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

Volume 1 - Number 4 - August 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 (experience, wisdom, 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.


This issue is a summary of previous reflections, and includes some clarifications in response to feedback received from readers.

Volume 1 Number 1 provided definitions of patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. It also provided a conceptual model to analyze the intersection of these with religion and religious institutions. The focus was on solidarity. Cross-gender solidarity was proposed as the root foundation for human solidarity.

Volume 1 Number 2 was an analysis of patriarchy. Reasons were given to support the proposition that, if secular patriarchy is bad, religious patriarchy is even worse. The phallocentric syndrome was defined as a social and religious disease that must be healed before further progress is possible in the path from patriarchy to solidarity.

Volume 1 Number 3 was our initial attempt to describe some plausible scenarios for the transition from patriarchy to solidarity. During this transition, there is an unavoidable struggle between the patriarchal mindset (rooted in the phallocentric syndrome and cross-gender unsolidarity) and the desire to grow in human solidarity and move toward ecological sustainability.

In the present issue, we attempt a synthesis of the previous issues, and then elaborate on what to expect along the road from patriarchy to solidarity. Specifically, Lindblom's concept of "impairments" is used to articulate what are the obstacles ("mindset change impairments") that will inevitably be found, how they are created by secular and religious elites, and how they can be reduced by individuals and communities.

As we finish the fourth issue of this newsletter, this is where we are:

1. Cross-gender solidarity is the root foundation for human solidarity.
2. Humanity can and must be healed from the phallocentric syndrome.
3. Such healing is essential for the transition from patriarchy to solidarity.
4. Patriarchy-induced "impairments" are the main obstacle to this healing.
5. Overcoming this obstacle enables balancing personal benefit and the common good.
6. Solidarity is not utopian; it is feasible when supported by subsidiarity policies.
7. Going from patriarchy to solidarity is for the glory of God and the good of humanity.

Whether this transition is to be achieved by evolution or revolution, it is the only way to attain sustainability. This will be the focus of the next issue, followed by sustainable human development and then "closing the loop" on patriarchy.









Figure 1 shows the patriarchy-solidarity-sustainability process model introduced in Volume 1 Number 1. The diagram has been simplified, and the legends have been revised for clarity, but the model remains basically the same: patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability and sustainable development are a web of feedback loops. At the global level, there is a clockwise feedback loop that starts with patriarchy and, if activated, leads back to a mitigation of patriarchy.

human development mitigates patriarchy
(as human maturity increases, tolerance for patriarchal behavior decreases)
patriarchy inhibits human solidarity
(as patriarchal domination increases, truth-freedom-care are suppressed and solidarity decreases)








sustainability enhances human development
(as sustainability increases, integral human development increases at all levels - physical, emotional, spiritual)
solidarity leads to sustainability
(as decisions pursuant to both individual and common good increase, sustainability increases)

Figure 1 - The patriarchy-solidarity-sustainability process model

The present issue is a summary of our ongoing reflection. Thus far we have discussed where we want to go (solidarity, in particular cross-gender solidarity), where we are coming from (patriarchy, a phallocentric social syndrome), and the transition from patriarchy to solidarity. The present issue then provides a survey of the best practices already available to support the transition, and some indication of newly emerging resources to neutralize the phallocentric syndrome and expedite the growth of a global solidarity ethos.


"Two-thirds of the world's illiterate people age 15 or older are female" [01]. This is one clear symptom of the phallocentric syndrome. There are many others. The phallocentric syndrome entails a fundamental lack of solidarity between men and women. It is critical to understand this phenomenon as the root cause of all other forms of "unsolidarity" in human civilization.

Solidarity is "unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards" [02]. It follows that cross-gender solidarity is a unity of the human race (50% male, 50% female) that is manifested as a communio of interests and mutual respect between men and women.

The criticality of attaining (restoring?) cross-gender solidarity is due to a simple fact: as long as there is a compulsion for men to dominate women (or vice versa) any other form of solidarity is flawed and unsustainable. The patriarchal mindset has been normative since the inception of human history. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn [01] that women are used and abused in every possible way, in both secular and religious institutions, and in family life. Domestic violence is common, and girls are abused even before they are born (female infanticide). This being the case, it is absurd to expect that either men or women will be willing to act in solidarity in any other situation; though, mercifully, there are exceptions.

At this point, some clarifications are in order to ensure a proper understanding of cross-gender solidarity. It is not a matter of idealizing women or denigrating men. Clearly, matriarchal domination would be as harmful as patriarchal domination. Domestic violence can go both ways. Women use and abuse other women as well as men. Men use and abuse other men as well as women. Experience confirms that neither the "stronger sex" is so strong not the "weaker sex" so weak.

