Friday, February 16, 2018

Press Release from We Are Church Ireland on the Banning of Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland, as Speaker at Women's Conference at the Vatican


 http://wearechurchireland.ie/wac-press-release-cardinal-farrells-snub-is-an-insult-to-the-dignity-of-catholic-women/

Mary McAleese represents the voice of women both in the Catholic Church and the wider world . 

Cardinal Farrell's snub of this outstanding Catholic woman has not alone insulted her integrity but also the Christian dignity of Catholic women throughout the world whose voices are persistently ignored by Church authorities.

This suppression of the legitimate voice of women within the Catholic Church  , as evidenced by the Cardinal's abuse of power in this instance, must cease as it is an insult to God whose image every woman bears. 

This unjust oppression of Catholic women by the Vatican must be brought to an end . It is an endemic injustice which is driving women especially the younger generation away from the Catholic Church as they cannot see  the Face of God in this male dominated institutional Church.

"If this issue is not resolved it will cast a shadow over the forthcoming World Meeting of Families , an event being supervised  by the Vatican based Cardinal Farrell." stated Brendan Butler

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Against Gun Violence Call on Legislators to Make Laws to End Gun Violence, Expand Mental Health Resources for All, and the NRA to Support Responsible Gun Control and Safety Now

https://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/2016/06/association-of-roman-catholic-women.html

In response to the 18th school shooting since January 1, 2018 at Parkland, Florida, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests continues our campaign to end gun violence in our schools and in society. We pray for the victims, families, teachers, coaches, perpetuators and first responders who have suffered such horrific violence and loss of life because of guns. We need to work together to work to end gun violence (such as the semi-automatic weapons like AR15) and support mental health treatment and resources for those who are mentally ill. Our hearts break for those who loss their lives in this devastating tragedy. 


Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Against Gun Violence, Call Congress to Make Laws to Prevent Gun Violence!


Join us and speak out against gun violence!

Last night U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy from Connecticut inspired the nation by filibustering in the Senate for 15 hours in an effort to move forward gun safety policy. News reports say there now will be forward progress with a U.S. Senate floor vote as early as next week.
But we have to make sure that progress actually happens by making our voices heard NOW! 
Write your members of Congress and tell them to support legislation that helps prevent gun violence!

5 Ways to Act to End Gun Violence in our Schools Now by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

In response to the 18th school shooting since January 1, 2018 at Parkland, Florida:  
1. Pray for the victims and families of this horrible tragedy.
2. Insist that our lawmakers ban assault weapons now.
3. Challenge the NRA to lead the way to rational  and responsible regulation  resulting in gun control now.  
4. Expand  mental health resources so that all who are in need are treated.
5. Express gratitude for the heroism of our children, teachers and first responders at Parkland, and in all the schools who suffered this horrific violence. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Florida Shooting: Federation of Christian Ministry

FLORIDA SHOOTING

Yet another shooting by a person with a semi automatic rifle in hand. The Federation of Christian Ministries demand in the name of Jesus the Prince of Peace that our complicit legislators ban assault weapons. How many children must die before our Congress finds an ounce of courage to act on the simplest gun control legislation?

This is horrible and disgusting.

We will pray for the victims, for the perpetrator, for their families, and for our blighted society, riddled with violence, hate and death. And we move ahead in the certain hope that the power of love will ultimately supplant the love of power.

By the Executive Committee
Tom Stricker, Chairperson
Thomas Cusack, President 
Heidi Tierney, Treasurer 
William Appleton, Secretary 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Women Marched with Jesus and Women March Today for Justice

https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/431895976/the-rev-jay-lawlor-celebrates-women-marching-for-justice-in-women-marched-with-jesus

