Solidarity and Sustainability
A Newsletter on the Socio-Ecological Impacts of Religious Patriarchy

Volume 1 - Number 3 - July 2005
Luis T. Gutierrez

The primary goal of this research is to facilitate progress in the path from patriarchy to solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. This journey attempts to understand how to mitigate all manner of patriarchal and misogynic barriers to human development and, in particular, how to overcome the enormous obstacles caused by religious patriarchy. There is no presumption of new discoveries. Rather, it is a matter of integrating existing knowledge (including empirical evidence) to show that true religion should never be an obstacle to human development. The United Nations "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs) are used as point of reference.


Volume 1 Number 1 identified "cross-gender solidarity" as the foundation for all other dimensions of human solidarity -- solidarity in family life, community life, ethnic and inter-racial relations, international relations ...

Volume 1 Number 2 discussed "the phallocentric syndrome" as the root cause of patriarchal behavior, both individually and and institutionally; these patriarchal behavior and structures are the ones that block progress toward human solidarity.

What is, then, the path from patriarchy to solidarity? This is the question that provides focus for this issue. The answer is simple, but the journey is not easy. The path from patriarchy to solidarity entails:

  • Dismounting the patriarchal mindset and related attitudes
  • Learning to replace "me, me, me" with "we, we, we"

Dismantling the patriarchal mindset and related attitudes is a socio-political healing process that can be achieved by non-coercive, non-violent means (terrorism is one of the worst derivatives of patriarchy). Learning to replace "me, me, me" with "we, we, we" is to pursue life to the fullest, and to do it in truth, freedom, and care. The truth about myself and others. The freedom from addictions to wealth, power, and honors. And the care to do something -- authentic solidarity is manifested in concrete acts and modes of behavior, both in giving and in receiving.

Healing the phallocentric syndrome is a slow and painful process. But there is healing from this mental and social disorder, and the name of the medication is "subsidiarity." This "pill" enables people, communities, and nations to work together -- for mutual benefit -- by making decisions and taking action at the lowest possible level. It gently pulls the rug from under patriarchal feet, and mitigates any form of hegemony.

Subsidiarity is always compatible with both theocracy and democracy. It is never compatible with absolute monarchy or any form of tyranny or dictatorship. Solidarity is the name of the game. Subsidiarity provides the rules (checks and balances) to play the game.









Let us bring back to mind the process model introduced in Volume 1 Number 1. A diagram of the model is shown in Figure 1. We are researching the intersection of patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. Specifically, we are trying to elucidate how these four processes interact under the influence of religious patriarchies. The working hypothesis is that dismantling patriarchy (both secular and religious) would allow humanity to grow in solidarity and move toward sustainability. Then, sustained human development can become integral development at all levels: physical, psychological, spiritual. Such human development no longer needs -- indeed, no longer tolerates -- being steered by patriarchal, matriarchal, or any other form of domination and violence.

Patriarchal Hegemony has a
Negative Influence on Solidarity

(i.e., as patriarchy increases, solidarity decreases)
Sustainable Human Development has a
Negative Influence on Patriarchy
(i.e., as human integral development increases, patriarchy decreases)


Solidarity has a Positive Influence on Sustainability
(i.e., as solidarity increases, sustainability increases)
Sustainability has a
Positive Influence on Human Development

(i.e., as sustainability increases, human development increases)

Figure 1 - The patriarchy-solidarity-sustainability-human development process

Volume 1 Number 1 was focused on solidarity and, more specifically, cross-gender solidarity. Basically, solidarity entails acting according to decisions that balance individual interests and the common good. The most fundamental common good of humanity is human nature and the relationship between men and women. All other forms of solidarity are derivatives of the solidarity between men and women. Thus the primacy of cross-gender solidarity in making progress toward human solidarity. This argument was provided in Volume 1 Number 1, and will not be repeated here. Recent examples of the emerging consensus on this matter are provided by the World Scientist's Warning to Humanity [01] and the United Nations Millennium Declaration [02]. See also the following recent news items: [03].


Volume 1 Number 2 was focused on the patriarchal mindset, also known as the phallocentric, or androcentric, syndrome. Basically, patriarchy entails accumulation of wealth, accumulation of power, and accumulation of honors. It is hierarchical rather than egalitarian. It shows a propensity to extravagant consumption, abuses of authority, and a taste for honors amid protestations of humility.

How this pervasive social disorder came about is lost in human pre-history, but there are some excellent hypotheses. Specially recommended are the well known books by Gerda Lerner [04], Riane Eisler [05], and Robert McElvaine [06]. Some good resources can be found online [07].

Is it possible for human civilization to dismantle patriarchal structures and heal from the phallocentric syndrome? Yes, it is. Embracing and practicing feminism is the first step. There are already well articulated feminist theories of gender inequality. To achieve gender equality is one of the United Nations MDGs. There are, however, many different means and ways to promote gender equality. At this point, a clarification is in order.

This newsletter rejects any strategy whereby "the end justifies the means." This newsletter does not advocate "radical feminism" of the kind that simply tries to replace male power by female power. It does not advocate the "liberation of women" in the sense of women being able to abuse their liberty as much as men do. Specifically, it does not advocate "liberties" such as abortion, or sexual relations that are not open to both the gift of love and the gift of life, or the selfish use of condoms and other birth control methods in order to enjoy pleasure without responsibility. Nor is the intent replace patriarchy with matriarchy. The intent is to replace the subordination of women in all secular and religious institutions with a new civilization of solidarity, whereby men and women share both authority and responsibility according to the talents and dispositions of each person -- male or female.


Crossing the bridge from patriarchy to solidarity will be, after the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution, the third major transition in the history of human civilization. For lack of a better term, let's refer to this third transition as the ecological revolution. Revolutions are seldom smooth. There is an old Chinese saying: "Before the beginning of brilliance, there must be chaos." Revolutions often entail severe crisis situations. But the Chinese word for "crisis" is the juxtaposition of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity" -- a sign of both caution and hope.