Another important clarification is this: cross-gender solidarity, and the "unity" between men and women, has nothing to do with sexual promiscuity of the kind that denigrates both men and women to the point of inducing animal behavior. It is self-evident that such behavior is incompatible with the mutual respect that solidarity requires. The human body -- male or female -- is sacred. Sexual love is also sacred, as long as it is an expression of mutual consent in sharing the gift of love and the gift of life. There is no solidarity in irresponsible sex, and this includes uncommitted sex. There is no solidarity in abortion or infanticide. It follows that there is no solidarity in the use of condoms (and some other forms of contraception) pursuant to irresponsible sex. It is not a matter of having "as many children as God sends." A free, responsible, joint decision by parents is the civilized way of limiting family size, and the best practice is abstention. Cross-gender solidarity is no free lunch. No pain, no gain. Lack of self-discipline leads, inevitably, to ego gratification at the expense of solidarity. No moralizing is intended. This is nothing but "psychology 101."


Patriarchy is a "social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power" [03].

Patriarchy is a man-made social disease. It is rooted in the false religious notion that God is male, whence men are "more fully human" than women. The patriarchal mindset is manifested by addictions to wealth accumulation, violent forms of domination, and extravagant honors. This happens in all dimensions of human life, including family, society, religion, and the human interaction with nature.

"Historically, patriarchal systems were developed at a particular time, by particular people in particular geographic areas. They are not universal, timeless systems which have always existed. ... the destruction of nature as a living organism, and the rise of [capitalism and] modern science and technology ... had its close parallel in the violent attack on women during the witch hunt which raged through Europe for some four centuries" [04].

Indeed, patriarchy is a social disease, a phallocentric syndrome, "centered on or emphasizing the masculine point of view" [05]. Such masculine dominance, and the exclusion of the feminine point of view, is not natural. It is an objective disorder, the root cause of all social misbehavior. It is intrinsically perverse because it leads to the destruction of both human communio and the human habitat. Thus the criticality of letting go of patriarchy in secular institutions and, even more so, in religious institutions [06]. It is no mere coincidence that, as the historical record abundantly shows, the most brutal kind of violence is religious violence. The crusades and the inquisition are on the same thread with 9/11 and international terrorism.

Here again, a clarification is in order. It is true that husbands and fathers, being the first victims of the patriarchal mindset, often abuse their authority. It is also true that being a good and faithful husband-father is important, just as being a good and faithful wife-mother is important. The father-mother communio is the heart of the family. Having extra-marital affairs, and hiding after getting a girlfriend pregnant, makes the man a coward, not a patriarch. Nothing we say here about patriarchy should be construed as negating the enormous value of fatherhood.


The transition from patriarchy to solidarity is basically a shift from one mindset to another. In the context of global issues, the transition must happen in a critical mass of individuals in order to become part of the collective unconscious. This process may take a long time, or it may happen very fast depending on the perception of threats to human wellness and survival.

Transitioning from a patriarchal mindset to a solidarity mindset entails a transition from homo economicus to homo solidarius. The basic difference between one and the other is as follows:

The mix of costs and benefits may include social, economic, and ecological factors. The UN MDGs would be a good example of cost-benefit factors that be considered in making decisions. It should be pointed out, that becoming homo solidarius has nothing to do with being selfish or unselfish. It has everything to do with a recognition that, in the "web of life" [07], discounting the common good inevitably harms each and every "global citizen" [08]. It may harm some more than others in the short term, but in the long term there is a equalizer effect in the damage done to each and every human being; witness the increase in the rate of pollution-related cancer cases in the industrial nations [09].

Truth, Freedom, and Care

Obstacles to Truth

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to making progress in this transition is what Linblom [10] calls "impairment." Both personal and social transitions are achieved by probing and inquiring. This is precisely what the patriarchal elites (both secular and religious) attempt to suppress -- often successfully -- via families, schools, and other means of communication [10, page 81-82]. The pressure to conform is both very subtle and very strong, and very few people are willing to step outside the established boundaries; it follows that the collective unconscious often succumbs to it. If the pressure exerted by secular elites is powerful, even more so the pressure exerted by religious elites [10, pp. 86-87, 114-115, 295]. A frontal assault on impairment obstacles would be an exercise in futility, and Lindblom concludes that "reduction of impairment will, if possible at all, presumably at best proceed almost imperceptibly [10, page 285]. In brief, inquiry and probing are indispensable for seeking the truth. Impaired probing is an obstacle to social progress and, in particular, to progress in the transition from patriarchy to solidarity.

