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From Where I Stand

For Mary Daly: in memory of courage walking


I did not know Mary Daly personally. I never met her professionally. I never heard even one of her public speeches. My concern for women's issues did not come from Daly. I got that from my mother.

My sense of Daly's impact on history comes from every discussion of women's issues in which I ever participated. The impact Daly's ideas and courage was having on other women was palpable. In those living situations, then, I learned a lot from Daly. Most of all, I learned how to look newly at things I'd looked at for so long that I was no longer really seeing any of them.

The beginning of the end, and, if so, whose?


Welcome to Cop15, the UN Conference on Global Warming being held in Copenhagen. Denmark is not easy to forget. In the first place, every school child knows the tales of fearless, seafaring Danes. In the second place,every traveler remembers Copenhagen as the city of $20.00 hamburgers and $40.00 seven minute taxi cab fares. Copenhagen is, in fact, the second most expensive city in the world, just slightly less expensive to live in than Oslo. But that will be nothing compared to the price the world pays for this conference.

At the Parliament of the World's Religions


Sr. Joan Chittister is keeping a travel journal as she attends the Asia Pacific Women, Faith and Development Summit to End Global Poverty in Melbourne, Austraila, Dec. 2-3; then the Parliament of the World's Religions, also in Melbourne through Dec. 9, and the U.N. conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here are her entries on the Parliament of the World's Religions.

A travel diary ñ part one


It's been quite a two weeks: first there was the Asia Pacific Women, Faith and Development Summit to End Global Poverty in Melbourne, Austraila, Dec. 2-3; then the Parliament of the World's Religions, also in Melbourne through Dec. 9, and now the trip from Melbourne to Copenhagen, Denmark for the U.N. conference on climate change.

The whole collection of events is a life-changing one. It’s like standing on the top of a global mountain and watching the caravan of a whole new world just topping the horizon at the end of a far-away road. I’ll tell you a little about all of them -- what they’re about and what I think they mean to us -- however faraway they may seem on a busy day in small town USA.

It's hard to tell what's sicker


The Shriver Report, Part II

There's an old children's tale that talks about blind men encircling an elephant trying to determine what kind of beast it is by catching on to various parts of the animal's anatomy. One touches the wrinkled skin, one the trunk and another the rough and hairy tail. They each get a different impression of what they're dealing with: a snake, a wall or rope. It's a lesson in perspective. It's an insight into the truth of the statement that what we see depends on where we stand. But it's hard to tell if people get that message by the way we are inclined to view the really important things of life from one perspective only.

The great discovery: It's a human issue, not a woman's issue


Every science student in the country knows that for every action we can expect an equal and opposite reaction. Which translated means that whatever we try to do, someone else will try to stop it. So here's the question: Given the kind of explanatory data that is coming out of "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation" on the social condition and challenges facing women at this moment in history, what can we expect now?

Let's examine the national conscience before moving on


At the University of Birmingham in England in the 1980s, I heard a British journalist argue passionately that "Americans make mistakes, yes, but they always examine them and admit them and correct them." The debate hinged on the question of whether or not U.S. motives behind the installation of Cruise missiles in Europe were really meant to defend Europe from Soviet aggression or, more likely, to make sure that U.S. wars would be fought on European soil.

Louise Akers: Silenced or louder than ever?


History is a dangerous thing. Somebody ought to be reviewing some of it carefully now -- for the sake of the church, if nothing else. There may be a lesson to be learned here.

In Richard Attenborough's film, "Gandhi," one scene of Gandhi's life and the revolt of Indian nationalists against British control stands out above all others. Intent on defying new British taxes on Indian salt, Gandhi leads a march to the sea to collect the salt water that would enable poor Indians to make their own.

A subtler God


There was a time when asking a question about the purpose of life was simpler than it is now because the answer never changed. Whatever existed and happened, we knew, was the eternal will and calculated design of the God who had made things. Our one purpose in life was to keep a set of basically intractable but ultimately fundamental rules until we had managed to negotiate this world well enough to escape it to a better one.

We learned that God had a particular function or role for each of us: male and female, clergy and lay, slave and free, ruler and ruled. In that schema the purpose of life was certain, however obscure the project itself.

Until Charles came along.

The unfolding of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and the launch, ironically, of the priest Georges Lemaître’s big bang theory -- you can imagine how popular that made him in the church -- changed everything.

Read the full column here: The God who beckons

A new self-acceptance


Editor's Note: This isn't really one of Sr. Joan Chittister's "From Where I Stand" columns, but it is the latest piece of writing Chittister has shared with NCR readers and we didn't want her regular readers to miss it.

Benedict’s spirituality of humility is an antidote to patriarchy

In an essay titled “Pride and Humility: A New Self-acceptance,” Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister takes a fresh look at the concept of humility in the Rule of Benedict. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Western monasticism, Chittister writes, “made the keystone of his rule of life a chapter on humility that he wrote for Roman men in a patriarchal culture that valued machismo, power and independence at least as much as our age does. Pride, ancient spirituality says, is the corrosive of the human soul. Humility, the Rule of Benedict says, is an antidote to violence and a key to mental health.”

Read the full story here: Turning Life Upside Down


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In This Issue

October 21-November 3, 2016

  • Reformation's anniversary brings commemorations, reconsiderations
  • Picks further diversify College of Cardinals
  • Editorial: One-issue obsession imperils credibility
  • Special Section [Print Only]: SAINTS