Daniel – Loving Disobedience and Nonviolent Resistance

A talk originally given on May 30th 2020 as part ot the Christian Climate Action series on “Our Biblical Mandate for Civil Disobedience”

CCA banner at Parliament Square - Nov 2018

 

This talk is going to be mainly based on part of a book by John Dear, “The Sacrament of Civil Disobedience”, pp 33 – 37 [1]. It is also influenced by Daniel Berrigan’s book “Daniel” [2], as well as adding my own reflections.

(Daniel in italics in this article, refers to the Book of Daniel)

The book of Daniel is the only apocalyptic account in the Old Testament. John Dear quotes David Daube as saying it is “a veritable charter for civil disobedience by a minority”. He says it is “The most explicit account of nonviolent civil disobedience in the Hebrew Scriptures”. That “Mark’s Gospel cites every Chapter of this book” [3] and that Jesus modelled Himself and His ministry on Daniel. Jesus certainly uses the title of the ‘son of man’ or ‘the human one’ that is prominent in Daniel, and quotes this scriptural text before the Sanhedrin. For example: “You shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk 14:62).

According to John Dear, Daniel is “one of the most revolutionary works of ancient literature” and “next to the Gospels, [it] is one of the strongest manifestos ever written on nonviolent resistance and loving disobedience to ruling authorities”. He quotes Daniel Berrigan, “We have in Daniel, a book about worldly power – and about the powerlessness of the believing community – revealed (ironically) as a new form of power… It is a story of providence, not success. A story of obedience [to God] and it’s risks.” For John Dear, “Daniel… is a parable of nonviolence”.

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Kairos Time and the Climate Emergency

(This is the text of a talk I gave on Saturday June 13th, for the weekly Christian Climate Action online study of our ‘Faith Mandate for Civil Disobedience’. It will also be posted on the CCA website at https://christianclimateaction.org/ )

Martin Newell on Moseley Road - nogoingback

On Moseley Road a couple of weeks ago…

I am starting here from the assertion that we are in a ‘kairos moment’. A climate kairos. We are facing a moment of choice, an urgent invitation, a time of promise or threat. Can we read the signs of the times. Do we know what time it is?

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Daniel Berrigan’s ‘Ten Commandments’ for the Long Haul

I am reproducing an article by James Martin, S.J. , posted on America Magazine website  here on  June 14, 2012 . Yesterday would have been his 99th birthday. This morning it was my turn to lead the Christian Climate Action morning prayer. I used these and some of his most challenging and inspiring words, and was asked to share these for the help and encouragement of others. So, here they are.

Daniel Berrigan’s

‘Ten Commandments’

Daniel Berrigan

Of course as someone who has written on the Old Testament (particularly the Prophets) Daniel Berrigan, S.J., age 92, the Jesuit priest, poet and peace activist, understands the centrality of the original Ten Commandments.  But thanks to Jim Forest, himself an apostle of social justice, for pointing me to these ten spiritual rules from Father Berrigan’s book, Ten Commandments for the Long Haul (1981).  There’s a personal interest in this for me, too.  Once, several years ago, I wrote to Dan when I was frustrated about something in the church and was tempted to, as Thomas Merton used to say, “blast off,” i.e., speak my mind in not the most sensible way.  In response to an agitated letter, Dan, who had himself known Merton, wrote me to counsel patience, and reminded me that I’m in this “for the long haul.”  I think his “Commandments” are useful in the church today.  (Photo also thanks to Jim Forest.)

1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).

2) Don’t be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they’re growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.

4) About practically everything in the world, there’s nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.

5) On a long drive, there’s bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don’t go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don’t be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.

6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don’t love yourself. They just endure. So do you.

7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus’ specialty and he was heard to say: “Take up your couch and walk!”

8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don’t use the earphones. Then you’ll be able to see what’s going on, but not understand what’s happening, and so you’ll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.

9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.

10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.