Obstacles to Freedom

Progress is also retarded when inquiry and probing are constrained by lack of freedom. This is abundantly shown by the record of human history with regard to freedom, or liberty [11]. There is a long history of secular and religious institutions using fear and intimidation (physical and psychological) to impair the natural human propensity to ask honest questions pursuant to knowing the truth and acting on it. In every instance, the elites that conspire to suppress freedom are the secular and religious institutions who want to have an unchallenged monopoly of the truth. But the fact is that nobody has a monopoly of the truth. In the secular arena, this is made self-evident by the emergence of new paradigms in all branches of knowledge. In the religious arena, the absurdity of monopolizing truth can be detected whenever "divine mysteries" are reduced to formulations that limited human minds can understand.

Obstacles to Care

Obstacles to care are byproducts of the obstacles to truth and freedom. The suppression of truth and/or freedom inevitably leads to a kind of social stagnation [12]. This means staying "within the box" and being "politically correct." The Soviet empire (1917-1986) is a good example of such stagnation. Another good example is the Cuban communist experiment (started in 1959, still unfolding). In both cases, the justification for dictatorship was the need to overcome the evils of previous, highly corrupted governments. In both cases, it was a matter of going from something bad to something worse. And, in both bases, the net result was the destruction of human initiative to take care of self, others, and the environment.

The transition from patriarchy to solidarity may turn out to be the fifth major transition in human history, after the domestic revolution [13], the agricultural revolution [14], the industrial revolution [15], and the information revolution [16]. Since the forthcoming transition from patriarchy to solidarity will have, as ultimate goal, to attain ecological sustainability, many researchers refer to it as an "ecological revolution" [17], [18], [19]. How this ecological revolution is to unfold is impossible to anticipate, but it will be messy, dangerous, and global.


While it is not possible to define a roadmap for the ecological revolution, our working hypothesis is that it will entail a transition from patriarchy to solidarity, and it is possible to identify some principles and practices that should be useful to muddle together through the transition. We need to understand what the impairments are, what are the methods used to create and perpetuate the impairments, and what methods can be used to reduce the impairments (Table 1).





Initial imposition of impairments by force

Repression of efforts to reduce impairments

Use of language, words, symbols, deeds

Use of inculcation, obstruction, confusion

Inter-generational transmission via families

Transmission via schools and the mass media


The impairment methods used by secular authorities change with changes in technology, but otherwise are similar everywhere. Consider the following:

Alexander the Great
The Roman Empire
Attila and other barbarians
The absolute monarchies
The colonial powers
The case of Native Americans
American civil war (1M dead)
Spanish civil war (1M dead)
Hitler and the holocaust
Stalin's Gulag
Imperial Japan
American imperialism
Military dictatorships
Fidel Castro
Sadam Hussein
Osama Bin-Laden
Corruption in government
Corruption in corporations

It is unfortunate that the list could be much longer, cover the entire world, and include all manner of physical and psychological abuse. Most modern corporations are a case in point. Employees have a job as long as they please management. But if management dictates an unethical way of doing things (e.g., lying to auditors), any employee who resists (no matter how gently) and fails to collaborate is either demoted, or manipulated into conformance, or both; and, eventually, fired. The practice of "outsourcing" is often a clever way of taking advantage of unfairly cheap labor in poor countries.


World governance and practice of subsidiarity at all levels [20, 21, 22]

Remain focused on the UN MDGs -- especially gender equity

Non-violent, passive resistance to impairing institutions

Adherence to trade agreements and other international treaties

Adherence to standards such as ISO 9001 and 14001 [23]

Development and implementation of "best executive management practices"

Continued research on social inquiry and social change [10]

Psychology offers therapies to liberate people from the patriarchal mindset and related impairments.


Most religions tolerated/supported slavery for centuries

Most religions impair free inquiry in doctrinal matters

Most religions reserve roles of religious authority to men alone


Religious impairment practices vary somewhat depending on the guiding religious ethos and the perception of threat by religious authorities.

The following examples pertain to the Roman Catholic Church, the largest religious body in the world (one billion people):

On slavery: The church did not oppose Constantine's edict (332 CE) to treat peasants as serfs/slaves. Pope Nicholas IV approved Portugal's practice of enslaving heathens (1452 CE). Pope Alexander VI approved Spain's practice of enslaving indians (1493 CE). The massive slaughtering of indians eventually led to enslaving blacks from Africa, and even to child labor, a practice that the church failed to denounce as morally evil until the late 19th century.

On doctrinal probing: Documents such as Patriarcha (on the absolute power of kings and utter powerlessness of the people); Maleus Maleficarum (to officially start the "witch hunt" known as the "holy inquisition"); and the Index of Errors (to suppress any challenge to church doctrine by Catholic intellectuals) were published for the purpose of impairing free probing and inquiry. The Index of Errors was finally rescinded in 1967 CE.

