Thursday, December 13, 2007


Check the link to the right below, "Unconventional Wisdom and Action"


Thursday, November 22, 2007

World AIDS Day


World AIDS Day is fast approaching us. If you have any ideas of what we should do, or would like to volunteer your services, please give us a reply here. I think that what Br. Rob did with the trifolds was pretty impressive, especially the ones that were in the library.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


For those with some time on their hands (or who are looking for a chance to procrastinate), I would recommend checking out The premise is simple: for ever word you correctly define, a group of businesses donates 10 grains of rice to be distributed by WFP. You need to take what is being done on the site with a grain of salt (or rice, as the case may be). Simply donating rice to those who need it is not the final solution for solving food insecurity. However, it is difficult to talk about justice without recognizing and responding to the need for charity. So this website is definitely more worthwhile than playing "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" during your free time.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Feature Film Presentation: December 6, 2007


There will be a feature film presentation on the human rights issue of nuclear proliferation. I will be presenting a documentary inspired by Thomas Merton's poem "Original Child Bomb."

It is cast against the backdrop of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and takes an insightful look into the threats present in the nuclear age of which we are all a part.

Please make it if you can. The award-winning film (Winner: Silverdocs 2005; Winner: Human Rights Nights, Bologna, Italy 2005) is 57 minutes in length and a must-see!

In peace,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

As always: TAKE ACTION--Check Amnesty and Catholic Charities Links...

TO SIGN some VERY important and RELEVANT petitions.

Let your voice be heard.

See you at the meeting today if you can make it.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This Thursday's Meeting: Guest Speaker on Torture and the SOA!!!


Below is a transcript of an e-mail I received from a priest in the Diocese of Greensburg who has had experience doing social justice work in Latin America. Check it out!!

He is interested in coming this Thursday (11/8) after school to discuss his experience of torture and U.S. invovlement in the School of Americas (i.e. Assassins).

Be there!!! And spread the word!


Bro Rob:
Thanks for the invitation. Given that the confirmation hearings for Attoney General
are front page news these days and the candidate being questioned about his
defintion of torture and "waterboarding," let me suggest I be with you at Central
Catholic Thursday, 8 November. If you accept let me know how many you expect
to be on hand so I bring enough copies of my letter from prison (May, 2004) in
which I talk about my psychological torture in a Salvadoran prison in 1977, with an
English speaking person (unseen by me because I was blindfolded) in the background.
If course I relate this to the "School of the Americas," and despite the extreme lateness
of the hour, offer to accompany students, teachers, parents to the Nov 16-17th event.
Also propose that students check out the School of the Americas website ahead of
time if they wish: Finally, I'll leave you a video on the topic of the
SOA made in 2002 and entitled: "Guns and Greed."
Peace and all good,

Fr. Bernard



After school, DC 2.

word is bond,

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

about responding to hate

My brothers in the struggle,

I know that some of you have followed the situation in Jena, Louisiana, and perhaps the appearance of nooses in other states and venues as well including Columbia University's Teacher's College recently.

To add to the convseration, let me share with you this piece

from NPR's "Talk of the Nation." Given that WDUQ does not carry this show, you may not be familiar with it. John McWhorter, a linguist by training, currently a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is one of the principal guests during this broadcast of the show. He takes an interesting stance towards the noose appearances. What do you think? Talk among yourselves.

Meanwhile, this evening I received a troubling e-message from a recent Central Catholic graduate about an unfolding situation on his college campus pertaining to "race," and how the university administration has (or has not) responded to that artificial construct that causes so much angst. This fellow Lasallian tells me that he is one of a few white students who seeks to understand the situation, express solidarity, and seek action. In time, perhaps I can share more. For sure this situation is a reminder, my young brothers in the struggle, that the world beyond where you are now is going to look and feel much differently than the microcosm in which you find yourself now, even if you attend a fairly small college in a non-urban setting.

In other news, 48 Spanish Brothers of the Christian Schools were raised up by the Church last Sunday, 28 October, as martyrs. Go to for further information.

