’s Mercy & Gospel Obe dienc icing God e Pract
C A T H O L I C
W O R K E R
Ordinary Time 2012
More on Stability
by Eric Garbison Jodi and I moved five times in the first ten years of our life together—Fort Collins, Des Moines, Bratislava, Durham, Kansas City. Add to that almost two years in Atlanta, and back to Kansas City and we have experienced more than our share of mobility. I’m reminded of the main character in Wendell Berry’s book, Jayber Crow, who, after dropping out of school says, “It made me happy to have all my belongings in a box that I could carry with one hand and walk wherever I wanted to go.” Indeed there is something exhilarating about this freedom of movement. At the time we thought little of our transience. It mostly felt logical (education), necessary (a job) good (a call to ministry), loving (to be near family) and, at times, a little adventurous. Our middle class culture expects this of us, to be sure. Yet looking back, it feels very different. It’s as if we have lived in the middle of everywhere but aren’t from anywhere. No roots. What one of Berry’s characters calls being a “theoretical person”.
So E lijah did according to the word of the L ord; he went and lived by the C herith Brook…and the ravens brought him bread… I Kings 17
“There are moments when the heart is generous, and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here, one with another and with the place and all the living things.” Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow
This year we have been reflecting on stability in our community. In our last paper I shared some of what I’ve been learning about stability as a commitment to love: learning to love those particular persons around me; being willing to speak into their lives out of love and commitment to them; being willing to face that within myself that is unable to love.
Another question stirring in me is the relationship between stability and staying put. I don’t want to pit my experiences in Eastern Europe or the Deep South against the virtues of stability. They were filled with moments of clarity about our call to ministry and personal self-discovery. Besides, permanence comes with its own baggage like parochialism, close-mindedness or fear of strangers . Awareness must also be given to things like acedia, a vice recognized by monks whereby one can be present in body, but emotionally unconcerned about community happenings, withdrawn from central moments of communal life, or present only in a melancholy demeanor. So Benedictine Michael Casey wisely suggests we should not assume stability means never moving. “Stability is not a matter of immobility or resistance to change but of maintaining one’s momentum.” But sometimes I wonder how being a “citizen of the world” (and I doubt such a thing is possible) has handicapped me from making commitments to a place? It seems inevitable that stability will require of me learning to be present to a concrete community, struggling to know it intimately, and accepting the limitations of its history and mine. This value of committing to a place is one of the greatest lessons I have learned working with street friends in our neighborhood. Contrary to what we might think, homelessness is not instability, but the battle for greater stability amidst the volatility of life. Ironically, for many of the homeless we know, Northeast Kansas City was and is their home. Their roots go deep into the happenings of the neighborhood. They attended Scarritt middle school, graduated from Northeast High school, went to VBS at Bales Baptist, or worked in the JC Penney’s distribution center. For some, our chickens bring back childhood memories of gathering eggs in their own yard. Our garden reminds them of a family garden and steamy home-style vegetables at dinner. Our own buildings are part of this memory stream as they recall shopping at Bob Mead’s
hardware store, getting their hair cut from Freidley’s barber shop or watching a movie across the street at what is now a church. And so they refuse to stay at the shelters or relocate. They find a corner in a friends house, tuck themselves in the shadows of abandoned buildings or bed down in the overgrowth rather than be forced out. I am often surprised at what great pains folks released from incarceration will take to make their way back to the area. Whatever challenges homelessness has brought to their lives and identity, this place is still an important part of their story. It’s home and they are staying. And when we stay, we become part of their story and they of ours. What is the lesson in committing to a place? Perhaps it is that we moderns are the truly homeless, and the mainstream church shares in this displacement. We lack a real sense of commitment to community for the long haul. When we struggle with deep issue like generational poverty or our personal idiosyncrasies, wholeness can begin in the place where we stand. Stability requires us to abandon easy solutions or quick fixes. In many of his writings, Wendell Berry calls the virtue of being rooted in a place “membership.” His character, Jayber Crow, reflects back on years of commitment to his place on earth called Port William,
“What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection. There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody, who had not been loved by somebody else and so on…It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointing its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, always failing and yet always persevering a sort of will toward goodwill. I knew that, in the midst of all the ignorance and error, this was a membership; it was a membership of Port William and of no other place on earth. My vision gathered the community as it never has been and never will be gathered in this world of time, for the community must always be marred by (continued on page 10)
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Ordinary Time 2012
by Lori Oster Change can be a difficult thing. Hard. Overwhelming. This difficulty causes many to regard change as a thing to be avoided; same = good, change = bad. But what if the ‘same’ is harming others? What if the ‘same’ is harming us? Demand Change. This was the title of the conference I attended with Allison in April. Veronica’s Voice sponsored the conference as a way to help educate the community about human trafficking both globally and locally. Veronica’s Voice is a survivor-led, survivor-centered organization devoted to ending sexual exploitation in the United States. Organizers titled the conference “Demand Change” to bring attention to the demand side of the sex trade as well as to demand a change in how society views some as victims and others as “prostitutes.” If we focus on changing the demand, we change the trade entirely. Emphasizing demand doesn’t mean condemning the buyers. “We’re not saying they’re horrible people,” said Kristy Childs, Founder and Executive Director of Veronica’s Voice. “In fact, they are normal guys, the ones you work with, live next to or attend church with. They are human beings.” Childs explained that paying for sex sustains an imbalance of power. “It exploits the weak and vulnerable for the sake of the powerful,” said Childs. Someone wants sex and is willing to pay for it. Pimps step in to arrange it, profiting from it greatly. The woman, the one who is most at risk, benefits the least.” Here are some commonly believed myths about prostitution and human trafficking: Myth: It is a foreign problem. By estimates, there are 17,000 foreign nationals trafficked into the United States every year. Yet hundreds of thousands Americans are being trafficked within our borders. The best estimate of prostituted American children in the United States is 100,000 to 300,000 a year! This number does not even begin to touch those who are not under the age of 18. Myth: It is a victimless crime. The movie, Pretty Woman, is a fiction. In the real face of prostitution, 80% are threatened or assaulted. Women and children are safer in the army than in sex trafficking. Women who are prostituted have to serve an average of 10-30 johns/day. Every year a prostituted woman is raped 19 times, kidnapped 10 times, and beaten repeatedly. Myth: Women who are being prostituted are doing so by choice. • There are approximately 1 million prostituted women in North America. An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 of those are minors. • A national study shows that 75% of all women used in prostitution were victims of incest and/or physical abuse as children. • There are approximately 1.7 million runaways each year. One out of every three of those will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home, most times by a customer. This usually comes after some kind of trigger event (rape, etc.). Twelve is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution. • There is a “hypocrisy of consent.” A woman who is 17 should be helped, but a woman who is 18 should go to jail. • There is a “hypocrisy of geography.” A woman who is from Thailand should get help, but a woman from Topeka should go to jail. • Up to 90% of women in prostitution are under the control of a pimp or have been at some point.