On gender equity: the pseudo-pauline letters (women cannot have roles of religious authority); the patristic writings (women are "the gates of hell"); Thomas Aquinas (women are incapable of having roles of religious authority); Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (a literalist analysis of selected passages of the New Testament, disguised as quasi-infallible teaching to extinguish debate about the ordination of women); Responsum ad Dubium (a dubious attempt to reinforce the "infallibility" of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis based on a teaching of the Second Vatican Council -- where nothing was defined infallibly -- while ignoring the fact that persisting doubts showed that the teaching had not been clearly proclaimed as infallible and could not, therefore, be infallible).


Discontinue financial support and subsidies for impairing institutions

Practice of subsidiarity (and accountability) in religious hierarchies

Participation in international religious bodies such as the WCC and the WCF

Development and implementation of "best religious governance practices"

Continued research on the social and ecological impacts of religion [10]

Continued research on the religious impact of social cultures [10]

Assessment of current research on neuroplasticity and meditation to help people overcome the patriarchal mindset and related impairments. See, for example, the Mind & Life Institute website.

Caution: any new therapies or spiritual exercises must be administered so as to ensure that freedom of conscience is not compromised.

"Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life." Dalai Lama

Combined secular-religious

The crusades were no picnic. The expansion of Islam was no picnic. International terrorism is no picnic.

Combined secular-religious

Consider 9/11. When fanatical religion mixes with political motives, patriarchal brutality has no limits.

Combined secular-religious

Dealing with violent forms of intolerance may require radical counter-measures [24]

Table 1 - Impairments, impairment creation, and impairment reduction methods

These principles and practices hopefully might reduce or mitigate the obstacles (e.g., Lindblom's "impairments") that emerge from the patriarchal mindset. The ecological revolution will be like a new "exodus" from slavery to freedom, one that also allows growth in truth and wisdom, as well as a new civilization of human solidarity. It may sound like a monumental undertaking. It may well be one. But let's keep in mind that, in the history of human civilizations, "there have been many occasions when a single individual or a few individuals made a big difference for liberty .... the struggle for liberty will never end. The future will undoubtedly bring more threats from politicians, terrorists, and conquerors. But I am confident that in the new millennium, new heroes and heroines will emerge to defend our precious legacy of liberty" [11, page 529], [25], [26]. Indeed, it is time to build a new civilization of truth, freedom, and care [27].


As we finish the fourth issue of this newsletter, this is where we are:

1. Cross-gender solidarity is the root foundation for human solidarity.
2. Humanity can and must be healed from the phallocentric syndrome.
3. Such healing is essential for the transition from patriarchy to solidarity.
4. Patriarchy-induced "impairments" are the main obstacle to this healing.
5. Overcoming this obstacle enables balancing personal benefit and the common good.
6. Solidarity is not utopian; it is feasible when supported by subsidiarity policies.
7. Going from patriarchy to solidarity is for the glory of God and the good of humanity.

Whether this transition is to be achieved by evolution or revolution, it is the only way to attain sustainability. This will be the focus of the next issue, followed by sustainable human development and then "closing the loop" on patriarchy (see Figure 1).

This is a crying appeal to all people of good will:

Be aware, that there is no "silver bullet" ... "no pain, no gain"!

Be aware, that violence begets violence; stop violence, wars, and terrorism!

Replace violence with solidarity -- especially cross-gender solidarity!

Overcome the "impairments" created by secular and religious patriarchy!

Withdraw financial support from institutions that perpetuate patriarchy!

Be aware, patriarchy begets patriarchy ... solidarity begets solidarity!

Be open to change from the patriarchal mindset to the solidarity mindset!

Be willing to factor in society and ecology when making decisions!

Here and now ... one person at a time ... one institution at a time!


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] Glenn, Jerome C. and Theodore J. Gordon, 2005 State of the Future, AC/UNU Millennium Project, 5 August 2005, page 32.

[02] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2005.

[03] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2005.

[04] Mies, Maria, Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale, Zed Books Ltd., London, 1998, pp. 37-38, 75, 86, 170. See also The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution, by Carolyn Merchant, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1983.

[05] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2005.

[06] Kramer, Daniela, 'Women are the Root of All Evil': The Misogyny of Religions, The Secular Web, 30 April 2002.

[07] Capra, Fritjof, The Web of Life, Anchor, 1997, 368 pp.

[08] Meadows, Donella, The Global Citizen, Island Press, 1991, 311 pp.

[09] Clegg, LX, EJ Feuer, DN Midthune, MP Fay and BF Hankey, Impact of Reporting Delay and Reporting Error on Cancer Incidence Rates and Trends, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2000, 94:1537-45.

[10] Lindblom, Charles E., Inquiry and Change: The Troubled Attempt to Understand and Change Society, Yale University Press, 1990, 314 pp. See pp. 81-82, 86-87 on impairments induced by secular elites, and pp. 114-115, 285 on reducing impairment, 295 on impairments induced by religious elites.

