a profession is a gradual process. Sociology is at a point where it has already made a significant contribution, in regard to enhancing peace and harmony within society. Now it is time to publicize, to promote that contribution, so that it can take its rightful place, in terms of prestige, within the scientific community. Source: Thomas Merton, The Roots of Christian Nonviolence,
14 Getting CENTERED in Society - an Interview By Matt Branstetter 2014 Lauren Higdon is the owner of CENTERED a wellness and community center in Lexington, KY. Several instructors from CEN- TERED are offering workshops to the St. Catharine community in conjunction with REL 338 Philosophy of Embodiment. This interview occurred between Lauren and Matt Branstetter on March 12, Matt Branstetter- Do you think we live in a just society? Lauren Higdon of Centered- No, and immediately that brings to mind: is it a fair society. is life fair? and I don t really intend to look at life as fair because it isn t. And yet, I feel like my work is to create more balance. So I m trying to look at balance rather than justice. Matt- OK do you think our culture is balanced? Lauren- No. M- What is the nature of the imbalance? L- Our values are imbalanced. In our lives, in our work, what we are striving for is not necessarily feeding us on a spiritual and emotional level. I don t know if the average individual is really looking at how they actually spend their life. Their work becomes a means to the end. If we can transform that to, as my Dad used to say, do what you love, love what you do then we begin to get in touch with our inner passion and find our unique gifts. That is what we need to share with the world. When we are not doing this we end up forcing ourselves into a situation that is unbalanced just in order to survive. When we are merely surviving we begin to shut sown internally. Then, we are contributing to the greater imbalance. M- Is internal change the only thing that will lead to external change? L- Yes, and in order for the individual to have the opportunity to create that inner change, they need the support of the greater community and culture. We have a big team here of 30 people! We don t experience this great change in isolation. M- What is the balance between working for social change and maintaining our own inner, spiritual equilibrium? L- Actually, someone came to me this morning with this issue! They had been working diligently for a cause for over the last 17 years and just woke up recently to the realization that their involvement with this issue had allowed their body and spirit to become very unhealthy. So now we are back to the saying of Gandhi- Be the change you wish to see in the world We must embody whole-heartedly that change which we desire to see. M- Yes, no one would want to live in a world where the culture is outwardly just, orderly or balanced and yet all its members are inwardly miserable. L- We often try to create change through various models of how we think things should be. People, like Gandhi, MLK they had to pass through
15 a time when they were no longer theorizing but were faced with the question of how to embody love in their personal lives. M- And the fact that they became these paragons of social change was dependent on how their lives reflected their answer. Would you say that to live fully we must pass through a time where we are no longer merely imitating external models? L- I m not comparing myself to them, but when we opened this center, there weren t models for this. I went to business classes and my advisors said I was crazy. Don t do this. This will never work. I was getting that all over the place. Then I literally had a dream of seeing this working and what it could be and one of the business advisors actually recently came back and apologized! Change needs faith. M- One of the stories of injustice in our society involves the place of women, especially in the professional world. A question that arose is not just can women succeed in this world, but can they do this without compromising, and, I know I m on tricky ground here, their feminine essence? L- That is to assume that business is a masculine thing. M- I would say that assumption has been made. Is there an alternate way of envisioning business? L- To look at the root of it, I don t want to assume anymore that business is masculine. What we ve created here is by far a more feminine energy a feminine model. And this feminine energy is in its nature, dynamic, sporadic, explosive, it s constantly changing, often unrecognized and you don t always know what to expect. A male business might be much more organized and linear -- I come in to work at a certain time, know what is going to happen, go home and then it s done. That is not happening here at all! This feminine business model is something many people don t yet understand or they may be scared of it.
