Friday, November 4, 2011

1% vs 99% in church & state

Wealth inequality finally has entered the political debate, thanks to the Occupy movement. In politics and economics, the issue is unequal money and power. In religion the issue is power, not money. In both church and state, the few at the top look out for themselves while failing to realize that they need everyone else. This is the reason things are falling apart in both spheres.

Science and spirituality agree that every aspect of reality is interdependent with everything else, no exceptions.
On the physical plane, quantum physics shows interdependence between physical objects and human minds in wave/particle experiments. A scientist/observer setting up an experiment on an atom decides which it will be—a wave or a particle. The physical reality observed cannot be separated from human consciousness; it is not objective but united in a web of relations with the mind of the observer.
Quantum non-locality further supports the principle of interdependence by showing that one part of a split particle will change instantly—faster than the speed of light—when its “twin” on the opposite side of the universe changes. Not a single thing in our universe has autonomous, independent existence; no single phenomenon exists on its own.

In the immaterial or spiritual sphere, the principle of interdependence means that altruism, not greed, succeeds in the universe. As the globe tightens in globalization and spiritual awareness, concern for the whole must govern, as indeed all spiritual leaders urge.
One of the reasons I have not left the Catholic Church (And where would I go?) is its stellar record on the issues of poverty and justice. The long tradition of Catholic social teaching has consistently stood in solidarity with those less wealthy, less able, less recognized—the marginalized. Not only in its teaching but in its actions.
As conservative as the last two popes have been, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken out for just economies. But they have tightened their grasp on power.

In an interview with Krista Tippett, Buddhist and scientist Matthieu Ricard explains the consequences of interdependence.
What do I do? I create a small bubble, a self-centered bubble, and I take care of my own happiness because after all I'm this separate entity so I just have to build my own happiness. . . . Everyone will become happy in their own bubble and then the world will be fine.
But this is not working. Why? Not just because of the moral issue, because it's bad to be self-centered, but because it's dysfunctional, because it's at odds with reality.
“At odds with reality” sums up the church and state policies that brought on the economic and religious messes choking us right now.
The Occupy movement focuses on wealth disparity with its 1% versus 99% statements. Protesters who expose gross inequity are EXPOSING class warfare, not waging it. Elizabeth Warren speaks to the real wagers of class warfare:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own—nobody. . . . You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory—and hire someone to protect against this—because of the work the rest of us did.
So how does the Church fit into this? To borrow from Elizabeth Warren,
No pope can dictate doctrine on his own, nor can a set of hierarchs do so. The rest of us form popular piety and morality, sometimes with, often without dictates from the Vatican—think of Marian devotions and bedroom issues.
No cleric in this church became one on his own—not one. You developed your moral values from your mother and other women, less often from men. If you were an altar boy, you probably learned how from a woman. The churches you went to were cleaned by women. The religious instruction you received was primarily by women. The Masses you went to were attended by more women than men.
From pope to deacon, the status of every cleric rests on the backs of women, more broadly, on the backs of lay people.
I quoted experts, but it doesn’t take experts to figure this out. Any child knows that no one and nothing stands alone, that interdependence is the way of the universe. A child can figure out that sellers need buyers, that a successful business depends on customers who have the money to buy the goods or services. A child knows that morality and spirituality are taught by moms, families, neighbors, and communities, not by men in the Vatican.

Systems that continue to favor a few winners with more money or power are unsustainable. Ultimately, they are losers.


1% vs 99%, November 11, 2011
I received a flurry of comments agreeing with my previous post. But most noteworthy are more critical comments from outside of Catholicism.
Laura wrote,
I think money is also an issue in churches and religions, not as obviously in Catholicism. Look at all the rich televangelists.
Good point.
Scott Thompson, wrote,
There are items with which I disagree ......."The Catholic Church has ALWAYS stood behind the poor, the less marginalized, etc....? ??
[Consider] the atrocities of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages in its confiscation of personal property, the pogroms of the Crusades, the killings of thousands during the Inquisition, the support of the Nazis under Hitler, and last but not least, the uncovered abuses of the last 50 years ................”
Good points.
Regarding Catholicism today, two items on the front page of National Catholic Reporter show its two faces. Tom Roberts reports on a document coming from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace that urges reform of international financial and monetary systems.
The document speaks of “common dignity,” “common vision,” “common decisions” and “universal brotherhood.” In fact, the needs of the latter, of “universal brotherhood,” say the writers, transcend consideration of the marketplace.
NCR adds that the basic sentiment of the Occupy movement is in line with Catholic social teaching. Praiseworthy. Hallelujah!

But the same front page carries the story of theologian Elizabeth Johnson disputing a claim by the U.S. Catholic bishops conference, which blasted her latest book, Quest for the Living God, a widely popular work acclaimed by her fellow theologians. Johnson replied that the bishops did not follow their own procedures for resolving disagreements with a theologian—namely, to meet with her or him.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, head of the bishops’ doctrine committee, claimed the bishops offered to meet three times and she didn’t respond, a claim that Johnson called “demonstrably and blatantly false.” Publicly posted letters between Johnson and Wuerl show that she asked for meetings, which they never granted. This is only one example in a constant stream of incidents showing bishops clamping down on theological inquiry, judging ideas they don’t understand. A correspondent quoted by Richard McBrien highlights the irony.
It is beyond me how the bishops can claim, with a straight face, to be teachers sitting in judgment on teachers when they plainly cannot understand the arguments much less the conclusions.
How does this apply to my previous post? The front page of NCR demonstrates Catholicism's “stellar record on the issues of poverty and justice” TODAY, not in the past, as Scott points out. But “common dignity,” “common vision,” “common decisions” and “universal brotherhood” are sorely lacking in the hierarchy’s own relationships with the 99% kept out of decision-making.

More irony—the same issue of NCR reports members of the bishops conference complaining that the federal government infringes on the right of conscience by putting religious freedom under “ever more frequent assault and rapid erosion.” How does the government do this? By allowing practices that most thoughtful members of our society, including most Catholics, deem acceptable but the Catholic hierarchy wants to ban—contraception, sterilization, and gay marriage.

The bishops accuse the government of granting rights that they would take away. The BISHOPS are the ones who threaten freedom! Many, many theologians and members of the Church have had their right of conscience assaulted by the Catholic hierarchy. And until now I didn’t even mention clergy sex abuse.

1 comment:

Karen Tate said...

Brava, Jeanette! Now if everyone who perpetuates inequality or ignores social injustice in all it's guises would wake up and stand for the WE and not the I.

Blessings,
Karen Tate
Voices of the Sacred Feminine Radio
www.karentate.com