Two reflection series to look for from new Executive Director Zach Johnson
My first month on the job has brought me into contact with many in the CTA community. I’d like to share a few themes that have emerged from my conversations with members from all over the country so far, and introduce two parallel reflection series that have sprung from these conversations.
My first observation is that Call To Action is a precious and vital community for many people. I see CTA’s vitality springing from two places. First, CTA is the oldest and broadest voice for Catholic Church reform in the United States. This is our legacy, and we have a responsibility to steward it with faith, hope, focus, and courage.
Secondly, CTA is for many a last connection to their Catholic faith. Our former Executive Director Jim FitzGerald recently wrote to me that, “without CTA, I wouldn’t be Catholic.” Jim’s is a gut punch version of the sentiment I’ve already heard echoed across the country. While both vitalities are important, the personal connection to our deep (albeit often misguided) faith is easily a priority to me. A community that fosters a connection to faith is good soil for just action.
As I deepen my understanding of this community, I’m reminded of bits and pieces of scripture from all over the Gospels. So beginning next week, I’ll post weekly, often brief, reflections starting with the Gospel of Mark. I’ll read a commentary which I expect is already familiar to some of you, Binding the Strong Man, by Ched Meyers. Progressive Catholics like the Berrigan brothers and the Catholic Workers have used it in the past to guide discussion and action. I’m encouraged to think we’d be in such good company.
My second reflection concerns another twofold nature within CTA. Many have suggested that CTA has a split focus. On the one side is a broad appeal to “church reform”, and on the other is an equally broad draw to “social justice”. I put both in quotes because neither focus has an easy, obvious or consistent definition.
I am curious and not at all disturbed by this apparent duality. It represents a tension within CTA’s current body. Tension between motivations is a dear and defining element of Catholicism to me: justice/mercy, divine/human, bread and wine/body and blood, etc. Some of last year’s national conference keynote speaker Richard Rohr’s most potent insights deal with tension in his writings about paradox.
I’d like to spend some time exploring this particular tension which seems to sit so squarely in the heart of CTA right now. So in the coming weeks you can look for a series of reflections on social justice and church reform. I invite you all to engage with me.
In gratitude, and with prayers and love in our work,