to stifling the demand has led to an 80% decrease in customers. Myth: It’s easy for a woman to make the choice to break away from prostitution. • Women learn to disassociate because of the ongoing trauma they endure in this life. “It’s not me, that’s her.” They are given a different name and a new identity to further separate them from who they are. This protects them psychologically, but also allows for further victimization. • When homelessness is off the table, women can be ready to think of a different life. Unfortunately, there are only 100 beds for the approximately 300,000 girls that need to break away--and even less for women. • Many women lack education, a social support system and financial resources. This makes visioning for a new life nearly impossible. Many women struggle with addictions as a way of coping with their reality and develop mental illness. Since attending the conference, I feel like someone has taken some bad glasses off of my face. I had been looking through lenses which skewed how I saw the world. Now those perceptions have changed. Dr. Melissa Farley of the Prostitution Research & Education organization states, “Prostitution is to the community what incest is to the family.” We can not allow anyone to continue in this unhealthy and demeaning way of life, whether they are the girl or woman being trafficked, the buyer or the ‘bystander’. Change is required from each of us. As someone who professes to follow Christ, Jesus demands me to be a change agent. When I see injustice, I am called to ... loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke... Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? - Isaiah 58:5-7 Jesus, out of his love for me, for us, desires change. It is not good to turn a blind eye to these issues. He wants us to see the oppressed as they are - brothers and sisters in need. As a follower, I am called to shine a light on this dark reality and to invite people to be a part of the change that needs to take place. Our silence is compliance. One of the best ways to be a change agent is to support Veronica’s Voice. You can find out ways to support them at: www.veronicasvoice.org.
Illustration by Mark Bartholomew
Myth: If we aren’t the john, it’s not our fault. • We create and participate in a culture which objectifies women with the way we speak, the music we listen to, the movies we watch and the video games we play. • We talk about women as being “prostitutes”, not as women “who are prostituted”. • We don’t recognize the evil of pornography. Pornography is a “gateway drug” for johns. “This is not about moral purity, it’s about justice”. • We buy from companies that use child labor and many of those working environments also breed sexual exploitation. Myth: The women are the ones who deserve to be punished. • As a society, we should focus on demand. It doesn’t make sense to punish the victim. • For every 6 women arrested, only 1 trafficker is arrested. It’s low risk for the john and pimp and high risk for the woman. • In Sweden, it is illegal to buy/sell someone else’s body, not your own. This approach
Ordinary Time 2012
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
By Nick Pickrell
Jesus, Gandhi, & the Unspeakable
sination of Gandhi, and after a failed attempt, Gandhi was met by three bullets and the act was finished. In the ten days between the two attempts on Gandhi’s life, it came to light that many in power feared Savarkar so instead of protecting Gandhi the police and government officials paved the way for the assassins. On top of that, after failing to convict Savarkar for orchestrating the assassination, Prime Minister Patel admitted that Congress was already struggling to contain Muslim violence and was afraid to face a massive Hindu extremist backlash if they found Savarkar guilty. Gandhi represented a threat to the order of things. If his experiment with truth was to have carried on much longer, people might have changed sides. Savarkar’s dream would not have been realized and he would not have anything to gain from his years of work. This was too much for Savarkar so he used propaganda to sway the masses and assassins to eliminate the threat. After the threat was gone and the masses were in favor of a Hindu nation, the government officials were more inclined to acquit the esteemed leader of a very popular political party out of fear of a political backlash. Because of these political realities and the unwillingness of people to stand up and confront the Gandhi and Shaheed Suhrawardy meeting during Gandhi’s final fast of his life Unspeakable, evil struck a strong blow. The same can be said of Jesus and the to other towns adopting similar resolutions political conditions surrounding his execution. and this wave of peace began to upset some Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he exalted the very powerful people. lowly, healed the sick, challenged the clean/ One such person was a Hindu nationalist unclean laws, and broke the Sabbath. He proleader named Vinayak Savarkar. Savarkar was claimed and embodied a new social, political, unabashed in his want for a Hindu nation so economic and spiritual order and called it the he naturally abhorred the Gandhian program. Kingdom of God. The gospel Jesus preached The idea of a unified India seemed foolish represented a threat to those in power. and almost heretical to him. Savarkar sought The Pharisees and Sadducees were the a purity of Hindu culture that would be intermediaries between the Jewish people jeopardized if India became a melting pot of and Rome. Because of this arrangement, they different religions and cultures. The wave of received some kickbacks; they enjoyed some reconciliation taking place because of Gandhi’s political influence. If the new kingdom Jesus fast represented a grave threat to Savarkar’s was building was to gain enough momentum, dream. Gandhi had to go. that would mean the end of the Pharisees and The Unspeakable was now awake and Sadducees political gains. Jesus had to be on the offensive. Propaganda was used to stopped…and quickly. discredit Gandhi and his nonviolent move(continued on page 5) ment. People were arranging for the assasSuhrawardy said yes to Gandhi’s request, and they moved into an abandoned house together. It didn’t take long for the news of this arrangement to spread and there were many nights angry mobs gathered outside of Gandhi and Suhrawardy’s new house of reconciliation. In the following weeks, through patient and persistent dialogue, more and more people entered that house as enemies but left as friends. Eventually, more violence broke out. This event led Gandhi to fast. The conditions for the termination of the fast were radical: “It will be do or die. Either there will be peace or I shall be dead.” After just four days of fasting, many leaders from varying killing groups came to Gandhi, laid down their weapons and declared, “Now that peace and quiet have been restored in Calcutta once again, we shall never allow communal strife in the city and shall strive unto death to prevent it.“ This fasting practice led
