’s Mercy & Gospel Obe dienc icing God e Pract
C A T H O L I C
W O R K E R
God Made Flesh
by Nick Pickrell Our nation loves war. If you have been listening to any of the political speak lately, you will be hard-pressed not to find examples of violent language used to describe a whole variety of things. We have declared war against Afganistan, Iraq, crime and drugs. At the same time, we have also declared war on the poor, the prostituted, the undocumented, the refugee, the felon and the panhandler. We project ourselves as ones who are right and righteous while simultaneously dehumanizing those who aren’t like us - those who are deemed to be wicked and unworthy of camaraderie. The fruit of all this division is oppression and marginalization. This separation allows us the space to reduce whole races, ethnic groups, genders and classes to a subhuman status. That’s how a society can dismiss an entire country “because they are all terrorists” or a homeless person “because they are all lazy drunks who are unworthy of compassion.” on human care, God wants to take away all distance between the human and the divine… We usually talk about God as the all-powerful, almighty God on whom we depend completely. But God wanted to become the all-powerless, all-vulnerable God who completely depends on us.” One might also recall the passage in Philippians that speaks of Jesus as one who made himself nothing, taking on the nature of a servant (Phil. 2:6-8). All of these examples involve a path of downward mobility. God’s own Son was met with criticism because He came from a neighborhood of low standing, not unlike the neighborhood in which Cherith Brook is situated. Instead of building God’s kingdom by rubbing shoulders with the political elites of his day, Jesus made himself low; Jesus practiced solidarity. level, God chose to practice downward mobility by sending Jesus—God made flesh—into the world as a baby who was fully dependent on Mary and Joseph for survival. God became human, lived our suffering, and through the sacrificial nature of solidarity gave birth to a new, reconciled community. The act of God becoming flesh, depending on us, and then redeeming us provides a new framework for us from which to operate. It reminds us of the significance of caring for others in sacrificial and sometimes inconvenient ways. Instead of letting our taxes be the only way the poor are cared for, we are reminded to directly help our neighbors in need. Instead of spending all our efforts trying to attain power and prestige, we are reminded of the Christian’s call to the margins and to the practice of the kind of downward mobility Jesus modeled for us. In doing so, we avoid the popular criticism of the Christian as one who will pray for someone but will “pass the buck” when it comes to raising up the lowly by living in solidarity.
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
Jesus was also the victim of this kind of labeling. He was mocked by Nathanael because of the town He came from: “‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from NazaPhoto of the Beggar’s Statue in Rome. reth?” (John 1:46). This encounter demonstrates the prejudice This aspect of Jesus’ ministry is timely as we and labeling present in Jesus’ day, but it also enter into the season of Advent. As we collecreveals something more; something beautiful tively look ahead to the day God became flesh about the heart of God. and bone, it is important for us to remember that Jesus was not born into privilege or Speaking about Jesus’ birth, Henri Nouwen wealth. Jesus was homeless. Jesus’ family stated, “Jesus is God-with-us, Emmanuel. were political refugees. Jesus was undocuThe great mystery of God becoming human mented. Jesus begged for hospitality from is God’s desire to be loved by us. By becomothers. Jesus spent time in jail. Jesus was ing a vulnerable child, completely dependent even sold for 20 pieces of silver. On a different
God practiced solidarity by becoming flesh and bone. Jesus practiced solidarity by living on the margins and dining with sinners. When we practice solidarity, we find there is no longer rich or poor, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, man or woman. By stepping down, we break the divisions that separate us and create a more lasting peace. We invite the felon to dine with us. We invite the homeless into our homes. We welcome the foreigner into our communities. Instead of declaring war on the panhandler, the prostituted, the felon, the undocumented and the refugee, we call them brother, sister and friend. In doing so, we embody the way of the kingdom of God—the eternal, reconciled community. As we draw closer to the day God was made flesh, let us rejoice in God’s beautiful expression of solidarity. May it draw us closer to those on the margins - to those deemed unclean and unworthy. By removing all distance between us, we know that the hymn, “Peace on Earth,” will not only be sung at church but will become a reality in our homes.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Waiting for Remember, Resist, Rejoice the Light
by Jodi Garbison by Chris Homiak In October we celebrated the Festival of Shelters for the fourth year in a row. The Festival calls us to remember that we are dependent on God for our needs, resist the empty promises of empire and rejoice because of the bounty of the harvest. In many ways it felt familiar. We erected shelters in the front garden as we have done each year, plus we added another one. This year, as in the past, the shelters highlighted the plight of refugees, homeless persons, exploited women and the undocumented who live in or near the neighborhood. don’t necessarily know well. But because of their courage we all learned a bit more about women who are exploited, people who are facing homelessness and individuals who are living with a felony post incarceration. We then commissioned the twelve folks who had decided they would spend 12 or 24 hours on the streets in hopes of experiencing God’s provision. We continued the Festival on Monday night with a feast and hearing stories of how God had provided shelter and food for our group. Every year we reflect on the Festival. It seems every year we say how meaningful and powerful Sunday night stories are in helping us understand the way folks depend on God daily for sustenance. The highlight this year was that two of our homeless friends offered to “host” our two groups for the night. What a gift that friends who come for showers and also volunteer with us would graciously invite us into their space for sleeping and share their faith and knowledge of living on the streets of Kansas City. Thanks Lonnie and Robert! We pray this Festival is not simply a reminder for a week that we are wanderers, dependent on God for provision but instead a reminder that leaves a deep impression on us through the year. May we always remember the sad yet hope filled stories, the cold, dark night, the hunger in our bellies and what it means to rely on God for daily provision of food, shelter and community. May we continue to resist the false promises of empire by sharing rather than hoarding. May we rejoice in the goodness of God. I. sitting in the foothills, looking for dawn over the Sandias, the sky grows so bright before the sun, you think: surely dawn will be a disappointment. but then, clean harsh light breaks and slides as a broad line across the West Mesa, comes suddenly to warm your closed eyes, and runs over the valley until the shadows are gone.
