Reflections on Solidarity, Sustainability, and Religious Violence

Vol. 2, No. 9, September 2006

Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

Newsletter Home Page

Humanity is currently on a global journey from patriarchal violence to solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. The Solidarity & Sustainability newsletter is a series of reflections on how to mitigate patriarchal barriers to human development and, in particular, how to overcome the enormous obstacles caused by religious patriarchies. The newsletter integrates existing and emerging knowledge (empirical evidence, tradition, relevant experience, wisdom) to show that true religion radically transcends the patriarchal mindset. In fact, true religion always enhances human development, and should never be an obstacle to it. The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals are used as a point of reference.

Theme of this Issue:
Sabbatical Activity ~ September 2006

NOTICE TO READERS: This is a very short newsletter, to let you know what I am doing during my Fall 2006 sabbatical and share a few items of information (recent events, forthcoming events, new resources, new websites, ....) that may be of interest.


This is my first sabbatical progress report. During this month, I have been reworking the newsletter home page and moving some of the content, plus additional content, to three directories in separate pages. The links are given in the home page, and in section 7 of this issue. Section 1 is my current "to do" list. Sections 2, 3, 4, and 5 provide links (and some commentary) to significant news, articles, books, and websites, respectively. Section 6 provides links to recently published resources. Section 8 is the section on "prayer, study, and action," and section 9 provides links to previous issues of the newsletter. No big deal, but I wanted to send out something informative, even as I try to catch up with the deluge of information about religious violence.

Editor's Note: The invited article this month is Sustainability: science or fiction?, by Pim Martens of Maastricht University, The Netherlands. The article defines boundaries for sustainability as a science and sustainable development as a profession. Click on the title in the "invited article" box below.




Sustainability: science or fiction?

Pim Martens,
Professor of Sustainable Development and Director,
International Centre for Integrated Assessment
and Sustainable Development,

Maastricht University,
PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands


The following are issues keeping my mind busy:

Religious violence is key. Religious violence is like a bad seed, from which a bad tree grows that has many bad branches; and religious violence has a human face (see Figure 1). The nexus between religion and violence is paradoxical and poorly understood. The MT of René Girard provides a reasonable explanation, and studying his works is a high priority at the moment. Transitioning from a mindset of mimetic violence to a mindset of mimetic solidarity will be a complex dynamics process, and some research is needed to determine how to test hypotheses on how to manage the transition. The outcome of this research may lead to a refinement of the newsletter's name and mission.


During the month of September, the most significant piece of news was undoubtedly the pope's remarks about Islam and the prophet Mohammed. The following are some links to the ensuing headlines:

Commentary: Is this the right time for the pope to admonish Muslims about violence, when everyone knows that Christians have used violence many times, and continue to do so? The decision to include the offensive citation about Mohammed may have been a way of "testing the waters." But, for what purpose? From the Islamic side, it may be that the offense in this case is not so much what he said, but the fact that Christians have used (and continue to use) violence disguised as opus dei: violence against each other between churches, against each other within churches, against Jews, against Muslims, against indigenous peoples, against Africans captured and sold into slavery .... more recently, the refusal to ordain women is an act of violence using Christ as scapegoat, allowing priests to abuse minors is an act of violence against humanity, spending millions in unnecessary consumption is an act of violence against the poor and against creation. To "make waves" at this time may be a way to create a distraction away from some of the internal tensions within the Roman Catholic Church, especially the ordination of women. This tension remains even though the process was abruptly terminated (using theological violence and plenty of "infallibility" smoke) in 1994. The pope's remarks also perpetuate the endemic Vatican propensity to scapegoating. Mohammed would be such a convenient scapegoat for Christian violence! If the Vatican has used Christ as scapegoat, why not Mohammed?

Violence always leads to violence. In Somalia, a few days after the pope's speech, a missionary nun was murdered by Islamic radicals who decided that the pope's insults could not go unpunished:

[sisterleonella1] [calvary]

Ubi caritas
et amor,
deus ibi est

Figure 1. Sister Leonella Sgorbati, + 17 September 2006 in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Assassinated, odium fidei, after 38 years serving the poor and sick in Africa.
Too bad she could not be ordained to dispense healing
both physically and sacramentally.


On solidarity

The Final Conflict, Eric Gans, Chronicles of Love and Resentment, No. 338: Saturday, August 12, 2006.

Excerpt: "All societies generate resentment, but modernity characteristically recycles the energy of resentment into the free market rather than discharging it in a pre-established system of ritual exchanges. Thus everyone in market society has a good deal of free-floating resentment, and various counter-social institutions such as criminal gangs are sustained by it. But market society’s global success also creates an opening for a rival global system that can be opposed to the modern world as a whole. Radical Islam is well adapted to providing a unifying ideology for resentment against modernity. The Islamist dream of restoring the caliphate on a world scale is little more than an abstraction, but it can credibly refer to the historically successful pre-modern social model built upon the resentment of ancient civilization by the Arab tribes that were Mohammed’s first followers."