The Unspeakable is a kind of evil that is so deep and foreboding that words fail to describe it. This term, coined by Thomas Merton, came to him amidst the tumult of the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and Gandhi. After reading author Jim Douglass’ works, JFK and the Unspeakable, and more recently, Gandhi and the Unspeakable, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the evil present in those pages. All of these individuals had worked for peace in their own ways and all of them were executed for it. This immediately brought to mind the story of Jesus’ life and death. Here is an example of one who boldly proclaimed and embodied a new order, which threatened the existing power structures of his day. This threat aroused and provoked the Unspeakable so it worked tirelessly to turn many against Jesus, which eventually led him to the cross. Jesus’ gospel had political, social, economic, and spiritual ramifications—after all, Jesus was bringing a new kingdom into the world. Yet, many Christians today claim Jesus’ gospel has no political significance. How could so many make such a claim? What is it about the gospels that could lead people to believe that Jesus came only to focus on the individual—neglecting the larger systems we organize around? Douglass’ book on Gandhi shed some light on these questions. Gandhi was deeply moved by the Sermon on the Mount, and his story is strikingly similar to Jesus’. One of the most controversial aspects of Gandhi’s program was his reconciliation work. When India was about to be freed from British rule, Gandhi remained deeply troubled because of the impending partitioning of land—India for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims. This failure of the peoples of India to be reconciled with one another led Gandhi to embark on his last “experiment with truth.” While in Calcutta, ethnic violence had broken out. Muslims and Hindus were killing each other, and the cycle continued as every death needed avenging. Gandhi, in response to all the Hindu-Muslim rioting, called on a very prominent Muslim figure—Shaheed Suhrawardy—to enter into an experiment with him. Gandhi asked Suhrawardy to live with him as a way to bring a concrete symbol of the reconciled India to Calcutta. This was an interesting pick for Gandhi because Suhrawardy was responsible for the deaths of many Hindus in the Great Calcutta killing of the previous year. Gandhi, a Hindu, had decided that the best way to bring peace was to befriend the one person many Hindus in the area wanted dead.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Ordinary Time 2012
What Was I Thinking
by Sophia Reed amazing. This new friend and I exchanged stories It all started when my campus ministry in about struggles, how we truly felt, and what our warrensburg, The Christian Campus House, lives looked like. I remember leaving that day feelwent on a small journey to Kansas City ing so close to the people I was able to meet, I beduring winter break. One of the many stops came convinced that if every relationship was that on the schedule was a place called Cherith Brook, personal, things here on Earth would be a whole which I had never even heard of before. The next lot different. Inside of me was this newfound sequence of events led to my current summer peace. When I stepped back from my egocentric internship at Cherith Brook. lifestyle and spent time loving those around me, We were supposed to get up early for one of everything made a lot more sense. Cherith Brook’s shower days and when we arrived I did not have the slightest idea of what to expect. Shortly after we piled into the café, it was explained to our group what the morning would look like and off we went; some to showers, some to the clothing closet, others to serve food and even a few were assigned to dishes. I was given the task to occasionally serve food, but most of the time I was able to simply visit with the shower guests. After facing my fears of uncomfortable situations and my tendencies to avoid talking to people I just met, I took the plunge, placing myself next to someone. I decided to be intentional about my conversations because I really wanted to get to know these people surrounding me. I did not want to have my usual impersonal conversation about the weather, sports, or something trivial along those lines. On the trip to Kansas City the group I traveled with had been talking Sophia Reed painting our basement workshop and her face about how to truly love My experience with Cherith Brook was so specyour neighbor, whoever they may be, because this tacular the first time that I just had to go back. So is how Christ lived and longed for his people to my friend and I did just that. We drove the hour be. This is something I have always known, but drive from Warrensburg to spend a couple more for some reason forget so easily. My goal was to hours there. This time I was on dish duty, which somehow break from my comfortable lifestyle and did not involve as much opportunity to talk with try a little bit harder to be the kind of person God the guests. Although my second visit did not look really intended God’s people to be. the same as the first, it was still incredible. This I started talking to people in the shower visit I was able to serve in a completely different house that I felt more drawn to, who I may have way. I was able to listen to the distant sound of normally just passed by or ignored. The result was muddled conversations in the café as I scrubbed dishes in the kitchen. All that I experienced still brought a smile to my face. My grin would grow as I would collect dishes or stand at the door and watch these people, my brothers and sisters in Christ, exchange deep love and care for one another. Amazingly, I was witnessing an effort to diminish the wall many people put up between themselves and those who seem different. The people running the shower house that day explained to me that they really valued community, and that we all should be in community together, not just with those who are similar to us or easy to get along with. They are working to break down this imaginary wall that separates us from each other, and once that wall is gone we are all the same, children of the same God; equals. Neither side is greater. The server nor the guest seem to hold power or think of themselves