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The RoundTable

Winter 2010

Distributism: Putting a Human Face on the Economy

(In the spirit of Distributism, please check out our new page on responsible consuming! It includes a list of worker-owned cooperatives, Fair Trade sources for food and clothing, and a list of St. Louis based cooperatives!)

Major Articles

  • Distributism Made Ridiculously Simple - Jenny Truax
  • Spiritual Roots of Distributism - James Meinert
  • Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Distributism... - Teka Childress
  • Love is an Exchange of Gifts - Megan Heeney

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Regular Features

  • Front cover - Jeff Finnegan

  • Centerfold: Distributism in Action - Colleen Kelly

  • Why This Issue – Timmy Cosentino

  • From Karen House – Tim Pekarek

  • From Teka Childress House - Robert McGee

  • Catholic Worker Thought and Action: Personalism - Carolyn Griffeth

  • Distributism in Action Examples:
  •        St. Louis Homeschool Network - Carolyn Griffeth
  •        The Mondragón Corporation - James Meinert
  •        Asset Building Efforts - Christy Finsel

Why This Issue

More often than not, when we sit down together to discuss what the next issue of the Roundtable should be, we begin to brainstorm and soon enough an idea starts to form. The idea begins to takes on a life of its own and it becomes obvious why this is the issue we should be writing. Things begin to fall into place and pretty soon we have the whole issue planned out. That was not the case with this issue on distributism. We brainstormed for a long time and once or twice almost had a different issue planned. However, we kept coming back to the question of what do we need to say right now, what is the root of the problems we see around us? If you look back at several of our recent issues there is a common theme woven through all of them. It may have been difficult for us to see, and I fear it may be difficult for you to read, but the truth we have come to is that capitalism and the influence it has over our society is breeding the worst of the world’s problems. We have mentioned it many times in recent issues, and it became clear that we also needed to address capitalism head on.

We didn’t want to write a whole issue on why capitalism is bad though; we already touched on that through immigration, the criminal justice system, elections, and even our food system. We wanted to give something positive as an alternative. Standing on our soapbox and preaching why something is bad doesn’t make anything good, and so we set out to offer an alternative to capitalism that we as Catholic Workers could support. Luckily, we didn’t have to look far as the Catholic Worker has been talking about distributism for years, and many of the roots of distributism are found within the teachings of the Catholic Church.

So we set out to write an issue on distributism. We then saw that like any economic system it is large and complex. Undaunted, we set out to learn more about distributism and then we wrote an issue on it. Therefore, Jenny Truax offered a primer on distributism to catch us up while Teka Childress asked tough questions about distributism, James Meinert explored the spiritual roots of distributism and Megan Heeney showed us how distributism is personalist. Carolyn Griffeth, James Meinert, and Christy Finsel took a look at many existing business and models that are distributism-friendly.

Carolyn also wrote this issue’s Catholic Worker Thought and Action on Personalism. Tim Pekarek wrote From Karen House, Robert McGee wrote From TC House, and Colleen Kelly created this issue's centerfold.

So again we are back to the question of “Why THIS issue?” and still I struggle with finding an easy answer. This was not an easy issue for us, not only because it is difficult content to express but it is also difficult to take in. Perhaps we were inspired by our last issue on prophets, but I feel we finally decided we had to speak truth about the reality we see. The reality is that we see suffering day in and day out. We get many more calls for shelter than we could ever house, and since the recession many are “first time callers." Our current system, capitalism, ignores those we love and call friends.

It isn’t offering any new housing or even new jobs it seems, and so we are speaking the truth that there is another way. "Why this issue?" Because we want the suffering to end; we want the people we see to have dignity again and so we offer distributism as an alternative.

- Timmy Cosentino



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