Discipleship In a Time of Climate Emergency

A Talk for the Day for Religious,

Birmingham Archdiocese

On February 2nd, I was invited to address the Archdiocesan Day for Religious on the subject of “Discipleship in a Time of Climate Emergency”. After the talk, I was asked if I could make the talk available.

So, see here  for the Powerpoint presentation.

There is some rough text on the Notes pages of the Powerpoint, but the text I used is available to download here .

climate change - effects

 

Jesus and the Passion of an Artist: Homily at the funeral of Fr John Sherrington CP

John Sherrington - by the sea

A long time ago, someone said that to understand John Sherrington, you always have to remember that he was an artist first. And then of course he was a Passionist. And then an ordained priest. As a Passionist, the image that John seemed most fond of was that of Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing at the foot of the Cross. For John, his Passionist vocation was first and foremost about standing at the foot of the Cross, standing with the crucified of today, in solidarity and with love, and finding God and Jesus with them, among them and in them. It was about finding, in his own phrase, ‘sites of suffering’ and standing there, staying there, being with those in whose wounds we can see the cross of Christ. And in whom, especially, we can see Jesus.

But John perhaps brought a particular artists way of seeing this, of living it.

It seems to me now, that one way to understand how John tried to live his life, is that he was trying to live as an icon. An icon of Mary, mother of Jesus, standing at the foot of the Cross, yes. And an icon of Jesus in His life, Passion and Resurrection. I hope that John, as an artist, would appreciate that image. After all, after the Resurrection, Christ lives in us all. We are all, ‘after the Resurrection’, living presences of Christ in the world: a Christ who is now always the Crucified and Risen One, who brings us hope of God’s love, both in this life and the next.

One of the things about an icon, is that it is not a photograph. It’s not trying to be an exact copy of the person it’s trying to represent. An icon writer is instead trying to pick out, in a stylised way, some of the key features of the subject, which seem to the artist to be the most significant.

John wasn’t perfect, none of us are. He made mistakes, like we all do. He wasn’t trying to be the new Messiah either. But in the way that an icon, a work of art and beauty can touch us at a deep level, beyond words, I feel John and his life and his commitments have touched us all deeply, beyond words. For me, over the years since he was the first Passionist I got to know, even when I have seen very little of him, he has always been a presence in my life, showing the way along a path, both inspiring and challenging.

An icon of the Risen Christ, like the risen Jesus himself, would not be without wounds. Jesus’ hands, his feet and his side still showed the scars of His passion and cross: the consequence of his commitment to live in solidarity with the poor and outcast, the oppressed and neglected and crucified of his time and place, in the name of God. This truth of Jesus, it seems to me, was true of John too. John did not try to hide or remove his wounds. Instead, he allowed them to give him that extra sensitivity to those suffering around him, to deepen his solidarity with the poor and outcast, the oppressed and neglected, in the name of God.

To his life as a street sweeper, carer and trade unionist, John brought his working class background in a mining town. Perhaps, if you will excuse the pun, he ‘mined’ these experiences to understand what he could contribute in solidarity to the struggles for liberation and racial justice in the Philippines and apartheid South Africa; to life in the house with young local young homeless people in New North Road, and to the community on the Pembury Estate.

To his work with people living with HIV and AIDS, and those struggling with feelings and experiences of rejection by God, Church and society because of their sexuality, John brought a deep sensitivity borne of personal experience and struggle.

To his life as a Passionist, John brought his experiences among and as one of the crucified of today.

He brought what he experienced and what he learnt from his life as a sweeper, care worker and trade unionist: he brought what he learnt from and among those rejected so often by both Church and society. To his membership of the Church, among an Order that traditionally worked to keep alive the memory of Christ’s suffering and Passion by preaching, John brought what he learnt from his experience of vulnerability and powerlessness, as well his stutter, which he overcame but never lost. His vulnerability and his sensitive nature as an artist didn’t always make life easy for him, but he never gave up.

What John learnt from these experiences of shared vulnerability, he brought to his way of being vocations director, director of studies, and Provincial: He brought them to the way he initiated the Community of the Passion, and to the way he was a good neighbour and friend in Byker. I’m sure he brought these experiences to other parts of his life too.