as better, simply because Christ compels them to care for each other in this way. The people coming into Cherith Brook are not identified as less or labeled by their homelessness; in the shower house we are all brothers and sisters. Cherith Brook is a wonderful picture of what loving your neighbor really looks like. I could not get enough of the place; I kept coming back for more. I was able to attend Martin Luther King Jr. day as well as a second Saturday workday. The day we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. I was assigned to wash dishes with Nick. It was an amazing day with so much to be thankful for. There was also something else on my mind that I could not ignore. There was this longing to be able to take part in everything Cherith Brook had to offer, not just the events that conveniently fit into my schedule. I started talking about this with Nick, forwardly spilling my desire to possibly live at Cherith Brook for an extended amount of time. Although I was really nervous to express such feelings, he smiled and told me that what I was describing was very possible. I was able to do exactly what I had been nervous to suggest, stay at Cherith Brook for a whole month! Now daily I am able to live with the wonderful people here. I am learning how to do so many things: truly living in a community, radically loving your neighbor, living more simply, and living out a Christ-centered life. My time here is only halfway through, but I already have learned so much. I know God smiles on this place, and this is exactly why I felt so drawn here in the first place. I am immensely thankful that one of the many stops on my college group’s agenda was Cherith Brook. I know God had me intentionally stumble on this place. I cannot even imagine God’s full intentions of this month-long internship, but I trust coming to Cherith Brook will only inspire other great, God-dominated things.
Ordinary Time 2012
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
continued from page 3
Never before had the Pharisees and Sadducees felt threatened in such ways. These leaders were considered to be righteous and wise, and one couldn’t enter into that circle without being both. The ones who were unrighteous were notified and then ostracized. The lines of power had been clearly drawn until Jesus embarked on his reconciliation project and created lots of gray area. Jesus was both wise and righteous, and he criticized the Pharisees in ways that left them speechless. He did this so many times that two things happened. Many people joined Jesus’ kingdom building project, and the Pharisees and Sadducees were losing their grip on power. When Jesus was finally arrested for claiming to be the Son of God, the various political entities began aligning. Pilate and Herod, who were former enemies, became friends. The Pharisees and Sadducees stirred up a mob so all present demanded Jesus to be killed. When Pilate hesitated, “the Jews cried out, saying, ‘If you release this man, you aren’t a friend of the emperor! Anyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes the emperor!’” John 19:12b. In Matthew’s gospel, Pilate noticed that his hesitation was beginning to incite a riot so he went along with Jewish demands. Sound familiar? The Gospels say that Jesus committed no sin, that Jesus was putting the wrongs of society to right. Jesus was building the eternal kingdom one disciple at a time but because of what the kingdom of God meant to those in power, it led to an execution propagated by an evil force bigger than any one person. From Judas to Pilate to the Pharisees to the Cross, the politics of the situation gave rise to the Unspeakable. In this case, the Pharisees wanted their power and needed the political setup to remain the same. Pilate, in his turn, wanted to keep the peace so he looked good before Rome. The crowds did their part by shouting for Jesus’ execution. Even Jesus’ own disciple, Peter, denied knowing Jesus. In that moment, everything aligned and the Unspeakable dealt another strong blow. All political systems remain in power because of our consent. The only way any system can function properly is when many people see its vision and give their lives to it. In both cases mentioned, the threat Jesus’ and Gandhi’s movements posed to those in power increased as more people converted to their vision and gave their lives over to it. The sword was only drawn by the powerful when a new kind of kingdom threatened its own. Jesus and Gandhi were bold enough to speak the truth to power and to embody that truth in such a way that cost them their lives. This way of living exposed the hollow nature of the
Unspeakable and drew people into an entirely new way of life—filled with a just political, social, economic, and spiritual order. Many great empires have understood that the best way to squelch any threat is to create divisions among the enemy. If your opponent is busy warring with itself, it no longer serves as the city on a hill, that place where peace and justice reign. Instead, it becomes good for nothing—another victim who has fallen prey to the Unspeakable. The solution is a political one. To be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation requires both a spoken and embodied practice. This practice is impossible alone. We need many people to take the kingdom of God seriously enough that they reorder their economic, social, spiritual and political lives. Our faith requires both an inner belief and an outward expression. Without both the gospel loses its power. Resurrection is also key as we are called to not only live the gospel but also to proclaim it. This means we carry the responsibility to unveil the falsehoods and empty promises the Unspeakable perpetuates. As firm believers in the resurrection, we can enter into the halls of power without fear and with a resoluteness to endure the consequences for being truth-tellers. Besides, we’re in good company. The kingdom of God grew through Jesus’ suffering. The kingdom of God will continue to grow through our willingness to endure suffering rather than inflict it on others—be it through outright violence or through more systemic, exploitative practices. Thanks to people like Jesus and Gandhi, we have a blueprint for undoing the Unspeakable. When we take hold of the resurrection, we are unleashed from fear so we can expose the Unspeakable, accepting the cost, understanding that the eternal kingdom of God will soon be made complete—and the Unspeakable will be undone. However, until we truly embrace and live into Jesus’ new ordering of things, no one will think the gospel is practical or possible… and the Unspeakable will continue to destroy. And to allow that is unspeakable.
