Archive for the ‘Social Gospel’ Tag

Remembering Dan Berrigan


Daniel Berrigan, Roman Catholic priest, Christian prophet, and profound poet died on April 30, 2016, having made 94 trips around the sun.

A lengthy reflection by Jim Wallis can be found at:

Posted May 5, 2016 by allanbaker in Christian Faith

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Holy Week 2016 – #4


Jesus the Homeless

“Our spirituality is not what we profess to believe,

but how we order our lives.

Our stewardship of time, energy, material things, and relationship to our fellow creatures reflects the way we express that ordering of our lives.”

Margaret Guenther in “The Practice of Prayer”

A better way forward in a troubled world?


IMG_2156A better way forward in a troubled world?

Why radical diplomatic reform is imperative!

If we are to avoid once more reaping the whirlwind generated by an over-reliance upon armed force, an entirely different approach will be required. Specifically, people everywhere will have to insist that diplomacy displace defence at the centre of international policy. Relative to the alternatives, diplomacy’s approach to the non-violent management of international relations through dialogue, negotiation and compromise is highly cost-effective.

The post A better way forward in a troubled world? Why radical diplomatic reform is imperativeappeared first on

Can Increasing Inequality Be a Steady State? (2)

Take Responsibility

Take Responsibility

Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital In The Twenty – First Century is selling very well.

Is this because people are concerned about the growing inequality of wealth (and incomes), or is it because, as Piketty writes, the current state of capitalism could be a threat to democracy as we know it?

Piketty, in the closing paragraph of his analysis, calls upon us all to be concerned. He writes:

“Yet it seems to me that all social scientists, all journalists and commentators, all activists in the unions and in politics of whatever stripe, and especially all citizens should take an interest in money, its measurement, the facts surrounding it, and its history. Those who have a lot of it never fail to defend their interests. Refusing to deal with numbers rarely serves the interests of the least well-off.”

For Christians, who believe in a Gospel message of God’s preferential option for the poor, Piketty’s words are a call to prophetic action.

Taking Climate Change Seriously

Taking Climate Change Seriously

Cracked earth, Microstock Man /

Cracked earth, Microstock Man /

Climate change is about people, not just science and politics — it is an inter-generational ethics issue. The earth is the Lord’s, and in Genesis, God entrusts us with caring for Creation. The earth that we leave to future generations is already being changed by climate change, and so far, our nation has done little to stop climate pollution. The Clean Power Plan, announced Monday ( June 2, 2014) by the EPA, is a great step forward for our country in taking climate change seriously.

The policy will treat carbon the way it should be treated — as a pollutant that’s harming our health and our planet. It will reduce our carbon pollution 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, but will allow each state the flexibility to decide how it reaches that goal.

The rule reflects some of the best values we hold dear. It will help prevent premature deaths and asthma attacks caused by smog and other air pollutants. But most importantly, it will reduce the pollution that fuels climate change. It’s clear that President Obama cares about the legacy he leaves to today and into future generations. While there is a lot more that can and should be done by this administration and by Congress, President Obama deserves our appreciation for embracing the common good and taking such a big step to preserve the earth for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

More at:

Canada – the politics of inequality

Canada means “village”. That is to say, we are all neighbours who are aware of each other, and care for each other. There is sufficient prosperity in our nation to enable everyone to live a full and rewarding life.

The Broadbent Institute reports that, “Apart from scandal, Parliament didn’t produce much in the just completed fall session – a grand total of three bills. But there was one ray of light, a Finance Committee report last week on one of our most serious problems, the growth of income inequality.

The report lays out the evidence of the growth in economic inequality in Canada, confirming the sustained rise of the income share of the top 1 per cent, and describes some of the key underlying causes, including changes in the labour market. But most experts cited seemed to agree that government policies have also worked to exacerbate the problem. “

See more at:

Posted December 30, 2013 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Politics

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Hope – Advent 1



Hope brings us a different definition of “success”; different from the definition of that of the corporate, consumer, competitive society.

Success is “that which contributes to the well-being of our larger body, the web of life.

This hope-filled definition is from Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone’s book, Active Hope.