Like any good icon writer, John’s deep passion, through all his life, was never to stop communicating and living a deep feeling for the love of God. And despite his struggles with really-existing Christianity and Catholicism, with the Church and with us Passionists, John always sought out and found people in the midst of all that, sincerely seeking God, and loved them for it.

I don’t know if he knew the phrase, but I think as an artist John would have appreciated the saying of Dostoevsky that “the world will be saved by beauty”. Beauty is of course not just physical. It can be musical, moral or spiritual, to name just three. But it seems to me that the world will be saved by beauty because of the way beauty can inspire people, can lift their spirits.

Powerful oratory or propaganda can inspire people for good or ill. True beauty, on the other hand, it seems to me, can only lift the spirit and inspire aspirations to the good, the beautiful and the true. John sought to live a live that was faithful, full of love and beauty. Like an icon writer, he wasn’t about filling every space with busyness, but getting the important lines just right. Beauty works at a deeper level. I believe John’s influence has been something like that too.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard Jesus speak about the ‘seed dying and yielding a rich harvest’. John did not generally, even during his four years as Provincial, have a high profile ministry, either in the Church or in wider society. In common with many others, his was more of ‘a hidden life’. But he planted seeds that have gone deep but which have borne fruit, are now bearing fruit, and I hope and pray, increasingly will bear fruit. Fruit that will last.

John, in the words of our first reading today from the book of Wisdom, allowed himself to experience “testing”, and even “punishment, as mortals see it” in this life. Trusting that, in following the Crucified and Risen Jesus, it would yield a rich harvest. Only maybe, like the work of many an artist, a harvest that would only be fully recognised after his earthly life had finished.

As St Paul said in our second reading, John, with his gentle sensitivity and sometimes nervousness or reticence to speak, did not come among us with a show of oratory or clever words, or relying on the strength of his own personality. And he perhaps struggled with that same ‘fear and trembling’ that St Paul speaks of. Instead, he came with what was essential. Again, in the words of the letter to the Corinthians, John came to speak and witness only to Jesus, and Him Crucified, in the power of the Spirit who makes all things new: that we might depend not on the ideas of worldly power, or of the powerful of this world, but on the power in powerlessness of the God on the Cross.

For this we give thanks. And we pray for John now. We pray for ourselves, and for each other, as we mourn our loss, and heaven’s gain. We do this in confidence that our Redeemer lives, that the Lord is our shepherd, and John’s too. That John has taken his good deeds with him, and gone to a God who he trusted is full of healing warmth and welcome. A God who is full of not only merciful love, but also the joy of a good gin and tonic. For all this we give thanks to God, as we wish John bon voyage. Despite my rare venture into French, he’s not going to his home-from-home in France: because, despite the impression John might have given sometimes, France is not actually heaven on earth, or paradise itself! But we do indeed wish him bon voyage, a sweet journey into the peace and joy of the presence of God. To meet his Mum and his Dad, and all who’ve gone before him and us. And so we comfort one another in our time of need, offering our prayers and thanks to God. Amen.

For a biographical obituary of Father John Sherrington CP, see:

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38917

 

 

Discipleship In A Babylonian Context

This is the text of a talk I gave to an ecumenical group of ministers from a wide variety of church traditions in Birmingham in 2016, which was followed by lively discussion. Most of the pastors were from churches in deprived inner city or other urban areas. It is just as relevant today.

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The-Tower-of-Babel_3

Whose discipleship are we reflecting on today? Our own, or that of our church members, or our neighbours? I am not a pastor of a particular church, although I have recently been getting more involved with my local Catholic parishes in Sparkhill, Digbeth and Balsall Heath. I have been celebrating the Eucharist with them, and preaching, so I have to reflect on this question too. Of course we have to reflect on our overall context to also reflect on our place within that, and that of our neighbours and church members.