This is why reconciliation work and enemy love is so threatening. If many groups come together, declare new allegiances, withdraw from unjust empirical structures and invest in a new society, the old systems will fall. However, if we continue to hold the individual as paramount, every person being king of his or her own kingdom, we will undoubtedly perpetuate the evil systems that continue to exploit, divide, and disempower.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Ordinary Time 2012
(left to right) Top row: Jeff Laurents, Eric Garbison, Josh Armfield, Brian Strassburger, Jodi Garbison, Diana Garbison, Henri Garbison Second row: Rolland Smith Third row: John Roach, Micah Waters, Chris Homiak, Josh Armfield, Nick Pickrell, Brian Strassburger Fourth row: Sophia Reed, Linwood United Presbyterian Fifth row: David Lisseur, Jodi Garbison, Dominican University students
Ordinary Time 2012
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
(left to right) Top row: Franco, Manuel, Jaelyn Tramel, John Tramel, Darlene, Rainbow Second row: Lonnie Welch, Nick Pickrell Third row: Brent Smith, Bobby Fourth row: Elisabeth Rutschman, Eric Garbison, Diana Garbison, Jodi Garbison, Sydney, Josh Armfield Fifth row: Henri Garbison, Robert, Mike, Brian Strassburger, Josh Armfield, Bryan
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Ordinary Time 2012
NATO Feeds War
by Allison Rozga Earlier this spring our community was able to take part in the annual Catholic Worker Midwest Faith and Resistance Retreat in Chicago. It was a weekend full of fellowship and idea sharing which culminated in a direct action of gospel obedience against the upcoming NATO-G8 Summits. As Catholic Workers we hoped to bring a positive, life-giving message with our action. After much discussion we decided that the heart of our message would be, “NATO Feeds War, Community Feeds People”. We gathered outside of Obama’s campaign headquarters and set up a breakfast table. We passed out food, inviting those passing by on their way to work to join us in table fellowship. After joining together in song and dance outside the headquarters we proceeded into the building to extend the invitation to the table to the Commander-in-Chief himself. Eight individuals continued upstairs toward the headquarters to deliver the message until being stopped and arrested while the rest of the group marched and sang in the corridor and proclaimed our statement of purpose and vision (See statement below). Catholic Worker Statement and call for nonviolent action in response to the NATO-G8 summits
Catholic Workers march in Chicago at our annaul Faith and Resistance Retreat
By using the table as our call to peace, we hoped to offer a radical alternative to militarism, one that humanizes “the other” as opposed to demonizing him or her. We recognize that although most Americans see our security lying in the strength of our military, we, as Christians, are called to find our security in Christ alone, and certainly never at the expense other human life. We continue to hope and pray for a world of peace, a world in which all human life is valued in the way Christ modeled. Until that day we believe it is our role to practice gospel obedience in a way which gives a voice to the voiceless and dignity to those that our society has marginalized.
As Catholic Workers, we call for May 18-21 to be a weekend of nonviolent protest against the capitalism and militarism of NATO-G8. Catholic Worker communities around the country are invited to engage in “A Weekend without Capitalism”— a four day act of noncooperation where we refuse to participate in the political and economic structures that oppress our sisters and brothers, harm our communities, and destroy our environment. We will take time off work and school and, instead, invest this time into healthy, just, and sustainable alternatives for our communities. We will not support the corporate state by using our cars or consuming goods or services from which the state profits. Instead, we will do as Jesus taught us: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned. We will protest David and Josh Armfield keeping everyone singing at the action injustice and war, host free violence, and poverty in the world. markets and skills shares, work on community Since the end of the Cold War, NATO forces— gardens, invest in alternative economics, act as led by US interests and the West’s insatiable appepeacemakers and organize our neighborhoods for tite for oil and free markets—have been controdirect action. versially involved in conflicts in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. In 2010, NATO countries spent a collective $1.08 trillion on defense and military expenditures, including a resurgence of nuclear weapons. The US and NATO are leading the way for the militarization of the globe at the expense of human and environmental needs. We say no to nuclear weapons, no to the out-ofcontrol defense spending, and no to the logic of violence. The G8—the Group of Eight, including the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and the UK—represent the destructive engines of capitalism whose “growth-at-all-costs” mentality has desecrated communities, the environment, and human rights all in the name of progress. As people of faith and conscience, we advocate relationships and economics rooted in love: the works of mercy at a personal sacrifice, craft and worker-based cooperatives, gift and barter economies, agrarian communities, and a more simple lifestyle. Let love be our guide for our collective The table is set at Monday’s nonviolent witness future without war and capitalism.
