Sunday, February 25, 2007

Love, Love, Love (into Action, Action, Action)

Submitted by Rachel Winter of the Lane County Catholic Worker: Eugene, OR

Halfway through January, Jesse, Caitie and I rented a car and drove up to Olympia, Washington for “Christianity and Anarchism: Intersecting Perspectives”, convened by the Jesus Radicals and Olympia’s Bread & Roses Catholic Worker. Attendance numbered at fifty or so; we met with teachers, students, peace workers, farmers and people from several Catholic Worker communities.

We spent the day talking – talking homelessness and hospitality; hunger, sustainability and the food industry; immigrants’ and workers’ rights; grassroots organization; consumerism; the history of anarchism in the Christian tradition; the oppression of the Hebrews and Egyptians in the book of Exodus. The topics were broad, yet vital, focusing on the choices that everyday people have made to bring justice, health, and stability to others.

You might well ask what makes these Christian issues, or anarchist issues, and why it’s important for us to explore the ground that’s common to these two sets of commitments. What I observed during our conversations in Olympia was this: first, that Christians and anarchists alike believe in a new world coming, and try to hasten the emergence of that world by living according to its principles; second, that both schools use the grassroots model of transformation. The anarchist organizes from the ground up; Christian transformation happens from the inside out, from the heart that bursts into the world.

Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, envisioned “a world where it is easier for people to be good”; for a Christian, that world begins to arrive when the love of Jesus is awakened in everyday people. Jesus subverted the powers of his day; the social mores that isolated the weak, by keeping company with them; the ambitions of a rich young ruler, by calling him to abandon his wealth; the hypocrisy of the religious teachers, by harvesting grain to feed hungry people on the Sabbath day; the violent act of crucifixion, by submitting to it in love and humility. In the Gospel story we see this pattern: Jesus acts in love, and love disquiets the domination (both material and spiritual) imposed by the powers of the day.

As Catholic Workers we believe in building an alternative order, one which – in love and humility – subverts the aggression and human isolation of the standing powers, be they social mores that separate the rich from the poor; or the cultural acquisitiveness that keeps us shopping for security, identity, diversion; or professional boundaries that keep us from caring about each other; or a government that over-funds the military and under-funds schools and social services; or our fascination with rights and privileges and status that blinds us to ourselves and to each other. But the new order begins with us; each of us has the seed of transformation within us, and we all need to be more loving.

As a community volunteering a safe, stable, vibrant home for women and children in need, we all are living out the call of Jesus: to love each other, to let go of our wealth, to be humbled and healed and made more loving in the process.

Our time in Olympia helped me to see it; the kingdom of God is already here. We’ve given birth to it, in our labors together.

No comments:

Currently Reading:

  • Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America - Todd Depastino

Recently Finished Reading:

  • Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
  • Utopia of Usurers - GK Chesterton
  • Orthodoxy - GK Chesterton