We Are All Called to be Builders

Can you imagine a world “of hopes, dreams and visions…where prophets speak…where peace and justice meet…where outcasts and  strangers bear the image of God’s Face and the cross stands as witness”?

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey


Facing Hate Head On

“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love… Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.” (Martin Luther King Jr. 1958 Speech)

I know and believe Dr. Martin Luther King’s statement above almost better than I know any other reality, but that doesn’t stop me from getting upset and ready to throw a few punches when I watch the news reporting the craziness going on in my world today. I also know, simply sitting at home in my living room, and just watching the news will paralyze me eventually letting those images of hate so vividly presented on the television get lost in the hodgepodge of other “news”. I can’t let that happen. I must do something to counteract the hate in my world.

Now, to many my preferred course of action will seem like pollyanna and totally ineffective, but I believe there are two actions I can and must take to stop the hate. I believe with all my being, these actions will truly make a difference. First, I must take those vivid images with me. I must never forget that today someone, somewhere is hating, and as Dr. King states in the above video, I must love that hater and then just as important, or maybe more importantly, secondly, I must identify with the “hated”. That’s right, I must identify with the hated.

I absolutely cannot do that by myself (by myself, I would throw the punches) and so I choose to join other believers on a regular basis and pray, meditate and then most importantly make a plan of action to be a source of love in my world. Together, if we are true to our mission, we will stand with the marginalized and oppressed, we will counsel the doubtful, feed the hungry, cloth the naked… you know the rest and yes, I believe we will redeem the hater.

Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

What is Real?

If I watch television today (I do this less and less) I get bewildered. Viewing programming like the news, I see and hear about a world full of murder and mayhem. Then I watch the advertising which seems to take up more and more of the televised time, and I get the impression that life is good—good that is if you drive a particular car, live in the right neighborhood, take the right vacations, have that “certain” look, none of which do I have or do nor frankly want.

With apologies to all the great teachers in my life, I believe that television is not only the best educator around today, but I’m afraid for many the only one in their lives. Schools and churches continue to pretend to teach, but they can’t compete with these screens we’ve allowed to take over our time and lives.

What’s missing in television, especially in what is hyped as “reality TV” is just that, the real. Margery Williams in her Velveteen Rabbit asks: “What is real…” I love her answer (you can read the book or watch the Youtube video) just as much as I like Justin Graves’ in his TEDxYouth talk above, Living with Purpose nails for me what it means to live an authentic life. He does it with no apology or cover up. In short he is everything I want to be. Thanks Justin.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Ready to Start a Movement?

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

A young school psychologist for the school where I worked once defined a leader as a person who takes people where they want to go. That description has always fascinated me. Before I heard her definition, I thought it was the leader’s job to take people where she wanted to go.

Seth Godin tells us leadership is finding a group that is not together and organizing them. In his February 2009 TED Talk, he gives us a short history of how we have created change using factories and then television, he presents lots of examples of change makers (leaders) and finally he talks about the role of the heretic, that is, the one who looks at the status quo and says, I don’t like it. The role of the leader, Seth tells us is to identify who you are upsetting, who you are connecting and who are you leading? He says the answer to these questions leads to a movement. Then he gives us 24 hours to create our movement. Any takers?


Thanks For Joining In


Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

“How is it that people kill in the name of the God of life, wage war in the name of the God of peace, hate in the name of the God of love and practice cruelty in the name of the God of compassion? How if we are the image of God, do we so often harm the work of God, especially, our fellow humans?” (Sacks, Jonathan, 2015 Not in God’s Name Schocken Kabobs, NY p110 ebook)

Now the above quote might seem unrelated to last Tuesday’s post about women and gays fighting for respect in their religions of birth, but I think not. Before I get into that though, let me first, thank everyone who shared by writing a comment on the Blog or Facebook. Evidently this is an issue for more than just me and Chelsea Shields.

Thank you Gail for your comment “Dan take a look at America Magazine September 14 issue …Religion and Diplomacy by Sec of State. John Kerry…”. I followed your advice and what struck me was Secretary of State Kerry pointing out:

“One of the most interesting challenges we face in global diplomacy today is the need to fully understand and engage the great impact that a wide range of religious traditions have on foreign affairs.”

Evidently the Secretary of State of the United States is concerned about religion’s role in world affairs. And on Facebook, I mentioned Karen L’s conflict in last Thursday’s post. I was moved too by Neil R’s sharing : “Agree Dan and Francis does have me considering maybe coming home.” I’m inspired and I suspect many others are as well who read your shares. Karen and Neil are concerned.