Keep stepping for justice and for peace. It is steep road we must climb.
May God be blessed. Let us ask St. De La Salle and all our Sainted Brothers to intercede for
us. Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Food for the Poor

Thanksgiving Food Drive
Central Catholic High School
LaSallian Youth

October 29, 2007 to November 21, 2007
Who: ALL students 9-12
Why: Little Sisters of the Poor
What: Canned Foods
Where: Central Catholic High School

· 5 cans per student
· Non-Perishable foods
· Fill U-Haul Truck

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:17-18

Little Sisters of the Poor
The Little Sisters of the Poor were founded in 1839 by Jeanne Jugan with a mission to sever poor elderly people. The Sisters first arrived in Pittsburgh in 1872, with a facility on Penn Ave in Lawrenceville. A second house was built for the Sisters in 1922 in Brighton Heights.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

point of interest

Darfurfast - sponsored by the STAND national organization.

shall we discuss? register the school? its december 5th, 3 dollars (dress down day perhaps?) not sure where the money goes... i guess to a P.O. box somewhere.

"On December 5th, students around the world will ask their peers, families, and communities to join them in DarfurFast by fasting from one luxury item for one day and donating the money they would have spent on those items to protect civilians in Darfur. Just three dollars– less than the cost of a latte– can provide protection for one woman for a year."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CCHRIST agenda: Thursday, Oct 18

Yo guys,

A heads up: Jake Hostetter (sp?) has agreed to view his film documenting a trip he and some Central Catholic confreres took to Guatemala this past summer. Please spread the word!!!

Come if you can,

Take MORE Action: OVERRIDE Bush's veto denying Children Health Care!


Click it, Check it, Send it!!

In Christ,

TAKE ACTION against violence in DARFUR: Sign this Petition to the PRESIDENT!!!


PLEASE click this link and submit your petition to the president!!!

In peace, In Christ

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eliminate Hunger: Pass the Buck-et


If you are in the cafe for lunch, please be sure to take at least five minutes out of your free period to walk around with the collection bucket! People will contribute, as I have tried successfully to draft change.

In solidarity,

Monday, October 15, 2007

Feeding the Hungry: Take Action on Global Hunger

In light of the official NetAid Global Action Day, I have posted two links below that will lead you to useful resources for confronting the issue of global hunger:

Otherwise, check the links available to the right below the header: UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM. Particularly browse Catholic Charities and Amnesty International.

Signing petitions and writing letters to state reps. is a good way to take action. Otherwise, read up and maybe even fast for a day or two!

In Christ,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jena 6

In the media rush that is Jena 6, KDKA's finest, Kevin Miller, has decided to bring "truth" to Pittsburgh. Check out this link:, under "Latest Audio", "Oh Jena"

Earlier this week, in his search for the source of all of the commotion in Jena, Miller interviews an assistant editor from the Jena Times. While this editor may certainly know more about the incident than the rest of us, he makes several unsettling assertions:

1 "there is no racial unrest in Jena"
2 the nooses were hung as a joke on the school's rodeo team, not as a racial statement
3 the students who hung the nooses had "no idea" about the history of lynchings in Jena
4 these students did not think that the nooses would be taken as offensive by the blacks in Jena
5 when the students found out that many people took offense to the noses, they were "shocked"

Come on, really?


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

TAKE ACTION: Override Bush's Veto on State Children's Health Insurance

WHAT: The U.S. House of Representatives has scheduled a vote for the week of October 15th to override President Bush's veto of the bill to renew and strengthen the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) passed by Congress last month. The bill rejected by the President provides access to proper health care for nearly ten million of the neediest children in our nation. YOU can help override this veto!

ACTION NEEDED: Click on "Take Action" and enter your zip code to send a letter to your Representative. Based on your Representative's previous vote on the bill, you will be taken to a letter where you can either thank your Representative for his/her vote to pass SCHIP and ask him/her to continue supporting the program; or, if s/he voted against improving SCHIP, you can ask your Representative to have a change of heart and seize the opportunity to protect our nation's most vulnerable children.

