Sr. Joan and the “Organizing Committee of the Council of Elders”

National Catholic ReporterAn Irishman was walking down the street one day and, to his delight, he saw a big crowd surrounding a couple of blokes beating each other to a pulp.  The Irishman, shoved and elbowed his way though the crowd to the inner circle and, in a lull, shouted, “Is this a private fight or can anyone join?!?”

Tahrir Square Triumph

The Triumph of Tahir

Fresh from her triumphs in Tahir Square in Cairo, the National catholic Fishwrap’s very own Sr. Joan Chittister has now taken up fight for the Occupists!

Yes, Sr. Joan, looking for a pick-up protest to join, has linked arms with the unwashed.

She was not there to protest in favor of women who were battered during the siege of Zuccotti Park. No, her motive was more poignant.

She is pointing out that the “elders” of the early protest movements has decided to reach out to the young visionaries of the Occupy thing and extend to them their wisdom.  Of course, the young people have not asked for any advice but, damn it, Joan and company has it anyway.

And now… heeeeeere’s Joan!


A Council of Elders has appeared on the scene.  [And when she says “elders”, she’s not kidding.]

A newly organized, independent group of leaders from many of the defining American social justice movements of the 20th century a veritable who’s who of social change in the United States over the last 60 years has risen up anew, this time in solidarity with OWS.
You know these people; if not by their names, [CUE MUSIC!] certainly by the breadth of their hearts. You have heard their cries for justice, seen their protests for peace, followed their steady, steady demonstrations of care for the dispossessed everywhere.  [Can she write a sentence without a cliché?]

Organizing Committee of the Council of Elders[I swear I am not making this up….] The Organizing Committee of the Council of Elders includes Rev. Vincent Harding, Rev. James Lawson, Rev. Philip Lawson, Dolores Huerta, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Dr. Grace Lee Boggs, Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah, Marian Wright Edelman, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rev. Dr. George Tinker, Rev. John Fife, Rev. Nelson Johnson, Joyce Hobson Johnson and, because of their generous spirits, me, as well.  [Who are these people?  Has anyone heard of them?]

Try a park bench, people.

Their statement of solidarity reads: [I swear I am not making this up…] “As veterans of the Civil Rights, Women’s, Peace, Environmental, LGBTQ, Immigrant Justice, labor rights and other movements[but not defense of the unborn] we are convinced that Occupy Wall Street is a continuation, a deepening and expansion of the determination of the diverse peoples of our nation to transform our country into a more democratic, just and compassionate society.”

[But wait!  There’s more] To be clear that they are about more than writing statements, this group of leaders [this band of elders] — seasoned by all the social justice movements of their day [but, wait!… there’s more!  What did they do next, Joan?!] — started a Facebook page,  [sniff] launched a website, [wow] uploaded a video to YouTube [just wow] and sent a delegation of older people to Zuccotti Park in New York City, to Justice Herman Plaza in San Francisco, and to Los Angeles, Oakland and Washington, D.C., to speak with demonstrators. [I … sniff… just have to stop for a moment and gather my thoughts.  All this from the “Organizing Committee of the Council of Elders”.] They went to encourage this generation’s young people, who are bringing to consciousness a national awareness that our wealth is in our people and our resources, well developed and well used, not in our banks. They went to bring the flame of peace and economic justice from one generation to the next.  [Can she write a sentence without a cliche?]

The elders are going to be among the Occupiers, [I hope their insurance is good and they bring some … spray.] they say in their public statement, to “applaud the miraculous extent to which the Occupy initiative has been non violent [except when it wasn’t] and democratic, especially in light of the weight of violence under which the great majority of people are forced to live, including joblessness, foreclosures, unemployment, poverty, and inadequate health care.”


It stumbles along pretty much like this for a while longer.   Meanwhile…. CLICK.

I say we form our own council of elders and call it the “Council of Donors to Fr. Z in Protest of the Fishwrap!”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Frank H says:

    At lease the sixties protests gave us some decent folk songs. Anything artistic coming out of this Occupy thing?