Women marched with Jesus and helped lead the Jesus movement. Women march. Women lead. Women change the world. Amen and thanks be to God.”
— The Rev. Jay Lawlor
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, US, February 13, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ -- The Rev. Jay Lawlor comments in a blog post about women marching in resistance to oppression. "A wonderful movement of women who are speaking up, speaking out, and taking action for justice," writes the Rev. Lawlor. He continues by stating "The women marching now remind me of women who marched and were part of a movement over 2,000 years ago. Women marched with Jesus."
The Rev. Jay Lawlor states how women were an integral part of the Jesus movement in its earliest days, and that often these facts have been lost, even suppressed, over the course of Christian history. "And women were not just casual participants in the Jesus movement. [...] Women were disciples of Jesus in every way." The Rev. Lawlor writes of the dynamic roles women played as disciples of Jesus and in establishing the Early Church.
While women had been later marginalized, the Rev. Jay Lawlor celebrates the fact women are able to exercise ordained leadership in the Episcopal Church, as well as some other Christian denominations. "Women are serving as bishops, priests, and deacons across the Episcopal Church," writes the Rev. Lawlor. He concludes by stating "Women marched with Jesus and helped lead the Jesus movement. Women march. Women lead. Women change the world. Amen and thanks be to God."

"Rediscovering Jesus, Jesus and the Imperial Demise, Paradox of Kinship, and Seductive Deception of Personal Jesus" by Suzanne De Froy ARCWP


What foundational beliefs
reflect the ‘companionship of empowerment’ for the 21st century?

         Painstakingly, author Diarmuid O’Murchu presents an argument to name, unmask and confront destructive energy as an external force of domination and control in his book entitled ‘Christianity’s dangerous memory:  A rediscovery of the revolutionary Jesus (2011)’.  As the title of the primary resource for this paper illustrates, the author has provided evidence of the intentional erosion of the foundational beliefs underlying Jesus’ divine inspiration that has occurred over the centuries.  Official ‘church’ understanding has evolved through the mantle of definitive doctrine, and in many ways has abused power under the guise of being entrusted as the legitimate authority to interpret His teachings (page 39).
         O’Murchu’s underlying intention is to awaken a sense of hope.  But first we must consider the lasting effect caused by centuries of implicit and explicit psychological abuses of ‘power’.  Critical junctures in time reflect combined secular and religious forces.  He draws our attention to the life and time of Jesus, the Edic of Milan in 313 A.D. and the subsequent covert and overt influences remaining steadfast until being openly challenged through evolving democratic actions. 
         O’Murchu provides a scholarly analysis using historical and constructivist frameworks so the reader may understand where humanity has been and the potential traps that can sabotage a renewed course for humanity’s survival.  Merging theology and with a secular framework of power, he unpacks the apocalyptic interpretation of a revengeful dictator God.  He also highlights the ways oppression has been sanctioned in every sphere of life, including education, medicine, commerce, and agriculture throughout human history.  Gradually O’Murchu invites the reader to envision an alternative way of ‘being and thinking’. The reader is introduced to ‘sapiential’ wisdom based on the original inspirational teachings of Jesus, which he has framed as ‘Companionship of Empowerment’.  
         Other theologians are also taking a multi-disciplinary approach to rediscover how the historical Jesus was able to initiate transformative change and the factors that contributed to lingering and dangerous misinterpretations.  John Dominic Crossan looks beyond official dogma of the institutional church to construct an open theoretical matrix that is progressively moving as distinctions come to light.  This author draws on three interweaving disciplines to inform each other, which are cultural anthropology, Roman Jewish history, and archaeology.
         Crossan suggests that Jesus was at the right place at the right time.  The Hebrew tradition situated the kingdom of God on high, and the ‘chosen’ people were waiting for Him to come down to earth and save them all.  Then along came Jesus who made an extraordinary claim that the kingdom of God is already here, through the ‘companionship of empowerment’. Jesus was a catalyst, introducing a repertoire of revolutionary strategies for salvation from abusive subjugation that would nurture a person’s body and soul.
         Of primary importance was His insistence on non-violent resistance to oppressive power structures.  Also, His notion of empowering all individuals to love one another was critical to create movement for change.  In the Synoptic Gospels we can see how Jesus valued intentional acts of kindness by using the actions of a marginalized woman to illustrate a ripple effect that benefits all of society:
“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:44-47
         Three major themes emerged as I reflected on the resources provided for this assignment.  First, I thought about the power of intention.  Second, due to my own research interests, I explored the nature of collaboration drawing on four common sociocultural factors, previously identified as the essential glue for the maintenance of community:
·      identity, validated through community membership
·      function, as understood community objectives
·      shared values, as cultural norms and actions
·      discursive inquiry, as process used to refine ideas, not to criticize people