BACKGROUND: Despite strong support from the U.S. Congress and the American people, President Bush vetoed the SCHIP bill last week. The bill, which passed both the House and the Senate on a bi-partisan basis, would have provided an additional $35 billion over five years to keep children already receiving health care coverage, and to provide insurance to nearly four million more children whose health is at risk due to lack of proper health coverage. The President vetoed the bill not because the funding passed by Congress exceeded the $5 billion over five years that his Administration had requested, but because of ideological differences about how to expand health coverage to poor Americans. The President has, however, recently expressed a willingness to compromise with Congress on renewing SCHIP; thanks to those of you who expressed your disappointment with the White House on this issue. Contacting your Representative will go a long way to shoring up support for this important legislation. Click here for more information on our positions on SCHIP.

Improving public policies that promote the health of our nation's children is a key issue area of Catholic Charities USA's Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. This month, be take part in the Campaign by calling on our nation's leaders to protect children's health!

For more information, please contact Desmond Brown, Director of Health and Welfare Policy at or Christin Driscoll, Senior Director for Policy Development and Advocacy at

Thank you for taking action for America's children! Take Action Now!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Take Action on Two Issues: Darfur and The Rights of Children


Of interest is as follows, so check it! I suggest we talk about both issues at our next CCHRIST meeting this coming Thursday (10/11).

Word up (or down),

  • October 24, a day of action for Darfur, will be the culmination of months of hard work. (From Amnesty International)

    • No more delays in deploying peacekeepers to Darfur. No more needless deaths.
    • We demand immediate action to end the violence in Darfur.
    • On October 24, United Nations Day, we're going to make sure demands are heard. By mobilizing all of our resources and our activists from coast to coast, we'll show President, Congress and United Nations that we will not sit back as long as one of the world's worst human rights catastrophes continues to unfold.
Sign the global petition to end the violence in Darfur.

  • Why Did the President Put Children's Health at Risk?
    • Click on this URL to take action now

Global Action Day: October 16 at Central (Issue: Global Hunger)

If you guys are willing to help with either the display case on the second floor or the posters around the school for October 16, please reply to the post ASAP so that I can start to put those things together. Bro. Robert and I will work on curriculum development.



My brothers,

I am excited to read that issues such as the so-called Jena 6 are on your mind.
Growing the discussion about domestic issues is very worthwhile. And so,
I wish to share with you the following link from the distinguished Southern Poverty
Law Center. It regards hate groups in the United States.

If you missed Charlene Hunter-Gault's report about the visit of the "Elders" to Darfur,
go to NPR's Morning Edition archives for Thursday, 4 October.

Concerned about justice and development as a means to end conflict and war, peruse the workings of the Carter Center.

God be blessed.

Know the Issues: WORLD HUNGER

World Hunger

Over 850 million people in the world are undernourished. This equals roughly 14 percent of the world’s population. However, there is enough food in the world today for every man, woman and child to lead a healthy and productive life. Individuals do not get the food they need because distribution is not equal, and they live in places where there is a lack of resources.


Defining hunger
Hunger is a feeling a person experiences from not getting enough to eat. Most people who battle hunger suffer from chronic undernourishment and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, resulting in stunted growth, weakness and heightened vulnerability to illness. This affects their long-term physical health and mental capacity.

Different kinds of hunger
Hunger can cause undernourishment and malnutrition. People who are undernourished live under the recommended 2100 calories a day for an extended period of time. When an indivdual is undernourished, she is not able to function physically and mentally in the same way a person who eats properly does. Malnutrition is a medical state that an individual can be in when they have inadequate diet, or from certain types of infections, or both. Malnutrition is about the quality of the food that a person receives, not just about quantity.

Acute malnutrition is a result of a rapid decrease in food intake. It is a dangerous condition that requires immediate care, increases susceptibility to disease and leads to death if treatment is not administered.

Who hunger affects
Hunger disproportionately affects people who are living in extreme poverty. The majority of people who are undernourished live in developing countries. Children less than 5 years old are the most sensitive to malnutrition. The next most vulnerable population is women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

What causes hunger?
In examining the issue of hunger, one must consider the quantity and quality of food, as well as access to food and other resources such as tools, land, and cash. Basically, hunger is about individuals who do not have enough resources to have adequate food throughout the year.

Sustainable solutions
Solutions can come in many different forms and sizes. Ending world hunger will require short-term interventions as well as long-term solutions. It will take a coordinated, long-term, global effort of people, communities, businesses, and governments to accomplish this. It is important for individuals in developed countries to work in partnership with families and communities to develop creative and local solutions to combat poverty and overcome hunger.