A couple of the shelters built to represent different forms of modern-day homelessness.
This year, after reading a book by Michelle Alexander called The New Jim Crow, we decided to build a shelter devoted to the plight of people (particularly people of color) who find themselves “incarcerated” long after they have been released from prison. The roadblocks and closed doors placed before people who have “served their debt to society” make it hard for someone to truly start over. This leads to hopelessness and eventually recidivism. The book suggests that these structures are in place to keep people of color in “their place”. Reading this book from Cherith Brook, the Shower House at 12th & Benton, we see firsthand the difficulties people face with a felony on their record. They not only face strict probation and parole conditions but also are excluded from opportunities such as food stamps, affordable housing and employment. The shelter and description helped draw attention to the struggles these folks face in our society. The Festival started with a worship service on Sunday night. We heard stories from three different people who identify with the shelters in some way. It took a lot of courage for each of them to tell their story to people they
II. squinting into the darkness, sleepily stretching peripheral vision, you are surprised by fireflies or falling stars, that are gone as you begin to speak of them. and you linger -hoping to see just one more.
A group photo before we spent the night on the streets of Kansas City.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
By Josh Armfield
Power and Light District, many of Kansas City’s homeless panhandled at downtown interstate exits, rested under awnings of skyscrapers, were fed at downtown soup kitchens and were more or less left alone by authorities. But recently many of the services for the homeless that used to be located downtown have been offered funding by the city if they move their services to other neighborhoods. This has forced many homeless to follow suit and to go where the services are. And the yellow jacket ambassadors have helped the process by enforcing the codes of conduct. In fact, one day Nick and I were outside of the Downtown Library passing out produce to people on the street when the yellow jacket ambassadors came and asked us to leave because we were “not allowed to pass out free food”. Thus downtown, and especially the Power and Light District, is essentially off limits for the poor. At a recent Northeast Chamber of Commerce meeting, as plans for a CID were being discussed, someone asked, “Where are all the little voices in this discussion?” Everyone in the room was a stakeholder, a business owner, a landlord, a politician with lots of great plans. But where was the color and diversity of the northeast? Where were the refugee families from Sudan? Where were the workers and day laborers? Where were the Hispanic vendors who sell tacos and elotes along the Avenue? Where were the struggling families that live in Section 8 housing? Where were the poor and homeless? You see, my concern for this plan to make the Historic Northeast neighborhood into a Community Improvement District is that the little voices won’t even be taken into consideration. The Historic Northeast neighborhood is quite clearly one of the most diverse places in all of Kansas City.
When the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City was redeveloped four years ago, a “Community Improvement District” (CID) was formed in order to gain support and funding for the development. “Authorized by Missouri law, CID’s allow property owners to tax themselves in order to supplement city-provided services such as security and maintaining public areas. Additionally, they can help make the existing city services work better, and bring the city’s attention to their obligations.” (Northeast Chamber of Commerce Website) As a result, the District now has yellow uniformed security that patrols the area and “cleans up” the streets. Now, with the help of the CID, the Power and Light District is one of the hottest entertainment districts in the city, offering dozens of restaurants, a movie theatre, The Sprint Center, and KC Live which is an outdoor amphitheatre that hosts free events for all ages.