         Finally I was interested in how empowerment has an opportunity to thrive and hoped to be informed as to necessary conditions to do so. 
         Importantly I acknowledge that transformative change, as envisioned by Jesus, is a form of energy that is constantly in motion, recognizable in every day interactions.  We can witness this on a number of levels including the personal relationship between self, God and others plus the countless variety of societal and institutional structures.  A constraint is the difficulty to isolate how and when each influences the other.
Intention
         O’Murchu cited Walter Wink, who described oppression and the depth of desperation being experienced by individuals, family units and the entire Jewish population.  Long before the time of Jesus, hopeful messianic dreams emerged as advanced by ancient prophecies.  Imaginations construed a divinely inspired redeemer who had the power to relieve the depths of despair.  One quote I found interesting is:
“In such a milieu, the authenticity of Jesus was like a beacon that drew all the mythological motifs to itself.  Incubating in the womb of that period was God’s rash gamble that humanity might become more humane” (page 26)
         Crossan’s lectures on the historical Jesus illustrated how He used provocative parables to intentionally get people to think and share their understandings so wisdom would be revealed.  This is the power of discursive inquiry so that a moral teaching may be revealed.  Most often, Jesus was not explicit but left a trail of interesting ideas that provided seeds of hope for an alternative reality to be nurtured.  He used common everyday situations so that ordinary people could relate to His deeper message. Jesus also provocatively challenged their common ways of interacting with one another, revealing loving or unloving ways to respond. 
         I cannot but think, ‘How else can humanity evolve, unless awareness is brought to light?’  Being provoked and left to think about other ways to respond may provide the opportunity to break habitual patterns and offer a better way to live our lives. 
         Interestingly, His intentional storytelling as a method of choice was questioned by the disciples in all three Synoptic Gospels. When they asked why he went about teaching this way, He acknowledged the value of insight having a chance to emerge from time spent with one another.  But for other followers, hungry and desperate for a path to freedom from oppression, there were only brief moments to deepen understanding.  Parables were a way of generating personal and larger group reflection to awaken possibilities:
To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand’. Luke 8:9-10
         I could not help but recall modern day Marshall McLuhan who coined the phrase, ‘the medium is the message’.  Generally speaking, the intentional choice of delivery ultimately influences how a message, or moral teaching, will be perceived and transform into action.
Collaboration
         In the mid-20th Century, scholars have tried to reclaim the Jewish identity of Jesus.  Identity reflects participation, and Jesus identified ‘community’ as the place holder for ‘shared’ participation in the kingdom of God.  Crossan looked at the ‘program’ of Jesus as laying the foundational spiritual building blocks of an anti-greed community, becoming the antithesis of urban civilization’s centers of power being constructed under the leadership of Roman emperors such as Caesar, Herod the Tetrarch and their contemporaries.  Importantly, Jesus differentiated the kingdom of God from the kingdom of Rome by tapping into long-standing understanding. 
         Crossan provided examples of how Jesus presented egotistical symbols of earthly kingdom, such as coins with Caesar’s images or the known desires of Herod of Antipas and Roman imperialism. Kingship was traditionally represented as an aloof, top-down, authoritarian regime with a leader who is the ultimate problem solver and has the final say in decision making.  The king also has legitimate power and the right to create wealth in any way ‘he’ deemed possible, including violent retributive justice when loyalty falters.  Violence is justified as a means to an end, in service to the desires of the king.