What is NetAid doing to help fight world hunger?
Through a partnership with the World Education and Development Fund, the NetAid World Schoolhouse project in El Salvador is working to improve the lives of children at the Mano Amiga San Antonio School. Mano Amiga provides meals as well as lessons on nutrition and preparation for natural disasters to children from low-income families. Through this project and others in developing countries, NetAid and its partners are enrolling more children in school so they can build a brighter future. Additionally, through the NetAid Global Citizen Corps, NetAid is inspiring youth across the United States to raise awareness about world hunger and mobilize their peers and communities to action.

Bonus Resources

Oxfam: Provides an overview of the food crisis in Africa.

Bread for the World

United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

You can order the WFP hunger map for free! The WFP sends it out to you within 24 hours.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations

Center for Global Development

Doctors Without Borders Bracelet of Life


United Nations World Food Programme

Action Against Hunger

Bread for the World

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


it may not be directly related to human rights, but we can all agree it is a just cause. check it out.

Figured This Was Worth Highlighting In Light of Recent Events

The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

International Day of Peace Vigil

Individuals and nations, acting in concert, DO make a difference in the quality of our lives, our institutions, our environment and our planetary future. Through cooperation, we manifest the essential spirit that unites us amid our diverse ways.

Around the world and at Central this Friday, September 21, there will be a moment of silence to acknowledge the need for global peace. The goal, here, is to promote the day as one dedicated to nonviolence and global ceasefire:

The International Day of Peace, established in 1981 by the United Nations, is observed annually on 21 September.

In its unanimous resolution, all 191 countries of the General Assembly called upon governments, non-governmental organizations, leaders and individuals to work for a complete day of ceasefire and non-violence. If one day of peace is possibly, why not everyday?

The IDP Vigil is a call for all religious, spiritual and interfaith leaders to rally their communities to observe the day in prayer or other spiritual observations. Peace, after all, is a deeply spiritual act.

Litany for Peace

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.

From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin:
Individual sin and the 'sin of the world,'
sin in all of its manifestations.

Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.

May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jena 6

CNN has reported some terrible news regarding the Jena 6 incident. The Attorney General has concluded that there is no connection between the mock hanging from the white tree and the beating that the 6 men are convicted of.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saw this on my NPR ticker

China Prepares to Send Peacekeepers to Darfur

Network Of Spiritual Progressives

I don't know if anyone remembers this group, but occasionally I like to check the Network of Spiritual Progressives at It's an interdenominational approach to peace and justice founded by some of the leaders of the "religious left".

Also, I know housing reform doesn't exactly have the same ring to it as some of the other causes we'll likely be focusing on this year, but it's actually somewhat interesting (at least to me). Obviously housing is a fundamental human right, and Catholic Charities (as well as other Catholic Organizations) is among the largest providers of shelter in the country. Domestically, housing ties into justice issues of education and transportation reform. Internationally, of course, the issues of clean water, disease prevention, etc. Just something to keep in mind.



Saturday, September 15, 2007

Jena6 follow up reported today that Mychel Bell, who was the minor in the incident, will not be charged with second-degree battery after a ruling by the appeals court. The court concluded that Mr. Bell should have been tried in a juvenile court.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Iraq War

assaalam alaikum everyone.

Many of you have probably heard the news about the two soldiers, who contributed to last month's controversial Times op-ed regarding the state of the Iraq war, who died this week in Iraq. Their original op-ed has been floating around this week. I feel that this article is a must-read for anyone who wants to be involved in a serious discussion about the progress of the war and the conditions on the ground. It is the most concise, well written explanation of the situation in Iraq that i have read so far. Far from being political, it merely provides an explanation of the realities on the ground. It is not very lengthy, and i urge everyone to read it.


Amnesty International Online Action Center

Hey guys,

An easy but very important way to take action against human rights abuses all over the world is the sign up for Amnesty International's Online Action Center. Simply go to and on the right side of the page, under "Stay Informed," enter your e-mail address and continue to enter your information. You can sign up for several different actions which you are most concerned about, and Amnesty will send you e-mails periodically asking you to sign a petition or simply presenting you with more information about a particular issue.


