Since the ascension of Pope Francis, there has been a renewed interest in the movement of Liberation Theology in Latin America. A last minute opportunity has been presented to travel to Argentina for 10 days to hold meetings with leading theologians and visit a variety of community and housing projects organized and sponsored by socially engaged religious organizations. The trip is organized by the MBIDE, and will be centered in Buenos Aires and its environs. The cost for the trip is $1,800.00 and it covers all expenses in Argentina, including hotels, meals, transportation, all activities and several cultural events. The dates are August 7-18.
Please contact us for more details and registration information. email@example.com
poverty and income inequality are incompatible with biblical religion. the biblical commandment to declare a jubilee across the land every 7 years was a social policy intended to enforce income and assets redistribution from the rich to the poor. biblical religion regards those who have amassed great wealth but failed to share it in a meaningful way with the rest of the community as undeserving of its benefits. avarice and greed are considered both personal and social sins. charity is not a biblical way to a meaningful sharing of the wealth, as in the bible there is no concept of charity as caritas. the word "tzedakah" (translated as charity) means "justice". therefore the existence of poverty as such, with no regard to its reasons or causes, is an act of injustice condemned by the bible. the existence of poverty throughout the land was declared by the prophets of israel as one of the causes for the destruction of the temple of jerusalem and the subsequent exile of the people from their land. those in power, to the extent that power was tolerated in the bible, are commanded by the prophets to utilize the institutions of government to insure the values of equality, freedom and social justice. the economy, from a biblical perspective, is a social tool to help create and sustain a humanistic society. economic efficiency is very important, but an economy that results in poverty and income inequality is not considered to be efficient, regardless of macro-economic indicators. the economy is to serve human values, not to override them in the name of false prosperity. martin buber explained that god and dialogue are like the soul and the body, we need both in order to be alive.
some of the most beautiful and deeper spiritual traditions came to us from lands in asia and south east asia. and yet, some of the most appalling cases of mass poverty, internal oppression, militarism and imperialism, racial, sexual and gender discrimination, religious intolerance, infant mortality, class inequality and cultural corruption seem to thrive precisely on countries of that same region. i don't want to regard this as just one more example of ubiquitous religious hypocrisy. this goes not only to the corruption of the few, but to the fundamental misunderstanding of spirituality as essentially a personal sacramental experience to which some rules of moral behavior are added for good measure. spirituality is precisely the opposite: the spiritual life is a way of relationship between you and i and between us and nature, and to that primordial relationship we can add, if we so chose, personal sacramental experiences. god is the between of i and thou, and when we go seeking for her elsewhere, it is religion we bring back, often little more than an image of the living reality we wanted to meet. a religion not established as a teaching of i and thou relationships is like a container of spirituality punctured with little holes all around. over time, as we walk along the path, the spirituality content spills out and by the time we notice and we rush to plug the holes, all that remains is our devotion to an empty container.
organized religion is likened to frozen spirituality. if we go back to the original moments of inception, when the spirit flows freely, we find that "at the beginning it was the relationship". later on we replace that primordial relationship with a church, or a master or a ritual, and establish a relationship with that. that moment is the beginning of religion and the end of spirituality.
a common error is to regard dialogue as duality. there is no duality in a relationship, there is only duality in the choice to avoid the relationship. the between is not one and not two. daido loori roshi said it well: you and i are one, but you are not me and i am not you. the illusion of separateness is precisely the belief that you can be "one with" everything rather than being "one together" with everything. all real life is encounter and outside of the encounter there is only the illusion of being.