I want to mention in passing two issues that we can come back to later:

One, it is easy for those of us, including myself, who have an education and apparently comfortable background, to speak to those in deprived inner city communities, and tell them they should be in solidarity with each other and the poorest, and therefore should not be upwardly mobile: is this just a new way to keep the poor poor, and in their place?

Two: it is easy to speak as if we have a large or strong or thriving church community. Maybe some do, maybe some don’t. Overall, I think its still true we are a shrinking community, perhaps bolstered by immigration. Given the wealth of the society we live in, despite the varying experiences of that prosperity, we should perhaps not be surprised. For Jesus did not say “blessed are the rich”. Also, and there may be some debate about this, but according to some, those who do remain are generally becoming more active corporately at least, in some of the ways I will speak of later, in witnessing to the Gospel as a faith with counter-imperial values.

Our theme today is Discipleship in a Babylonian context.

Babylon was an imperial city: that is, it was the centre of power and wealth in its empire, where that power was used to oppress and extract wealth from the peoples it had subjugated through violence, war and the threat of these.

Babylon has a central historical and also mythical role in the Biblical history. The leadership of Israel was deported there. A central theme of the Old Testament was of the struggle to remain faithful in the face of its threat, and in the reality of exile, whether that was oppressive or alluring and seductive, or both. All the prophets spoke about how God’s people should relate to the threat or reality of imperial domination, with Babylon as the ‘great city’ which was the model of all the others. This was transposed into the New Testament, in the book of Revelations, onto the Roman Empire.

So, to say ‘Babylon’ in this context is to talk about Empire. Empire is a constant reality in our world: centres of power and wealth, that use that power to extract wealth from others through the reality and threat of violence, war, propaganda systems, and the control and sense of inevitability that these enable. Empires use propaganda systems to promote false values and their false gods.

We know from our Biblical tradition that Empires come and go: they have a limited lifespan: “a time, two times, and half a time” (Daniel 12:7 and cf Revelation 11:3 and Daniel 7:25)

In more recent times the big world Empires have been the European empires, the largest of which was the British Empire. The UK was ‘number one nation’ globally probably for about two hundred years. Next came the American Empire, although not claimed as such by that country. Now, we all live in the ‘global capitalist empire’, where global corporations struggle with nation states for power and wealth. At least 50 of the 100 largest economic entities in the world are corporations, with no democracy, and no provision within their structures for the poor, or those left outside. Many of them are headquartered in the UK, others elsewhere in Europe or the USA. Their leaders and owners are among the 1% of the 1%, and many of them live in the UK, mostly in London and the surrounding areas.

So we live at or near the heart of Empire in our time. At the same time, physical proximity to the centre is not the same as being the beneficiaries, as the working class and peasants of England from the 16th century onwards knew. However, certainly since 1945 and we can go back probably to 1900, a large proportion of people in these islands have been at the very least collaborators with this empire, perhaps like Peter at the fire in the palace courtyard, ‘warming our hands by the fire of minor privileges’, while of off-stage we can hear the screams of those being tortured, in preparation for crucifixion.

So where are we in this, and our neighbours and church members? I would think that pretty much all of us in this room are from the class who benefit secondarily from Empire. We are expected to be its functionaries, to help it keep moving along, smoothing out the dissatisfactions, the dysfunctions and the contradictions. We have received an education and probably certain material privileges so that we are able to do this, and see things from the perspective of those invested in the status quo.

Our neighbours and church members may be in a similar position, or they may be among those who are also exploited to keep the system running, or even among those who are left over and simply discarded. I would think that most of our neighbours and church members do not think of themselves as beneficiaries of Empire, even if some or many are, to varying degrees.

What are we to do? First of all, acknowledge the reality of Babylon, of Empire. Secondly, analyse what our place in it is. Thirdly, make sure we are in solidarity with those who are exploited or left over, near or far. If we are among the exploited, then that means solidarity among those like us: otherwise, we either have made, or have to make, a shift, make a move, in our thinking and priorities, away from what our heritage and background expects of us.