Dorothy Day often quoted St. John of the Cross: “Love is the measure by which we shall be judged.” This May, Catholic Workers from around the country will join thousands of others to protest the NATO summit meetings being held in Chicago and the G8 meetings in Camp David, MD. Ours will be a nonviolent protest—motivated by love for each other, our earth, the poor, and our opponents—as we make our voices and our bodies a visible sign of resistance to the institutions that bear so much responsibility for the suffering,
Ordinary Time 2012
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
by Jodi Garbison Wow! You are sure getting tall! Oh my gosh! I think you’ve grown six inches since I saw you last! You might end up taller than your parents some day! We have heard these and other similar comments from folks who haven’t seen Henri and Ana for a long time. They are shocked to see that the kids haven’t stayed frozen as they last saw them. It must be true. They must be growing, changing and maturing. Because I am so close to them and see them every day, I don’t always see the subtle changes or notice the growth. That’s exactly how it is with Cherith Brook. Thanks to returning volunteers and shower friends, my eyes are open to beauty, growth and maturity around this place. We must be changing – even if subtly. Our building and house have been partially painted this spring. As you approach the house you’ll see fresh paint, new colors and renovated stained glass. After many hours tuck-pointing and painting on scaffolding, the west wall of the building is stronger and looks beautiful. We also installed three new windows where plywood used to be so the apartment seems like a totally different place. The raised beds make the garden striking and easy to get to. It’s also wonderful to see such healthy, tasty food in our front and back yards. We actually got several peaches and lots of grapes for the first time this year. Henri, Eric and Nick have been busy with bee hives – not just the original 2 hives but 4 more that have split or swarmed. We should have honey in jars by fall. That’s really exciting for our first year having bees. Micah and Taryn, married last year, gave birth to their first baby, Hazel Elese Waters, on June 30th. Josh and Elisabeth went to Sweden for three weeks. They left Kansas City as boyfriend and girlfriend but returned as fiancés. We are excited for them and us! After 6 years at the same school, Henri and Diana will transfer to Lincoln College Prep. Academy. They will face many challenges and transitions but we are thankful for the opportunity for them to attend a school with such a good reputation. We said goodbye to our Jesuit Volunteer, Brian Strassburger, in late April – we still miss him! (We told him he could return once he fine-tuned his basketball fundamentals). We also hosted a group of students from Dominican University. They spent their spring break with us and we were thankful for their presence and work. Our intern for the summer is Sophia Reed. What a joy to have her with us. She brings youth, energy and compassion. As many of you know, our friends Tim and Gary lost their apartments in May to a fire. Tim found an apartment closer to us and we continue to pray that Gary will find a home soon. We held our 2nd Annual Cherith Brook Open Mic Night on June 2nd. What a celebration! There was lots of singing, dancing and laughter. Start preparing now for next summer’s open mic night – it could be your claim to fame! We continue to discern life together in all its dimensions. Lately we have been exploring how this way of life could work not only for certain phases of life but for all life stages. We are a group ranging from 11 to 70 years so as you can imagine we have very different needs and dreams. Because of this we are discussing issues of sustainability such as finances, health care, working outside the community, pace of life and commitment to one another. Thankfully, we know folks who have been living in community for several generations who have offered to enter into the conversation and share with us how it is working for them. Several of us went to Reba Place Fellowship to learn from them and the rest of us will go to Jubilee Partners in October. We find that conversations and visits like these offer us the hope and
A Remarkable Fellowship
by Elisabeth Rutschman Every year we renew our commitment to our community and vision together about our future. Our covenanting retreat last fall did not give us enough time to finish our conversations. Where is God calling us to deepen? Where to let go? Where to be challenged? The conversations continued throughout the fall and into the winter, touching the beginning of springtime. In the group, in pairs and in solitude we worked to figure out how to move forward. There was one main theme that shaped our conversations and seemed to be something that we all had a strong longing to deepen and explore; stability. Not meaning fear of change, but as Eric wrote in the last newspaper, “the ability to respond creatively to the challenge change brings.” How can we view our call here as a way of life rather than a “phase?” And what would make this life sustainable and good for us through our different life stages? We decided to ask these questions to a community that has been around for many years, is generationally diverse, and is still a beautiful and thriving community; Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, IL. They have been through many changes since they began in 1957, and carry much maturity, wisdom and experience. Four of us from Cherith Brook hopped on the bus to Chicago and got to spend several days with Reba Place Fellowship. We were welcomed by David, who showed us around the neighborhood and led us to the houses where we were staying. One beautiful thing about this community is that they all live in walking distance from each other. They also refuse to relocate for a better paying job. We had many questions about their way of life and the recipe to make community work for the long haul. The days we had were full of conversation, often around the dinner table. This Anabaptist community has an interesting history. It was started in 1957 by a group of concerned grad students and a seminary professor named John Miller. They had seen how the Mennonite Church in Europe had become compliant to the violence of the Nazis, and wanted to return to their radical pacifist roots. They found inspiration from the early church and their own faith tradition, and longed for a deeper way of embodying the church. The 70’s took the community into a new, charismatic era, with hundreds of people joining. At the peak, there were around three hundred community members, many of them children, living in tight corridors. At this time, many people experienced renewal and healing through the Spirit. But the quick changes and large numbers also made leadership difficult, and there were many hurts when it became too authoritarian. (continued on page 11)
Elisabeth & Josh, our newly engaged couple
inspiration and creativity we need to continue to live faithfully. Please pray for us. So I guess we have grown and changed over the last several months. A step back has given me a clearer perspective that being too close doesn’t allow. Thanks to all who have supported our work and life through time, work, money, clothes, toiletries and friendship. We certainly couldn’t grow without you!
