Karen House Catholic Worker
Gospel Response in Times of Social Collapse
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Why This Issue:
In a conference to Buddhist and Christian monastics which Thomas Merton delivered the morning of the day he died in Bangkok, Thailand, he tells of his encounter with a young Tibetan Lama who was absent from his monastery when his country was invaded. When confronted with the dissolution of the climate created by familiar institutions and structures within which he lived, and faced with the derision of leaving his country, the young man did not know what do. He wrote to a friend, the abbot of a nearby monastery, asking; 'What do we do now?' The abbot replied: 'From now on, everyone stands on their own feet'
Merton thought this to be a very important statement for Christianity and Buddhism and urged the assembly that if they forgot everything else that was said, to remember it for the future.
We can no longer rely on being supported by institutions and structures that shape our lives and that may be destroyed at any moment by a precipitous political power or an opportunistic political agenda. We should respect usefulness in these things and strive to secure their integrity but we should not make them ends in themselves. When they are taken away, and when everything is taken away, what do we do next?
With caustic clarity that has become his signature, Mark Scheu opens the discussion on social collapse by sketching a detailed profile of the problem. Jim Douglass takes us on a biblical odyssey through the structures of Roman Palestine/Galilee enabling us to recognize the presence of human violence and greed existing in our own institutions. In providing a comprehensive historical perspective of the response of the Church at critical moments of social crisis, John Padberg, SJ suggests the creative potential present within social collapse.
Mary Ann McGivern, SL continues to invite us to look through the window of economic conversion to explore ways of humanizing our labor; and with personal poignancy Virginia Druhe affirms to us that the reign of God is at hand:
· .. at our hands
· .. standing in our own place
· .. on our own feet
-Tom Nelson, CM
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