16 M- What are the main values at work in this feminine business model? L- Let s start with the physical structure of our building and the way its set up. We have many different components and dimensions to our space. We have curved walls, lot s of rounded features, circles and openings, soft colors. The way we deal with time is more free flowing than some other business models. If an emergent issue arises that needs our attention, be it something practical or interpersonal, we tend to deal with it even if it means adjusting our schedule for the day. I see that as feminine. It s a nurturing thing. We re honoring nourishing over order! I m a mother. I know that being a mother is primary to me and my business must fit into my being a mother, not the other way around. I want to support women, as well as men, as well as people of various ethnicities and ages. How do we do that? We have a variety of classes designed for various special needs that arise throughout the life cycle- from gentle stretching classes and pregnancy yoga to very intense workouts. We have an art area where people from a variety of backgrounds and ages come to express themselves. This variety helps people realize that on any given day we have different needs. This I see as a feminine attribute. With a male model there is the expectation that there is going to be uniformity and sameness. There are parts of the universe and parts inside ourselves that work that way. Everyday our cells will take in energy from the air in order to continue, our hearts will continue to beat, our skin continue to exfoliate, thankfully much of this happens in predictable patterns; but our emotions, preferences and needs are ever changing. Our place here reflects and provides a home for the more dynamic features of our inner life. So often out here in the world we create environments, especially work environments, which are stifling to this inner flow, M- A typical feminine characteristic involves the ability to multi-task. I see you wear a variety of hats here that seem to be constantly switching around. I notice many different compartments of your space are not separated by solid walls and it gives me the feeling of many things going on at once. L- Yes, on any given day I might be teaching story-time yoga or having meetings with Commerce Lexington, or St. Catharine professors! There are days I do it better than others and that all comes back to self care. If I am doing my own practice of yoga, meditation, eating healthy and staying in balance myself, I can handle those things. When I don t it feels like chaos, which can lead to anger, judgment and imbalance. M- Yes, and if that s true for you it s probably true for everyone else! L- I think it s totally fine to admit that we feel absolutely nuts inside sometimes. Just talking about that, allowing our imperfections allows others to feel safe to acknowledge and address their own imbalances. Then we can go to work on these imbalances in a practical way. Balance is a scale that is always shifting. M- Some would see a business centered around the nourishment of the body as inherently feminine. There are traditional associations- Male=Mind Female=body L- To clarify for people who may be reading this, when we talk about feminine model feminine business feminine body we are acknowledging that we all have a balance of masculine and feminine. So when we look at the external world it is very much out of balance in those terms. We are all craving, a relief from this imbalance. We need to slow down, to learn to nourish what is inside. This is where the feminine wisdom comes in. Were craving it in such a deep way that were getting sick! If we can feel safe enough to admit that we all need that balance of the masculine and the feminine in order for ourselves to heal then we can help bring that balance to the world. M- So by honoring ourselves in this way we are honoring society. L- Honoring society. By acknowledging our own need for balance inside we begin to create the conditions for outer balance.
17 M- Can nurturing and business really go hand in hand? L- I cannot imagine a business without them going hand in hand! I ve spent much of my working life with pregnant mothers and newborns. For me nurturing is completely intertwined with what I envision as business. M- How has giving birth and being witness so many times to the process of birth informed your understanding of business or for that matter the creation of social change? L- It shows that life happens in cycles and that change is in the very nature of things. The very process of creating a business plan was very painful because I could not envision or encapsulate everything I wanted this business to be. I made peace with it by acknowledging that this plan would necessarily change and adapt according to circumstances. This meant that I had to find the place of trust in myself that I would find the creativity to meet the challenges of the needs coming in. So the business is a co-creation of plans adapting to the ever changing needs of circumstance. This is much like giving birth. You cannot simply mould a child to fit your desires without some kind of pathology developing. One practical example of this is that I had no idea how popular our visual arts classes would be. It was not anticipated. It has been interesting to move with changes as they arise. This takes a certain fluidity and adaptability. Also, when I was nursing I recognized that there are some things only I, as the nursing mother, can give to my child. But I also have to acknowledge when I need a break! I need a baby sitter Here is where cooperation comes in. When we are willing to express our needs and vulnerabilities this opens the door for the intelligence of the group, the tribe, to step in and help raise the child. This applies to business as well as to social change. When I think back on the process, I see we have gone through all the phases. We ve dealt with the fertility issues, the birthing process and the infancy. Now I think we re in the toddler stage. Toddlers tend to run away and not listen. They break stuff. They are loud. That s kind of where we are right now figuring out how to have certain boundaries and constraints without shutting down the toddler. M- And this whole process, as a new kind of model, is contributing to peace and justice? L- I hope so. If this particular display can help others realize that they don t have to maintain an overly and stereotypically male model for conducting their business and their lives then I ve made a difference. People of all walks of life, ages and races are coming in here. They don t know why they feel safe here, but they do. They don t know what they want from the place, but they take something with them. That s like a mother. That s the feminine. It s not me, it s the place, the cooperative team, the neighborhood. To visit CENTERED online, go to