Worker Cooperatives in America
By Edited by Robert Jackall and Henry M. Levin
Publisher: University of California Press
Review Author: Stuart Gudowitz
This fairly wide-ranging collection of 12 essays was written by persons (including some economists) who support worker cooperatives. Most of the essays discuss actual worker cooperatives and face squarely the difficulties in establishing and running such organizations. While not eschewing theoretical considerations, this volume also considers concrete issues such as the financing and legal structures of worker cooperatives. Catholics who want to explore seriously one possible way that the ideas expressed in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Laborem Exercens can be implemented will find this book to be of great interest. Indeed, might it not be time for Catholic laymen to consider starting worker cooperatives of their own?
However, Catholic readers are also likely to notice a lack of appreciation here for spiritual matters, even when the Mondragon cooperatives of Spain — which were founded by a priest — are discussed. The contributors to this volume seem to have yet to escape from the prison of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment political thought and attain a truer vision of man and society. Thus while Catholics can certainly profit from reading these essays, the worker cooperative movement — insofar as the outlook of the essayists is representative of the movement as a whole — would itself profit by reading the social encyclicals.
Woman in the Bible: An Overview of all the Crucial Passages on Women’s Roles
By Mary J. Evans
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Review Author: Ronda Chervin
More a commentary than a compilation, Woman in the Bible, published by a respected evangelical Protestant press, presents provocative viewpoints on this topic in relation to Christian and secular-feminist teachings.
The purpose of this book is, as Mary J. Evans explains, to “reexamine the biblical material, not to alter it, not to ignore and not to fit it in with the ideas of modern society, but to make sure that we have got it right and that our ideas and practices really are biblical and not just reflecting the philosophical presuppositions of a by-gone age, or indeed of our contemporary society.”
Whether Evans has succeeded in this goal is open to question. At first I found that her very clear, moderate, and unemotional style led me to want to accept her conclusions as the evident result of her scholarly insight. After a while, however, I became more cautious. I could see where she was heading and did not feel her book was long enough to take thoroughly into account the contrary views of other exegetes on such controversial issues as subordination or women’s ministries.
Such cautions do not make Woman in the Bible a book to be avoided, however, for a researcher on any side of these issues might find it of importance to have gathered together the important passages and to reflect on and critique Evans’s commentary.
Some ideas I found helpful include the following:
(1) Women were secondary in certain respects in Old Testament Judaism, but were certainly not excluded from the blessings and responsibilities of the Covenant.
(2) The famous New Testament passage about not looking at a woman with lust is an overthrowing of the Jewish idea that women must be segregated to avoid inevitable lust, in favor of the idea that women should be sisters mingling freely with men and that it was for men to control their lustful thoughts.
(3) Jesus not only spoke with women, touched them, and let them touch him, which was
highly unusual for a rabbi, but also taught them and expected them not only to listen but to respond and carry on the message — messages the male apostles sometimes seem not to have understood, as in the case of the anointing of Mary of Bethany before the crucifixion or the news of the Resurrection.
(4) Paul’s epistles should not be interpreted as disparaging the body or women.
Woman in the Bible ends on a positive note as the author hopes that consideration of the positive attitude of Christ toward women, and the quite revolutionary equality of women in the early Christian community will lead to a better future for women in today’s churches.
The Summit Choirbook
By Dominican Nuns of Summit, N.J.
Publisher: Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary
Price: No price given
Review Author: Michael McGowan
The life of Roman Catholic liturgical music has been a difficult one for the last 100 years. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the proliferation of low quality, sentimental tunes and maudlin texts as far as hymnography went, while the ordinaries and propers of the Mass were plagued by secular influences from late Romantic concert and theatrical music.
The work initiated by Pope St. Pius X to revitalize Gregorian chant and to rid Church music of secular influences was not entirely without success. But Gregorian chant has not become the widespread vehicle of worship that Pius and succeeding popes had hoped it would. Nor has sacred music rid itself of secular influences.
The Second Vatican Council brought many important changes to the liturgy. As far as liturgical music is concerned, new works built upon both the great musical traditions of the Church and local cultural traditions were called for. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy was not of such importance in hymnography, since most hymns were in the vernacular to start with. But the need for vernacular settings for the ordinaries and propers of the Mass was pointed out. Those passages of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stating that efforts should be made to teach the people to say and sing their parts of the Mass in Latin and that Gregorian chant should be given “pride of place” as liturgical music have been generally ignored.
Since the Council we have seen a great outpouring of new music for the Church, much of it in the form of hymns. The Psalms have been returned to their place of importance in the liturgy and many new settings of them have been produced. The ordinaries and various propers of the Mass have not been given new settings to the same degree, but neither have they been ignored.