It is impossible to anticipate exactly how this transition will unfold, but it is possible to make some reasonable inferences about the general changes that will take place. For instance, Jared Diamond [08] has outlined, based on historical evidence, "how societies choose to fail or succeed." Barry Schwartz [09] has analyzed "how the culture of abundance robs us of satisfaction," and the choices people will have to make (including the choice of having fewer choices) in order to reduce stress, embrace simpler lifestyles, and otherwise seeking to be more, even at the expense of having more. There are limits to how much we can consume materially; there are no limits to how much we can grow in knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and uplifting human relations; let alone prayer and a relationship of friendship with God.

Feminism and the emancipation of women will be a factor, but for patriarchy to be dismantled, and for solidarity to take root, feminism (and all other movements seeking the common good of humanity) will have to work together, in partnership. Riane Eisler [10] offers an excellent list of the "seven key relationships that make up our lives":

1. Our relationship with ourselves
2. Our intimate relationships
3. Our workplace and community relations
4. Our relationship with our national community
5. Our international and multicultural relationships
6. Our relationship with nature and the living environment
7. Our relationship with our spirit
The web of relationships that must be healed from the phallocentric syndrome is also noted by Donella Meadows [11] from a secular perspective and Joan Chittister [12] from a religious perspective. Everyone can grab a piece of this action, and in multiple dimensions! This will be, however, a messy process, not a linear one, as Charles Lindblom has been telling us for many years [13]. The complexity derives from the interdisciplinary nature of the process. When it comes to understand the interdependence of psychological, biological, physical, social, cultural, and religious phenomena, the works of Fritjof Capra [14] are highly recommended.

The system sciences, including system modeling and computer simulation, offer another approach to understand, at least to some extent, the dynamics of the ecological revolution. Any attempt to predict specific events and dates would be an exercise in futility. However, using system modeling and analysis methods, it is possible to construct a range of scenarios to help us think as we "muddle through" the transition from patriarchy to solidarity.

There are many methods of system modeling and analysis. One of them is the "system dynamics" method [15]. Meadows et al. have been applying this method to the analysis of global issues for thirty years [16].

This work is about scenarios of the future, not about predicting the future. The scenarios now include possible paths of transition from unsustainability to sustainability, and suggest "tools" to be used for the transition to sustainability (specifically, the following "phases" for all projects during the transition: "visioning, networking, truth-telling, learning, and loving"). Perhaps "processes" would be a better term than "tools." Nobody knows exactly how this global transition is going to unfold, but this complex process will not be amenable to mechanical manipulation by "tools."

The UN MDGs are a good example of "visioning." The vision is to be pursued by non-hierarchical "networking" of people with common interests. The terms "truth-telling," "learning," and "loving" are closely correlated to our trilogy of "truth, freedom, and care." This book is a complete study of global issues in the social, technical, and ecological dimensions. However, there is a key dimension that is missing: religion and the complex web of influential religious traditions and institutions. Consider the following table:

"Limits to Growth"
Transition Phases
Transition Phases
Role of Religion
(remove obstacles,
believe in people)
Visioning The UN MDGs provide
a good starting vision
(continuous improvement)
Networking Min Top-Down
Max Bottom-Up
(subsidiarity rules)
Truth Telling Seek the truth
based on science
and experience
(no doctrines)
Learning Freedom to learn
by making mistakes
(no coercion)
Loving Care enough to
make decisions
taking into account
both personal interest
and the common good (homo solidarius)

Table 1 - Transition from homo economicus to homo solidarius

Both individuals and societies must undergo the "Limits to Growth," the "Truth, Freedom, and Care," or some similar process in order to achieve the transition from patriarchy to solidarity. In the case of individuals, this transition is often called the "inner journey." In the case of societies, it may unfold as an evolution, or (usually faster but seldom better) as a revolution. The process from visioning to loving or, equivalently, the process from homo economicus to homo solidarius, however, rarely is accomplished unless it is recognized that there is a God, a Wisdom that is greater than any individual and any society. Starting with Carl Jung [17], modern psychology has shown that this is a scientifically verifiable fact.

In the description of the Limits to Growth scenarios, it is apparent that only 9 and 10 require something like the homo economicus to homo solidarius transition. Not insignificantly, these are the only two scenarios that lead to sustainability. In scenarios 1 to 8, relaxing one limit leads to another limit (physical and/or financial) emerging and leading to an "overshoot and collapse" (i.e., unsustainable) outcome. Scenarios 9 and 10, on the other hand, lead to sustainability, not because of different resources or technologies, but because of different policies by national and international institutions; and the key difference is a socio-political decision-making process that balances short-term individual gain and the long-term common good of humanity. In other words:

  • There is no technical fix
  • There is no financial fix
  • There is no knowledge fix

In order to achieve sustainability, advances in science and technology may be helpful, but not sufficient. Likewise, debt cancellations and other kinds of financial assistance may be helpful, but not sufficient. Not even more education and access to knowledge are sufficient if they are to be used to pursue unsustainable policies for the short-term benefit of the patriarchs and patriarchal institutions. There is a danger that vested interests may keep doing "business as usual" as long as they can. But, as Meadows et al. have pointed out [16]: "The necessity of taking the industrial world to its next stage of evolution is not a disaster -- it is an amazing opportunity. How to seize the opportunity, how to bring into being a world that is not only sustainable, functional, and equitable but also deeply dsirable is a question of leadership and ethics and vision and courage, properties not of computer models but of the human heart and soul."

This is, of course, easier said than done. Even if patriarchal obstacles are removed by both secular and religious institutions, and even if everyone on earth has made the journey from homo economicus to homo solidarius, a formidable practical question remains: how are we going to make it work? Who is going to make what decisions, for whom, and when? There is an answer that is politically feasible, even though it might not yet be politically popular: the principle of subsidiarity.


