“President Trump has made more that 2,000 false or misleading claims over 355 days.”
Headline, The Washington Post, January 10, 2018
Truth, such a treasured focus and value in Dominican spirituality, has had a very tough couple years.
So I was especially pleased when Karen Rossman, OP, the Program Director for the Dominican Center: Spirituality for Mission, invited me to write a regular blog for the Center’s website. This is a time of desperate need for effective reaffirmation of the crucial importance of Truth for healthy human exchange and life-giving relationships in our communities and the whole human family. The headline from The Washington Post above is just one of a steady flow of headlines, articles and reports in the major responsible news media of the country casting light on the untruth and deceit that have become a centerpiece of public life in the U.S.
Why a Jesuit writing for the Dominican Center: Spirituality for Mission? I do have some Dominican credentials: my Sinsinawa Dominican aunt was teaching me my phonics at age 3 on the front porch swing of my Grandma’s house when my parents brought my newborn sister home from the hospital. She never stopped working on me until she died more than 65 years later. And may still be!
Professionally I worked closely on social justice issues with an Adrian Dominican for more than 30 years and through her I have worked with other Dominicans in mission in various parts of the world. And now I have been part-time sacramental minister at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse for a little over 4 years and have been reading and absorbing elements of Dominican spirituality. I trust some of its spirit has rubbed off on me through those experiences.
The general title I chose for this blog may not be clear to everyone. It brings the Dominican charism’s focus on Truth together with the focus on Justice that has become central to Catholic spirituality since the Second Vatican Council. The Council’s support for the return to scripture, begun in the Catholic community under Pope Pius XII in the early 1940s, fueled a rapid awakening of social consciousness that found expression in an explosion of social justice teaching documents from the Vatican and from bishops’ conferences around the world in the last 50 years.
The Society of Jesus embraced that commitment to social justice as a central element of its identity in the 1960s and 70s such that a contemporary expression of the Jesuit charism is generally accepted to be “A Faith that does Justice.” So the title also blends the Jesuit and Dominican elements of my life at this time in what I hope will be a fruitful dialogue, one that we badly need.
Because without truth, there will not be justice. Anyone alert to what is happening in our country and the larger world right now has way too much evidence that lies, misleading innuendo, modern day heresies, and untruth in its many forms are serving economic, social, political, and ecological injustice in ways that endanger the future of the community of creation as we know it.
What will I focus on in this blog? That will have to emerge over time. But I can say this in general. I do not want to just denounce what is wrong – although denouncing evil is an essential prophetic challenge. I do not want to get mired in statistics and dry principles and rules. I am interested in spirituality, in exploring the elements of a contemporary spirituality alert to, responsive to, and embodying the kind of truth that will help create a more just and life-giving world community. Some truth is factual, but irrelevant, manipulative, or distracting; some is solely personal. I hope to be exploring truth that will feed the type of Christian spirituality needed for this time in history, truth that is social, even global or cosmic in perspective, rooted in prayer, discerned in honest and respectful dialogue, and offering a vision oriented to creating the justice of God’s reign.
I hope you will join in this exploration and enter the dialogue. I have committed to writing every two weeks. If I am inspired more often, I will post more often. We’re working on a way to let you know when new posts go up. More when that is in place. In the meantime, please keep this effort in your prayer. Thank you.
James E. Hug, SJ has a PhD in Theology with a focus on social ethics.
Jim worked on national and international social justice issues in Washington, D.C. for 33 years, 24 years as president-director of the Center of Concern. His work connected him with social justice organizations and networks on six continents. Jim is now a chaplain in residence at a Dominican Motherhouse