But the Power and Light District is not for everybody. In fact there is a code of conduct posted on the website which includes: no loitering, no panhandling, no backpacks, no sleeveless shirts, no sweatpants, no baggy clothes, and no baseball style caps. And the District ambassadors dressed in yellow are quick to escort you out if you are in violation. There’s not much question about the kind of people that the Power and Light District doesn’t want around, the homeless and poor. This code of conduct list has also created controversy with blacks and Latinos because of the exclusion of baggy clothes and baseball style caps which happens to be a style of many urban blacks and Latinos. Over the years, until the revitalization of the
Many other Kansas City neighborhoods are now implementing the same model as the Power and Light District by creating a CID and sending out ambassadors to keep the streets “clean”. The Northeast Chamber of Commerce and the Northeast Neighborhood associations (where Cherith Brook is located) are also in the process of creating a CID for the Independence Avenue Corridor which is the main trafficway through our neighborhood. “Recent surveys of Independence Ave. property owners express that they wish to see money from these assessments go to security, cleanliness, maintenance, streetscape, and marketing and economic development,”(Northeast Chamber of Commerce Website).
But if “cleaning up the Avenue” means anything like what it meant for the Power and Light District, then the little voices in our neighborhood are very likely at risk of being pushed out. The upper class of Kansas City has a long history of segregating themselves and laying claim to certain neighborhoods in the city and excluding the “undesirables” from those spaces. One very clear example is the Country Club Plaza. In her book, “A City Divided: the racial landscape of Kansas City, 1900-1960”, Sherry Lamb Schirmer writes about the Country Club District saying, “What truly distinguished [J.C.] Nichol’s from similar developments in Kansas City and elsewhere was the rigor with which he (continued on page 5)
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Race and Incarceration
by Molly Keenan About a month ago, I attended a Roundtable Discussion at Cherith Brook. The topic was Race and Incarceration and a panel of three experts contributed to the discussion. Slowly people drifted in, stopping for coffee and snacks in the back of the room and talking with people they recognized or had met there before. There were people from all walks of life- elderly, white men in blazers greeting mid-twenties hipsters who were mingling with middle-aged black men who were standing in circles with people experiencing homelessness. It was the kind of group you wouldn’t see anywhere else- such stark differences in appearance and lifestyle and ways of thinking. As the room filled and people took their seats, Eric Garbison, a Cherith Brook community member, opened up the evening with a word of prayer and a general outline for the evening. Dr. Sims of St. Paul School of Theology focused on the idea of a person’s debt to society. There are many laws and social rules that decrease the likelihood of an ex-felon to move forward with their life in a positive direction. Once a person is released from prison, they will always have the label ‘felon’. With every application for a job or apartment, they must reveal the stigma from their past, causing most employers and landlords to reject them without a second thought. Dr. Simms asked the question of us all, “If a person serves a sentence/term, when is that debt satisfied? How long after a person serves that sentence/term does that individual have to keep paying?” The fact that I had never thought about this question disturbed me. Why would someone who has paid a debt have to keep on suffering under that punishment? As a Christian, especially, is that not counterintuitive to what Jesus repeatedly taught about forgiveness of debt and our souls? Many other issues were brought up: 1) More African American men were locked up in prisons during Bill Clinton’s presidency than any other time. 2) People are incentivized to plead guilty so as to secure a shorter term. 3) Drug users are being incarcerated, not the people making money off the system (dealers). 4) After a person’s third drunk driving offense, they are convicted of a felony with a 12 month cap. After the first possession with crack, a person receives a felony with a 250 month cap. 5) A large majority of convicts have a mental illness or addiction, but prisons aren’t designed for any kind of rehabilitation. 6) African American males are incarcerated at a rate seven times that of Caucasian males. While the statistics were startling, I think the most moving part of the evening came at the end. Many people who are experiencing life after incarceration were able to share their experiences and struggles with their attempt to re-enter society. Rejections from job interviews, apartment complexes and public benefit specialists were the common threads in each of their stories. Stigma and fear keeps their neighbors and churches at arm’s length and many wrestle with the temptation to return to the streets- mostly out of desperation. One man’s story struck me when he was recounting a conversation with an employer who had interviewed him for a job post-incarceration: “You say everybody deserves a second chance, but you won’t call me back”. Frustration like his was the underlying theme of most of the stories from that night - society’s ideas for justice and forgiveness only go so far - people don’t want to be affected personally. Eric challenged the hearers at the end of the evening, “How, then, are we as Christians called to live?” For me personally, the simple act of listening to people’s stories from that night has changed my perspective. I now have faces that personalize the statistics, and am able to share their stories with others to break down stereotypes and stigmas. I am wrestling with the principles of the upside-down Kingdom that call for justice for the downtrodden and acceptance for the outcast. What does that look like with our neighbors in Kansas City who are ex-felons? As Christian employers, could we consider hiring an ex-felon? As landlords, could we open our buildings to ex-felons, treating them like any other person looking for a home? As social workers, could we locate resources and help fill out job applications? As fellow human beings, could we invite someone who has been incarcerated into our home to share a meal, share stories, and ultimately share a life? The night ended with a prayer and people shuffling out the door slowly- taking coffee, snacks and thoughts back to their homes, schools and slabs of concrete under bridges. On our way out, Eric Garbison said something that has stuck with me. He acknowledged that as people from all walks of life, experiences and backgrounds come into a place to discuss such a personal and complicated topic, we run the risk of disagreement. “I hope each of you has learned something you can take away from this discussion, and that you all experienced some discomfort.” If we aren’t uncomfortable, we haven’t truly listened to the people who think differently from us. The only way to move forward unified as Christians is to sit in that discomfort, and through prayer, dialogue and meals, come to a solution together.