Let's consider the definitions of "solidarity" and "subsidiarity" [18], side by side:

Solidarity means "a union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group; fellowship of responsibilities and interests." Subsidiarity means "that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level."

Table 2 - Basic definitions of "solidarity" and "subsidiarity"

The principle and practice of subsidiarity basically prescribes that decisions be made at the lowest possible level. While the principle of solidarity defines the goals of social justice, the principle of subsidiarity prescribes the social structures that will enable society to apply the principle of solidarity. Solidarity is the "what." Subsidiarity is the "how."

Clearly, decisions about worldwide issues such as global warming and keeping the peace among nations must be made by some kind of international authority. The United Nations may be in need of reformation, but it seems reasonable to anticipate that some kind of world government will be needed soon. National governments should be allowed to make all decisions pursuant to the well-being of each country, and local (e.g., state, county, city) governments should be responsible for resolution of local issues.

Conversely, when a given level of governance is not capable to provide good government at that level, or when a given level of governance gravely abuses its authority, the next higher level may intervene in order to safeguard basic human rights and the common good. For instance, the genocide in Rwanda during the 1990s clearly required a decisive intervention by international authorities, but the assistance never materialized. Needless to say, wars of aggression would also be preventable by any world government worth its name.

Subsidiarity is really another name for vertical "checks and balances." It is well known that democratic governments at any level require horizontal checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. In federal republics (such as the USA) there are also vertical checks and balances between local, state, and federal governments. Next, nations will have to negotiate the checks and balances between national governments and the world government. The European Union has already started negotiating the checks and balances that will regulate the interaction between European national governments and the European Union government. It is a difficult but feasible process that applies to both secular and religious institutions.

Subsidiarity is always compatible with both theocracy and democracy. It is never compatible with absolute monarchy or any form of tyranny or dictatorship. And yet, the number of possible adaptations is unbounded. Should there be regional blocks of nations (such as the European Union) in between national governments and the world government? How should the executive, legislative, and judicial branches be elected? Should each nation have one vote? Should each nation have a number of votes proportional to population? Again, this will be a long and difficult journey for the nations of the world; but not impossible, as long as the subsidiarity negotiations are animated by authentic solidarity.


The joint application of the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity is the best medicine to heal the world from the phallocentric syndrome, both secular and religious. Healing from phallocentrism entails, first and foremost, healing from the inordinate attachment to a male God and the derivative inordinate attachment to patriarchy [06], [07], [12], [14], [19], [20], [21], [22]. Then the healing process can proceed, including:

  • Healing from the addiction to consumption and wealth accumulation
  • Healing from the addiction to power and domination
  • Healing from the addiction to celebrity and honors
  • A nonreversible choice to seek the truth in all things
  • A nonreversible choice to be both free and responsible
  • A nonreversible choice to care for both personal needs and the common good

Healing from the inordinate attachment to a male God is the fundamental choice, second only to the "fundamental option" to live in God's friendship. Given that this fundamental choice is made by a critical mass of global citizens, the joint application of the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity becomes feasible; not easy, but feasible ... and critical for the future of humanity.


Dismantling the patriarchal mindset and related attitudes is a socio-political healing process that can be achieved by non-coercive, non-violent means (terrorism is one of the worst derivatives of patriarchy). Learning to replace "me, me, me" with "we, we, we" is to pursue life to the fullest, and to do it in truth, freedom, and care. The truth about myself and others. The freedom from addictions to wealth, power, and honors. And the care to do something -- authentic solidarity is manifested in concrete acts and modes of behavior, both in giving and in receiving.

An appeal is hereby made to all religious people:

There is an old saying ... "all paths lead to God." Within the framework of your religious tradition, let God be first in your life and let doing God's will be your first priority in life.

Work and pray ("ora et labora") for humanity to be healed from the phallocentric syndrome. Such healing will be for the good of humanity, and we know that God always wants what is good for humanity.

  • Treat your secular and religious leaders with due respect, but seek accountability
  • Treat your secular and religious leaders with due respect, but seek gender equality
  • Treat your secular and religious leaders with due respect, but resist abuses of authority
Non-violent resistance to lack of accountability and abuses of authority is best done by withdrawing volunteer work and financial support when the responsible authorities fail to act. Lobby secular authorities to cancel financial subsidies to institutions that perpetuate gender inequality. Yes ... some "tough love" may be required, but never violence of any kind. Seek the truth, in freedom, with care ... patriarchy will pass ... phallocentirm will pass ... but God's love remains forever.


Below is a selected list of references. This is not intended as a comprehensive bibliography. Care has been taken to include references that reflect opposite viewpoints in some controversial issues. Some references are supplemented by relevant quotations as well as brief comments relevant to solidarity, sustainability, and patriarchy issues.

[01] World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, 12 November 1992. The following statement was signed by over 1500 scientists, including 102 Nobel laureates, from 70 countries:

"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about."

With the warning came recommendations to address tightly coupled issues. These were, in abbreviated form:

1. We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control
2. We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively
3. We must stabilize population
4. We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty
5. We must ensure sexual equality

[02] United Nations Millennium Declaration, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 8 September 2000. By the year 2015, all 191 United Nations Member States have pledged to meet the following "millennium development goals" (MDGs):

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

[03] The following is a sampling of recent news that show increasing awareness of the urgent need for human solidarity, including cross-gender solidarity.