         The teacher Jesus provided a unique view of the type of governance needed within community.  He recognized that in contemporary fashion He was being revered by His disciples, which O’Murchu identified as the seductive deception of personal Jesus.  However, in actuality, scripture represents Jesus as being humble and He never elevated himself or asked His followers to worship Him.  Instead He presented community formation as the companionship of empowerment, which He called the kingdom of God.  Here, there are no material trappings but an invisible source that lives in and among all people, manifesting in multiple domains of the here and now.  There is no patriarch in the leadership sense.  God could no longer be viewed as a traditional kingly Bible character that could be counted on to protect His creations by eradicating evil as suggested by Walter Brueggemann in his lecture, ‘A Conversation on the Nature of Evil’.
         In the New Testament, both Crossan and O’Murchu suggest that the God of Jesus is no longer the avenging, violent character who sanctions ‘an eye for an eye’ as found in the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  Instead, God is divine energy whose nature is compassionate and loving.  In Luke 6 and Matthew 5:43-47, Jesus is speaking to an expert in the Law, citing Leviticus 19:18, but extends the directive by stating that the love of all neighbours and enemies springs from the love of God as its source:   
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do that?
         Crosssan used the Parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate the revolutionary genius of Jesus and how He used discursive inquiry to initiate a powerful paradigm shift when dealing with the usual conflict among neighbours.  Then He extended the act of loving forgiveness and reconciliation to enemies as well.  The cultural enemies would be many, including tax collectors, representatives of Rome, the aloof judgmental groups of Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, as well as the hero of the story, the reviled Samaritan.
         I can relate to the internal perturbation that would rise in each and every listener, then and now. This is an excellent example of provocative methodology that has the potential to create controversy, making people think and challenge their moral conscience.
         A function of community is to encourage participatory engagement as an explicit norm for interaction between self and others.  Issues, concerns, dilemmas and problems naturally arise – it is an integral component of being human. Solutions however, reside in the heart of mutual respect.  Valuing dignity has the potential to foster self-respect by acknowledging the gifts that each person has to offer.  Part of Jesus’ identity was being recognized as rabbi, so it would have been customary to preach in temple gatherings.  However He did not expect people to come to Him.  Instead, Jesus traveled to the people and shared His wisdom throughout the area of Galilee. He explicitly stripped away the illusion of earthy authority and lifted the veil of power through healing, both spiritually and physically. 
         In turn, He sent His disciples out to heal those who are sick and eat with those they healed (Luke 10:1-24). Eating was viewed as a cultural opportunity to deepen understanding, while also nurturing the needs for material life.  Jesus also promoted a strategy of non-violent resistance when encountering conflict that is present in everyday life to further nurture a person’s body and soul.
Empowerment
         Transformative change would not come easily. I often wonder what Jesus would say today about the mess we are in, 2000 years later. Perhaps Jesus had underestimated the extent of damage that had been done after centuries of internalizing external forces of oppression that intentionally debilitate, disempower and traumatize the inner self (O’Murchu, page 14).  Recounting what an exasperated Jesus might have said, Crossan imagined a scenario that might have unfolded:
‘Don’t you see what has been happening … You people have been waiting for God to do it for you through Divine Intervention, while God has been waiting for you people to do it with Him, by collaboration ‘with’ God … no wonder nothing is happening’.

