Tag Archives: The Hunger Games

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Pope Francis?

27 Nov

pope-francis_2541160bWell, I suspect the gates of Hell are now freezing over. For those of you who read this blog, you know I am not a religious person. Never did I think I would be actually praising the Catholic Pope, but alas I am.  Today, Pope Francis actually said that Capitalism is “a new tyranny,” and he also managed to dismantle the ever present Reagan myth of “trickle down economics.” Is it possible the Catholic Church may be moving to a model of social justice and abandoning a platform of hate that has been in place for the past 40 years?

It is difficult for me not to think about the classism and avarice demonstrated by John Boehner, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the Teahaddists when I hear Pope Francis say:

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

Not only does he address poverty and how we treat humans as “consumer goods” but he addresses the systemic root problem which we call Capitalism. When I first read his comments, I thought he was talking about The Hunger Games, and in a way he is. The top 20% live off the remaining 80% and they watch us as we fight for any scraps available and mock us for needing social services because not everyone makes a living wage, not everyone has health insurance.

We are approaching the Thanksgiving Holiday; how many millions of families will be struggling now to put food on the table? Thanks for cutting food stamps just in time for the holidays!  The entire apostolic exhortation is really quite wonderful and if you have the time, I encourage you to read at least the first 25 pages.

Sadly, as wonderful as this movement towards social justice is, it left me wanting more. While he addresses poverty and the causes of poverty, he does not seem to be able to understand fully who is impacted and the intersections of oppression – -those oppressed by intersecting identities of gender, race, ability, and sexual orientation. I was hoping for a call to action to stand with all targeted populations and understand that poverty disproportionately affects people of color, LGBT people, and women, so one can imagine how one might be affected by poverty if one is a black lesbian, or Latina transgender woman.

Again, I give full kudos to the Pope’s address here, but when will “the voice of God” talk about women being able to govern their own bodies? Eradicating homophobia and racism? When does the church say: “All are welcome regardless and ever regardful?”

Hero of the Week Award: April 20, Josh Hutcherson

20 Apr

Hero of the Week

This week it is a real pleasure to honor a rising Hollywood star who has a great sense of activism and priorities. Josh Hutcherson, only 19, has been in films for half his life. He’s currently starring in the blockbuster book adaptation The Hunger Games. He also co-starred in the wonderful (but very dark) 2010 film The Kids Are Alright as one of two kids growing up with two lesbian parents. In a recent interview with E! Online, Hutcherson focuses on his work with the group Straight But Not Narrow.

Hutcherson is very focused on gay rights, in part because he lost two uncles to HIV while he was too young to really get to know them. He also credits his mother with helping establish his sense of activism and advocacy.

My mom has always been a big advocate, especially in the gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual community so for me it’s always been a part of my soul.

Even more impressive in one so young, Hutcherson is much prouder of his advocacy work than his celebrity status.

Acting is one thing, but actually trying to change the world and the way people think to make people’s lives better? That’s the stuff I’m most proud of.

This weekend he will become the youngest recipient of the GLAAD Vanguard Award, joining the likes of the great Elizabeth Taylor. I look forward to watching this young man continue to make his mark on the world.

Honorable mention this week goes to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. How shocking to see this group acting in a truly Christian way! In a strongly worded letter to Congress, the Bishops tear into the budget proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, pointing out how it violates Catholic precepts by putting the poor, vulnerable, and needy at risk.

The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.

Given recent political meddling by Bishops regarding women’s health and this week’s BWA runner-up, Bishop Daniel Jenky, comparing the President to Hitler, it is a pleasant surprise to see a strong, truly moral message from this group.

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