Islamic women rise up, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 June 2005.
Leading Islamic Groups Call for Women’s Rights in the Mosque, The Council on American-Islamic Relations, 29 June 2005.
National Council of Churches Condemns Terror Attacks, Joining Muslim Groups, National Council of Churches Press Release, 7 July 2005.
Islamic Society of North America Issues Statement Condemning Attacks, ISNA Press Release, 7 July 2005.
Solidarity Can Fight Terror, Secrecy Can't, The Moscow Times, 11 July 2005.
Globalisation heightening gender inequalities, Mithre J Sandrasagra, Third World Netwoks, 13 July 2005.
Gender discrimination not good for growth, Gumisai Mutume, Third World Netwoks, 14 July 2005.
Burkina Faso’s impressive advancements in asserting rights for women through the adoption of progressive legislation and policies is acknowledged, I-Newswire, 16 July 2005.

[04] Lerner, Gerda, The Creation of Patriarchy, Oxford University Press, 1986, 318 pp. On the importance of the divine feminine and the creation of patriarchy (page 160, 212):

"No matter how degraded and commodified the reproductive and sexual power of women was in real life, their essential equality could not be banished from thought and feeling as long as the goddesses lived and were believed to rule human life. Women must have found their likeness in the goddes, as men found theirs in the male gods. There was a perceived and essential equality of human beings before the gods, which must have radiated out into daily life. The power and mystery of the priestess was as great as that of the priest. As long as women still mediated between humans and the supernatural, they might perform different functions and roles in society than those of men, but their essential equality as human beings remained unassailed." .... "Patriarchy is a historic creation formed by men and women in a process which took nearly 2500 years to its completion.

[05] Eisler, Riane, The Chalice and the Blade, Harper, 1987, 271 pp. On human possibilities and religious traditions (pages xv, 98, 124):

"We are all familiar with legends about an earlier, more harmonious and peaceful age. The Bible tells us of a garden where a woman and a man lived in harmony with each other and with nature - before a male god decreed that woman henceforth be subservient to man. The Chinese Tao Te Ching describes a time when the yin, or feminine principle, was not yet ruled by the male principle, or yang, a time when the wisdom of the mother was still honored and followed above all. The ancient Greek poet Hesiod wrote of a "golden race" who tilled the soil in "peaceful ease" before a "lesser race" brought in their god of war. But though scholars agree that in many respects these works are based on prehistoric events, references to a time when women and men lived in partnership have traditionally been viewed as no more than fantasy."

"We have been taught that the Judeo-Christian tradition is the greatest moral advance of our species. The Bible is indeed primarily concerned with what is right and wrong. But what is right and wrong in a dominator society is not the same as what is right and wrong in a partnership society. There are, as already noted, many teachings in both Judaism and Christianity suitable for a partnership system of human relations. But to the extent that it reflects a dominator society, biblical morality is at best stunted. At worst, it is a pseudomorality in which the will of God is a device for covering up cruelty and barbarity."

"Jesus' recognition that our spiritual evolution has been stunted by a way of structuring human relations based on violence-backed rankings could have led to a fundamental social transformation. It could have freed us from the androcratic system. But as in other times of gylanic resurgence, the system's resistance was too strong. And in the end the church fathers left us a New Testament in which the perception if often smothered by the superimposition of the completely contradictory dogmas required to justify the Church's later androcratic structure and goals."

[06] McElvaine, Robert, Eve's Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, McGraw-Hill, 2001, 453 pp. On crucial metaphors and balancing feminine and masculine values (pages 13-15, 376):

"A principal focus of this volume is on what I believe are the two most important of the metaphors that have led us astray, the two master metaphors through most of human existence. The first of this is that such concepts as manhood mean superiority, power, and dominance, and terms like womanly equate with inferiority, weakness, and submission."

"The second master metaphor that has shaped the human experience since before recorded history began is one that proved to be all but irresistible after plow agriculture began. The apparent analogy of the seed being planted in furrowed soil to a male's "planting" of semen in the vulva of the female led to the conclusion that men provide the seed of new life and women constitute the soil in which that seed grows. This metaphor is a central part of what was the most consequential and far-reaching mistake in human history: the idea that men are solely responsible for procreation."

"What we need, above all else, is to achieve a genuine balance between feminine and masculine values. I doubt that this goal can be accomplished without undertaking what would be the most sweeping change in outlook of at least the last five millennia: ending the indefensible and extremely harmful view of God as a male - and even that would just be the first major step. We need also to go beneath that mistake and really accept that the sexes are co-reproducers. And beneath that to the ultimate problem: the mistaken belief that the sexes are opposite and so a "real man" has to be notawoman."

[07] The following are some suggested links to additional online information about the etiology, history, remedies, initiatives, and prognosis for healing humanity of the phallocentric syndrome.

Our Androcentric Culture, or The Man-Made World, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1911
The Use of Language in the Church, Marilyn Dallman Seymour, 1986
In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, 1992
Our Androcentric Language, David A. Gershaw, 1997
Religions of the World and Ecology, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, 1996-1998.
Overcoming Patriarchy and Sexism Won’t Save Us, William Catton, Human Ecology Review, 1999
Social Venture Network (SVN), SVN Standards of Corporate Social Responsibility, 1999
Changing The Androcentric World Of Sport, Coaching Association of Canada, 2001
The Status of Women in Theravada Buddhism, Dilshana de Silva, Axis Mundi, 2001
Gender, Class, and Androcentric Compliance in the Rapes of Enslaved Women in the Hebrew Bible, Susanne Scholz, 2004
Gender and the Scientific Method, Feminist Critiques of Modern Science, UNIFEM, 2004
Gender Equality, FaithNet, 2004
Critically examine the notion of 'authority' with particular reference to the debate between Christian and post-Christian feminists, FaithNet, 2004
24 Theses for a New Woman's Movement, Sabine Lichtenfels, Tamera-Healing Biotope, 2005
Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), The Global Ecovillage Network, 2005

[08] Diamond, Jared, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Viking, 2005, 575 pp. On the importance of public attitudes (page 485):

"To me, the conclusion that the public has the ultimate responsibility for the behavior of even the biggest businesses is empowering and hopeful, rather than disappointing. My conclusion is not a moralistic one about who is right or wrong, admirable or selfish, a good guy or a bad guy. My conclusion is instead a prediction, based on what I have seen happening in the past. Businesses have changed when the public came to expect and require different behavior, to reward businesses for behavior the public wanted, and to make things difficult for businesses practicing behaviors that the public didn't want. I predict that in the future, just as in the past, changes in public attitudes will be essential for changes in businesses' environmental practices."