         This scenario of taking on personal responsibility represents a significant paradigm shift for human and spiritual interactions.  Collaborating ‘with’ God as a viable alternative is intentionally designed to undermine entrenched beliefs and systems of power.  This idea would have been revolutionary and dangerous, often at the expense of lives. No wonder, internalized oppression would take a long time to overcome.
         Crossan reminds us that the foundational beliefs set in the first century by Jesus draws upon a theoretical framework called collaborative eschatology, meaning the kingdom of God is a participatory kingdom.  As mentioned, this approach is intended that people collaborate with God.  However, the evolving Church retrieved the conception of God as autonomous and omnipotent from the Old Testament as illustrated by St. Augustine’s sermon in the year 416, “God made you without you, but He doesn’t justify you without you”.   

         Scholarly research indicates that Augustine’s statement reflects the pervasive Christian cultural norms that began to thrive one hundred years before.  In 313, Roman rivals Emperor Constantine in the west and Emperor Licinius in the east made an effort to unite the empire by issuing the Edict of Milan.  As suggested by O’Murchu, this law helped stabilize the empire’s need for power and control.

         There are scholars who suggest that Constantine’s mother Helena urged his conversion to Christianity as a way for salvation and heavenly reward.  The political significance ended the persecution of Christians and gave all people full authority to worship as they chose.  Another devastating outcome unfolded, which eventually destroyed the emergent collaborative model for religious community as envisioned by Jesus.  O’Murchu and Crossan highlight the entrenched secular beliefs but there were also religious beliefs influencing the work and efforts that would be needed to create possibilities for equitable religious formation.  Religious memory can be seen in St. Paul’s letter as he tried to establish order out of the first century chaos brought about by the immense social change initiative sparked by Jesus.  When taken literally the passage reflects ancient Babylonian and Mosaic laws, instilling the status quo for relationships between men and women, which ultimately contradicts the teachings of Jesus:
“As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church”
(1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

         The cumulative stress and tensions that would have been generated gave way to the ‘default’ mode of the time, including the Roman Empire’s hierarchical patriarchal structure.  With this came authoritative interpretation of the Bible, doctrine to guarantee entrenched power of the church, exclusionary rules, definitive protocols and liturgies conducted in elite Latin.  All were intentionally designed to retain power for church clergy and created a mysterious cloak for common understanding of the scripture.  Teachings of Jesus, which promoted distributed justice in how spiritual knowledge, wealth, food and material goods can be shared fairly throughout society was nearly abandoned.
         Change requires the ability to entertain other ideas as possibilities for improving the conditions of life.  By the 1300’s it is estimated only 5% of the entire population of Europe were allowed to receive any sort of education.  Peasants formed the major demographics and often education was prohibited by law 
(https://www.lostkingdom.net/medieval-education-in-europe). 

Common to the majority was attendance at church to receive guidance in the day-to-day decisions of ordinary living. Here, there were lessons, some of which promoted a heaven for obedient Christians and there was a hell for the unfaithful.  Retributive justice enforced the threat of everlasting damnation creating a duty bound following that has endured to this day. In other words the oppressive strategy of fear mongering guaranteed obedience.

         In high school I was grappling with my own understanding of what a relationship with God might look like.  My art classes afforded an opportunity to relate abstract notions of spirituality through artistic expression.  It was a time of Vatican II, where I was trying to reconcile the dangerous memory of the past to the hopeful promise of the present.  I knew the after-life consisted of a heaven, hell and purgatory with the last two options frightening.  Thoughtful teachers were trying to illustrate humanity’s history through the elaborate paintings and frescoes commissioned by prominent medieval Christians reinforcing a fearful ‘doom’ tradition.  Today I recognize how intentional schemes to retain or increase power crossed over religious and secular domains.  Numerous examples reflect this theme including Last Judgment paintings by Fra Angelico, c 1425 and German artist Stefan Loc, c 1435:
   



         By 1541, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment covered the entire wall behind the altar in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, a prominent view for those staring at the backs of clergy.  What thoughts might have filled their minds as they looked at Christ sitting on a heavenly throne, ultimately determining the fate of everyone, whether saint, peasant, elite citizen or clergy?


         In comparison, early catacomb art depicted symbols of peace, miracles of healing, gatherings with women presiding, and parable stories depicting God’s messenger as a benevolent loving shepherd embodying companionship of empowerment.





         The difference over time, when comparing implementation of the teachings of Jesus is startling.  O’Murchu turns to various forms of power to illustrate how this happened.  First he presents power as a force relying on persuasion and coercion to create an overarching network that dictates cultural values in our world.  The result is a ‘fierce stranglehold that leaves millions disempowered and disenfranchised’ (page 6). Second, he presents power as spirit in the form of nationalism or patriotism that divinely sanctions redemptive violence, legitimizes suppression of poor people everywhere and extracts wealth from those already marginalized.  Finally, he addresses patriarchal power as a relationship of co-dependence and passive submission to a ruling king-like avenging God.  This way of thinking depicted Jesus as the sacrificial scapegoat who saved humans from humanities’ collective disobedience. In the end, His death pacified the angry, demanding divine patriarch who sits on a heavenly throne. 
         The quest for power entails satisfying the illusive demands of ego aggrandizement.  O’Murchu presents this as a pervasive perspective and argues that in contrast, Jesus envisioned non-violent interdependence among one another, hence with God.  Today there is hope, as Crossan acknowledged there are members of church clergy who are rediscovering the historical Jesus.