On sustainability

Sustainability: science or fiction?, Pim Martens, Professor of Sustainable Development and Director, International Centre for Integrated assessment & Sustainable development, Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 2(1):36-41, 2006.

This is the invited article this month. Abstract: "It is clear that in making the concept of sustainable development concrete, one has to take into account a number of practical elements and obstacles. There is little doubt that integrated approaches are required to support sustainable development. Therefore, a new research paradigm is needed that is better able to reflect the complexity and the multidimensional character of sustainable development. The new paradigm, referred to as sustainability science, must be able to encompass different magnitudes of scales (of time, space, and function), multiple balances (dynamics), multiple actors (interests) and multiple failures (systemic faults). I also think that sustainability science has to play a major role in the integration of different styles of knowledge creation in order to bridge the gulf between science, practice, and politics—which is central to successfully moving the new paradigm forward."

On religious violence

Kiko and Couric: Whew, that was close, Joan Chittister OSB, National Catholic Reporter, 7 September 2006.

Excerpt: "It's not only what sexism says about women that's wrong. It’s what sexism says about God that is the problem. Sexism says that femaleness is the only thing in creation before which God is powerless. It says that the God who parted the Red Sea, drew water from a rock and raised the dead to life goes impotent before a woman. It says that the only substance on earth that God cannot or will not work through is a female. Poor God."


WILLING THE GOOD: JESUS, DISSENT, AND DESIRE, by Paula M. Cooey, Fortress Press, 2006, 220 pages.

Editorial Review. Book Description: Although Christianity began as a dissident movement and in the Reformation recreated itself through dissent, traditional Christianity has always been uneasy with dissent and pluralism. Whether directed against the church itself or the larger society, dissent has been most often met with ridicule and persecution. Lively and engaging, Cooey's highly relevant book retrieves and valorizes the reforming impulse from Reformation times, follows it back through the early church's internal and external battles, and traces it back to Jesus himself. She shows how a strong affirmation of dissent as a Christian duty can inform a more open and faithful church as well as a publically relevant. About the Author: Paula M. Cooey is the Margaret W. Harmon Professor of Christian Theology and Culture at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Among her many books are Family, Freedom, and Faith: Building Community Today (WJK, 1996); Religious Imagination and the Body: A Feminist Analysis (Oxford, 1994); and After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions (Orbis, 1991).



Corporation 20/20 was co-founded in 2004 by Tellus Instituteand Business Ethics. It is an initiative to redesign corporations to deliver both social and financial value. It is part of a broader framework, the Great Transition Initiative. The 20/20 corporate redesign goes beyond ISO 26000, Corporate Social Responsibility, but it reflects the radical mindset change that may be required for a transition to sustainability. The annotated Principles of Corporate Redesign is a free download. The six principles are simply copied below:

"1. The purpose of the corporation is to harness private interests to serve the public interest.
"2. Corporations shall accrue fair returns for shareholders, but not at the expense of the legitimate interests of other stakeholders.
"3. Corporations shall operate sustainably, meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
"4. Corporations shall distribute their wealth equitably among those who contribute to its creation.
"5. Corporations shall be governed in a manner that is participatory, transparent, ethical, and accountable.
"6. Corporations shall not infringe on the right of natural persons to govern themselves, nor infringe on other universal human rights."


MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT 2006, United Nations, July 2006, 32 pages.

From the Foreword: "Six years ago, leaders from every country agreed on a vision for the future – a world with less poverty, hunger and disease, greater survival prospects for mothers and their infants, better educated children, equal opportunities for women, and a healthier environment; a world in which developed and developing countries worked in partnership for the betterment of all. This vision took the shape of eight Millennium Development Goals, which are providing countries around the world a framework for development, and time-bound targets by which progress can be measured. .... The present report shows that some progress has been made. This should provide the incentive to keep moving forward. But as the following pages also show, there is still a long way to go to keep our promises to current and future generations."

TRENDS IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 2006, United Nations, April 2006, 33 pages.

From the Executive Summary: "Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 and the subsequent World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, significant efforts have been made in pursuit of sustainable development. At the political level sustainable development has grown from being a movement mostly focusing on environmental concerns to a widely recognized framework utilized by individuals, governments, corporations and civil society that attempts to balance economic, social, environmental and generational concerns in decision-making and actions at all levels...."

WORLD DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS 2006, World Bank, April 2006, 240 pages.