For all of us, we have to be able to ‘see through the veil’: the veil that Imperial propaganda creates around us, and the veil between time and eternity. This is what the writer of the book of Revelation was trying to do for the people of his time. Being marginalised on a prison island was a good place to see through Imperial pretensions, and to see them from the perspective of Eternity, from the ‘heavenly realm’. It was for him what the Irish call a ‘thin’ place. This is why the book by Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther about Revelation is called ‘Unveiling Empire’.

To see through the veil we need to clear our heads of the propaganda: the advertising, the media line, the cultural icons. We need to be careful what we watch, what we see, what we read. Adblocker is a good idea at the very least, in this internet age. We need to read and study the Bible and its stories of struggle and resistance to Empire. But we need to read it through the eyes of Jesus. How did Jesus read and interpret the Jewish scriptures? Which parts did he focus on, and which parts did he ignore?

There appear to be at least two main traditions in the Bible, or at least the Old Testament [ cf ‘Come Out My People, by Wes Howard-Brook]. There is the tradition that affirms the place of kings and temples and hierarchical social structures. And there is that which critiques them and opposes them, and emphasises the Reign or Kingship of God alone.

There is one tradition that says , in the words of the psalms, “God blesses the righteous, riches and wealth are in his house” (Psalm 112) , the implication of which is that the wicked will suffer and be punished (cf Proverbs 11) and so that those who are poor must have sinned!: The other tradition is that which says “God is close to the poor and the broken hearted” (cf Isaiah 61) and “blessed are the poor” (Matthew 5:3, Luk3 6:4), while it is the rich who are wicked ( Luke 16: parable of the rich man and Lazarus : Job 21 : Jeremiah 12 : – as opposed to Ecclesiastes 8)

It is clear which of these traditions Jesus affirms. “blessed are the anawim”, the rich man is in hades, and the rich young man must give up his wealth and privileges in order to follow Jesus.

Discipleship in Babylon requires a disciplined approach so as not to get swamped by the incredibly powerful propaganda machines of our ages. It requires a focus on the stories in our scriptures and traditions of resistant churches, communities and individuals. It also requires a life aimed at maintaining our sense of dignity and simplicity, and it also requires action. Not to get caught up in what our society tells us is necessary for a ‘good life’, but to focus on what is essential. To try to build communities of resistant values in our churches and church communities.

To do this we also need to worship and pray with confidence, assertively. One suggestion is that the European tradition of quiet and reflective prayer and worship is not enough, at least on its own. Public liturgy on the streets, worship and prayer, confronting the centres of power and injustice, can also help us to clarify where we stand, and for others too.

Action could be many things: for example, involvement in tenants and residents associations, or trade unions. We can affirm the right trade union membership at work, and the duty of Christians to support the unions where we work – with the focus on those among the low paid, and insecure work and conditions, and on justice, not merely on self-interest and private gain.

It could be supporting living wage campaigns and community organising. It could be benefits unions. It could be international solidarity in finances or activism etc… supporting inclusion and anti-racist attitudes: supporting families trying to bring up their children with different values and experiences, bring them up to see the difference between discipleship and keeping up with the ’image race’… It could be prayer and protest about climate change, international injustices, wars, … and bringing these things to our communities from a faith filled and scriptural perspective. We need to remember that our Mother and Sister Earth is also our neighbour, and one of the main victims of Empire in our times, (as always, but on a bigger scale) and look to defending future generations too.

In the Book of Revelation, there are passages of violent and threatening language from God, threatening retribution and disaster for the evil and the exploitation of Babylon, of Empire. These passages also say that thousands from the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’ will be saved. But these words are not effective, nothing changes. It is when ‘the lamb that was slain’ – but who is still alive – comes on the scene that things change: and “people from all languages, peoples and nations” are united in worship before the throne of God. It is the unconditional, non-violent, sacrificial presence, solidarity and love of God revealed in Jesus that makes the difference.

The lesson here for us, it seems to me, is that we have to model what we want to achieve. We have to live it in our own lives if we want to inspire others with our words. If we who have at least some privileges are not able or willing to make sacrifices, and sacrifices that really look like sacrifices to those among the exploited and left- out among our neighbours and church members, then we will not be seen to have an authentic voice of Christ, the lamb that was slain, was sacrificed and rose again.