[09] Schwartz, Barry, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Harper, 2005, 575 pp. On why more is not better, and may actually be less (page 106-110):

" ... one of the things these surveys tell us is that, not surprisingly, people in rich countries are happier than people in poor countries. Obviously, money matters. But what these surveys also reveal is that money doesn't matter as much as you might think. Once a society's level of per capita wealth crosses a threshold from poverty to adequate subsistence, further increases in national wealth have almost no effect on happiness ... What seems to be the most important factor in providing happiness is close social relations ... the growth of material affluence has not brought with it an increase in subjective well-being ... we are actually experiencing a significant decrease in well-being ... The rise in the frequency of depression is especially telling ... we are paying for increased affluence and increased freedom with a substantial decrease in the quality and quantity of social relations."

[10] Eisler, Riane, The Power of Partnership, New World Library, 2002, 279 pp. On male-female relations and partnership spirituality (pages 135, 189):

"Moving from domination to partnership in the relations between men and women will not by itself take us to a more just and peaceful world. However, it is an essential change that has vast repercussions from our living rooms to our international relations.... The reason is simple. The structure of the relations between the female and male halves of humanity provides a basic mental map for all other relations between people who are different -- people of different races, ethnic origins, religions, and so forth. If we don't reject the old view that one half of humanity is entitled to dominate, and even brutalize, the other half, all of us face a bleak future. ... Partnership spirituality sees the divine in both female and male form. And it does not focus on the power to inflict pain and kill, but on the power to give life and pleasure."

[11] Meadows, Donella, The Global Citizen, Island Press, 1991, 296 pp. On the importance of exponential growth as the driver of most current global issues (pages 53-55):

"Nothing is so powerful as an exponential whose time has come ... It means growing like this: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, ... [with a fixed doubling time] ... We are emitting carbon dioxide and several other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere exponentially. We are clearing tropical forest at an exponential rate. The human population is growing exponentially. Human energy use, human production of synthetic chemicals, deserts, and trash are growing exponentially. Our economy is growing exponentially, and we cheer it on, although an economic growth rate of, say, 3.5 percent per year means another whole industrial world plopped down on top of this one in just two decades."

[12] Chittister, Joan, Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men, Eerdmans, 1998, 187 pp. On circles, pyramids, and religious patriarchies (pages 160-161):

"What the world needs are more circles and fewer pyramids. Circles are strange and wonderful things. No onw knows where a circle either begins or ends. No one can tell what is its most accomplished part. There is no up to go to in a circle, no steps to climb to arrive there, no top to get to, no crowning point upon which to plant a flag or stake a claim or build a throne. In a circle there is only eye to eye conversation, only shoulder to shoulder contact, only community to aspire to rather than hierarchy ... The domination that lies at the heart of patriarchy lies at the heart of Christianity [and other religious traditions] as well. Derived from an interpretation of creation that is well meaning, perhaps, it is also seriously skewed or, at best, unbalanced beyond redemption. What is construed to be a scripturally given divine mandate for male domination becomes the legitimizing foundation for Christian patriarchy [and other religious patriarchies]. Created a circle by God, the globe is turned into a pyramid, and the turning is blamed on God."

[13] Lindblom, Charles, The Science of Muddling Through, Public Administration Review 19:79-88, 1959; Still Muddling, Not Yet Through, Public Administration Review 39:517-529, 1979; Inquiry and Change: The Troubled Attempt to Understand and Shape Society, Yale University Press, 1990.

[14] Capra, Fritjof, The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture, Bantam, 1984, 464 pp.; The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, Anchor, 1997, 368 pp.; The Hidden Connections: Integrating The Biological, Cognitive, And Social Dimensions Of Life Into A Science Of Sustainability, Doubleday, 2002, 320 pp. On the emerging global network society (1984, page 29; 2002, page 219):

"The first and perhaps the most profound transition is due to the slow and reluctant but inevitable decline of patriarchy ... social change in the network society does not originate within the traditional institutions of civil society but develops from identities based on the rejection of society's dominant values -- patriarchy, the domination and control of nature, unlimited economic growth and material consumption, and so on. The Resistance against these values originated in the powerful social movements that swept the industrial world in the 1960s. Eventually, an alternative vision emerged from these movements, based on the respect of human dignity, the ethics of sustainability, and an ecological view of the world. This new vision forms the core of the worldwide coalition of grassroots movements." Cf. Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Norton, NY, 1976, 1995. Cf. Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture. Volume 1: The Rise of the Network Society, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford and Malden, 1996. Volume 2: The Power of Identity, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford and Malden, 1997. Volume 3: End of the Millennium, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford and Malden, 1998. See also C. H. Southwick, Global Ecology in Human Perspective, Oxford, 1996.

[15] This method was developed by Professor Jay W. Forrester and his research team at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the late 1950s. It was initially applied to industrial management issues, and so the fundamental reference is Industrial Dynamics, MIT Press, 1961, 464 pp. This was followed by Principles of Systems, Wright-Allen Press, 1968, which generalizes the method for analysis of other kinds of dynamic systems. The method has since been used to analyze all kinds of systems (e.g., physical, social, ecological, ...) that exhibit dynamic behavior over time, thus it became known as "System Dynamics." A better term might be "Feedback Dynamics," because the core concept is that dynamic behavior is generated by the feedback control structure of the system (including information feedback) and, therefore, the geometry of feedback loops must be changed if system behavior is to be changed.