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Ordinary Time 2012
Priest Arrested Home
by Josh McElwee [originally featured in National Catholic Reporter, July 6, 2012] A priest who has spent almost two decades in jail for acts of nonviolent protest against the country’s nuclear weapons complex faces another possible year and a half in prison after his actions on Wednesday. Fr. Carl Kabat, a 78-year-old member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, faces three criminal charges after cutting through a fence and entering the grounds of the Kansas City Plant, a major new nuclear weapons facility under construction, to call attention to its building. Kabat’s action represents the latest in a years-long campaign by activists to call attention to the facility’s construction. Protests at the site, which is estimated to cost $1.2 billion and scheduled to be partially operational by early 2013, have been led in part by area Catholics who have also been leading petition campaigns to remove funding from the site. One of the petitions, focused on developing a plan for reuse of the facility should it be abandoned in light of weapons cuts, was unanimously passed by the local city council in March. Kabat told NCR after his release Thursday that he first entered the property of the Kansas City complex Tuesday, using bolt cutters to make a hole in a perimeter fence and walking through. Kabat said he then spent Tuesday night on the grounds of the complex until he was found and arrested Wednesday morning. continued from page 1 Henry Stoever, a local attorney who has represented Kansas City activists in the past and was at Kabat’s court appearance Thursday, said Kabat faces three separate criminal charges, two of trespass and one of destruction of property. Each of the charges, Stoever said, carries a maximum of six months in jail and a $500 fine. Kabat’s release Thursday came on the 30th anniversary of a dramatic 1982 action by nine peace activists who later served up to a year in prison for an act of civil disobedience against the USS Florida, a nucleararmed U.S. submarine. Calling themselves the Trident Nine Plowshares in reference to the submarine’s Trident missiles, ballistic missiles armed with multiple nuclear warheads, the activists poured blood on the outside of the submarine and hammered on its hull. In an email to mark the anniversary of the event Thursday, Art Laffin, a longtime Catholic Worker and peace activist who was one of the nine who took part in the action, wrote, “I have nothing but profound gratitude for doing what we could to declare our independence from nuclear weapons.” Besides mentioning Kabat in his email, Laffin also asked for prayers for Sacred Heart Sr. Anne Montgomery, one in the group of the Trident Nine Plowshares who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Montgomery, who last spoke with NCR about her life of faith in May, also recently completed a year in jail for a 2009 action with four others at the U.S. Naval Base Kitsap, which houses submarines equipped with Trident missiles and is located in Bangor, Wash. Kabat’s action Wednesday was the second in two years by the priest at the Kansas City facility. He also entered the complex July 4, 2011, breaking the window of a crane being used in its construction before being arrested and charged with criminal trespass. Kabat was fined $100 for that action after being convicted months later. Kabat, who is known for wearing clown costumes during his protests as a reference to St. Paul’s declaration that we are “fools for Christ’s sake,” is perhaps most well-known for a 1984 action with three others at a nuclear missile silo at Whiteman Air Force Base, about 70 miles east of Kansas City. During that action, named by its participants the Silo Pruning Hooks plowshares, Kabat and the others took a jackhammer to the silos’ concrete and poured blood atop them. Convicted of destruction of government property, conspiracy, intent to damage the national defense and trespass, Kabat received a sentence of 18 years, but was released on probation in 1991. In a statement following their 1984 action, the four activists quoted from the U.S. bishops’ 1983 pastoral letter, “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response,” in giving their reasons for their action, saying, “Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of faith. We are called to be peacemakers ... by our Lord Jesus.” members who are indifferent to it or against it, who are nonetheless its members and maybe nonetheless essential to it. And yet I saw them all as somehow perfected, beyond time, by one another’s love, compassion, and forgiveness, as it is said we may be perfected by grace.” It also seems to me that commitment to a place nurtures stability because of a thousand daily acts and local life patterns that give us a sense of belonging. In this short time we have worked hard at establishing local patterns. Buying from our neighborhood grocery store or investing in a local business that employs our neighbors is not simply convenient, but it helps our lives overlap. One of the cashiers is a former homeless friend and behind each encounter and warm greeting is a celebration of her success. Sending Diana and Henri to the local school brings us in relationship with families that live just a few streets up. Our evening walks take us in the direction of their homes. When we ride our bikes to church we see street friends in their fuller rhythms and appreciate them in new ways. Old patterns seem to merge into new ones, until ultimately there is a web of connectedness that is the gift of time. Planting perennials can be seen as a spiritual discipline of this sort. Three years ago we planted peach trees in hope and anticipation. This year we awed as peaches emerged and giggled as they grew and ripened. Last year we planted pecan trees, an act of faith, for as saplings, they have no fruit yet to offer. Each year they survive I am more invested in their health, more devoted to their survival. And the desire within me grows to see their fruit. This parable of the pecan tree begins with the assumption that I am tending the tree, that I chose to plant it and continue to care for it. In short, I am the cultivator of it. But those thousands of daily acts in one place have their effect on me, too. As the tree roots mine the earth, so my roots are winding their way through the darkness and we are being born anew from the same soil. As Jayber Crow reflects in his old age, “ I had laid my claim on the place, had made it answerable to my life. Of course, you can’t do that and get away free. You can’t choose, it seems, without being chosen. For the place, in return had laid its claim on me and had made my life answerable to it.”
(left to right) Allison, Sophia, Eric, Carl, Henry, & Elisabeth at Cherith Brook
In an email Wednesday explaining Kabat’s action, Chrissy Kirchhoefer, a member of the St. Louis Catholic Worker community who regularly assists the aging Kabat with travel and other needs, said the priest’s intent was to celebrate “Interdependence day” by “cutting as much of the fence perimeter” of the Kansas City plant as possible to “allow all of the Holy One’s deer and other animals that once used the former bean field for its habitat” to come into the area. Following his arrest, Kabat had an initial court appearance Thursday before Kansas City, Mo. Municipal Judge Michael McAdam.