--JPText Color

Catholic Social Teaching

Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Modern Catholic social teaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents. The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood best through a direct reading of these documents. In these brief reflections, we highlight several of the key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition.

Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.

Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our societyin economics and politics, in law and policy directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.

The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace, work for justice.”1 The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.

Care for God’s Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.

This summary should only be a starting point for those interested in Catholic social teaching. A full understanding can only be achieved by reading the papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents that make up this rich tradition. For a copy of the complete text of Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions (No. 5-281) and other social teaching documents, call 800-235-8722.

Copyright 2005, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Publication No. 5-315
USCCB Publishing
Washington, D.C.
ISBN 1-57455-315-1

[Box for barcode]

1 Paul VI, For the Celebration of the Day Of Peace (Rome: January 1, 1972).

Text is drawn from Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions (Washington, DC: USCCB, 1998) and Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2003).

Jena 6 - "A Modern Day Lynching"

Hey all,

As I said in class, one of the major issues I'd like to see discussed in CCHRIST is the case of the Jena 6, relating to 6 black students who are being tried for attempted murder after getting in a fight with a white student, this being after many horrific symbols of racism in the community.

A few groups and events on the online network websites like myspace and facebook have been set up. One event in particular is asking that everyone who wishes to participate wear black on September 20th. So, if you have some black pants, a black tie, and/or a black dress shirt, you can show your support next thursday!

Anyway, here are some links for more detailed information. The Yotube links are for an in-depth Democracy Now! report and I urge everyone to watch it.

Democracy Now! Jena 6 coverage (pt. 1-6)

NBC Coverage of Jena 6

Democracy Now! update

Social Analysis


Below is an outline of the framework in/by which we will be working to increase awareness of issues related to human rights. Take some time to read or skim the article below, just to familiarize yourself with the basic principles and practicalities under which we will mobilize ourselves and others.


Excerpt from:
Making Social Analysis Useful by Rita Hofbauer, Dorothy Kinsella, and Amata Miller (Leadership Conference of Women Religious)

"An Introduction to Social Analysis"

  • Why is social analysis important now?

Three Integral Dimensions of Human Experience:

In recent years we have become increasingly aware that there are three integral dimensions of human existence:

Personal--where we are uniquely ourselves
Interpersonal--where we are related to our close associates
Societal--where we are affected by and affect social structures

As religious congregations moved into renewal after Vatican II we first deepened our awareness of the ways in which the achieving of our personhood was dependent on rich interpersonal relationships and vice versa. More recently we have realized how societal structures condition interpersonal relationships and the development of personhood. And so we have come to see that the call of Christ to love others as he has loved them mandates that we address the social structures which violate human dignity--it IS a call to SOCIAL JUSTICE [which means loving others so much that I work to change strucutres that violate their dignity].

In order to participate in the transformation of the earth to which we are called we need to understand social reality in light of the Gospel. So we do SOCIAL ANALYSIS and THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION as preparation for our ACTION PLANNING and as a way to enlarge our REFLECTION ON OUR EXPERIENCE.

The Signs of Our Times...

That we do SOCIAL ANALYSIS is mandated too, by the signs of the times. We live in a world where more and more people experience the deprivation of even the most basic human rights because of the operation of oppressive socio-economic-political structures. The systems which have served some of us so well in recent times are now in crisis, both external and internal. This means that there will be change. Only the direction of the change is in question. Will it be toward conservation of power by the beneficiaries of the present systems? Or will it be toward a more humane world order in which all people have opportunities to experience their fundamental human rights? There is widespread call for a new commitment to values more conducive to a just, sustainable, and participatory world order--values deep within our Judaeo-Christian traditions. So the call to participate in the transformation of the earth comes not only from within our Gospel-centered vision but also from the world realities. This carries with it a moral imperative, a greater responsibility for action--informed and effective. To this end SOCIAL ANALYSIS becomes necessary.

For the Christian social analysis is a part of a process, ongoing and dynamic--a process of conversion, of action for transformation of the earth. Always we have known that the Christian life called us to knowing, loving, serving--or seeing, judging, acting (depending on our generation).