         In a twist of fate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu presented a sermon in 1999 when he cited a historical sermon given by St. Augustine in 416.  But he unintentionally changed it.  Augustine presented the creative source as the authority who can affect your life independent of your involvement, “God made you without you, but He doesn’t justify you without you”.  Instead, through a simple sentence, Crossan explains that Tutu resurrected the notion of inter-dependence between our creator and us in such a way that illustrated the heart of the revolutionary vision of Christianity, when he said, “God without you will not, as you without God cannot”. 

         Crossan went further, describing the necessary conditions for empowering collaborative interdependence by saying:
‘The coming of God’s kingdom, the dawn of eschatological transformation, the great Divine Cleanup of the World, by whatever name, is non-violent and so also is our God-empowered participation in it and God-driven collaboration with it’.
Conclusion
         Developing the conditions to not only survive the violent normalcy of civilization but thrive, we can turn to the divine mystery’s kingdom of ‘kin-ship’.  Jesus provided an alternate reality whereby ‘space’ is intentionally created so that each person is valued as being an inter-dependent co-creator with God.  Individuals are entrusted with spiritual knowledge and wisdom that can be shared with one another.  John 2:20-21 offers encouragement for those whose want to live with honesty and integrity, to courageously draw on the light of Jesus’ vision of empowered collaboration that manifests itself as love in action:

“You have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have this knowledge.  I write to you not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it.”

         I believe we must begin with ourselves.  My local Heart of Compassion community’s reading circle has been sharing insights from ‘The grace in aging:  Awaken as you grow older’ by Kathleen Dowling Singh.  In an interesting paradox, she dedicated an entire chapter to humility, not in the traditional sense of reducing our self-image but as a way to empowerment.  As humans we experience traumas, loss, perceived hurts and disappointments, all becoming knots that bind us into fear-based feelings of rejection, pride and jealousy. Reliance on self-referential realities instead of intentionally considering the reality of God’s kingdom existing as a companionship of empowerment will cause us to create defensive reactions by making comparisons, judgments and assign blame.  Hardened resistance to embracing forgiveness leads to condemnation, debilitating both others and ourselves.  As suggested earlier, history has showed us that there is an expectation that God is a mysterious character who resides in a faraway realm:

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father ... 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name”.         John 14:8-13


         Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of God dwells within and among us.  So it is our beloved Jesus who invites us to begin with ourselves.  Humility serves as a gateway when we humbly emerge in our wonder and pay tribute to its source. I found this meditation inspirational to imagine true humility: 

         Empowerment as envisioned by Jesus also requires the conditions that reflect flatter power structures such as community that disenfranchises competition for ego aggrandizement and empowers wisdom for the greater good. This in itself has been a daunting undertaking over the centuries as systemic oppression has been in existence long before the first century and up to this day.  Also, there are many levels, from small to large scale operations.  Moments by moment interactions occur in personal, inter-personal, small group and large institutions with complex elaborate organizational systems of communication. 

         As I previously mentioned, it is difficult to isolate examples of direct influence as practices and systems of belief in both religious and secular institutions are interconnected.  Change that brings about loving norms of interaction has been advanced since the moment of Jesus’ death.  However the illusion of power has forever suppressed attempts to create an alternative reality.  

         In order to distinguish between empowerment and disempowerment O’Murchu believes it is necessary to ‘unmask’ power in its various overt and covert forms.  He draws upon the work of Wink to outline recognizable characteristics for ‘Power of Domination in Body and Spirit (page 8).  However, as the media will demonstrate, a wise professor told me it is easy to identify abuse of power, but much more difficult to recognize collaborative empowerment. 