A packed house for our Race and Incarceration roundtable discussion.
Each panel member brought with them a unique perspective and a plethora of experiences with the race and incarceration topic. Eric Wesson from Kansas City’s The Call newspaper and organizer of the group One Goal brought stories from the people he interacts with on a day-to-day basis. He shed light on the issue of crime being about economic development- ‘dollars and cents’, as he put it. Prisons are built in economically depressed, rural areas and are increasingly privatized, creating a certain number of beds that need to filled. More prisoners lead to more prisons, which brings money to an otherwise economically depressed area. Construction companies are needed to build the prisons themselves, motels and Greyhound stations for visiting family members, and a WalMart for a place to shop for their loved one’s basic necessities. Food and meal production along with cleaning services has to be contracted out for the inmates. His point was that there are many built-in incentives for incarcerating people- one of greatest ones being capital.
by Marcus Lanear Confucius says, “He who looks back at his past will stumble over his future.” As an ex-convict who has paid his debt to society, I now attempt to look forward to a better and brighter future. I am constantly looking for and creating opportunities to positively advance my life, but the powers that be keep my past mistakes in the present. One-sided parole systems, unforgiving potential employers, and withheld voting rights keep me held captive. Although I am now free, I’m still an incarcerated man trapped within the invisible prison walls put in place by the powers that be. These walls cannot be seen by most but are felt by many like myself. I continue to look forward even though the powers continue to place stumbling blocks and obstacles between me and the goals I want to obtain in the future.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
continued from page 3
restricted buyers’ use of their property. He included the typical requirements concerning minimum size and cost of homes, along with strictures against selling or renting to blacks. Unlike other developers, however, Nichols added a legal safeguard by filing the initial restrictions with the plot map and attaching them to the home buyer’s deed. To buttress the property restrictions, Nichols organized an association of home owners to enforce them.” The Upper class in Kansas City has always been concerned with the tidiness and cleanliness of their city and they have worked very hard to buffer themselves from the ugliness of urban poverty. Schirmer writes,
foreigners and orphans of their rights; and do not take a widow’s garment as security for a loan. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God set you free; that is why I have given you this command. When you gather your crops and fail to bring in some of the grain that you have cut, do not go back for it; it is to be left for the foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. When you have picked your olives once, do not go back and get those that are left; they are for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. When you have gathered your grapes once, do not go back over the vines a second time; the grapes that are left are for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Never forget that you were slaves in Egypt; that is why I have given you this command.” If I was to translate these passages into today’s context they might say, “When you have all you want to eat and have built good houses to live in, when your restaurants and grocery stores, your entertainment and technology, and all your other possessions have increased, be sure that you do not become proud and forget that the Lord your God also rescued you from poverty… So when you have extra food, don’t throw it away, but give it to the poor on the street. If you do throw the food away, don’t lock your dumpster so that the homeless wanderer can find what you threw away. Don’t turn away from a panhandler, but give to the poor. And offer hospitality to the wanderer in your midst.” In my mind, it is hard to not compare the goals of a CID (security, cleanliness, maintenance, streetscape, and marketing and economic development) to the goals of J.C. Nichols’s Country Club District and other planned developments which are to “insulate the [upper class] from urban squalor”. My problem with the CID, with its street ambassadors, is that it essentially serves the people with privilege, and does nothing for the poor except to move them somewhere else, out of sight. Of course, no one wants poverty, but poverty isn’t going away just because we eliminate the poor people from our neighborhood. If a goal of the CID is to keep out a certain type of person, i.e. the panhandler, prostitute, and drug dealer, then we are not listening to the needs of our community. Shouldn’t we be asking the hard questions like: “Why are people having to beg for money? Why are women being subjected to prostitution? Why are drugs being sold?”