Now we speak of the continuing process of:
  • Social Analysis
  • Theological Reflection
  • Action Plan
  • Experience
...each time building on and extending previous insights and experience. SOCIAL ANALYSIS as part of this ongoing process is a means of widening our reflection on our experience to search out relationships between values, events, structures, systems, ideologies. It goes beyond our immediate experience to probe the historical roots and future implications of events and issues and systems. It seeks for causes, for linkages rooted in the structural realities which condition our experience and limit or expand our freedom of choice. But it does this always in the framework of seeking for understandings needed for ACTION and TRANSFORMATION in the light of the GOSPEL VALUES.

For the Christian SOCIAL ANALYSIS will become a habit of thought which comes to expand our approach to all of our experiences. It will stretch us to move

  • from personal to the societal : We will look beyond the immediate hunger of the poor family to ask what there is about our economic system which enables it to produce abundant food yet not feed all its people.
  • from the anecdotal to the analytical : We will look beyond the single unemployed worker to runaway factories and the interrelated choices and policies which create the mismatch between her/his skills and the available jobs.
  • from the ahistorical to the historical : We will go beyond saying, "Our immigrant ancestors made their way out of poverty, why can't THEY?" To looking at the differences between the 19th century with its needs for legions of unskilled workers to the 20th in which over two-thirds of the labor forces is providing services, many of which require relatively high levels of skill.
  • from the local to the global : We look not only to the needs of refugees moving into our area, but also to the realities of war and economic exploitation which force people to leave their homelands.
  • from the assistential to the transformational : We will give food to the mother and her children but also seek to upgrade working conditions and wages for women (in our institutions and elsewhere).
  • from guilt to responsibility : We will see the linkages between our privileged position in the world and the hardships of our brothers and sisters and we will join with them and others in action toward a just society.
We will become persons to habitually ask WHY in the face of human suffering and injustice. We will always look for:
in order to understand and to plan for effective action for change.

How do we do Social Analysis?

From a variety of entry points:
  • an event - an experience of an unjust firing
  • an issue - the arms race, the nuclear freeze question
  • a set of problems - economic deterioration of a neighborhood
  • a group quest - the goal setting for a local house, a parish, a school, a congregation
  • a question - why does poverty persist in the richest country in the world?
The nature of the entry point, the catalyst, will influence the way in which we will carry out the process of SOCIAL ANALYSIS, but the elements will be the same in every case.

With Various Resources

Depending on the nature of what called us to social analysis, the scope of analysis, the resources needed, and the length of the process will vary. If the entry point is an event with which we are very familiar, not much data gathering from external sources will be needed. We probably will not require a resource person to assist us in our analysis.

However, if we are trying to understand a complex social issue, or the way a whole system functions we may need a longer time period and some external resources persons to assist us. One of the things that is likely to occur in the social analysis process is that we will find ourselves able to resource one another in unexpected ways as we deal with questions. The richness of our collective experience and understanding will be revealed to us and empower us in the process of sharing the analysis.

From Various Perspectives

Each of us will bring to SOCIAL ANALYSIS our experience, our education, our family background, our particular socio-economic-political philosophy. (We may be conservative, liberal, or radical; Republican, Democrat or Independent; we may be eclectic in our views). Our positions may be more or less rationally based, but there will almost certainly be feelings attached to them which will come into play as we discuss the various aspects of our analysis. Recognizing this beforehand and during the process will help us to deal constructively with our diversity.

When we read about social analysis we will find that some social analyses are done from a long-term historical perspective; others deal with only the recent past. Some proceed from a position supportive of design of Western socio-economic-political systems, and others issue from a critique of those systems. Some proceed from a theoretical analysis; others are more practical in their scope. As we work with social analysis we will become more skilled in identifying the various perspectives and in recognizing the part of the truth that each contains. Our own perspective will be measured against the Gospel values in the THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION part of the process.