[16] Meadows, Dennis, et al. The Limits to Growth, Potomac Associates, 1972, 205 pp.; Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future, Chelsea Green, 1992, 320 pp.; Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, Chelsea Green, 2004, 338 pp.

Enough of the 1972 and 1992 material is included in the 30-year update, so readers are not forced to read the previous books before reading this one. The 30-year update adds ten years of data (1992-2002) to previously analyzed trends, and introduces new analyses, such as indicators of human welfare and the ecological footprint. Eleven scenarios are used to discuss possible transition patterns under various assumptions:

Scenario 0: Infinity In, Infinity Out (no new policies, no limits to growth)
Scenario 1: Reference Point (no new policies, growth followed by collapse)
Scenario 2: More Abundant Nonrenewable Resources (more growth, followed by collapse)
Scenario 3: More Accessible Nonrenewable Resources and Pollution Control Technology (more growth, longer, followed by collapse)
Scenario 4: More Accessible Nonrenewable Resources, Pollution Control Technology, and Land Yield Enhancement (more growth, even longer, followed by collapse)
Scenario 5: More Accessible Nonrenewable Resources, Pollution Control Technology, Land Yield Enhancement, and Land Erosion Protection (more growth, even longer, followed by collapse)
Scenario 6: More Accessible Nonrenewable Resources, Pollution Control Technology, Land Yield Enhancement, Land Erosion Protection, and Resource Efficiency Technology (more growth, even longer, followed by collapse)
Scenario 7: World Seeks Stable Population from 2002 (growth extended, followed by collapse)
Scenario 8: World Seeks Stable Population and Stable Industrial Output per Peson from 2002 (growth extended further, followed by collapse)
Scenario 9: World Seeks Stable Population and Stable Industrial Output per Peson, and Adds Pollution, Resource, and Agricultural Technologies from 2002 (sustainable at 8 billion people)
Scenario 10: The Sustainability Policies of Scenario 9 Introduced 20 Years Earlier (sustainable at lower final population and higher standard of living for all)

This system dynamics analysis is done at the intersection of technology and ecological economics, i.e., it tracks the gap between what we extract from the planet and what we put back into it. Scenarios 9 and 10 look good, but are they socially and politically feasible? It is noted that Meadows et al., while recognizing that sustainability is basically a social issue, do not mention works that focus on the dynamics of social reformation such as, for example, Social Limits to Growth (Twentieth Century Fund Study), by Fred Hirsch, iUniverse, 2000, 224 pp. The role of religion and religious institutions is likewise given minimum consideration.

There is a website for this book: Within Limits -- Reversing Global Overshoot, by Beth Sawin and Diana Wright, Sustainability Institute, 2005. A 28-page synopsis of the book can be downloaded free of charge. Another update of this work is planned for 2012.

For a more detailed system dynamics analysis of the financial energy sector, see The Energy Perspective: Oil and the Magical 4%, by Willard R. Fey, Ecocosm Dynamics, Ltd., February 2005.

[17] Jung, Carl G., Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Harvest, 1933, 244 pp. On the importance of religion (page 229):

"Among all my patients in the second half of life - that is to say, over thirty-five, there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook. This of course has nothing whatever to do with a particular creed or membership of a church."

[18] See the and definitions of "solidarity" and "subsidiarity": definition of solidarity article on solidarity definition of subsidiarity article on subsidiarity
Below are the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity according to Catholic social teaching:

"The State must contribute to the achievement of these goals both directly and indirectly. Indirectly and according to the principle of subsidiarity, by creating favorable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity, which will lead to abundant opportunities for employment and sources of wealth. Directly and according to the principle of solidarity, by defending the weakest, by placing certain limits on the autonomy of the parties who determine working conditions, and by ensuring in every case the necessary minimum support for the unemployed worker." .... "Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991, 15, 48. Cf. Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 1931, 79-80 (first explicit statement of the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity), and Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 1891, 72, 76 (the term "subsidiarity" is not used, but the principle is described in reference to the structures that oppress poor workers). Regarding the idea of human beings as co-creators, see A Creative Solution to the Challenge of Human Responsibility, by John T. Pawlikowski, Professor of Social Ethics, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, USA, 2001.

[19] Naranjo, Claudio, The End of Patriarchy and the Dawning of a Tri-une Society, Amber Lotus, 1994, 153 pp. On pursuing both personal and collective progress (page 46):

" ... I want to emphasize that just as ancient spiritual traditions put forth an ethic of work on self towards personal salvation, now such an ethic of self-development begins to be something required of us in terms of collective significance too. It is as if the circumstances required the awakening and development within each one of us of that which Buddhism calls "Bodhicitta" and regards as a first step on the ladder of enlightenment: the intention of realizing the absolute for the sake of the world."

[20] Ruether, Rosemary R., Gaia & God: an ecofeminist theology of earth healing, Harper, 1994, 320 pp.

[21] Moore, Mary E., Ministering With the Earth, Chalice Press, 1998, 160 pp.

[22] The Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions has published a number of volumes on Religions of the World and Ecology:

Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds -- Mary E. Tucker & Duncan R. Williams, Editors, 1997

Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans -- Mary E. Tucker & John Berthrong, Editors, 1998

Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans -- Dieter T. Hessel & Rosemary R. Ruether, Editors, 2000

Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water -- Christopher K. Chapple & Mary E. Tucker, Editors, 2000

Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community -- John A. Grim, Editor, 2001

Daoism and Ecology: Ways within a Cosmic Landscape -- N. J. Girardot, James Miller, & Liu Xiaogan, Editors, 2001

Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life -- Christopher K. Chapple, Editor, 2002

Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word -- Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Editor, 2002

Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust -- Richard C. Foltz, Frederick M. Denny, and Azizan Baharuddin, Editors, 2003

"The age of nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1881-1955

Luis T. Gutierrez


Copyright © 2005 by Luis T. Gutierrez

From Patriarchy to Solidarity and Sustainability
in both Religion
and Society

Multiple Choice Quiz

Consider 5 images:






Which ones are good images of God, and which ones are not? The answer is at the bottom of this column.