Ordinary Time 2012
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
continued from page 9 Reba entered into the 80’s with a new and more humble understanding that communal living is not a requirement for being a Christian. Many families and individuals expressed a need for more space and were looking for other ways to be part of the community. The Reba Place Church was then formed, as a way to honor the needs expressed and provide another way for people to be connected to Reba Place without being part of the live-in community. The church grew but lacked racial diversity. This longing for diversity grew stronger, and in the 90’s the congregation began their journey toward racial reconciliation. This decade also gave birth to a new way of welcoming young people into the community by offering alternative ways to experience the life at Reba without immediately joining the common purse. This gave newcomers a chance to try out communal life through different tiers of involement while simultaneously having space to discern their call of becoming a covenanting member and joining their resources together with the community. One of the things that I loved most about Reba Place was their way of nurturing relationships. An important piece of their life is small groups, where they share life, prayer and decionsionmaking. They talked about the importance of allowing the community to speak into your life while also being open about sharing your own needs. Because, as one community member said, “We hear God’s voice more clearly together with a community that is seeking God’s will than we do alone.” I have been thinking about this conversation since I got back to Cherith Brook and am feeling challenged to be more open about my own discernment, allowing my community to speak into my life. Reba Place also put a lot of emphasis on the health of the community members and care for one another in remarkable ways. Imagine going through all the different stages of life in community. One day you find that you are growing old and are surrounded by people that care for you. Frankly, I cannot imagine a better way of being community than caring for one another through the different life stages. One day we were gathered around the table for lunch. We asked the question, “What made this life sustainable for them through the decades?” One thing that was echoed by many was the importance of having a personal spiritual life and practices beyond communal practices. It reminded me of a text we had read earlier in the year by the Benedictine monk, Michael Casey. “Once socialized in a monastic community, it is easy to allow oneself simply to be carried by the corporate momentum. The monastic persona may continue to exist, but it begins to lack the skeleton of regular, personal investment of energy. We are “faithful” to the common exercises, but there is a certain hollowness about our observance.” Casey continues to explain that a personal spiritual practice is essential to life in community, and is the way in which we do not become an insubstantial shell, but stay centered and rooted in Christ. For myself, I often become lenient in my personal spiritual discipline, leaning on the spiritual practices that we do in common. It was good to be reminded of the importance of solitude and personal spiritual practice.
Coffee, Sugar, Creamer Vinegar (gallon size for cleaning) Baking Soda Dish Soap Toilet Paper Milk, Eggs, Butter Black Beans Folding Tables (standard size) Energy Saving Light Bulbs Stamps Old candles Bicycles Washer & Dryer Canning lids Hand-crank Honey Extractor
Eric, Elisabeth & Allison sitting with Allan Howe and David Janzen at Reba Place
The backbone of Reba is their unity in love and their sharing. They practice common sharing, renouncing all their possessions and savings. This beautiful and radical common purse also leads to a deeper commitment and rootedness. When joining the common purse you also make a vow to be part of the community “until God calls you elsewhere”. Our common purse at Cherith Brook looks a bit different, but is based on the same Sabbath Economics of sharing, taking only what we need, not more or less. We pool our income together but not our savings. At Cherith Brook, we renew our commitment to the community yearly, and feel challenged by the way Reba Place does common purse and long-term commitment. We are still exploring ways we can be a community that views this more as place we will remain until God calls us elsewhere. We are encouraged by meeting with our brothers and sisters at Reba Place Fellowship, who are beautiful examples of rootedness in community. If you are interested in learning more about Reba Place, I recommend reading, “Glimpses of Glory: Thirty Years of Community, the Story of Reba Place Fellowship” by Dave and Neta Jackson
Tennis Shoes (esp. men’s 10-13) Jeans & Belts (men’s 30-34, women’s 4-6) Men’s Boxers (esp. S & M) Women’s Panties (esp. 4-7) Shampoo & Conditioner Deodorant & Razors White Socks Foot Powder Toothbrushes Tampons Ibuprofen & Tylenol Laundry Soap (high efficiency) Shorts (esp. men’s 30-34) Shaving cream Bus passes (one-rides) Lotion Body Wash
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
3308 East 12th Street Kansas City, MO 64127 (816) 241-8047 firstname.lastname@example.org http://cherithbrookcw.blogspot.com
Our Who Are We? Schedule
Community—Cherith Brook is a residential Christian community committed to sharing table fellowship with strangers, and all our resources with one another. We have found our inspiration from the early church, the Church of the Savior, and the Catholic Worker. Mercy—Our daily lives are structured around practicing the works of mercy as found in Jesus’ teachings. We are committed to regularly feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, visiting the prisoner and the sick in the name of Jesus. Peacemaking—As followers of Jesus, we understand our lives to be centered in God’s Shalom. Cherith Brook strives to be a “school” for peacemaking in all its dimensions: political, communal, and personal; working constantly to undo poverty, racism and militarism. These three orbs can be summed up as the struggle to connect with the God of life. We pray that Cherith Brook is a space where all of us—the broken— can come to learn and relearn the ways of Jesus; a place to struggle together for God’s call of love, mercy, peace and justice. Showers Prayers Community Meal Women’s Day Haircuts Garden Workday Group Workday Roundtable Discussions M, T, Th, F M, W, F Th Monthly, Last Wed Monthly, 2nd Sat M Monthly, 2nd Sat Monthly, 3rd Fri 8 am–noon 6:30–7 am 5–7 pm 11:30 am–2 pm 9–11 am 2-5 pm 9 am–1 pm 7 pm–9 pm
September 21 @ 7pm Roundtable Discussion: Politics of Jesus A conversation with David May, professor of New Testament studies @ Central Baptist Theological Seminary October 7 - 8 Festival of Shelters October 19 @ 7pm Roundtable Discussion: Race & Justice A diverse pool of local experts discuss issues of race and incarceration November 6 KCMO votes on anti-nuke ballot initiative November 16 @ 7pm Roundtable: Rethinking Christmas A time of reflection and gift making