“By 1908, Kansas City’s notables had secured their own social and physical niches. They proclaimed their status with lavish displays, private entertainments, and public spectacles. The Country Club District and other planned developments insulated them from urban squalor…While the elite had managed to articulate for the middle class an obsession with ugliness and untidy spaces, they had succeeded in controlling and beautifying only the spaces germane to their own interests.” I’m afraid that many of the incentives of the Community Improvement District are strikingly similar to the upper class that developed the Country Club District. “Cleaning up the streets” in the Power and Light District also meant keeping out the “undesirables” and establishing it as a place for the upper and middle class. When Cherith Brook celebrated the Festival of Shelters this October, we were reminded that we are all wanderers and that God has provided for all of our needs. Deuteronomy 8:12-14 says, “When you have all you want to eat and have built good houses to live in and when your cattle and sheep, your silver and gold, and all your other possessions have increased, be sure that you do not become proud and forget the Lord your God who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves.” During the Festival of Shelters, the Israelites were called to remember their poverty and to not neglect the wandering poor of their own cities. In Jewish law, even the wandering immigrant had legal rights to make a living off of the excess of the rich. In Deuteronomy 24:17-22 it says, “Do not deprive
Jesus calls us to welcome strangers as we would welcome Christ. The writer of Hebrews calls us to “Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place.” The epistle of James tells us that we should show no favoritism to the rich. In fact he says, “Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom God has promised to those who love the Lord? But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make it difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism? You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Don’t get me wrong, I think that many of the incentives for implementing a CID are good. Cleaning up graffiti and trash and supporting local businesses are important needs for Independence Avenue. And I’m not saying that it’s just a bunch of rich people that want this CID. I believe that those people who are pushing for this CID are good people that care a lot about the Historic Northeast. I am just concerned that the CID is preferential to the wealthy and will drive out the poor. And I think that we are fooling ourselves if we think that a CID will take care of the poverty that we see on Independence Avenue. “Where are the little voices?” I think this is the question we should be answering. Does the CID show favoritism to the rich, to those who look and dress a certain way? If so, then I think we should reconsider. How can we make Independence Avenue and the Northeast neighborhood a better place for everyone that resides here, rich and poor, resident and immigrant? As we move forward, may we heed the apostle James’ call to “Remember the prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place”. May we also remember the homeless and poor on Independence Avenue as if we were in their shoes.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
(left to right) Top row: Marcus Lanear, Octavian, Taryn & Hazel Waters, Kelly Spencer & Travis “Dog” Krogman Second row: Tim Chisam, Rolland Smith, Jodi & Eric Garbison Third row: Arthur, Cretia, Joel Ball & Gary Farris Fourth row: Gess Mendez Fifth row: Ray Guinn, Rebecca Lindley, Garrett Brown & Nick Pickrell
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
(left to right) Top row: Bryce Comte, Sophia Reed, Nikki Reed & Henri Garbison Second row: Josh Armfield Third row: Shirley Abrams, Thomas, Ferrari, & Travon Bryant Fourth row: Elisabeth Rutschman, Gary Farris, Diana Garbison, Josh Armfield, Henri Garbison, Eric & Jodi Garbison Fifth row: Jodi Garbison, Jane Rockhold, Robert Waldrup, Beverly Avery & Diana Garbison
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Kansas City Nuke Vote
by Rachel MacNair We were all nervous as we awaited the City Council vote. So much time in hearings explaining our case to them, and hearing our opponents make theirs. One councilmember said they had spent more time on the issue of the new nuclear weapons parts plant in south K.C. than on any other issue this term. A campaign that had begun gathering the first of three rounds of signatures in January of 2011 was finally coming up for a vote to actually put it on the ballot in August of 2012. I went up to chat with Councilmember Scott Wagner. He didn’t indicate how the vote was about to go, but I told him that we had added a fourth goal to our normal three. Those three were to raise public awareness, do public education, and make it absolutely clear that the plant was controversial. (Take note: we achieve these goals even if we lose the election – no waste of time). To this, I told him, we had added this goal: to show how very persistent we are. He grinned and said we had certainly done that. our celebration dance and do excited press interviews. What we finally ended up with is “Prevention of the City’s Future Financial Involvement in Nuclear Weapons Components Facilities” – that is, no more financial incentives for the nuclear weapons plant. In one way, this was quite watered down from the first petition – saying that the plant should retain the jobs by making something else – or the second round, that the city should undo its financing. But they were vigorous in being upset at the proposal that the city can’t help with expansion, improvements, or new suppliers. The measure does have teeth. Most importantly, we’re hoping to send a message to decision-makers in Washington: voters in the heartland do not cooperate with potential mass murder. It is such an outrage that at a time when the numbers of nuclear weapons are being cut, they’re nevertheless making new ones to replace old ones in order to “modernize” them. So April 2 is your chance – vote, and tell your friends about it, and if you can’t vote because you live outside KCMO, still tell your friends about it. Opponents will trounce us on ads and mailers, but we’ll trounce them on person-to-person contact, which is worth so much more. Visit and send your friends to visit: www.foolish-investment.com.
by Brian Terrell One of Gandhi’s several definitions of violence is “the destruction of time and distance.” While this definition is helpful in ascertaining the violence inherent in much of modern technological culture from GMO crops to Facebook, it speaks to nothing more plainly than to the violence of remote control killing by unmanned drones.