Images C and D are courtesy of
Ivelisse Colón Nevárez, OFS
Producciones Puertorriqueñas


Feedback from readers, subject to editing, will be included here, as well as responses from the editor if appropriate. Inflammatory feedback will be discarded.

Subscribers also can submit announcements (to be posted free of charge) consistent with the goal of this project. Announcements must be brief and provide a point of contact, including the person's name and email address.

Please send your inputs by email to: Editor

Feedback on V1 N2

Professor Leslaw Michnowski, of Saint Cross University in Kielce (Poland) and the High School for Management in Legnica (Poland), wrote and sent copies of his own work on global sustainable development, as well as references about Pope John Paul II's proposals for sustainability and solidarity of the world society. He points out that there are no limits to growth in wisdom, and proposes to work for a "wisdom-based global information society." His approach is based on cybernetics and information technology, and is described in his paper, How to Avoid a Global Catastrophe? The Information Basis for Sustainable Development Policy and Economy.

Response: With regard to Pope John Paul II's proposals for peace, solidarity, and sustainability, I have some reservations. I am a Roman Catholic myself, and have been active in the church for 40+ years. In all candor, I have become alienated by some Vatican decisions, in particular the decision to perpetuate the exclusion of women from ordination. I have done a lot of research on this issue, and honestly believe that there is no sound theological basis for that decision. I will not speculate on the real reasons, but something smells fishy to me.

I believe gender inequality is a fundamental obstacle to make progress toward solidarity, sustainability, and human development. As long as the religious institutions (Christian, Islamic, etc.) remain attached to their phallocentric mindset without solid theological justification, their moral credibility is dubious. Pope John Paul II was a great man, but his decision to forbid further study of this issue was arbitrary, authoritarian, and based on a literalist interpretation of certain New Testament text. Then, he added insult to injury by invoking "infallibility." I cannot, in conscience, support the Roman Catholic addictions to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and contempt for women.

Professor Karim Karim, of Carleton University in Canada, wrote on the issue of female religious leadership in the Ismaili branch of Islam:

"This is an interesting initiative. Whereas the newsletter notes that there are many branches in Islam, it does not seem to have sufficiently examined the status of women in all of them. To indicate that there are absolutely no ministry or leadership positions held by women in all Islamic branches is erroneous. This is most likely indicative of dependence on sources of information produced and controlled by conservative branches. For example, on female "ministry" and leadership in the Ismaili branch of Islam contact professors Zayn Kassam of Pomona University, Pomona, California and Tazim Kassam of Syracuse University, New York as well as the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London."

Response: Prof. Karim's main point is that ... "To indicate that there are absolutely no ministry or leadership positions held by women in all Islamic branches is erroneous." I understand that women may have some leadership roles in Islam. However, in this particular research project, I am focusing on women in roles of *religious authority*, such as being an imam and leading prayers in Friday evening services at mosques.

I have never seen authoritative documentation that any branch of Islam allows women to have such roles of religious authority. In fact, once or twice recently, Friday evening prayers (including both men and women) were led by a Muslim woman in the United States, and these events were reported to be happening for the first time ever.

My hope and prayer is that the misunderstandings and acts of violence that have occurred between Muslims and Christians over the centuries will come to an end soon. Recent events show that this is a critical issue for the future of humanity, let alone the glory of God and the spiritual good of people.

Janet Zepernick, Professor of English and Humanities at the York College of Pennsylvania, wrote to share the following insight: "Although patriarchal social, legal, religious, and economic structures create a situation that supports and reinforces misogyny, those patriarchal structures did not invent themselves. It seems to me that there is a fundamental fear of women that underlies and is, one must suppose, the root cause of the very patriarchal structures you describe."

Response: Fear of women is very real, and has a name: gynophobia. In psychology it is classified as a phobia. The online dictionary defines gynophobia as "1. Fear of or contempt for women. 2. Behavior based on such an attitude or feeling." Medically, it is "an abnormal or irrational fear of women."

Gynophobia can and does have harmful effects in both secular and religious institutions, and reinforces the phallocentric syndrome in both men and women. See, for example, the very instructive lecture Ecclesial Challenges for the Sisters of Mercy in the 21st Century, by Mary Aquin O'Neill, RSM, Ph.D. The following statement is quoted from her lecture:

"One sad reality is that too many of us were formed in an atmosphere of gynophobia. Fear of women on the part of male clerics was transferred in many ways to women of the church, especially to the women religious. This fear, institutionalized especially by the rules and regulations regarding particular friendships, may have resulted in varieties of homophobia as well."

Overcoming gynophobia is part of the process of healing from the phallocentric syndrome.

I am grateful to all those who took the time to write.


The United Nations

The United Nations have an extensive network of websites, some of them including global databases. Some of the most useful are listed below. For an index of all the UN websites, go to the UN Website Locator.

UN Main Portal
UN Development Program
UN Environmental Program
UN Millennium Project
UN Statistical Division
UN University
UN WomenWatch

U.N. Millennium Development Goals
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development


African Union
European Union
Global Community Foundation
International Data Base
International Monetary Fund
International Stds Org
SE Asian Nations Assoc
Union of International Assoc
World Bank
World Development
World Energy Council
World Environment Center
World Health Organization
World Labor Organization
World Trade Organization

United States

U.S. Government
Library of Congress
National Academies
Endowment for the Humanities
Federal Reserve
Environmental Protection
Energy Information
Bureau of Economic Statistics
Census Bureau
Geological Survey
Women's Bureau


International Solidarity
Europe Solidarity Forum
Amnesty International
Christian Solidarity
Religious Freedom Center
Women/Gender Resources
South Asian Network
OECD Gender Equity Links


Ecocosm Dynamics
Definitions of Sustainability
Intl Inst for Sust Dev
Sustainability Internetwork
Sustainability Now
Ecology and Society
Ecological Economics


Patriarchy Website
Gender and Society
The Patriarchal Family
Domestic Violence
Gender Resources

Gender in Religion

Eastern Orthodox
Lutheran Federation
Roman Catholic
Salvation Army
World Council of Churches

Web Research Tools

Search Engines Directory
Deep Web Research
Research Discovery Network
Governments Worldwide
Universities Worldwide
Social Sciences
Physical Sciences
Social Sciences
Life Sciences
Gender Issues
Global Issues

New Research

Recently published:

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, by Donella Meadows et al., Chelsea Green, 2004.