On impairments created by secular institutions (pp. 86-87):

"Despite the many evidences of decline of elite advantages, political and economic elites and those who join them in their impairing influences continue to retard further movement to reduce advantages such as political power and influence, power and influence within the corporation, educational opportunities of many kinds, distribution of government benefits (for example, housing subsidies), and status and respect in both personal interchange and ceremony. They face perhaps inexorable social forces powered by popular volitions. Yet not only elites but almost everyone shows, despite abstract commitments to equality, hostility to many of its particular forms, among them high degrees of equality in income and wealth. If Sweden, among the most egalitarian of societies, provides an example of the strength of contemporary egalitarianism, it also reveals both anxiety about redistribution's going too far and a continuation of long traditions of deference to authority and political passivity."

On impairments created by religious institutions (pp. 114-115):

"Although organized religion achieves an access to many juvenile minds that impairs because it is not challenged in a crippled competition for ideas -- for in many families neither parents nor the schools take up such a challenge -- the more important point to be made about impairment through organized religion concerns the content of many of the communications, both for children and adults. A number of religions and sects not only do not acknowledge the validity of the kind of probing discussed in this book, but they are explicitly hostile to it. On those issues that concern them, they discourage skeptical inquiry and instead call on their audiences to accept what they hear on faith. They are hostile to demands for evidence, to challenge and counter-challenge, to openness of inquiry, and to individual attempts at some significant degree of autonomy of thought. In short, they impair. They contrast with other religious elites who are more committed to open inquiry, evidence, and challenge."

[11] Powell, Jim, The Triumph of Liberty: A 2000-Year History, Told Through the Lives of Freedom's Greatest Champions, The Free Press, New York, 2000, 574 pp.

[12] Smelser, Neil J., Social Paralysis and Social Change: British Working-Class Education in the Nineteenth Century, Centennial Books, 1991, 540 pp. Some current examples:

[12.1] Crossette, Barbara, Study Warns of Stagnation in Arab Societies, Global Policy Forum and New York Times, 2 July 2002.

[12.2] Atkinson, Philip, A Creeping Paralysis Of The Australian Community, Chapter 5 of A Study of our Decline, Our Civilization, 2004.

[12.3] Penner, Rudolph G., The Financial Consequences of Fiscal Paralysis, Urban Institute, June 2004.

[12.4] Ahmed, Hamed, Survey: Majority of Iraqis Support Women's Rights - if It Does Not Conflict With Islam, Associated Press, 15 August 2005.

[12.5] Kuran, Timur, Why the Middle East Is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation, Social Change Project, 2003.

[13] Brent, Edward, The Domestication Revolution, Idea Works, University of Missouri, 1995

"The domestication revolution was the transformation of human society brought about by the domestication of plants and animals for food production, leading to horticultural and pastoral societies.

"The domestication revolution was the first dramatic transformation in the nature of human societies. While this revolution took place over a very long period of time, it marked a dramatic change in the nature of societies. The domestication revolution marked the first successful effort by people to use social organization to gain greater control over the production of food and improve their lives. The availability for the first time in human history of a dependable food supply unleashed a whole chain of events that changed society forever."

[14] Brent, Edward, The Agricultural Revolution, Idea Works, University of Missouri, 1995

"The agricultural revolution produced a transformation of human society brought about by the invention of the plow, making large-scale agricultural production possible and leading to agrarian societies.

"The agricultural revolution had such a profound impact on society that many people call this era the "dawn of civilization." During this same period that the plow was invented, the wheel, writing, and numbers were also invented.

"The agricultural revolution further accentuated the changes taking place due to the domestication revolution, extending those effects even farther in society.

[15] Brent, Edward, The Industrial Revolution, Idea Works, University of Missouri, 1995

"The Industrial Revolution was a dramatic change in the nature of production in which machines replaced tools, steam and other energy sources replaced human or animal power, and skilled workers were replaced with mostly unskilled workers.

"A key element of the Industrial Revolution was the harnessing of steam power through steam engines ... the Industrial Revolution resulted in work that had been performed in the home by family members, such as spinning yarn, being performed with the help of large powerful machines in factories ...

"The Industrial Revolution permitted trends begun in the domestication revolution and agricultural revolution to continue, resulting in still greater inequality ..."

[16] Brent, Edward, The Information Revolution, Idea Works, University of Missouri, 1995

"The Information Revolution is a phrase we use to refer to the dramatic changes taking place during the last half of the 20th century in which service jobs (ranging from high technology, highly skilled professions to low skill jobs like short order cook) are more common than jobs in manufacturing or agriculture. The product of skilled professionals is the information or knowledge they provide.

