Hold It All

Category: Dissidents

Wartime during Life/1

Matthew Teo Mathieu, Robert MacArthur, & Sheetal Ray



What Catches Our Attention (And What Doesn’t)

Reshma observed
About a group of doctors she works with

“They talk all about Lady Gaga
But nothing about the wars we’re in”




For Robert

To Whom It May Concern,

I had Mr. Robert MacArthur in my Social Justice course from the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University in the fall semester of 2005. He and I have met a couple of times after that course and we have exchanged occasional correspondence when he no longer lived in St. Louis. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth –The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange, A Film by Juan Passarelli

Journalists are under attack globally for doing their jobs. Julian Assange is facing a 175 year sentence for publishing if extradited to the United States. The Trump administration has gone from denigrating journalists as ‘enemies of the people’ to now criminalizing common practices in journalism that have long served the public interest. WikiLeaks founder and Editor Julian Assange’s extradition is being sought by the Trump administration for publishing US government documents which exposed war crimes and human rights abuses. He is being held in maximum security HMP Belmarsh in London.

There is a war on journalism – Julian Assange is at the centre of that war. If this precedent is set then what happens to Assange can happen to any journalist.“The Indictment of Julian Assange… is a threat to the press and the American People.”
– Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

“What Julian Assange is being targeted for is the same or similar as many journalists have done…it’s surprising to me that more people can’t see that this case has worrying implications for all journalists”
– Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian

“Assange is charged with asking for information, with receiving information, and with publishing information. And I don’t mind saying that those are exactly the things that I do.”
– Barton Gellman, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning journalist

Join us this Sunday 4 October for a viewing of the new film
The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange
We gather at 7 p.m Central Time via Zoom.
Email me for URL


Political Holiness

Pedro Casaldáliga & José-Maria Vigil, Political Holiness: A Spirituality of Liberation

Those who struggle for utopia, for radical change, saints marked by the liberating spirit, are all of a piece; they carry faithfulness from the root of their being on to the smallest details that others overlook: attention to the littlest, respect for subordinates, eradication of egoism and pride, care for common property, generous dedication to voluntary work, honesty in dealings with the state, punctuality in correspondence, not being impressed by rank, being impervious to bribes….Detailed everyday faithfulness is the best guarantee of our utopias. The more utopic we are, the more down-to-earth! (p. 58)


March 24, 1995 marks the 15th anniversary of the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Two weeks before he was murdered while celebrating liturgy, Romero acknowledged the likelihood of a violent death but he was convinced, “I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.” Now widely cherished as a saint by the poor throughout Latin America, Romero indeed proved to be an inspiration to innumerable unknown Christians as well as a few famous ones — such as the Salvadoran Jesuit intellectuals — who suffered the same fate of persecution and martyrdom for their work on behalf of a new society. [1]

Political Holiness is an up-to-date examination of the spirituality that defined Romero and the continental cloud of witnesses that continues to defy institutionalized injustice with Christian hope. [2] The authors are well qualified to share the fruits of their reflections on their experience: Vigil has long labored as a theologian in Nicaragua, while Brazilian Dom Pedro has been one of the most courageous of Latin American bishops and, like Romero, he has been perennially threatened with death because he has championed the rights of the poor over the privileges of rich landowners. This book is a deceptively simple and quite compelling manual and guide to the dominant fundamentals, themes, and issues of the spirituality that has emerged in full force in the last several decades in the southern hemisphere. For specialists and students in spirituality, it is bound to provoke deeper reflection on spirituality, and Christian spirituality. Read the rest of this entry »


In the mid-1980s while working at St. William Church in Louisville, I was involved with the Sanctuary Movement. The church offered hospitality to a couple from El Salvador, Manuel and Maria Elena. They were the first Salvadorans I’d ever met. Many years later, Steve Kelly, S.J had been working in El Salvador, but he was booted out of the country by the military. Mev Puleo traveled to El Salvador in 1993, working with Crispaz, and interviewing her friend Ann Manganaro.

Beginning in the early 2000s while teaching theology at Saint Louis University, I had students who took a semester abroad in the Casa de la Solidaridad in San Salvador, El Salvador. Years after I left SLU, I’d hear from former students about someone coming back after the semester in Central America. I was happy to visit with these people who often had their worlds turned upside down.


Prudence and Parrhesia

A library I once spent time in
Is named in honor of Pope Pius XII

He was nothing if not prudent
And prudence is a virtue much of the time Read the rest of this entry »

The Way It Looked in 1969

Now the age of 101, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has composed poetical works about most U.S. presidents since the administrations of Eisenhower in the 1950s. I recall with appreciation his poem “Tale Tale of the Tall Cowboy” during the Reagan years (published in Harper’s), as friends and I were working in the Sanctuary Movement (for Salvadoran refugees), on the Pledge of Resistance (to end US support of terrorism against the people of Nicaragua), as well as Witness for Peace delegations in Nicaragua.

I was the age of nine in 1969 when New Directions published his short book, Tyrannus Nix? At that early stage of Nixon’s presidency, the prophetic Ferlinghetti zeroed in on the man who would soon be known for the bombing of Cambodia, the Enemies List, and the Watergate scandal.