From the Home Page: World Development Indicators (WDI) publication is the World Bank's premier annual compilation of data about development. The 2006 WDI includes more than 900 indicators in over 80 tables organized in 6 sections: World View, People, Environment, Economy, States and Markets, and Global Links. Data are shown for 152 economies with populations of more than 1 million, as well as for Taiwan, China, in selected tables. Table 1.6 presents selected indicators for 56 other economies—small economies with populations between 30,000 and 1 million and smaller economies if they are members of the World Bank.

WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2006, World Bank, April 2006, 240 pages.

From the Preface: In this first decade of the 21st century, immense advances in human well-being coexist with extreme deprivation. In global health we are witnessing the benefits of new medicines and technologies. But there are unprecedented reversals. Life expectancies have collapsed in some of the poorest countries to half the level of the richest – attributable to the ravages of HIV/AIDS in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and to more than a dozen "failed states". These setbacks have been accompanied by growing fears, in rich and poor countries alike, of new infectious threats such as SARS and avian influenza and "hidden" behavioral conditions such as mental disorders and domestic violence.


The newspaper home page has been abbreviated and upgraded. In addition to the archival links, there are now links to three separate pages with resource directories:

This is a modest attempt to organize the best resources relevant to the theme of "solidarity, sustainability, and religious violence" in a form that is both compact and easy to use. We plan to continue upgrading these directories in conjunction with the monthly delivery of the newsletter. They may be useful as starting point for subscribers to tailor and expand them further according to their needs. Please let us know if you are aware of other important resources that have not been included.



Jesu, joy
of our desiring
Holy wisdom,
love most bright;
Drawn by Thee,
our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God,
our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire
of life impassioned,
Striving still
to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying
round Thy throne.

Through the way
where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful
music rings;
Where the flock,
in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy
from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty's
fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom's
holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever
lead Thine own
In the love
of joys unknown.

J. S. Bach,
Cantata 147 (1723)


When the Nazis came
for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up
the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came
for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left
to speak out.

Martin Niemöller, 1946

This is a poem about the quiescence of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power. Same thing happened in Cuba after Fidel Castro's rise to power. Nobody protested the expropriations and the firing squads until it was their turn. Can you think of at least three other historical events in which human behavior was driven by group by group scapegoating?


[sisterleonella3] Sister Leonella Sgorbati,
+ 17 September 2006,
Mogadishu, Somalia.
Assassinated, odium fidei,
after 38 years serving
the poor and sick in Africa.

Am I ready
to be
a martyr
for love of God
and humanity?


The following are links to previous issues of the newsletter:

V1 N1 May 2005: Cross-Gender Solidarity
V1 N2 June 2005: The Phallocentric Syndrome
V1 N3 July 2005: From Patriarchy to Solidarity
V1 N4 August 2005: Synthesis of Patriarchy and Solidarity
V1 N5 September 2005: From Solidarity to Sustainability
V1 N6 October 2005: Dimensions of Sustainability
V1 N7 November 2005: Analysis and Synthesis of Objective Evidence
V1 N8 December 2005: Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Sustainability
V2 N1 January 2006: Synthesis of Solidarity and Sustainability
V2 N2 February 2006: Sustainable Human Development
V2 N3 March 2006: Patriarchy and Mimetic Violence
V2 N4 April 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions
V2 N5 May 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 2
V2 N6 June 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 3
V2 N7 July 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 4
V2 N8 August 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 5

|Back to SUMMARY| |Back to OUTLINE|
|Back to SECTION 1| |Back to SECTION 2| |Back to SECTION 3|
|Back to SECTION 4| |Back to SECTION 5| |Back to SECTION 6|
|Back to SECTION 7| |Back to SECTION 8| |Back to SECTION 9|
|Link to Invited Article|
|Link to Newsletter Home Page|

The Pelican Symbol


The pelican is a legendary symbol of commitment to the service of others, especially those who are weak and most vulnerable. Sources:

The Physiologus, circa 400 CE
Adoro Te Devote, 13th Century
Dante's Paradiso, 14th Century
Donna Hrynkiw, 1999
Rev. William Saunders, 2003
Rev. Silvia Roberts, 2004

Call for Papers

This newsletter is now seeking scholars willing to write (pro-bono) short articles about the impacts of religious patriarchies on human solidarity and ecological sustainability, as well as critical reviews of this work from the perspective of various religious traditions, i.e., Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc.

Articles should be 1000 words minimum and 2000 words maximum, with no images. They should include title, author's name and affiliation, abstract, and carefully validated references. Please submit only material that has not been already published elsewhere. The author's CV should be submitted with the paper. The newsletter is published monthly, but there are no specific deadlines. Papers can be submitted at any time. If approved by the editor, they will be added as an "invited paper" when time and space allows.

