I fired up the computer this morning and among the headlines about Hollywood sex and murder and mayhem, I saw that the senate rejected the Buffet rule which would have placed a heavier tax burden on some millionaires and billionaires. The fat cats who say that wealth trickles down (It never does!) should have a growing concern about the widening gap between the 1% and the 99% in this nation and around the world. People who are hungry and out of options for making a go of it have a track record of rebellion. As I bemoaned the downside of Ayn Rand “I’ve got mine. You just try and get yours.” thinking, and the arrogance of Romney’s refusal to come clean with his tax returns replete with Swiss and Cayman bank accounts, today’s reading from Act jumped out at me:
The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need. (Acts 4:32-35)
Is this impractical pie-in-the-sky utopianism or is it a genuine call to Gospel values and Kin-dom living? Was this actually the situation in an early Gospel community or is it a paradigm for what we can be at some distant point in the future? What is this sharing stuff? Socialism? Christianity? Impractical and unreal in today’s world?
In a world of glaring economic inequality, the American bishops have boldly proclaimed a Fortnight for Freedom. The very language throws me. Fortnight reminds me of a term for a two-week period in Wuthering Heights or some other archaic novel. The whole focus is on the contraception issue—another flagrant example of what Dan Maguire aptly calls pelvic morality. If the bishops leading the anti-contraceptive parade would look behind them, they would see that the majority of the faithful marched down a side street following the different drummer of their informed consciences a long time ago. They are promoting a bogus issue. Why? A possible diversion from the abuse scandal? Or, an attempt to bolster the Republican party’s takeover of the White House and Congress? The bishops are proclaiming religious liberty when it comes to government while they consistently trample on the religious liberty of people within the church. Hmmmm!!!
The bishops should be screaming from the rooftops and the pulpits about economic reform but that does not play well with the major contributors to the church. Papal encyclical after papal encyclical since Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum have issued clarion calls for economic and social justice. Why not call for a fortnight of Occupy America. The bishops could:
- Hold teach-ins on Catholic social and economic teachings in every parish.
- Issue a document, with Rome’s approval of course, that shows how endless war is depleting resources for education, health care, and safety nets.
- Sponsor rallies against the social injustices in the Ryan Randian budget.
- Issue proclamations against consumerism.
- Take out television ads on how our so-called fair trade agreements marginalize campesinos in the Global South and other third world countries.
- Advertise the plight of the one out of every six Americans who live in poverty—that is right 1 out of every 6. Meanwhile the 1% and many others are amassing more and more while the 99% has less and less.
- Do a Come Back Catholic media campaign showing a church that has compassion for hunger-eyed children with swollen bellies.
- Produce a documentary for PBS (before it is defunded) on how corporate and individual greed is destroying the quality of life for every American—1% and 99%.
- Call for support of initiatives to counter global climate change. [Yes,Virginia (Republican), climate change is for real and humans are directly responsible for a great deal of it.]
These are the issues which should cause us to take to the streets and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience.
Maybe then we could come to a place where “The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” It would be like every American having a fair share of the American pie. Imagine a country and a world where there are no needy among us because we all willingly and gladly share the bounty of the Living One.