BY JAMES HUG S.JNovember 18, 2014

Are we really dead??

“The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this:
‘I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’”

Revelations 3:1

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 3.35.39 PMThis line fits us more than we can imagine. We have just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Jesuits and their 2 colleagues at the UCA in San Salvador. In relation to that celebration, I read a statement from one of Ignacio Ellacuría’s last talks that brought those words from Revelations straight home to me:

“From my point of view – and this may be simultaneously somewhat prophetic and paradoxical – the United States is in a much worse situation than Latin America. Because the United States has a solution, but, in my opinion, it is a bad solution, both for them and for the world in general.”

-Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J.

What is that solution? The capitalist market system we live in and the democracy that governs it (and vice versa).

Why is that a bad solution both for us and for the world in general?

Ellacuría’s reply:

  • It can’t be universalized and so is not a solution for the whole human family. It is therefore immoral.
  • It can’t be universalized because there aren’t enough resources on this planet for everyone to live as the U.S., the European Union, or even the Asian Tigers do.
  • This then requires tragic choices about who will live and who will die – especially what percentage of the population living in poverty is going to survive.
  • Who will make those decisions if they’re not to be left to the heartlessness of the market?

And let me add:

  • The way those resources are being exploited now is changing the global climate in dangerous, destructive ways.
  • The system is clearly functioning to make the rich richer, the middle class and the poor poorer – the statistics are there for those willing to look honestly.
  • The politicians whose policies will make the life and death decisions Ellacuría referred to are indentured to the wealthy who finance their campaigns.
  • More and more people realize that this assessment is not only prophetic and paradoxical, it is disturbingly true. More and more students know that the current societal status quo does not promise them a future. Meanwhile our politicians and media preach the gospel of economic growth through consumption.

‘I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’”

More and more of us need to stand up and say this out loud. But can we find real life? What are the emerging alternatives to this system? Are we teaching and studying them?

James Hug, S.J.

James E. Hug, S.J., has a long history working in social ethics and social justice advocacy in the Catholic community.  He served 24 years as the President of the Center of Concern, a Washington, DC based social justice institute rooted in Catholic social tradition, working for greater economic, social, and ecological justice globally.  He holds a doctoral degree in Christian ethics from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in Christian spirituality from St. Louis University.

Fr. Hug’s research has focused on issues of faith and economic justice and he has lectured and directed workshops throughout the U.S. and in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Currently he serves as sacramental minister for the Adrian Dominican Sisters and writes on issues of spirituality for social transformation in these difficult times.  His blog, “Truth that does Justice,” can be found on the website for the Dominican Center: Spirituality for Mission, www.dominicancenter.org.

Past publications have included Catholic Social Teaching: Our Best Kept Secret, Social Revelation: Profound Challenge for Christian Spirituality, and Tracing the Spirit: Communities, Social Action, and Theological Reflection.  Jim has also written chapters for Globalization and Catholic Social Thought: Present Crisis, Future Hope and The Pastoral Circle Revisited: A Critical Quest for Truth and Transformation.

Fr. Hug’s research has focused on issues of faith and economic justice and her has lectured and directed workshops throughout the U.S. and in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. He was the editor of the Center of Concern’s “Catholic Social Teaching: Our Best Kept Secret, author of Social Revelation: Profound Challenge for Christian Spirituality,” and the editor of “Tracing the Spirit: Communities, Social Action, and Theological Reflection.” Jim has also written chapters for “Globalization and Catholic Social Thought: Present Crisis, Future Hope” and “The Pastoral Circle Revisited: A Critical Quest for Truth and Transformation.”

3 replies
  1. José Mulligan says:

    Very important and challenging reflection, Jim.
    If I can sneak in an ad here, readers may find useful some videos of my recent talks on the Jesuit martyrs which can be found at YouTube.com on my channel: josephmulligan1
    Peace,
    Joe Mulligan, SJ
    Managua

    Reply
  2. Jean Stokan says:

    Thank you for this, Jim–strong, clear and important!
    Just back tonight from the SOA vigil, again inspiring. Will write more soon.

    Reply

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