Monthly Archives: November 2008
Thanks so much to all the students from AED who did such an incredible job helping out with the cafe yesterday. And thanks too to all who made soup and dropped it off at the house. It was delicious!
Later this week, about 15 of us with ties to the GCW will be heading to Columbus, GA to participate in a vigil and action at the School of the Americas, where thousands of Latin American soldiers who were later implicated in horrible human rights abuses have been trained on U.S. soil and with our tax dollars. We’ll have the chance while there to meet Jon Sobrino, SJ, considered to be the sole survivor of the 1989 massacre at the University of Central America in San Salvador that claimed the lives of his 6 Jesuit brothers, their co-worker and her daughter. For more information on the School of the Americas, visit www.soaw.org.
Join us if you can this week at the Roundtable. Rose Caraway, a UF doctoral student in religion, will share with us about her experiences in Cuba, the house-church movement there and the economic and political situation, especially following the recent hurricanes.
And if you know of any good housing options next semester for Iris, who is doing the Metanoia semester with us right now, send us an email. Close to campus is a big plus for her and her bike!
The following reflection is from Patrick Cashio, a GCW community member doing the Metanoia Semester with us. He gave a Roundtable on October 30th on the latest book by Jon Sobrino, SJ, No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays.
At first impulse, the title of Jon Sobrino’s latest book, No Salvation Outside the Poor, sounds erroneous, false, or unchristian. It is a disturbing title. The contents of the six essays inside are far more dissonant. We must first look at the world through the eyes of the bible, through the lens in which the story of God’s children is told. It is told through the suffering Israelites coming out of slavery and oppression in Egypt. It is told through the poor baby Jesus born in the backwaters of some fringe territory of the Roman Empire. Sobrino makes bid at being a truly prophetic voice, at being a voice of a reality that can and should exist. This is Liberation theology as Prophecy, not as a worldview or as a school of thought. The offensiveness of his disclaiming the “culture of wealth” for a “culture of poverty” makes us reel with hesitation. Ultimately the challenge of our salvation comes in our embrace of this other reality. This reality is one that prioritizes and understands those at the bottom, the least, the “crucified people” as being most important to God.
In the title essay, Sobrino invites us to a few ways in which we can truly begin to embrace this new reality. He first suggests that we “comradely” insert ourselves into that world, as working partners and friends we become part of something which we are not used to, we insert ourselves into a new identity. We can also make “unequivocal” service on the behalf of this other identity, this other reality. There also exists an opportunity for us to “run risks” to defend the poor. Putting ourselves out there to really be embarrassed, arrested, scorned, and mocked in the name of the poor really seems like a true action of solidarity with the “crucified people.” “The difficulty [of the option for the poor] is also practical, since, as was the case for Jesus, the option for the poor leads to persecution, defamation, a feeling of being abandoned by old friends…”
Another way of entering into this new reality is by “sharing in their joys and their hopes.“ One thing is true of God’s children, that despite their suffering there is something sacred and celebratory about the life of poverty whether voluntary or situational.
Struggling with the challenges presented here by Sobrino and his many influences–like Ignacio Ellacuria, Oscar Romero and Dom Pedro Casaldaliga–we are challenged with a new set of questions. What is this war doing for/to the poor of Iraq? Where does my food come from and how did it get here? How am I combatting a dehumanizing system of wealth? Does this church truly reflect a Christ that is truly revealed in the Gospels? What am I doing to take the “crucified people” down from the cross?
This past Saturday, November 8th, was Dorothy Day’s birthday. Dorothy was the co-founder of the Catholic Worker and is perhaps the most influential Catholic of the 20th century. So much of what Dorothy wanted the CW to be revolved around one word: dignity. Dignity is at the heart of what we try to do at the GCW. As a “gift” to Dorothy and our way of honoring her this week, I’d like to share a short story from the cafe this past Tuesday.
It was one of our more extraordinary cafes. We wanted to clean out our freezer and make use of several food items that we had way too many of, so Kelli decided to make four different types of soup for the cafe. As guests joined us, we welcomed them at their table, and then read off the different choices of soup for the day. People seemed to really love the fact that they had a choice of “specials”. One gentlemen in a wheelchair, who had not dined with us before, chose his soup, stayed for seconds and then asked me for information about the house. I gave him our brochure and latest newsletter, which he read at his leisure as he finished his soup and bread. Once done, he called me over to his table. He said, “I just want to thank you for the soup, which was delicious. But more importantly, I want to tell you that for the first time in a long time, I feel dignified. Most of all, I wanted to thank you for that.”
People need food, and blankets, a place to get out of the cold, clothes, etc. But I really think that, more than anything, what people long for–especially people who find themselves struggling in this unjust and merciless economic system–what they long for is to be treated with dignity. Food may fill the ache in the belly, but treating people with dignity and respect transforms the soul. Happy Birthday Dorothy.
Thanks to everyone for all the blankets we’ve received. We are at our capacity for blankets right now and actually are sharing our overflow with other organizations who will get them to folks who need them too.
And thanks too to Erica Carlsson for her organizing and all the bands who played at the benefit show for the GCW at Brophy’s Irish Pub on Friday night. It was a great crowd and we brought in over $400 for the house. I had a chance to thank Paul, the owner of Brophy’s, for his kindness in letting us use the pub for free. If you’re lookin for a good beer, a night out on the town, drop by Brophy’s and tell Paul thanks for letting the GCW hold the show at his pub!