Ferlinghetti is seriously playful in this cultural intervention, and I happily share the following themes and excerpts to give you a glimpse of political skewering from more than fifty years ago.

Direct speech—I’ve got to hand it to you old family friend… why don’t you open the Doors of Perception … will you ever invite the Living Theater to your House…and probably all the time longing to be loved by the same people who loved and hated Kennedys…

Political critique—Nixon Nixon I’m singing you this baseball Diamond Sutra from way out there in New Left Filed in the International League… the Vietnam albatross…Are you Machiavelli smiling… DDT is killing the pelicans and their eco-system is our own…War is good business Invest your son … look Fidel Castro in the eye and tell him without the benefit of electronic aides that your government does not believe his truths while a lizard crawled out of your eye Read the rest of this entry »

A Hierarchy of Human Life?

Nawal El Saadawi, The Essential Reader

In his poem “Cosmopolitan Greetings,” Allen Ginsberg urged: Stand up against governments, against God.  This expresses the life and work of Nawal El-Saadawi.

I am African from Egypt, not from the Middle East. The Middle East is a term used relative to London so that India becomes the Far East. 331

I am a humanist and socialist and I am against classism, racism, all kinds of discrimination and if God is unjust, I am against him too. I cannot abide injustice. I might have been a minister or a dean of a medical college, if I could accommodate injustice. 331

She is intent in her writing in breaking “the cultural chains that imprison the mind” [48].  One fundamental chain is expressed tersely: “God above, husband below,” which means to women and girls: do as you are told. Read the rest of this entry »

After Sanders Makes His Endorsement, I Turn to Some Great Reminderers

Those who live by compassion are often canonized.  Those who live by justice are often crucified.  –John Dominic Crossan, Scripture Scholar, USA

Don’t mourn. Organize. –Mother Jones, labor activist, USA

The madness of violence must be recognized, its causes removed, and its implements destroyed. But how can it be done? It can be done by one means only: the manifestation of a better spirit. It is a change of character and conduct through a change of ideas, reason, and good will – these are the only agencies in a civilized age for effecting such changes. – Mohandas Gandhi, lawyer, India

The blood is so much, you know, it runs in rivers. It dries up too; it cakes all over me; sometimes I feel that there is not enough soap in the whole world to cleanse me from the things that I did do in your name. –Davison Budhoo, from his resignation letter to the International Monetary Fund

Responsibility for the poor, exterior to the system, exposes the just person to retaliation by the system, which feels under attack because of its dysfunctionality, openness, and exposure.  For this reason, with inexorable logic the totality persecutes those who in their responsibility for the oppressed testify to the necessity for a new order.  Responsibility is obsession for the other; it is linkage with the other’s exteriority; it entails exposing oneself to traumatization, prison, even death. –Enrique Dussel, philosopher, Argentina & Mexico Read the rest of this entry »

Hope’s Beautiful Daughters: A Spring & Summer Class


Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage: anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
— Saint Augustine

Why repeat the facts—they cover up our feelings. The development of these feelings, the spilling of these feelings past the  facts, is what fascinates me. I try to find them, collect them, protect them.
—Svetlana Alexievich

The truth is that I simply did not understand why anyone would want to violate the rights of others or to ruin the environment. Why would someone destroy the only forest left in the city and give it to friends and political supporters to build expensive houses and golf courses?
—Wangari Maathai

Our strategy should be not only to confront Empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer recklessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
—Arundhati Roy

Writing is essential to my life, like breathing. I can live without a husband but I cannot live without writing. By writing I become one with the world and with myself.
—Nawal El Saadawi

In this class we will get (re)acquainted with some of the world’s great writers, activists, dissidents, Nobel Laureates, investigators, critics, chroniclers, and healers of our time. We will meet twice a month on Wednesdays via Zoom over six months, reading and reflecting on one book each month. Among the themes we will explore are reverence for life, compassion/accompaniment, questioning authority, dangerous memory, structural violence, and deep listening.

Read the rest of this entry »

Beautiful Anarchists

Howard Zinn, Emma: A Play in Two Acts About Emma Goldman, American Anarchist

Those photos of Dorothy Day—
Like the one you saw in the office at the Catholic Woker
Where you were first scouted as a model
By Antoinette six years ago now—
Dotties’s scowling, old, weathered, as if she’s saying,
“Don’t have too much fun
Don’t you know people are being crucified even now
“By this filthy rotten system
While you are playing hackey sack?” Read the rest of this entry »

Women in Black by Hedy Epstein

Every second Tuesday of the month, we hold a vigil of Women in Black in University City.  Usually, these are uneventful. People may support us, some take our flyers and say thank you, others refuse to take them, cars may honk once in a while.  Not much else happens. Cars may honk once in a while.

One time, I was handing out fliers, and a man behind me started talking to me.  He asked me, “Do you know how to solve this problem?” 

I said, “Well, if I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be standing here.”  

He then responded, “Well, I know the answer: Kill all those criminals, those vermin”—I realized he was Jewish and was talking about the Palestinians.  He went on and said, “Throw them all into the Mediterranean. Get rid of them all!” Then, he left. Read the rest of this entry »