However, the same problems that have plagued liturgical music for the last 100 years are still with us. Much of the new music is as maudlin, sentimental, and filled with secular influences as ever.
Into the present confused state of Catholic liturgical music comes The Summit Choirbook — and it is a breath of fresh air. The book, a product of 14 years of loving labor, contains hymns spanning the entire history of the Church and all of its varied cultural expressions. Every piece in the book bears the subtlety and sonority that mark great liturgical music.
The choirbook includes a good selection of Gregorian chants (with the original Latin texts), some reaching all the way back to the third century. Most of these chants come from various Dominican liturgical sources and so in some respects differ from those in the official Vatican editions produced in the last 100 years. English versions of many of the chants are also included.
There is also a good selection of hymns from the various Byzantine Rites, as well as new settings of traditional Byzantine texts by the Monks of New Skete. All of these are of course in English.
The book contains a great deal of folk music — real folk music. The folk hymns in the choirbook are the products of many different cultures and they are beautiful indeed. They represent the richness of Catholic culture and are varied enough to have something with particular appeal to every Catholic.
The book also contains many old familiar hymns in the classical hymn style as well as some unusual but appealing contemporary works. Many of the tunes have been supplied with new texts. Not a trace of cheap sentimentality is to be found in this extraordinary hymnal.
Moreover, Protestant churches would find this choirbook a rich and useful source of music for worship. Indeed, many of the hymns included are from Protestant traditions. The sources of all tunes and texts are meticulously noted. Besides being a great addition to Christian liturgical music, this choirbook is also a great work of musicology.
Death By Choice
By Daniel C. Maguire
Publisher: Image Books (updated and expanded edition)
Review Author: David Courtwright
“Can it be moral and should it be legal,” asks theologian and ethicist Daniel Maguire, “to take direct action to terminate life in certain extreme circumstances?” Death By Choice answers both questions in the affirmative, especially in cases where “induced death may be more valuable than protracted living.” Ending the lives of the doomed and tormented, or of the vegetative and the deformed, may be the lesser evil according to Maguire — even though mercy killing remains a crime in the eyes of the law. Maguire regards the traditional injunction against the direct taking of innocent life as an important principle, but not an inviolable one.
The bulk of this book, first published in 1974, deals with the morality of killing the afflicted living, such as a terminal cancer patient. Much of the material added to the second edition, however, argues for the occasional propriety of killing the unborn. Maguire, who is a prominent member of the Catholic Committee on Pluralism and Abortion, sides with those who value human life in the womb, but who also “acknowledge that other human values may at tragic and not infrequent times outweigh the fetal ‘right to life.’”
How often is “not infrequent”? Is it one-and-a-half million times a year? And if certain “justified” abortions are permitted, what is the role of the state with respect to abortions undertaken for convenience or even because of parental rejection of the sex of the fetus? More generally, how can we prevent legalized death by choice, whether abortion or euthanasia, from being abused on a mass scale? Recent history does not seem to provide grounds for optimism.
If abortion in America were a matter of a few thousand desperate mothers acting for grave reasons, I doubt that the Catholic hierarchy and prolife forces (both of whom Maguire excoriates) would be as active as they have been. But abortion in America is not like that. It is in reality a major industry, the primary function of which is to serve as birth-control-of-last-resort for unwed mothers between the ages of 15 and 25. The typical case is that of a young couple who have chosen to be sexually active without committing to marriage, and who do not practice contraception carefully, if at all. When pregnancy occurs, one or both decide to eliminate the future responsibility, expense, and embarrassment of a child by aborting the fetus. Abortion-as-birth-control is made all the less palatable by the fact that, for every healthy available infant, there are at present 40 anxious couples waiting to adopt. Of their plight, or of its concomitant relationship to a decade of legalized abortion, Maguire has nothing to say.
Maguire does, however, make some cogent points. He is surely correct when he writes that many conservative anti-abortionists are selectively and inconsistently pro-life; someone who opposes abortion but supports deployment of the MX missile is simply not thinking clearly. He also observes that prolife advocates should be concerned about the attendant causes of unintended pregnancies, such as poverty and ignorance. But Maguire never comes to grips with the key issue, which is the nature and extent of abortion in our society.
God’s Revolution: The Witness of Eberhard Arnold
By Edited by the Hutterian Society of Brothers and John Howard Yoder
Publisher: Paulist Press
Review Author: Juli Loesch
It has been said of the late Dorothy Day that she was neither an original thinker nor a brilliant literary stylist; but the undeniable power of her writing owes to the fact that there was absolutely no difference between what she professed to believe and the way she lived. It is a life lived faithfully that gives to plainspoken words their resonance and depth, their right to be heard. Exactly the same can be said for the writing of Eberhard Arnold.