         It has taken more than 2000 years for possibilities advocated by the historical Jesus to become mainstream and recognizable.  On the left hand side of the column below, I have tried to briefly identify the embedded indicators in the resources provided for this paper along with examples.  In the column entitled ‘Empowerment in Body and Spirit’ I have tried to provide an explicit image of contrast, recognizing that once you begin, the list is endless:

Power of Domination in
Body and Spirit
Empowerment in
Body and Spirit


Imperial power of every type
-       expansionism through power of persuasion and coercion
-       intentional subversive policy
Self-determinism
-       ‘democracy’  as a social experiment
-       shared participation
Violence needed to safeguard and uphold such power
-       terrorism
-       retributive justice

Non-violent interdependence
-       mutual respect
-       promote different perspectives to increase possibilities, sanctioning differences, ‘agree to disagree’
Unjust economic relations
-       lack mentality
-       special interest lobbies, over riding the interests of others
-       suppress freedom of the press

Distributed justice
- abundance mentality
- sharing of knowledge, goods, services and wealth
- freedom of the press
Crippling grip of irrational fear
-       propaganda

Peace and ease
-       practice of meditation, reflection, prayer
Slavery and oppression of every type
-       genocide
-       exclusion of women  in Roman Catholic Ministry
-       intellectual bias in various forms
-       uniformity

Freedom
-       tolerance
-       inclusion in the ARCWP movement
-       equal opportunities, free of intellectual bias
-       diversity
Dualistic splitting between sacred and secular
-       disavowing climate change
-       exploitation of planetary life and resources

Inter-connectedness
-       openness to honour scholarly research and scientific discourse
-       responsible management and sustainability of planetary resources
Human disempowerment
- poverty
- negative  ‘isms’ such as racism, despotism, nepotism,terrorism
- discrimination because of race, religion, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation
Empowerment
-       positive ‘isms’ such as feminism
-       all are deemed worthy to have a say
-       equal human rights
-       #metoo and #timesup movement
Religious validation of above
-       exoneration of injustice
-       exclusion of women in Roman Catholic Ministry
-       collusion by civil powers and organized religion to maintain absolute domination of the lives and thoughts of the people.
-       conversion of indigenous natives of the Americas

Actions by the institution of Church that rebuke powers of domination
-       prayers of forgiveness
-       the spoken and written word as in a report by CNN, ‘Pope Francis said that GOP front- The article in La Civiltà Cattolica, which is vetted by the Vatican before publication, lays out a scathing critique of “evangelical fundamentalism” in the US, arguing that, on issues ranging from climate change to “migrants and Muslims”, proponents of the ideology have adopted a twisted reading of scripture and the Old Testament that promotes conflict and war above all else’.

         More needs to be said beyond the scope of this assignment, but movement is being evidenced, much more dramatically in recent times inspiring hope.  For example, the seminal work of scholars such as Kenneth Leithwood has contributed to the growing body of change literature, making terms such as transformational leadership mainstream.  Thirty years ago, I changed careers from banking to teaching, as Ken said; I was jumping from the frying pan into the fire.  Coming from business with hierarchical business principles, my scholarly interest propelled an extensive literature review on ‘collaborative’ cultures and to my dismay, found that only a handful existed. 

         Related examples were indigenous circles and cooperative team structures. Today ordinary people and leaders are embracing collaboration as the hope for humanity’s future.  Individuals like Malala Yousafzai, Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks each made a difference propelling them onto the world stage through their heroic non-violent activism.  Political leaders and their actions, such as Martin Luther King Jr’s walk along the bridge in Selma, Baraq Obama’s foundation and recent Chicago Youth Leadership Summit, and Nelson Mandela’s influence to end Apartheid in South Africa, to name a few, have ‘walked their talk’ inspired by Christian values leaving legacies that connect the secular world with the sacred within. 


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         It goes without saying that further investigation is warranted to illustrate the wisdom of Jesus as God’s messenger for western civilization has also been realized in other cultures. Companionship of empowerment is seeping into all levels of human interaction.  Hopefully our strides will become longer and wider, hastening pace, so Crossan’s hope for “God’s gamble that humanity might become more human” will be realized before the amazing wonders of creation implodes.  It is a matter of survival.