 

The Crucified God and the Nonviolent Passion of Jesus: The Most Overwhelming Work of God’s Love?

[This is an adapted version of a talk I gave recently for the Birmingham Diocese Catholic Justice and Peace Lent Retreat, 2019]

Martin Newell 2019 Lent J&P Retreat talk

“The Passion Of Christ Is The Most Overwhelming Work Of God’s Love”

– St Paul Of The Cross, Founder Of The Passionists

In what way or ways is this true, how can it be that the Passion of Jesus is “the most overwhelming work” of God, and of love, in the words of St Paul of the Cross, Passionist founder? I want to reflect on two aspects of this overwhelming, unexpected, love of God. The first is expressed in the phrase “The Crucified God”. The second aspect of God’s love, is expressed in a dimension of Jesus’ life and teaching that led Him to be tortured and executed, and that can be called “Active Non-Violent Resistance”, which is something Pope Francis wrote about in his 2017 World Peace Day letter, “Nonviolence:  A style of politics for peace” .

The Passion and Cross of Jesus as the Suffering of God

In the Marlon Brando film, “The Waterfront”, set in 1930’s USA, a young woman’s brother has is murdered by the gangsters that run the dockers so-called Union, and the priest is called to anoint his body. Just before he leaves, the priest says to the sister, “If you need me, I’ll be in the church” . Her response is one of anger. In effect she says, what is the use of a priest who stays in the safety zone of the church, while injustice and violence are happening around him? If the priest is going to remain in his comfort zone, in the safety of his church and house, it is no use to her, or to her brother and those in situations like them. She – and they – need him to come out of his protected zone – recognise where suffering humanity is, and to be willing to risk suffering with them.

To read more see  here  to read as a download, OR continue reading below

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Ched Myers and “Binding the Strongman: A Political Reading of Mark’s story of Jesus”

I’m posting here a download of the abridged version of this inspirational book.

BINDING THE STRONGMAN – Abridged – by Ched Myers – With Forward by Daniel Berrigan

Binding the Strongman - book cover

Seeing the life and ministry of Jesus through the perspective of non-violent activism was not my idea. I got it from Ched Myers in the first place, with his study of Mark’s Gospel, “Binding the Strongman”. I read it in condensed form during Bible studies in the 1990’s. While I was at Seminary, I used to go to a small room in a church near Oxford Street, to meet Chris Cole, Virginia Moffat and others to read and discuss what it had to say. We had one copy of the full size book, Bibles, and we each had copies of the abridged version Chris had put together from articles Myers had published in Sojourners magazine in the USA. It blew my mind, and I think its blown many others since. It was electrifying. My only criticism of it was that at times it could be a bit reductionist, reducing what were deeply multi-layered events and actions of to only the political dimension. But its not called a ‘political reading’ of the Gospel for nothing. Myers highlights the amazing challenge of Jesus’ call to ‘follow the way of the cross’ and his journey to Jerusalem, towards that final confrontation that led to the cross. And then the Resurrection. And even that was illegal. 

The original book is published by Orbis and its still available. At over 500 pages, its not the type of short book I usually like to read. That’s why I still like the 48 page abridged version. Both can be inspirational for a more radical discipleship, and I’m sure some readers of the abridged version will want to get the full size one.

A Call to a Resistance Church

cw logo 2

On Thursday, I am leading a class at St Mary’s University Twickenham, on the Catholic Worker movement and its place in Catholic Social Tradition. In particular, in relation to liberation theology and Catholic Social Teaching. So I have been looking up some old Catholic Worker articles from some years ago, that impressed me and stayed with me in their clarity and inspired me with their Gospel radicalism.