In Various Steps

When a group assembles for a brief or extended SOCIAL ANALYSIS it will be important to carry out all of the steps of the Pastoral Circle in one way or another. Here the steps of SOCIAL ANALYSIS are laid out more fully than the others:

    1. TOUCH INTO THE VALUE BASE - Through prayer and the sharing of experience get in touch with the value that the members of the group hold in common. This can be done through faith sharing and/or story telling and will set the climate.
    1. CLARIFY THE FOCUS - Identify the purpose of the ANALYSIS through a clear statement of the question, issue or event that has called the group to the process.
    2. GATHER THE DATA - Use the QUESTIONS FOR SOCIAL ANALYSIS at the end of this section to bring together the facts and understandings regarding the realities of the matter at hand.
      • Distribute the questions to the participants, whenever possible, ahead of the meeting so that the data can be gathered from various sources. This will be more or less important depending on the subject of the analysis.
      • Post the data on large sheets visible to all in some type of brainstorming process. This helps the group to move together and to discover together.
      • Identify any further data that is needed and be sure that someone takes responsibility for it.
    3. ANALYZE THE DATA - Examine the data and mark elements which seem to be causes, to provide linkages--in either positive or negative ways. In order to identify both problems to be addressed and strengths on which to build.
      • List any causes which appear in several of the areas of data. This helps to pick out the most critical ones.
      • Among the causes try to identify any which seem more pervasive or fundamental than others. Make a prioritized list of causal factors--positive and negative.
      • Identify any questions requiring further data gathering or input before the group can proceed.
    4. SYNTHESIZE THE DATA - Draw together what has been learned about the problems and the positive forces operative in the situation being analyzed. This should result in two concise statements of the reality as understood at this point. One statement will identify the causes and linkages in the problem area. (e.g., in our neighborhood people are being driven out of their homes because the banks are refusing them loans. This is contributing to family tensions and hardships as well as the breakup of strong ethnic communities.) A second statement will point out the resources available and the positive factors on which to build. (e.g., in our neighborhood there exist strong bonds and parish organizations which have given the people a sense of solidarity and experience of working together.)
    1. JUDGE THE SITUATION - Clarify what values from Scripture and Tradition mean for this situation which has been analyzed.
      • Reflect on the statements made during SOCIAL ANALYSIS and ask what Judeo-Christian values should be used in judging the situation. The group might try to recall what words or actions of Jesus would be relevant to the situation as it has come to be understood. After time for individual reflection, share insights and move to some shared understanding of the most clearly and importantly relevant principles.
      • Formulate group statement expressing a theological judgment of the situation as stated in the synthesis. Post this alongside the statements in step five (5) of SOCIAL ANALYSIS.
    1. PLAN FOR ACTION - This step will involve the identifications for what the group will do in response to the SOCIAL ANALYSIS and THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION to participate in action for transformation. It should include all the steps of good action planning:
      • Brainstorming possible actions appropriate to the situation as it has been analyzed.
      • Eliminating any actions which seem impossible for the groups or unlikely to be effective.
      • Listing the pros and cons of each of the plausible options.
      • Choosing the course of action to be taken through some type of consensus of the group.
      • Developing the strategy for carrying out the action:
          • identifying the component activities needed
          • identifying resource/persons to act/interact in the various activities
          • setting a realistic timeline
          • assigning tasks and setting up procedures for accountability
          • looking over the whole strategy to see that all the essential elements have been included.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is CCHRIST?

CCHRIST is a student-based ministry that serves as a voice for justice and peace. As part of a global human rights movement, we—together and by association—are committed to the promotion of human dignity and human rights around the world. Our mission is grounded in the Gospel call of the Church, the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and the whole Lasallian community to do justice and build a world of peace.

CCHRIST strives to focus in a particular way on the rights and needs of children, especially those who live in disenfranchised, marginalized, impoverished situations. The 43rd General Chapter of the Institute of the Christian Brothers in 2000 decreed that the defense of the rights of children should be “a major focus of the Lasallian mission of educating….” CCHRIST is committed to human rights education and to increasing awareness and action in the Central Catholic community on behalf of those who are voiceless and powerless.

The spirit of faith and zeal of St. De La Salle and the first Brothers remains for us a great legacy. We know that De La Salle’s vision and spirit of faith still encourages us to expand the reach of our efforts to promote justice and peace for all. Brother Alvaro Rodríguez Echeverría, FSC, Superior General of the Brothers, states: “Our Institute was born to serve children. We count on [young Lasallians] to make the Defense of the Rights of the Child a flag of our Lasallian family.”