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Marian Wright Edelman is a long-time associate of Hilary Clinton who focuses on expanding the role of the state in childrearing, denigrating normal family life and expanding opportunities for women – especially young women – to euthanize their children. Details.

  3. Bryan Boyle says:

    You know…wading through the turgid prosody that emanates from the rusty typewriters of these paleo-hippies pining for days long gone on the protest line, passing the bong down the row, listening to The Grateful Dead in their VW Microbuses…just chokes you up, doesn’t it?

    Sad thing is, if you wade through their cliche festival…you 1) never get that time back. It’s gone. and 2) realize it makes as much sense when you’re sober as it did when you weren’t entirely in command of your faculties.

    Either way…council of elders? Uh huh. Narcissism at it’s finest.

  4. Legisperitus says:

    I’m sure their presence is just as welcome as Joan Baez in 1985 yelling to the Gen-X audience at Live Aid, “This is your Woodstock!” The reaction was notably tepid.

    Whether right, wrong, or just stupid, these kids are there because they think they are doing something original and revolutionary that uniquely belongs to their generation. There could be no wetter blanket for this than an obscure clique of geriatric hippies stepping in front of their bandwagon and pretending to lead it because they’ve “been there, done that.”

  5. Ralph says:

    Father I know of two of these “elders’

    Huerta was one of the founders, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers Union. She is a very vocal proponent of illegal immigration (although UFW used to employ thugs to keep the Brasero’s out of the fields in the 60’s) She spoke at Tucson High School a few years ago and caused quite a stir when she said in her address to students “Republicans Hate Latinos”.

    Rev. Fife is a retired Diciples of Christ minister from Tucson. He was one of the founders of the so called “Sanctuary Movement” in the 1980’s. This movement smuggled mainly latin american people into the US to protect them from politcally based persecution in their country of origin. He was also one of the main founders of the Humain Borders movement that placed water stations in the Arizona desert so that illegal crossers might not die of thirst. They also went out and offered medical and “political” aid as necessary.

    In my opinion, Huerta is a dangerous radical in the 60’s marxist vein. In addition I have found her writings and speechs to be racist and inflamatory.

    Rev. Fife, on the other hand, seems to be a reasoned “christian” man. Although I pretty much disagree with most everything he has done politcally, his heart seems to be in the right place.

    I find it troubling that a “religious sister” would link herself with the likes of Huerta.

  6. Trisagion says:

    What in the name of all that is holy are these people on? The sheer self-regard is staggering.

    As an interested observer from the other side of the pond, I never cease to be astonished by the brazen way in which the American Magisterium of Nuns is prepared to yoke itself to any left-wing cause that happens to float down the J&P sewer. Fr Z puts his finger on the button when he points to the silence of these contemptible harpies on the greatest injustice facing the Western world: the slaughter of the innocents in the womb. May God forgive them for this deafening silence, because I’m not sure I can.

    Deacon Stephen Morgan

  7. APX says:

    Being Friday and a day of Penance, I watched their YouTube video here, . I don’t see anything artistic coming out of it. The majority of all the aforementioned committee members are southerners and not Catholic. I don’t see the significance or anything being accomplished out of these protests.

  8. jaykay says:

    And of course, in deference to local customs concerning womens’ clothing, in the Cairo protest Sr. Joan wore her old 1960s habit with full wimple.

    [I also believe in porcine aviation.]

  9. HyacinthClare says:

    This is FUNNY. Who said, “Never trust anybody over 30?” THEY DID! And boy, have these youngsters taken it to heart. I saw a movie once when an evil witch was destroyed when everybody just turned around and refused to look at her. I think these flower children are about to get the serious wilt.

  10. DisturbedMary says:

    Good thing the council of coots showed up when Zoo-cotti park was cleared. I doubt the microphone people would have given them time to read this 20th century pap.