A neo-orthodox theologian in the Anabaptist tradition, Eberhard Arnold died 50 years ago during the period of the Nazi build-up in Germany. He was the founder of the Bruderhof movement, whose followers strove to live like the early Christians — whose Spirit-inspired fellowship, described in the Acts of the Apostles, held property communally, shared worldly goods with the poor, and lived a disarmed life even in the midst of ferocious persecution.
Arnold’s refusal to cooperate with the military and his outspoken insistence on the relationship between individual piety and social justice won him the ire of Hitler’s regime. At 8 o’clock in the morning of November 16, 1933, 140 Nazi storm troopers and secret police forced their way into the little Christian community in the Rhön hills to search for nonexistent arms, while Pastor Arnold’s wife, Emmy, and her sister burned potentially incriminating papers in the stove. Arnold’s Christian publishing venture was smashed when the Nazis seized his office, and for the last two years of his life (he died in 1935) Arnold exhausted himself in ceaseless efforts to shepherd his exiled community into Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and England.
The fact that this fragile community survived — with its children and grandchildren living a life of Gospel simplicity in the midst of a cynical and secular world — attests to the vitality of the Bruderhof way. It is a way rooted, as Pastor Arnold would say, not in his own preaching and teaching, but in the love of and imitation of Jesus Christ.
In his Introduction, Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder notes that the texts found in God’s Revolution are not the preferred point of entrance into the devotional or spiritual thought of Arnold. That would be his Inner Land, written in the face of the spiritual crisis that Germany faced in World War I, or his Salt and Light, an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. But God’s Revolution does provide a thematic sampling of Arnold’s sermons and informal talks from about 1907 to 1935. This sampling was put together partly from memories and penciled notes, and then selected according to the perceptions of his surviving followers, now aged community members.
That Christians ought to be “a people apart” is illustrated by Arnold’s teaching on “God’s Embassy”: “Each kingdom or nation maintains an embassy in Paris, Petersburg, Berlin, Rome, and other capitals. The embassy building is sacrosanct territory, where no one is subject to the laws of the country surrounding the embassy; in the embassy building only the laws of its own country are in effect.
“It is just the same with the Church. Jesus Christ sends His Church, led by the Holy Spirit, to be His embassy. Here the final law is that of the final kingdom. Therefore the Church community must not unthinkingly submit to the laws of today’s governments” (1934).
One need only read the sermons of Catholic bishops quoted in Gordon Zahn’s German Catholics and Hitler’s Wars to see a most painful contrast. Even Cardinal von Galen, the most resistant of the German Catholic hierarchy, preached often on the obligation of the faithful to be patriotic and obedient and — if called upon to fight — to give their blood for the Fatherland. But Arnold and a handful of others counseled their flocks to judge sharply the demands of Caesar and to beware lest, in serving the Fatherland, they prove traitor to the heavenly Patria.
Even today the Bruderhof communities (three in the United States and one in England) challenge the ways of the “worldly” kingdom. Following Arnold’s understanding of the Gospels, the Bruderhöfe uphold a norm of personal morality which is even more radical today than it was in the Germany of the 1920s and 1930s. They expect virginity and purity from their young people, and they stand for the indissolubility of marriage. Advising a welcoming attitude toward “all the children God wishes to send,” they oppose contraception and abortion, while advocating the kind of communal households they believe are vitally important for the Christian education of children and the survival of solid marriages and families.
For plainspoken words on purity and peacemaking — and for the consolation and the unsettling challenge of a life lived faithfully — we can all be grateful for the witness of Eberhard Arnold.
Theology of the Priesthood
By Jean Galot, S.J.
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Review Author: Raymond T. Gawronski
The project of this ambitious book is “to ascertain the meaning of the ministerial priesthood and the relation it bears to the priesthood of the faithful.” This project is nettlesome for Galot, who is very heavily scriptural (New Testament) in his approach. As he notes, Jesus is never called a priest in the Gospels, “nor does he ever speak of priesthood or priests when describing the role of his apostles or defining their identity.” Indeed, the Epistle to the Hebrews is the only writing that speaks explicitly of Christ as priest. Galot observes that the absence of the terminology does not mean an absence of the reality behind it, and he further notes that Jesus recoils in general from describing Himself by means of titles. However, this is an initial problem that is never quite resolved.