Brian Terrell after facing trial at Kansas City’s courthouse. Photo by Jo Larmore.
This technology allows soldiers to fight battles on their computer screens, safely far away from the battlefield, flying planes with a joystick and state of the art video feed and firing missiles with a click of a mouse. While flying a drone, one “pilot” told a reporter, “I am 7000 miles from the war,” the distance from his base in Nevada, “and I am 18 inches from the war,” the distance between the computer screen and the pilot’s face. While many support the technology as a way to keep the war far away even from our soldiers, the effect is the opposite and the drones instead “bring the war home” in unprecedented ways. Battle is being waged and war crimes committed on faraway battlefields but perpetrated from places close by us. Over the last four years I have been resisting drone warfare and in that effort have been arrested at military bases in Nevada, New York and most recently at Whiteman Air Force Base outside Kansas City in Missouri. Ron Faust and I went to trial on a federal trespass charge in Jefferson City in September. This gave me the opportunity to cross-examine the military police officer who arrested us as we tried to deliver a petition of our grievances to the base commander. “On the day in question, as our ‘Trifecta Resista’ group walked from Knob Noster State Park to the gates of the base, we walked by a quarter mile or so of an ordinary tract of suburban (continued on page 9)
These were posted outside many polling places across Kansas City during the elections.
The main pusher of the plant on the council offered an amendment to the ordinance that essentially said the measure stinks but they’re putting it on the ballot because they’re legally required to. Once that was on (and it was inevitable), the vote to put our measure on the ballot was 10 – 3 (a 12-member council plus the mayor). This was in the middle of the council’s regular legislative session, so we had to quietly slip out into the hallway before we could do
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
House Notes Remote
by Elisabeth Rutschman continued from page 8 Winter is approaching, yet we are still enjoying beets, carrots, lettuce and other vegetables from our garden. We are thankful for a plentiful harvest despite the drought this summer! Our ten new baby chicks arrived yesterday! And our three-year old chickens are getting ready to become chicken soup. to always be something to serve. After some time of scraping by, the Ravens are now bringing food in abundance! This week we are expecting a new intern; Betsy Thomas, a friend of the community who spent much of last summer helping us with the garden. We are looking forward to having her with us for a month while she explores her call to community. We continue taking small steps toward caring for God’s good earth. Since last fall we have gone from sharing five cars to two. We had been talking about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and cars for a while, and through a few surprises - like a car getting stolen - it has happened quickly! We are now needing to communicate better about our car needs, and having less cars often leads us to consider more earthfriendly alternatives. After a little more than a year of beekeeping, our bees gave us twelve jars of honey! We are thankful for these hardworking creatures that make our life sweet. We also had solar panels installed earlier this summer because of a grant we received. Once they are hooked up, the panels will provide for 65% of the energy we need for the shower house. Pray for us as we try to be faithful and creative in ways of caring for creation and in listening for the knock on the door. type housing for military personnel and their families. If on that short walk I had looked through the low chain link fence that separates the base from the road - even though “No Trespass” signs were posted - and I saw a child being threatened, would it be a crime of trespass to ignore the signs and climb the fence in order to rescue the child? Would I have been arrested in this case?” “I can’t answer that,” Captain Stamper confessed. The situation that stumped Captain Stamper is not as hypothetical as it may seem and may describe the daily reality at Whiteman. Every day and around the clock, Predator drones controlled from this base in Missouri trespass over the skies of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and possibly other countries. Sometimes they shoot their Hellfire missiles and drop their 500 pound bombs killing many more men, women, and children than their intended targets. At another trial last year in New York for protesting drone operations at Syracuse’s Hancock Field, I invoked the example of Hugh Thompson. Thompson was a noncommissioned officer in Vietnam who landed his helicopter at My Lai in the midst of the famous massacre there and ordered his men to stop their fellow Americans who had already murdered more than 500 unarmed children, women and old men. In 1968 Hugh Thompson could stop a massacre by putting himself between the victims and their attackers who were all in the same place. Today, in order to stop the bullets that kill the innocent in faraway places, we must often put ourselves in front of the killers who are not so far away at all. I write this in November, after the elections, as I prepare to go to prison for six months for my protest. As I travel and speak to all I can about this mechanized murder, I have the sense that people are awakening from the exorbitant electioneering and distractions, clearing the cobwebs from our collective consciousness and seeing the horror that has been allowed to fester and grow while most of us were not paying attention. Perhaps now is the time when we will be able at long last to name the violence for what it is and find the voice to demand its abolition. Our dear friend Steve Sheridan and his dog and faithful companion JC moved away in July. They had lived here since the house began, now nearly six years ago. Steve had for a long time expressed a desire to live closer to family. He and JC now reside with Steve’s sister in Oakley, Kansas, helping her out with her Free Breakfast Inn. We are thankful for the years that Steve blessed us with his prayerfulness, thoughtfulness and love.