"The information revolution began with the invention of the integrated circuit or computer chip. Those chips have revolutionized our lives, running our appliances, providing calculators, computers, and other electronic devices to control our world.

"It is still early enough that no one knows precisely what all of the implications of the information revolution will be for social life. But clearly changes such as the information superhighway permitting people to communicate using computers all around the globe, fax machines, satellite dishes, and cellular phones are changing how families spend their time, the kind of work we do, and many other aspects of our lives."

[17] Korten, David C., Development, Heresy, And The Ecological Revolution, In Context: A Quarterly of Humane Sustainable Culture, 1992.

[18] Macy, Joanna, The Great Turning: After the agricultural and industrial revolutions we are now at a point of ecological revolution, Resurgence, Issue 186, February 1998.

[19] Shellenberger, Michael, and Erik Curren, Selling Ecological "Revolution", The American Prospect, January 2003. Reprinted online in AlterNet, January 2003.

[20] Reddy, Yrk, 'Subsidiarity' principle is empowering, The Financial Express, 11 June 2005.

[21] Hobsbawm, Eric, The New Imperialism, The Guardian, 26 June 2005.

[22] Hobsbawm, Eric, Limits to Power, The Hindu, 19 December 2004.

"It's clear that we [historians] underestimated the continued role of religiosity or the belief in rituals and all the rest of it. One of the reasons why we underestimated it was because we didn't pay enough attention to gender history. Everybody knew, for instance, that women were more pious than men, at least in Europe and continue to be, but because people didn't take this seriously enough ... we didn't really inquire into the role of this kind of motivations not only among particular groups, but generally. Very difficult to overlook it now."

[23] International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO 9001 defines the requirements for quality management systems. ISO 14001 defines the requirements for environmental management systems. A corporate social responsibility standard is in preparation. For a complete list of ISO standards, go to the ISO website. See also New Academy Review: The International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Leadership and Ethics.

[24] Krauthammer, Charles, Real threats to be thwarted, The Washington Post, 12 August 2005.

[25] Riverbend (pseudonym for a young Iraqi woman), Baghdad Burning, started August 2003.

"Girl Blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend..."

[26] Nair, Nirmala, The Myth of Sustainable Development, The Berkana Institute, 2004.

[27] Rorty, Richard, Philosophy and Social Hope, Penguin, 2000, 320 pp. See also Rorty's Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, 224 pp. Forthcoming: Take Care of Freedom And Truth Will Take Care of Itself, by Richard Rorty and Eduardo Mendieta, Stanford University Press, scheduled to be released December 2005.

"Don’t wait on the leaders.
Do it yourself, person to person."

Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)

Luis T. Gutierrez


Copyright © 2005 by Luis T. Gutierrez

From Patriarchy to Solidarity and Sustainability --
in both Religion
and Society

"God, the Mother"

Farid de la Ossa Arrieta, Brazil, 2002. Reproduced with permission. If you want to see the full size image, click here.

It has been pointed out that giving up any inordinate attachment to male images of God is an indispensable medication to be healed from the phallocentric syndrome and make progress in the transition from patriarchy to solidarity. Religious art must evolve to help people in the healing process, and the painting shown above is a good example. Another good example, in my opinion, is Rublev's Trinity icon (see Vol 1 No 1).

The idea of God as Mother is included in the sacred scriptures of most religious traditions. For instance, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Isaiah 66.13 is one of the many images of the feminine and motherly aspect of God; cf. Hosea 11.1-9. Consider the following:

"I am Father and Mother of the world." Hinduism, Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, 9.17

"Thou art Father, Mother, Friend, Brother. With Thee as succorer in all places, what fear have I?" Sikhism, Adi Granth, Majh M.5, p. 103.

"Thus says the Maker, Modeler, Mother-Father of life, of humankind, giver of breath, giver of heart, bearer, upbringer in the light that lasts of those born in the light, begotten in the light; worrier, knower of everything, whatever there is: sky-earth, lake-sea." Popul Vuh, Maya

Nevertheless, it is difficult to find religious art that shows the divine femininity and motherhood of God. This seems to be the case for most religious traditions. It would be good for humanity if the religious arts could balance the divine masculine and the divine feminine, God the Father and God the Mother, a God who is both Father and Mother.


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Recent Feedback

Paul Chartrand, Professor of Law at the University of Saskatchewan, wrote to share the following comment: "Hmmmm. As a father and grandfather, I am worried by the adoption of general terms such as 'patriarchy' and 'paternalism'. Fatherhood is a blessing and carries duties that have always benefited humanity and we must not forget that."

Response: I am also a father and grandfather. This research is not about fatherhood or motherhood. It is about the global issues of solidarity and sustainability. More specifically, it is about social and religious institutions that do some good, but often do more harm than good by abusing their authority, thereby perpetuating behavior patterns that are incompatible with both human solidarity and sustainable development.

