After a decade of exaltation of individual enrichment, today the USA, struck by the economic crisis, is witnessing instead the pressing resurgence of the values of solidarity.
The principle of solidarity–key to Catholic Social Tradition–roughly translates to “we’re all in this together.” The Catholic Church urges individuals and government to make decisions that will benefit society as a whole, rather than just a few powerful individuals.
Today at noon Christian leaders of faith-based non-profits are holding a press conference call to discuss how the budget proposal submitted by the Obama administration last week is a major shift in prioritizing domestic poverty that can really help level the playing field. The faith-based groups on the call serve millions in low-income and poor communities around the nation and are facing a massive spike in demand for services at a time of shortfall in revenue and charitable giving.
Speakers include Noel Castellanos, CEO of Christian Community Development Association; Candy Hill, Senior Vice President of Social Policy and Government Affairs, Catholic Charities USA; Mary Nelson, founder of Bethel New Life, an urban ministry that serves as a model for national programs that promote the social, economic, and spiritual welfare; and Sojourners’ Jim Wallis.
Budgets are moral documents that reflect our values and priorities as a nation. These leaders will call upon Congress to make sure this one preserves funding that prioritizes the poor. The current economic recession threatens to push 9 million more Americans into poverty while funding continues to decrease for faith-based non-profits serving these communities, so the moment is especially critical.
After attending a marathon screening of the Best Picture nominees Saturday and staying up late last night to watch the awards, I was looking for an excuse to post about the Oscars today. I’ll start just by directing attention at Vineet Chander’s reflection on Slumdog Millionaire over at Progressive Revival. (Note: I am making a conscious effort to not refer to it as “Slumdog.”)
But to get mired in the “is-it-or-isn’t-it pro-India” debate misses the forest for the trees, and robs the film of its subtle but powerful spiritual message. At its heart, “Slumdog” owns the paradox and discovers meaning in the contradictions. At its core, it is the story of miracles hidden in those contradictionsÂ¸ of choosing to see a divine author’s hand behind the writing on the wall. It is God – or, according to “Slumdog”, *destiny* – in the details.
How does Jamal Malik know all the answers? They’ve been there all his life, waiting for him to notice. And that is the beauty of “Slumdog Millionaire.” It calls us to embrace hope in the face of the hopeless, to recognize purpose in the seemingly senseless. “For one who sees Me in everything and everything in Me,” Lord Krishna says in the sacred Bhagavad Gita, “I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” Oscar wins or not, that is worth celebrating.
Before you bolt out to pick up a bouquet before Saturday night, have a look at what your purchase might be be supporting. Workers in the cut flower industry often face brutal working conditions, as the video (h/t Change.org) below describes.
As the Senate gets set to vote on economic recovery legislation, religious organizations are gearing up to support it. In what’s hopefully the first of many articles, JTA’s Eric Fingerhut reports that Jewish leaders are reaching out to both houses of Congress:
Among those pushing hard for passage of the bill are officials at the United Jewish Communities, an arm of the North American network of local Jewish charitable federations, and the Jewish Council for Public affairs, an umbrella organization bringing together national organizations, the synagogue movements and more than 100 local Jewish communities.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is also pressing for the package, while the National Council of Jewish Women is backing a number of provisions in the bill.
The organizations are writing letters to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and urging members to contact their members of Congress. The UJC will bring 60 of its lay leaders here Wednesday, the day a vote is expected on the bill in the Senate, to lobby for its passage. The UJC delegation also will visit the House of Representatives to encourage support for the final version of the measure that comes out of conference committee.
I know plenty more faith groups are mobilizing too. Will be on the lookout for stories about their efforts and relay as I find them.