  11. digdigby says:

    Martin Mosebach called my attention to something in his marvelous book ‘The Heresy of Formlessness”. From back in the twenties in Germany this ‘type’ festered (nudists, vegetarians, Utopians, the men with the Brecht ‘Caesar’ style haircuts and the women with the handmade ugly clothes and clunky ‘folk’ jewelry). Both Nazis and Communists emerged from their addle-brained melting pot of ‘new’ ideas. These are the ‘advanced’ people the Post VII German church turned to for its art, architecture and ‘new’ ideas. This is just an American version.

  12. Shonkin says:

    I wonder why Daniel Berrigan didn’t show up!

  13. JohnE says:

    “At lease the sixties protests gave us some decent folk songs. Anything artistic coming out of this Occupy thing?”


  14. Geoffrey says:

    My eyes hurt… from rolling them so much as I read this article!

  15. Martial Artist says:

    Sr. Joan, and her friends, have done us all (i.e., every living human person) a great disservice. She writes:

    A newly organized, independent group of leaders from many of the defining American social justice movements of the 20th century a veritable who’s who of social change in the United States over the last 60 years has risen up anew….

    Her disservice is that she fails to name names. Could this possibly be because the social change over the last 60 years includes many much more frequent forms of conduct which have not been for the good of society? I refer of course, to the increase in the number of children born out of wedlock, the increasing indicidence of (organized and unorganized) criminal activity, the increase in the rate of cohabitation and the decrease in the rate of marriage, the creation of a massive class of people who are chronically unemployed or underemployed and dependent on social welfare programs, the state of a national and world economy in which the currency is inflated year after year, because it is within the power of each and every government to create as much money as it deems useful, thereby devaluing the currency already in circulation, and have thereby contributed to a world in which virtually every nation is a debtor nation, and all are now facing bankruptcy as the fruit of their labors.

    Could it be that, were we to know who these “leaders” for “social justice” are, that anyone with any sense at all would cease to give them so much as a moment’s notice or hearing? I think that is likely the case. They don’t really want to be known for who they are because some of us would put two and two together and make a point of educating our fellows that these are the people whose actions facilitated the moral and economic collapse of not only the United States, but most of the world’s nations, whether directly or indirectly.

    They are typical progressives, so convinced of the historical, moral and intellectual rectitude of their personal biases and delusions that they are unable to repent of the damage they have wrought, because they, with their sincere good intentions, couldn’t possibly have been responsible for the horrific results of their proposed social changes. Progressives are very dangerous to liberty, responsibility and morality, and the level of the danger is in direct proportion to the sincerity of their autocratically beneficent aims and intentions!

    Here endeth the rant.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  16. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Does she really imagine that things will be BETTER for women and the alphabet-soup crowd as a result of Tahrir Square?

  17. AnAmericanMother says:

    There is no fool like an old fool.

  18. mimimarimi says:

    Where are the tambourines?

  19. jesusthroughmary says:

    AnAmericanMother: +1

  20. Gail F says: — Social activist, founder of Sweet Honey in Rock. The web site plays a song called “Buses are a-comin,” which sounds lovely but is NOT exactly the same sentiment as “Train is a-comin,” a Gospel song.

  21. Supertradmum says:

    “Christian anarchism” is the phrase used lovingly by some of these in the group above. What an oxymoron…pun intended.

  22. Pingback: MONDAY MORNING EXTRA |

  23. gsk says:

    I dissected one of Sister’s books a few years back and found the same narcissistic cant:
    Main point is her hypocrisy. If age equals street cred (in her estimation) then why didn’t she ever offer it to her elders when she was a young whippersnapper?

  24. Bill Foley says:

    from Bill Foley

    Father Z,

    Unfortunately, I share the same city as Rev. John Fife.

    He used his church–Presbyterian I think–as a sanctuary for illegals.

    I once attended a wedding in his church. The groom was a Catholic; therefore, a priest was present, but I did not know who he was. Instead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the words used were Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Do I need to say anything else.

  25. Tony Layne says:

    Funny … I was just saying yesterday that “the jokes continue to write themselves”. I had no idea my words would be borne out almost literally.

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