I agree with you, that the term "patriarchy" can be understood in many ways. However, it is hard to find a better term to broadly describe the triple addiction to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and secular/religious honors. At the same time, in the strict sense of the word, the term "patriarchy" means a phallocentric system, i.e., a system "centered on men or on a male viewpoint, especially one held to entail the domination of women by men" (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000, definition of the term "phallocentric").

I have considered other titles for the newsletter, such as "Solidarity, Sustainability, and Gender Equity." Both "gender" and "equity" can be understood in many different ways, and I am not sure it conveys the intent and scope of this research. I would appreciate getting suggestions from readers.

Charles Hostovsky, Professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto, wrote seeking clarification "regarding table "Major Religious Traditions" (vol 1, no 1) - how did you conduct this survey? I believe you will find most major evangelical denominations (Conservative Protestant) both ordain women and allow female eldership/leadership ... I know from my church involvement in Canada that the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Christian Reformed Church, both members of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, allow ordination of women and/or female elders."

Response: Good question. The "Major Religious Traditions" table, as noted in note 11, is just my broad perception, based on documented references and personal discussions with members of various religious bodies. It is not based on a scientific survey.

The classifications are broad, and may be an oversimplification. For example, consider the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). It is evangelical but generally considered to be "liberal," and ordains women. On the other hand, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) also claims to be evangelical, but it is "conservative" and does not ordain women. There are many fundamentalist churches that claim to be both "conservative" and "evangelical," but still refuse to have women in roles of religious authority.

Admittedly, I was not able to be more granular without getting into a lot of hairsplitting. The intent of the table is simply to show that the phallocracy syndrome is a common denominator of all/most religious traditions, differences being a matter of degree. In this regard, may I suggest Daniela Kramer's article, "'Women are the Root of All Evil': The Misogyny of Religions," The Secular Web, 30 April 2002. She makes the point with a lot more nuancing and many relevant references to sources, and the article is available online.

Aleksandar Sarovic, an independent philosopher from Croatia who now lives in Canada, wrote to say that "I like your views but have to tell you that calling individuals to be conscious can hardly give an escape from today's problems." He also pointed toward his book on Humanism. The book can be dowloaded, free of charge, from Aleksandar's website.

Response: The "Solidarity and Sustainability" newsletter does not propose a moralistic approach to social issues. Rather, it is a global system analysis at the complex interface of human nature, social culture, economics, ecology, religious traditions, and governance structures in both religion and society. I am probing and searching, hoping to formulate some good questions. There is no presumption of having answers. My personal opinion is that there is no such thing as predefined answers. The answers will emerge as the global community works them out. It is good to hear from you though, and it is good to see people thinking about the common good of humanity. You will get my comments about your book as soon as I find time to read it.

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 Millennium Campaign
UN Statistical Division
UN University
UN WomenWatch
Reform the UN

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 Standards 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
Gender Equity Links
CSR Directory
Mind & Life Institute


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


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
World Congress of Faiths
World Religious Texts

Web Research Tools

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

New Resources

Recently published:

Inside Mind & Life, Quarterly Newsletter of the Mind and Life Institute, February 2005. Review of current research on neuroplasticity and how meditation can "rewire" the brain to transition from old to new mindsets. See the definition of neuroplasticity and The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey Schwartz and Sharon Begley, HarperCollins, 2003, 432 pp. A review of this book by William Dembski, First Things, May 2003, is available online. There is also an article, Scans of Monks' Brains Show Meditation Alters Structure, Functioning, by Sharon Begley, Wall Street Journal, 5 November 2004. However, even if the medical researchers produce some practical "neuroplastic therapies," there is controversy about their scientific validity.

The Return of Malthus: Environmentalism and Post-War Population-Resource Crises, by Bjrn-Ola Linnr, White Horse Press, 2003. xvi + 303 pp. See book review by Michael Egan, Review of Bjrn-Ola Linnr, The Return of Malthus: Environmentalism and Post-War Population-Resource Crises, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, H-Environment, H-Net Reviews, May, 2005.

Spirituality and the Healthy Mind, by Marc Galanter, Oxford University Press, 2005

Promoting the Common Good: Bringing Economics& Theology together Again, Marcus Braybrooke and Kamran Mofid, Shepheard-Walwyn, London, June 2005.

The Gender Politics of ICT, Edited by Jacqueline Archibald, Judy Emms, Frances Grundy, Janet Payne, Eva Turner, Middlesex University Press, July 2005.

ARCTURUS - A Process for Implementing the Caux Round Table Principles of Business, Caux Round Table, July 2005. For a free download, go to the Caux Round Table website.

