Since this is our first day of posting, we'll report briefly on the First Social Justice Collaborative in St. Louis, Missouri (August 7-9), from which we just returned. The Collaborative explored possible collaboration (obviously) among various groups advocating approaches to social reform. We discussed
the natural law orientation of the interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice ("CESJ"), and the consistency of CESJ's programs and proposals with Catholic social teaching as well as Judaism, Islam, and other ethically-based belief systems and philosophies. The most important decision coming out of the Collaborative was to begin the process of forming the "Abraham Federation," agreeing that this was to be (in the language adopted),
The Abraham Federation is a coalition of organizations that hold in common the idea that access to property ownership is the key to justice, and justice is the key to peace. We are a think tank and catalyst for social change comprised of Muslims, Christians, Jews and all who uphold the principles of natural law. We advocate limited economic power of the State, free and open markets, and the full rights of private property.
The second most important decision (although first in immediacy) was to highlight the effort in East St. Louis, Illinois, to rebuild the metropolitan area, beginning with a 7.5 megawatt waste-to-energy power plant, to be directly owned by every resident in the area. The Honorable Alvin Parks, Jr., mayor of East St. Louis, gave a short talk during the dinner on Thursday night, expressing his appreciation for the efforts being put forth by the Collaborative and presenting his vision for the future.
The "Doctors' Plan for Universal Health Care" (a way to address the health care crisis) and the "Homeowners' Equity Corporation" — a way to solve the mortgage crisis — were covered briefly. Both of these are described in papers on the CESJ web site. (By the way, Dr. Norman Kurland, the other author of this blog, is scheduled to be interviewed this Friday, August 15, 2008 on "Michigan Catholic Radio" at 7:15 am (check that time; it might not be the local time), with Michael O'Dea of the "Christus Medicus" foundation, on the Doctors' Plan.)
The meetings were held at the St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, co-sponsored by the Scholars for Social Justice and CESJ, and hosted by the Catholic Central Union of America in tandem with their annual convention. CESJ presented the "Just Third Way," the American Chesterton Society presented G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc's "distributism," while the Public Education Revenue Council presented the "single tax" proposal of Henry George (1839-1897).
The two-day series of meetings was followed by a banquet. This writer delivered the keynote address, "Good is to be Done" (stating the basic precept of the natural law), to the CCUA and guests, which is celebrating its centenary this year. Dignitaries attending the banquet included Reverend Edward Krause, C.S.C., Ph.D., son of noted University of Notre Dame Athletic Director Edward "Moose" Krause, head of the Central Bureau of the CCUA and professor of philosophy at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, Reverend Matthew Habiger, O.S.B., Ph.D., former head of Human Life International, Dr. Norman G. Kurland, president of CESJ, Don Killoren, vice president of the Public Education Revenue Council, and Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society and star of EWTN's television show on G. K. Chesterton, now filming its fifth season.
Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3)