Labour Day

This is a post from Ted Schmidt:

Labour Day: the Search for the Lost Heart

September 1, 2013


Each year I walk in the Labour Day parade. The reason is simple. It protects me from amnesia. This annual pilgrimage from downtown Toronto to the Dufferin Gates is a gentle reminder of the Story which gives me meaning. It reminds me that I owe solidarity to workers struggling today for a decent life

This age old story reminds me that i am part of creation, that my labour is an essential part of building God’s reign. It reminds me  that the work I did and do,  that of teaching is holy work. It reminds me that much of labour today is exploited and devalued. It reminds me that labour unions which fought and are fighting still for worker dignity are in full retreat today and need our support. This past week I saw American workers at fast food outlets demanding a living wage. The Walmartization of workers occurs in the wealthiest country in the world which is also deemed “the most religious.” What kind of religion is this?

This is why i walk on Labour Day

I was invited awhile back to speak at city council about the need for a living wage not a minimum wage. Forces at City Hall were attempting to cut the wages of those largely female municipal cleaners from $19.00 an hour to $13,00.

“God love them, they’re nice people but they don’t deserve $19.00” said  councillor Doug Ford, he born with a silver spoon in his mouth

I was enraged at this lack of respect for these workers.

I was haunted by the women who preceded me, one Irish and one Jamaican who spoke so movingly about the pride they had in their work. They both said they could not survive on $13,00 an hour.

I came as an adult educator who has taught thousands of Catholic teachers about Social Ethics, the extraordinary teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as it relates to the Common Good of the broader community. This teaching began with Pope Leo Xlll in 1891 and is built on the inherent dignity of each human person. It broadly resembles the call to compassion and justice at the heart of all religions.

The right to unionize and collectively bargain was vigorously promoted by the Church and this created stable communities and secure families based on living wages. Sadly the last 30 years has seen the advent of  market fundamentalism, the neoliberal nightmare which has shredded organic communities and facilitated a race to the bottom.

The wonderful Toronto Labour Council mounted an effective challenge and the motion to cut was defeated. Decency, common sense and justice prevailed.

When Catholics moved out of the economic straightjacket of poverty in the post-war years, something was lost. The  rush to the suburb and the middle class life played havoc with our call to solidarity with the poor. We substituted charity for justice. We began to vote for parties which defended our economic interests. This embrace of “a life of pitiable comfort” of course was not unprecedented.

Philosophers  had warned us of the consequences.

Mang tzu (370-286 BCE), known to the West as Mencius, was  probably the greatest interpreter of Confucius. He reminded his countrymen and us that we must pity “the man who has lost his path and does not follow it and who has lost his heart and does not know how to recover it. …The principle of self-cultivation consists in nothing but trying to look for the lost heart.”

Jesus of course in his crucified cry for the kingdom reminded us  of “the Way” of “the heart”—radical solidarity with all of creation.

Organized religion, Catholicism included, seems to have lost “the Way” The real social justice tradition of the prophets has been muted. Bishops are decidedly absent from the front line struggles for justice today.

In March of 1965 on the historic march from Selma to Montgomery the great rabbi Abraham Heschel was seen walking arm in arm with Dr.King. He knew that this march was not simply a political occasion. It was a religious event.


Heschel shook the Jewish establishment’s ‘comfortable pew”. he challenged his co-religionists to “re-member”, to knit the body scarred by segregation, back together again. “For many of us,” he said,”  the march from Selma to  Montgomery was about protest and prayer. Legs are  not lips and walking is not kneeling. And yet our  legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march  was worship. I felt my legs were praying.”

There will be no religious leaders  walking hand in hand with with unionists  in the Labour Day parade. That is the sad reality. Our religion is still searching for its lost heart.

For many of us, like Heschel, this is not merely a secular  parade and Labour Day is not simply a holiday. It is indeed a holy day. It is a sacred pilgrimage. Our goal is not a modern Canterbury but a simple act of solidarity with brothers and sisters, workers all, whose dignity is under attack.

It is always inspiring to see many Catholic educators flying the flag of solidarity this day. I am happy to join them.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream

Many people feel inspired by reading the “I Have A Dream” speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

More challenging is the letter that he wrote to clergy in Birmingham during the time that King was incarcerated there. A summary can be found in Wikipedia at:

It was in this letter that King wrote about how we are all interconnected in this world; wisdom that those who are concerned about our environment have learned from the civil rights movement. King wrote:

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Easter economics 4

Chicago in April 2011 027“For all of us, social justice is about how to think and act with others to support conditions where one’s own and others’ well-being are simultaneously possible.”

Marilyn J. Legge – Emmanuel College Newsletter, Winter, 2007

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Jesus – Luke 6: 31 (NRSV)