Between Sex and Power: Family in the World 1900-2000, by Göran Therborn, Routledge, 2005, 379 pp. See book review by Eric Hobsbawm, Retreat of the Male, London Review of Books (LRB) and Znet, 1 August 2005.

2005 State of the Future, by Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, AC/UNU Millennium Project, August 5, 2005.

A Compassionate, Spiritual and Dialogical Islam, by Kamran Mofid, Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture, Istanbul, 16-18 August 2005

Reduce poverty and sustainability will follow, by Eric Claus, Online Opinion: Australia's e-journal for social and political debate, 22 August 2005.

The Climax of Humanity, by George Musser, Scientific American, September 2005. Subtitle: "Demographically and economically, our era is unique in human history. Depending on how we manage the next few decades, we could usher in environmental sustainability -- or collapse."

Environmental Values, by Thomas Dietz, Amy Fitzgerald, and Rachel Shwom, Annual Review of Environment and Natural Resources, prepint, 2005.

Recent Events

In the news:

US Islamic leaders issue 'fatwa' against terrorism, Ecumenical News International, 29 July 2005

New York (ENI). "US Islamic leaders have issued a fatwa - an Islamic religious ruling - against violence and acts of political extremism. The ruling, announced at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., was endorsed by more than 120 Muslim organizations and leaders and was issued by the 18-member Fiqh Council of North America, an Islamic jurisprudence body."

Psychiatry meets spirituality, by Josh Fischman, US News, 27 July 2005

The World's 100 Most Powerful Women, by Elizabeth MacDonald and Chana R. Schoenberger, Forbes, 27 July 2005
NB: Not a single one is a woman in a role of religious authority.

Arthur D Little Study Identifies Trends in Sustainability Innovation, by William Baue, CSRWire, 10 August 2005.

Bishop stirs souls with truth, by Ervin Dyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 19 August 2005.

Buddhist retreat for women opens: Fremont is home to America's first center created for Eastern religion's female clergyby Jonathan Jones, The Daily Press, 22 August 2005.

Signs of the Times

Terror In The Name Of God: Why Religious Militants Kill, by Jessica Stern, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, HarperCollins, 2003.

Making Sense of Suicide Missions, Edited by Diego Gambetta, Oxford University Press, 2005, 392 pages.

A Global Alliance Against Forced Labor, International Labor Organization (ILO), Global Report under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, International Labor Conference, Geneva, 2005.

Women in Rwanda: Another World Is Possible, by C. R. Cohen et al., Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), 2005; 294: 613-615.

What can be done about the erosion of women's rights in Iraq?, by Margaret Owen, Taipei Times, 1 August 2005, page 9.

Women must teach ways of peace to their children, by Jane Evershed, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 20 August 2005


Mind & Life
November 8-10, 2005
The Mind & Life Institute, in conjunction with co-hosts Georgetown University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, presents:

Mind and Life XIII:
Investigating the Mind 2005
The Science and Clinical
Applications of Meditation
DAR Constitution Hall,
Washington DC
November 8 - 10, 2005

The Dalai Lama will participate fully in all sessions

For conference and
registration information,
click here.


1. Meditation-Based Clinical Interventions: Science, Practice, and Implementation
2. Possible Biological Substrates of Meditation
3. Clinical Research I: Meditation and Mental Health
4. Clinical Research II: Meditation and Physical Health
5. Integration & Final Reflections


Applications of meditation are now common in the treatment of stress, pain, and a range of chronic diseases in both medicine and psychiatry, and some approaches are currently the subject of NIH-supported clinical trials and research studies. At the same time, the power of our non-invasive technologies have made it possible to investigate the nature of cognition and emotion in the brain as never before, and to begin to explore the interfaces between mind, brain, and body, and the implications of particular forms of meditative practices for modulating and regulating biological pathways to restore or enhance homeostatic processes and perhaps extend the reach of both mind and body in ways that might potentially promote rehabilitation and healing as well as greater overall health and well-being.

Recent studies are showing that meditation can result in stable brain patterns and changes over both short and long-term intervals that have not been seen before in human beings and that suggest the potential for the systematic driving of positive neuroplastic changes via such intentional practices cultivated over time. These investigations may offer opportunities for understanding the basic unifying mechanisms of the brain, mind and body that underlie awareness and our capacity for effective adaptation to stressful and uncertain conditions.

For more information:
Mind & Life Institute

In Memorian

Brother Roger of Taizé

Brother Roger

Brother Roger of Taize, 90, founder and leader of the Taize Ecumenical Community, was assassinated 18 August 2005 while singing in the choir during a prayer service. Senseless violence seems to be increasing worldwide. Both men and women are becoming increasingly violent. This is not what God wants. This cannot possibly be a "sign of the times."


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

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