Could you kindly share this invitation with your friends and associates, to see if anyone is interested?

Send all correspondence to the editor, Luis T. Gutierrez.


The Millennium Development Goals are listed below:

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

Interested in more information and data? Click the map below:



January 22-23, 2007, 9 am - 9 pm, Mennonite Central Committee's Welcoming Place, Akron, PA. From the conference flyer: "How shall we understand the death of Jesus? Is it necessary to speak of the wrath of God when discussing atonement? These questions have been asked and answered many times throughout the history of the church. In today's world with our growing awareness of the dangers of violence, sacrifice, and militant religion, the death of Jesus need no longer be construed with divine violence. For more information contact
Michael Hardin.

2nd-4th February 2007, The Centre for Religion and Popular Culture, University of Chester, St Deiniol’s Library in Hawarden, North Wales. For details, or to propose a paper, please email a title and brief abstract (no more than 150 words) to Eric Christianson, Senior Lecturer, Biblical Studies Co-Director, Centre for Religion and Popular Culture Dept of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Chester.

Conference of the National Council for Science and the Environment, February 1-2, 2007, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, DC. The conference will address the many essential roles the environment plays on our well-being today, as well as the multi-dimensional relationships between human health and environmental components, which may have far-reaching consequences for society. For more info: NCSE2007.

February 28–March 3, 2007, Baton Rouge, LA. This conference is sponsored by the American Society for Environmental History. To submit a poster proposal, please use the proposal submission form. For more info, please contact ASEH Program Committee.

April 11 - 14, 2007 in Toronto ON Canada. Call for proposals due October 6. Convened by the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH). For information about being a conference cosponsor, exhibitor, advertiser or supporter, contact Shelly Tolo, CCPH Conference Manager by phone: (206) 962-0012 or e-mail:


Conference on Faith, Spirituality and Social Change, University of Winchester, UK, 14 April 2007. A conference bringing together people whose action for social change is informed by their faith, organisations working with faith communities for social change, and academics exploring faith-based social change issues. Proposals - in the form of a title, a short abstract (300 words max) and a brief biographical statement (100 words plus affiliation) should be sent by 1 Dec 2006 to Dr. Christina Welch or Adrian Harris at For any additional information contact Christina or Adrian or please visit the conference website.

March 14–16, 2007, Le Majestic Centre De Congres, Chamonix, France. The International Association of Science and Technology for Development (IASTED), is a non-profit organization founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 1977. The purpose of IASTED is to promote economic development through science and technology. For more information:

Call for papers. AAG Conference, San Francisco, April 17-21, 2007. The goal of this session is to (1) identify existing social science and ecological theories that offer the strongest potential, if joined, to deepen and broaden our understanding of linked social-ecological systems, and (2) evaluate the potential and challenges of such theoretical bridging. Points of contact: Rinku Roy Chowdhury or Eric Keys

Blaise Pascal Instituut, Amsterdam Vrije Universiteit July, 4-8, 2007. This is the annual meeting of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, an scholarly society focused on the exploration, criticism, and development of René Girard's Mimetic Theory. See the conference website for subthemes, deadlines for abstracts, etc. For more information, contact Thérèse Onderdenwijngaard.


Havana, Cuba, in 9-12 July 2007. The theme is :The religious movements in the face of the conflicts and challenges of a world in crisis. Sponsored by the Department of Socio-religious Studies of the Center for Psychological and Sociological Research (CIPS) of the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment of Cuba. Abstracts due 20 April 2007. The head of the promotion committee is Sonia Jiménez. Phone: (537) 831-3610 and 833-5366. Fax: (537) 833-4327. Email:


University of Granada, Spain, 10-13 July 2007. The conference will examine the nature of disciplinary and interdisciplinary practices across the social sciences, as well as the relation of the social to the natural sciences, applied sciences and the professions. The focus of papers will range from the finely grained and empirical (research practices and results exemplifying one or more disciplines), to wide-ranging multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary practices, to perspectives on knowledge and method. The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 22 October 2006. See the conference website for other details.

11 Nov 2007 - 15 Nov 2007, Rome, Italy. The World Energy Congress is the most authoritative international energy meeting held by the World Energy Council (WEC) every three years. Papers and posters are accepted in either of the WEC official languages: English or French. Deadlines: Submission of papers and posters: from 1st June 2006 to 31st December 2006. Notification of acceptance: by 31st May 2007. Contact: Organising Secretariat

Planned for November 2007. This event will be a major milestone in bringing corporate redesign to the public agenda, profiling Corporation 20/20 design concepts and charting a pathway forward. For more info:


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"The way of paradoxes is the way of truth.
To test Reality we must see it on the tight-rope.
When the Verities become acrobats we can judge them."

Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900


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