The Fall 2004/Winter 2005 issue of Women and Environments International, guest-edited by Regina Cochrane, University of Calgary, is a special issue on globalization and feminist activism.

God and the Feminine, Mount Saint Agnes Theological Center for Women, January 2005.

The Energy Perspective: Oil and the Magical 4%, by Willard R. Fey, Ecocosm Dynamics, Ltd., February 2005.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond, Viking, 2005.

Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics, by Judith Lorber, Roxbury, 2005.

Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security, by Amory B. Lovins et al., Rocky Mountain Institute, 2005.

The Next Sustainability Wave, by Bob Willard, New Society Publishers, 2005.

Climate Change and Biodiversity, Lovejoy and Hannah, Editors, Yale University Press, 2005, 440 pp.

Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, Bron Taylor, University of Florida, Editor, Continuum Press, July 2005, two volumes, 1877 pp. A monumental reference work on spiritual ecology. A new International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture has been formed.

Recent Events

G8 Summit

The recent G8 Summit held at Gleneagles, Scotland, July 6-8, provided another example of the mindset that money is the solution to all problems of the world, including poverty. Doubling financial aid may lead to doubling government corruption in developing countries, and may lead to further abuse of the human habitat, but will not lead to any significant reduction of poverty.

Simply doubling aid is utterly incompatible with the UN MDGs. More money is neither necessary nor sufficient to make progress toward any of them, and may actually be an obstacle. The only way for an investment strategy to make sense is that the funds be used to support one-on-one (person-to-person, group-to-group) projects at the lowest practical level, where the rubber meets the road. This would ensure feedback and accountability.

The reason politicians cannot give up neo-classical economics is because it is politically correct. Ecological economics is politically incorrect. Actually, both top-down and bottom-up initiatives may be required, but top-down should be minimized (by the subsidiarity rule), bottom-up maximized, and both driven by authentic, pro-active solidarity; the kind of solidarity that talks the walk and walks the talk.

Students of Sustainability

Laura Ealing & Simon Cunich, Green Left Weekly, 20 July 2005. Around 500 student activists gathered at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) from July 11 to 15 for the Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference. For more information, click here.

Imams Resisting

Imams won’t let woman leader use mosque’s front entrance, by Khalid Hasan, The Pakistani Newspaper, 22 July 2005

Iranian Women

Women in Iran: Hopes for Liberalization Are Slim, by Julie Hill, Voice of San Diego, 25 July 2005

Managing Editor: Kate Burke
Press Release July 2005

Egypt: Security Force's Sexual Assault of Demonstrators
Sudan: Darfur Women: More Killing & Rapes

2005: Make or Break for World's Poor
1,000 Women Nominated for Peace Prize

General: G8: Facilitating an African Revival (?)
General: Shock Over High Maternal Death Rates

Burma: Continuing War on Shan Women by Military
Pakistan: Travel Ban on Rape Victim Lifted After Pressure

Australia: Praise for Trafficking Work 'But Must Do Better'
New Zealand: Chlamydia Rates: Second Only to Flu

Turkey: World's Largest Market for Slavic Women
UK: Continuing Hunger Strike By Zimbabwean Detainees

General: Israeli Settlers 'Horror Show'
Iraq: Women's Petition to End US Occupation

Canada: Same Sex Marriage: Legalized
US: NOW Declares 'State of Emergency' on Women's Rights

Guatemala: Murders of Women & Girls Steady Increase
Brazil: Government Mission to End Sexual Slavery

Signs of the Times

International Terrorism

The terrorist attack in London during the G8 meeting may or may not have been coincidental. There is an old saying, "if you want peace, work for justice." Injustice is a breeding ground for fundamentalist religious distortions, and the results are wars and all manner of violence.

This is not to say that elimination of poverty and injustice will prevent violent religious fundamentalism. But there is a wide consensus among scholars (run a web search for "terrorism and poverty and injustice") that injustice is most invoked as a justification for terrorism.

There are, of course, many kinds of terrorism. Submitting people to slavery (including sexual slavery) is a form of terrorism. Keeping people ignorant is a form of terrorism. Manipulating international trade to keep poor nations poor is a form of terrorism. Both wars of aggression and "holy wars" (such as the "holy crusades" and the "holy inquisition") are forms of terrorism. Bottom line: violence begets violence, in one form or another.


Women's Studies
I'm looking for information about how to increase enrollment in women's studies.

What have other programs done to appeal to their university students and battle the misconceptions?

Are there any communication campaigns about this topic?

If you have answers to these questions, please contact Anna Gonzalez, Women's Studies Public Relations Assistant for Southern Methodist University.

Thank you,
Anna Gonzalez

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Links to previous issues of the newsletter ...

V1 N1 May 2005 ~ Cross-Gender Solidarity

V1 N2 June 2005 ~ The Phallocentric Syndrome

Correct Answer to
Multiple Choice Quiz

Every human being is an image of God, our Creator. Holiness is not required. Images C and D are good images of God, since women fully share human nature. But images A, B, and E are bad images of God, because God is Love; God is neither a warrior nor a tyrant.