Steve and JC lounging on our front porch.
Roundtable discussions have woken up again, after one and a half years of rest. Feeling overly busy led us to cross it off from our schedule. But this time around we have a wonderful group of extended community from the neighborhood that are doing all the planning and making it happen. It has been exciting to be challenged to new ways of thinking, and has given us a lot of energy as a community. So come join us for our roundtable discussions on the third Friday of every month (none in December)! Read more about the topics that have inspired us this fall here in the paper. This has also been a season of trust for God’s provision. Many of our regular and faithful shower volunteers had other commitments for this season, so we have been pleading and praying for extra volunteer help. We are still looking for more faithful volunteers, but God keeps sending us the helping hands that we so desperately need, many of them friends from the streets. We also had a month or so where we had very little food. Our regular produce donation was sparse; probably because the dry summer. Despite the lack of food there seemed
This year’s honey and beeswax harvest.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
by Jacob Pullen
A Fresh Way Of Thinking
The parable of the talents. The writer of Matthew retells this parable of Jesus, about a master who leaves his estate and entrusts his possessions with three of his slaves (the writer of Luke also recalls this story with some very interesting alterations). To one slave he gave five talents, another two, and another one talent. After a lengthy period of time the master returns and approaches his slaves with whom he had entrusted his talents. The slave that had been entrusted with five talents had doubled them to ten and not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.” The master was obviously displeased with the slave and responded quite viciously saying, “You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow… Therefore take away the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does not have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” So the question remains, which slave do we emulate? The slave who doubled his master’s talents or the slave that gave the master back what was his? We’ll come back to this in a moment. This was just one of the many questions Dr. David May presented to us at the roundtable discussion a couple of months ago regarding first century socioeconomics and the politics of Jesus. Dr. May went on to explain how we Americans have created some very difficult roadblocks when we read scripture (don’t feel too bad, we’re not the first to do it, nor will we be the last). One of the roadblocks we encounter while trying to process the teachings of Christ, the words of the prophets, or the letters of Paul, is that we make the fatal mistake of reading with 21st century capitalist eyes. And why wouldn’t we? It’s all we know and have been taught to do. But the people in the first century would have heard things much differently, and Jesus’ message would have been directly for them. These people only had a finite amount of resources and wealth. So if someone suddenly has more than what they previously had, it means that they had to have taken from another in the community. Unfortunately when we read about someone gaining, we automatically go to our capitalist understanding of life where gaining and increase is almost always a good thing. And since increase is good, and Jesus is obviously speaking directly to us – this parable, and other teachings throughout scripture, start taking very different meanings. Another brutal assumption we again quite innocently make is that we can spiritualize everything we read! In traditional theological teachings, the master in this parable is perceived as God the Parent. And why wouldn’t it be God? If Jesus is talking about a master or a king he must be talking about his Parent! But if we look closely at the details Jesus gives us about the character and business dealings of the master and especially how the slave who returned the talent talks about him being “a hard man...who reaps what he does not sow,” we begin to see that in no way could this master be our loving Creator, but rather one who has taken much and oppressed many. In the same way we look at the “talent” and say that Jesus wasn’t necessarily meaning a currency of money, it could metaphorically be anything that God would want to bless us with. But what we need to realize is that Jesus was talking to people who had been financially oppressed by the ones in power. So when Jesus was talking about a master who had talents and expected his slaves to increase his wealth, we should assume he was speaking very literally. Though I am doing an incredible injustice to all the amazing insights that Dr. May enlightened us with that wonderful evening (I would encourage you to seek out someone who attended and engage a conversation), let us return to the original question. Which slave do we aspire to be? Our traditional Christian culture says we should be like the one who doubled the talents. We have been taught that if God (as the master in this story) gives us a gift (remember that we’ve changed the currency to a metaphorical blessing) we should not bury it like the wicked lazy slave, but increase it. And if we increase it then God will welcome us with open arms and say, “You good and faithful servant, enter into your master’s joy!” But if we squander the opportunity to increase the “gift” that God has so graciously bestowed upon us, then God will send us into that darkness where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (which we have enjoyed assigning as a tag line to the very popular Dante influenced Hell). But what if Jesus’ meaning and what the people heard was this: That a master, who had much because he took from others, praised the slaves that did as he would have done and rejected the slave that did the honorable thing by not increasing his master’s wealth and was in turn sent away into a dark world where there is much pain and agony. Sound familiar? (Let me give you a hint – it’s us). Let us remember that if we do not stand with the rest of our wealth-driven, media-saturated culture, we may find ourselves in that darkness. But you know what? I believe that’s the point. And we may just be surprised that that’s exactly where we find Jesus.