Important news for this week:
1) Sunday’s cafe menu includes black bean soup and we need folks to contribute upwards of 200 servings. If you can make some soup and drop it off at the GCW by 1pm on Sunday, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. Same thing if you can volunteer between 12-7pm or bring sour cream, chopped onions, or fresh fruit!
2) We’re very excited to have local education and poverty activist Kali Blount with us for the Roundtable on Thursday at 6pm. You can read more about Kali on the This Week page of our site. We’ve had two RTs in a row with over 30 folks, and we’re hopeful you’ll join us again this week to hear Kali on “Addressing Poverty vs Educational Equality.” Bring a dish to share if you can!
3) It looks like quite a few of our regular volunteers and community members are interested in heading up the weekend of November 21-23 for the annual vigil and action at the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia. If you’re thinking of going and would be interested in caravaning up with others, email Johnny at email@example.com and we’ll try and coordinate rides, etc.
And for a few comments on last week’s election, see Kelli’s post about Obama, change and hope by clicking here.
All of us at the GCW
After watching the movie The Great Debaters with some folks waiting to take showers at the house this afternoon, one of the guests remarked:
“My mother is white and my father is African-American. I’m kind of like Obama!”
This, if anything, gives me hope. Change doesn’t come from the top, and no politician or administration is going to begin to solve all the the problems we are facing as a people. But there’s hope he might inspire us to change – might help unite us, might awaken in folks who have been alienated from the system the possibility that they are now included and empowered to help make the changes we need.
Musician David Rovics had some interesting things to say about his hopes, as well as his concerns, about the Obama presidency and what it might mean to the most vulnerable among us. Here’s an excerpt (pardon the profanity at the end; it’s quite descriptive):
Obama has promised to raise taxes on the rich back to what they were under Clinton. . . He is talking about taking soldiers out of Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan — not bringing them all home and cutting military spending by 90%, in line with international norms, and doing away with this rapacious empire. He is talking about the middle class, and sure, he had to do that to get elected, but when does he ever talk about the poor, the imprisoned millions, the thousands of homeless walking cadavers haunting the streets of every major American city? Every politician talks about building schools, but what about free education through graduate school like they have in most European countries?
No, the scope of debate is far more limited than that. It is a scope defined by that increasingly narrow grey area in between “conservative” and “liberal.” There are distinctions, some of them important. That 3% tax increase will do good things for many people, I hope. Perhaps we won’t start any new wars, I don’t know. Perhaps we’ll withdraw from Iraq, but I’ll bet no reparations for what we’ve done there will be forthcoming. Perhaps there will be no new wars on our civil liberties in the next few years, but I’ll bet the prison population will not get much smaller.
I hope I’m wrong. But if I am to be proven wrong and there are to be serious changes in the welfare of people in the US and around the world, it will only be as a result of a popular uprising of people calling for a real New Deal for the 21st century, an end to the empire, housing, health care and education for all, and so on. Because even if Obama secretly wants all of these things, as so many of us would desperately like to believe, he’s going to need plenty of popular pressure to point to if any of these things are going to become reality. If he really is the socialist wealth redistributor his opponents said he is, he’s going to need massive popular support just to avoid being impeached for treason by those corporate stooges who dominate both parties in the Congress.
And if, on the other hand, he really believes his own campaign promises of meager tax increases for the rich, raising the salaries of teachers a bit, fighting terrorism, passing more free trade agreements, being Israel’s best friend, and so on, then what we have in store is another Democratic administration. Different kind of like Starbucks is different from McDonald’s — they both pay poverty wages and feed you shit, but Starbucks includes health insurance.
It’s always been, and still is, up to us. All of us.
For a complete list of what is happening at the GCW this week, click here.
Thanks so much to everyone who contributed blankets last week! We gave out probably around 50 blankets last week, and when the next cold snap hits, we’re well-provisioned to help folks looking to stay warm. Many thanks again!
Thanks too to the JustFaith group from St. Anastasia Church in St. Augustine and to the Student World Assembly at UF for hosting yesterday’s cafe. It was a special “Day of the Dead” cafe, including special desserts, decorations and a poster where guests, volunteers, and others could write the names of relatives, friends and others who have passed on that they want remembered. We’ll pray for these people and remember them during our prayer time this month at the GCW. The poster will stay up throughout November if you want to add other names as well.
This week, we’re very lucky to have Eric LeCompte, lead organizer for the human rights organization, School of the Americas (SOA) Watch, join us for Thursday’s Roundtable. Eric is an incredible and passionate young man, and he’ll share with us about the School of the Americas, the protests that happen there each November, analysis on US foreign policy regarding Latin America, and more. The GCW will be sending several folks up to participate in the action and vigil at the SOA on Nov. 21-23. Come to learn more, and bring a dish to share if you can!
Also, on Friday night, former Metanoia participant Erica Carlsson has pulled together a benefit concert for the Jubilee House. The concert starts at 9pm at Brophy’s Irish Pub, 60 SW 2nd Street, and features bands like Progressive Madness, The Wooden, and others. If folks want to walk over from the GCW, meet at 8:45pm. And thanks Erica!
Finally, we are the now the proud owners of a new, donated industrial-sized composter! John Then and Patrick, with a little help from Roxanne and Tyler, put it together this weekend. As fall gears up and we re-start our composting, we would gladly accept any and all bags of leaves you can send our way. We’ll use them as groundcover in the backyard and in the compost. Drop them off on the side of the house any day or night!
Thanks for all your support and we hope to see you this week, whether it be at cafe, scripture study, Roundtable, gardening or whatnot!