Galot is very good at pointing to the priestly quality found in Scripture: Jesus comes to begin a new Temple, to be Head of the Body which will have a new priesthood representing Him, the Head. Galot clearly delineates what it was Jesus was rejecting in the old priesthood — the caste, the identification of sacrality with place — and what He sought in His followers, for whom sacrality would shift from place to person, who “would worship in spirit and truth.” The author of Hebrews emphasizes this, describing the priesthood of Christ as “in the line of Melchizedek,” the eternal priesthood outside of the Jewish cult, and not in the line of Aaron.
The priesthood of Christ turns on a power that takes the form of humble service. Galot writes: “If the priest is a representative of Christ and exercises certain powers in his name, the reason is that Jesus himself so decided. This empowerment is conferred only for the sake of a mission and should be understood only in the sense of a humble service. And yet it remains a power. Those who resist any power, priestly power included, fail to understand that Jesus intended to change the meaning of power by impressing a new configuration on it.”
The scriptural sections are lengthy and thorough. They show the importance of sacrifice in St. Paul, who also does not speak explicitly of priesthood. Perhaps the most important image Galot finds in the New Testament for the priest is the “shepherd”: “it is the shepherd’s quality that best epitomizes the priest’s function.” This provides Galo with a form to unite various priestly threads in the New Testament, and further links the priesthood of Jesus with Yahweh, Shepherd of Israel. The reader will be pardoned if he wonders what if any difference there is between current theological debate about priesthood and some of the earlier scholasticism. Yet Galot is able to bring forth refreshing fruit as he pursues his investigation.
The chapter in which Galot specifically deals with his overall question — “The Priesthood of the Faithful and the Ministerial Priesthood” — begins to ascend to some lyrical heights: “No one has ever been as deeply a man as the man who was God, nor was anyone ever nearer all men than he was. Christ wills that priests should participate both in the way in which he was…a man…and in his own nearness to all men. Even the surrender of a family of one’s own and of earthly possessions helps to impress upon the Incarnation a more universal openness.” The chapter entitled “The Being of the Priest” similarly penetrates some depths: “Instead of seeking to demystify the priestly character, we should seek to discover the mystical significance it embodies.” Developing the notion of the character impressed by the sacrament of orders, he writes: “The minister responds to events…with the mysterious image of the Lord he carries within himself. Thus the Church fulfills her mission, which is to let that image permeate the world, so that mankind may display the traits of the Savior.”
The book concludes with a chapter on “The Mission of Woman and the Priesthood,” a moderate restatement of the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching. This final chapter reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the book. It is a rich work, full of research, impressively aware of the contemporary debates within the Church (documented amply with footnotes). But although he does refer to the Fathers and medievals, he tends to jump rather quickly from the Scripture and Early Church to Trent.
Yet the greatest gifts in this book are perhaps the meditative passages with which he illuminates the nature of the priesthood.
What I Believe: Thirteen Eminent People of Our Time Argue for Their Philosophy of Life
By Edited by Mark Booth
Review Author: Myrna Reid Grant
Who among us does not remember our salad days, wrestling into the night with ideas, striving with peers to present our worldview, having our minds troubled and stretched by countering philosophies of friends? We felt alive, invigorated, challenged to think as never before. Yet adulthood, with its work-a-day responsibilities and family joys, has a way of steering us into a circle of like-minded friends and relations. Our thinking discussions tend merely to refine or puzzle over matters of mutual agreement.
Here is a book to hone the mind made too comfortable. Booth has collected the writings of 13 prominent intellectuals from varying disciplines to answer the queries: “What are the most important questions you can ask yourself? What are your most sincere beliefs?” A few contributors are Christians. Many are not. W.H. Auden, Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Malcolm Muggeridge, Bertrand Russell, Robert Schuller, and Rebecca West are among those included.
The essays present differing perspectives. For example, Thomas Mann argues for the coming of a new “third humanism” which will be universal and will have the artist’s attitude of recognizing the value and beauty of the human being. Muggeridge debunks the idea of earthly progress and declares urbanized life on earth the most unilluminated and degraded ever to come to pass in the history of civilization.
Readers with reservations about the well-known “positive-thinking” theology of Robert Schuller may come upon him with surprise in What I Believe. His contribution, written in a liturgy-like style, is vigorously orthodox-Protestant and could have been built on an outline of the Nicene Creed, in spite of his opening Schullerism, “I believe in belief!”
Charles Malik, in his small book The Two Tasks, writes, “The greatest danger besetting American…Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind as to its greatest riches and deepest reaches is not cared for enough…the result [being] that the area of creative thinking is abdicated and vacated for the Enemy.” In What I Believe, Christians and non-Christians argue eloquently for their beliefs. Perhaps it is particularly intriguing to follow differing forms of “unregenerate” thought and see what, at their finest, they make of the human experience. This book gives Christian readers the opportunity to wrestle with opposing ideas and work hard at articulating valid responses.
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