Parable of the Talents, by Annette G. Fortt.
the slave with two had doubled them to four. The master responded to these slaves, saying, “Well done good and faithful servant(s). You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” The slave who had been entrusted with just one talent returns the talent to the master and says, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Lessons From Hiroshima
by Sharon Hannah Nuclear weapons is not a new topic for many concerned citizens of the Kansas City Metropolitan area where guidance systems, firing sets, and other non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons have long been manufactured at the Kansas City Plant in the Bannister Federal Complex. But during this year’s Peace Colloquy, sponsored by the Community of Christ in Independence, the issue got a new face. death. Yet they chose life...They have rejected the path of revenge and animosity…Instead, they have taken upon themselves not only the evil that Japan as a nation perpetrated but also the evil of war itself. They have chosen to put their ‘trust in the justice and faith’ of all humankind in order to create a future full of hope.” Particularly encouraging is the practical application of this hope exhibited by Mayors for Peace. Currently these leaders of 5,443 cities, in 155 countries and regions, on 6 continents, are calling for the total abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.
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 Washer Canning lids Hand-crank Honey Extractor Straw Bales Bus Passes (one-rides)
Dr. Akiba spoke enthusiastically of a global growth “out of the narrow nation-state frame of reference” into a grand design based on “thinking of the world from the point of view of partnership.” Mayors for Peace repEmiko Okada speaks of her experience surviving the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast. resents this “partnership” - a world-wide network connected by faith in, Emiko Okada, a “hibakusha - survivor of the 1945 and effort for, a nuclear weapons-free world. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan - spoke poignantly, through an interpreter, Each one who shares that hope and work contribabout the horrible effects of the bomb on her famutes to a great chorus of voices, rising with the ily, her city, and her countrymen. voices of hundreds of thousands of souls that deMs. Okada was 8 years old at the time of the parted us in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and with the bombing. Her 12-year-old sister was killed in the living hibakusha, to say emphatically to nuclear blast. Like the other survivors who travel the weapons, “Never Again!” world sharing their personal stories, Emiko does not seek to place any blame for the living hell she experienced. Their singular goal is “Never Again!” Laboring on, some approaching their ninetieth year, the hope for which they strive is a world FREE of nuclear weapons so that no one, in any country, will ever suffer what they have suffered. Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, the 2012 Colloquy Peace Award recipient, shares this objective. While being a former mayor of Hiroshima, member of the Japanese House of Representatives and president of Mayors for Peace, he is also a vibrant advocate for global nuclear disarmament. Speaking to the youth in attendance at the Colloquy weekend, Akiba, said, “I want young people to remember that today’s elderly hibakusha were as young as they are when their families, their schools, and their communities were destroyed in a flash. They hovered between life and death in a corpse-strewn sea of rubble and ruin - circumstances under which none would have blamed them had they chosen
Warm Shoes (esp. men’s 10-13) Jeans & Belts (30-34, 4-6) Boxers & Panties (S & M, 4-7) Shampoo & Conditioner Deodorant White Socks (esp. men’s) Foot Powder Toothbrushes Tampons & Pads Ibuprofen, Tylenol, & Allergy Laundry Soap (high efficiency) Shaving cream & Razors Lotion Body Wash Heavy Blankets (no throws) Long Underwear Winter Coats Gloves & Stocking Caps
Tadatoshi Akiba, 2012 Colloquy Peace Award recipient.
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
December 19 - January 6 Cherith Brook closed January 12 Work day cancelled January 18 @ 7pm Roundtable Discussion: Charity vs. Justice Hand-up or hand-out? Justice, charity, & acts of mercy February 15 @ 7pm Roundtable Discussion: Race & Privilege Stories & sight in a colorblind world March 15 @ 7pm Roundtable Discussion: Mobilize & Disarm Learn more about KC’s nuclear weapons plant & the upcoming ballot initiative April 2 KCMO votes on anti-nuke issue