David Brooks and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks are also concerned. David Brooks’ wrote an OP-ED column last Tuesday in the New York Times concerning Rabbi Jonathan Sacks book, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” In his column he writes:

The great religions are based on love, and they satisfy the human need for community. But love is problematic. Love is preferential and particular. Love excludes and can create rivalries. Love of one scripture can make it hard to enter sympathetically into the minds of those who embrace another.The 21st century will not be a century of secularism, he writes. It will be an age of desecularization and religious conflicts.” (Brooks, David, 11-17-15 NYT Oped, Finding Peace within the Holy Texts)

What is Brooks talking about “desecularization” and religious conflicts? I’m still reading his book and looking for that answer, but in the meantime, I think our discussion last week points to a very important work we are about, honest sharing. We truly can be partners in this coming day of desecularization, if we are willing to speak up and are listened to and more importantly heard. I think, as Neil suggests, Pope Francis is listening and I don’t think he’s the only one.

This is what we are attempting to do with the CPP Blog (Our weekly meeting in print). Sharing can lead to doing. As Jean S pointed out, “Some people are doers…”. What besides speaking up can we, people of all religious faiths do? More on that for next Tuesday.


‘Love is Blind. Obedience Shouldn’t Be.’ – National Catholic Reporter

Many people have told me they never really considered staying inside and working to change the church (or any other unjust structure) rather than depart in despair. I hope we inspire folks to stay and work for positive change especially now that Catholics at least, have a Pope who is actively seeking change.

Source: ‘Love is Blind. Obedience Shouldn’t Be.’ – National Catholic Reporter

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

The above quote originated in a column by Sister Christine Schenk in the November 12, 2015 National Catholic Reporter. I found it in the Pax Christi’s Post, Tuesday, the same day I posted my reflection Rejected, on Chelsea Shield’s August 2015 TED Talk. Talk about synchronicity! Both tell of women’s struggle for equality in of all places their churches.

Rejected generated a great deal of discussion both on our site and on my Facebook page. I learned some new information. I now know what an EME is thanks to Terrance Wagner and I related to all the sharing, especially this one by Karen:

I’ve pretty much stopped attending the Catholic Church because I find so many of their teachings offensive. At the same time I am who I am today because of my Catholic upbringing. I’m conflicted. (Karen L.)

That’s a problem, exactly the problem I meant to address in my post and reiterated by a number of people in the discussion that followed. Sister Christine’s column cited above, gives me hope and suggests to me a very practical activity we can all do to address that problem and to open up our church, a process started by Saint Pope John XXIII and reintroduced with Pope Francis.

In her column, Sister Christine tells about the film Radical Grace, a documentary of the “‘nunquisition'”– the Vatican’s six year investigation of the U.S. sisters…” Sister Christine tells how surprised she was that the film has gotten worldwide recognition. The film’s producer, Nicole Bernardi-Reis told her “…the nuns are role models–not only their work but simply advocating for yourselves is a radical and affirming idea for women in many parts of the world.”

Wow! “Advocate for yourselves”. What a simple, doable action. What would that look like if we did it–what would we be advocating for? The same thing the Sister Christine  is, i.e. we are the church.

“Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and traditional Anglican Christians traditionally believe that 1 Peter 2:9 gives responsibility to all believers for the preservation and propagation of the Gospel and the Church…” (Wikipedia)

We are the church, us little peons who give our weekly donations and who daily struggle to love our neighbor, raise our children and share the bounties we’ve received. Now you might think advocating for ourselves here is not necessary, but only if you didn’t read my and Sister Christine’s posts.

Proposed action:

So here it is. Let’s inspire each other to stay and work for positive change in our church, “…especially now that Catholics at least, have a Pope who is actively seeking change”. We can start this process by watching Radical Grace. We missed the screening last week at the Gene Sickle Theatre here in Chicago, but the site for the film offers to help anyone interested in presenting their own screening. Let’s take up that offer for help and do it, plan a screening and discussion of the film Radical Grace.

Anyone interested in scheduling our own showing?

Let’s Open These Windows and Air This Church Out!

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

I can’t believe that fifty years have gone by since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, one of three declarations coming from the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965). I was a high school senior at the Passionist Preparatory Seminary in 1962 and truly had no idea what that council would mean in my life. As I look back, it basically meant that I would live in a church that in the words of Saint Pope John XXIII would open up it’s 2000 year old windows and air itself out, aggiornamento I think he called it.

I believe that one of the greatest outcomes of that council was a new understanding of our relationship to other religions, especially our relationship to our Jewish sisters and brothers. Rabbi Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee discusses 2,000 years of teaching in Christianity that made Jews “The other” in this short quip above. It is just a snippet of a longer (20 minute) PBS documentary on http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365587110“>Nostra Aetate (In Our Time) This document was promulgated fifty years ago by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965.

If you are not familiar with it, I think you’ll enjoy discovering what tremendous strides Christians, in particular Roman Catholic Christians have made. If you are familiar with it, I hope you enjoy hearing and watching this great story as told by Rabbi Marans and the Rev. Dennis McManus a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a member of the faculty at Georgetown University.

Thank you Nancy Kramer for suggesting this post.