The first is by Frank Cordaro, probably the best known Catholic Worker in the USA today, at least among those in the movement. His “Call to a Resistance Church” outlines how to read the life of Jesus as the life of a non-violent activist, as well as God incarnate. While Frank was writing in the 1990’s, this is a reading of the Gospels that is today being integrated into a ‘christology from below’.  According to Scripture scholars there can be little doubt that the Gospels show us a Jesus whose non-violence was a “central part of his life and teaching” (Terrence J Rynne in “Choosing Peace – The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence”, edited by Marie Dennis of Pax Christi).

Frank outlines “Four Marks of A Resistance Church”: Downward  mobility, identification with the poor and oppressed, non-violent resistance to injustice, and intentional communities. Download it here as a PDF: A CAll to a Resistance Church – Frank Cordaro

The second was written in the late 80’s. Originally entitled “Christian Radicalism in the United. States: The Catholic Worker Tradition” this article by Mark White and Angela Jones into the true Gospel radicalism of Catholic Worker thought and practice: radical in the sense of the Latin meaning of the word. The Latin ‘radix’ meaning ‘root’, indicates how the Catholic Worker vision gets down to the fundamentals of the Gospel as well as the issues of our age, such as the what it means to ‘live’ God’s Kingdom or Reign as a ‘spiritual revolution’. Reading this it is crystal clear why most of today’s radical movements are not too radical, but not radical enough, as they do not get to the spiritual roots of our crises. See here for their article.

See here for the text of my talk on “The Catholic Worker and Liberation Theology” (Note: I have developed some of the ideas further in the year since it was originally written). And here for a further reading list about the Catholic Worker.

MiChA: Midlands Christian Action Witness for Peace

Advent Leaflet Front

“They shall beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into sickles.

Nation shall not lift sword against nation,

and there shall be no more training for war.

Everyone shall live under their own vine and fig tree

with no one to make them afraid”

(Micah 4:3 – 4)

MiChA is a small Christian peace group in the Midlands. There are two branches, one in Birmingham, and one in Nottingham. We are dedicated to planting our mustard seed of God’s reign of peace and justice. We try to play our small part in bringing alive this beautiful vision of the prophet Micah, so that God’s will may be done on earth as in heaven. We are trying to live in this reign of God which full of life and joy, by witnessing to God’s peace.

We have done this in four ways so far.

First, on the streets of Birmingham with our regular prayer, protest and witness vigils outside HSBC on the corner of New Street and Corporation Street. We are calling for HSBC to cease its involvement in financing the arms trade. It is one of the big players in supporting the arms trade. Andrew Feinstein, author of  “Shadow World” has called the arms trade “the most corrupt trade in the world”. The dates and times for our upcoming Advent 2018 vigils are on the leaflet posted above.

Image result for roxel protest

Second, we have organised protest and prayer vigils outside the Roxel factory outside Kidderminster, where propulsion systems are made for missiles, including the Brimstone and Stormshadow missiles being sold to Saudi Arabia. It is known that Saudi Arabia is firing missiles into Yemen as part of their aggression there which is leaving millions of innocent people at risk of death by starvation and disease.

Third, the Nottingham branch have been praying and vigilling monthly outside the Heckler and Koch arms factory there, and have had some interesting dialogue with passersby coming to and from Gregory Street tram stop, Warhammer World over the road, and people going into and out of the industrial estate where the Heckler and Koch factory is based. Among them, have been members of Trent Vineyard Church which is next to the arms factory. We pray that their members and leadership will hear the Gospel call to witness for peace, given the scandalous activities taking place next door.

MiChA Vigil Oct 18

MiChA Nottingham& and visitors

We have also taken part in the  ‘No Faith In War’ days at the the ‘Stop DSEi’ Arms Fair protests at the ExCEL Centre in east London. We hope to be there again in 2019, assuming the arms fair continues. The Stop the Arms Fair week will run, during the arms fair set up week, from September 2nd – 7th. The arms fair itself is on September 10th – 13th.

TO CONTACT US:

Email: micha@peacehub.org.uk

Phone: MiChA Birmingham: 0121 772 7933 / 07985 728 464

MiChA Nottingham: 07804 640 643

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaithResistNetworkUK/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FandRnetwork