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Center for Action and Contemplation

Alumni Newsletter — August 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Note from the Editor

Dear Living School Alumni,

If you’re at all like me, the injustices of the world are weighing on you significantly these days. From global climate change to the scapegoating of immigrants in America, the times we are living are breaking hearts and bodies. What does it look like to pray and act during a time of moral crisis with a contemplative consciousness? I feel compelled to pray more than ever, and yet the limitations of prayer prick my conscience. Our global moment yearns for people who live their prayer at the cutting edge of action and contemplation. As Father Rohr has taught us, the most important word in the CAC’s name is “and.”

This newsletter contains examples of people searching for that faith-filled nexus of action and contemplation. I interview CAC’s Executive Director Michael Poffenberger, who describes how the CAC is laying groundwork for a courageous vision of new spiritual reformation, all while committing to embody diversity, equity, and inclusion. Core Faculty James Finley tells us liberating yet challenging truth that the suffering of our days and lives contains God’s loving depths. As he puts it, “there’s no refuge from suffering, but suffering has no refuge from the deathless love that permeates suffering unexplainably, all pervasively, and in all directions.”

A black and white photo of Mark Longhurst Laura Snyder Brown ’16 reflects on contemplation, racial justice and her city of Charlottesville a year after a rally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis turned deadly. I also interview a pioneering practitioner of prayer and action named Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove. Jonathan is the author of the recent Reconstructing the Gospel, and is a leading activist working with Rev. Dr. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign. He points a way forward in particular for white Christians who feel called to join God’s movement of love and justice.

May the apostle Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians be that of ours, too: “We are pressed on all sides but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair. “

Your in suffering, yours in love,

Mark Longhurst (’15)

Leadership Spotlight

CAC Executive Director, Michael Poffenberger

Interview with CAC Executive Director

Michael Poffenberger talks with Mark Longhurst about what led him to the CAC, its future and vision, its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and what it’s like to work day-to-day with Fr. Richard Rohr. Listen to the interview below or read the transcript.

Faculty Reflection

Finding Peace in a Troubled World

James Finley reflects on how the mystics can help us keep from growing cynical during disheartening times. Watch the video below or read the transcript.

Alumni Spotlights

Beyond Us vs Them in Charlottesville
Laura Snyder Brown (’16)

“It is my hope that, in the work for racial justice, we will all cooperate deeply with God…” Laura Snyder Brown (’16) writes about her city, racial justice, and contemplation a year after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Continue reading.

Prayer, Action, and Unlearning Racism

“There is a still point in the turning world, and we practice contemplation as we ground ourselves in that place, not apart from action, but in the center of it…

Read Mark’s interview with speaker, writer, and activist Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Our Worldwide Zoom Community
Sara Harris (’15)

We are less sendees of the Living School in any formal sense, and more a far-flung group who remind each other that we are not alone on this path.

Update from Akron Catholic Worker
Mary Beora O’Connor (’16)

Catholic Worker Akron provides tremendous emotional and practical support to immigrants during the ongoing stress, injustice, and complexity of current national policy.

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