In this final installment, I speak with Jim Morris, former executive director of the United Nations World Food Program about his present work in central and southern Indiana with the Interfaith Food Initiative, http://interfaithhungerinitiative.org Jim offers that so many who are “food insecure,” especially children, should not be especially here in the U.S. ”Every child ought to have a well-balanced diet of good nutrition providing 2300 calories a day … Doing something about child hunger is the most powerful intervention we can make in the life of a child.”
Part 2 of my conversation with Mr. Jim Morris continues with a discussion about the root causes of chronic hunger and malnutrition in the world and the different responses that are being posed to address the issues. JIm speaks of his time in Rome with the World Food Program and the work of individual Catholics he has met and Catholic Relief Services in seeking to feed the hungry. Finally we talk about the Interfaith Food Initiative being undertaken in the city of Indianapolis to make sure that our families and children are fed.
[personal note: This interview took place as I was coming down with the flu - didn't realize I sounded so bad until I heard it again. Woe was me ....]
This podcast is the first of the three-part conversation that I had with Mr. Jim Morris. Jim served as executive director of the UN World Food Program [UNWFP], the largest humanitarian program in the world. Jim was executive director of the Program for over five years and during his tenure the UNWFP fed over 15 million people in more than 100 countries. In this first conversation, he and I talk about the scope of hunger in the world today and some of the root causes of this. We also look at basic categories such as chronic hunger situations versus hunger caused by disasters or cataclysms, the distinction between hunger and malnourishment, and the question of world hunger from a moral or economic or political perspective. “The average 7-8 year old boy in North Korea is already 6-7” shorter and 40 pounds lighter than his counter-part in South Korea…. For $35-40 we can feed a child in school for a whole year.”
In this final segment of my conversation with Duane Arnold and Michael Bell we discuss the tensions that exist in the present culture around the whole issue of the nature of suffering and martyrdom. We discuss, for example, the difference between the martyrdom that Archbishop Romero suffered and the martyrdom that is embraced by some terrorist extremists. Death and suffering within the Christian context are always connected to the person of Christ and his death on the Cross. In addition, we talk about how the whole life of the Christian is one in which we move more deeply into a life of sacrifice so that the idea of dying for something is not all that foreign because we have been dying to so many other things already. Next, we turn to the person of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a martyr at the hands of Nazi Germany, and the song they have created around Bonhoeffer’s words of martyrdom. Finally, we talk about the anonymous words of martyrdom found at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and the incredible act of forgiveness of ones persecutors found in these words.
In the second part of my conversation with Michael Bell and Duane Arnold, creators of the “Martyrs’ Project,” we discuss the present reality of Christian martyrdom in the world today, how thousands of Christians are losing their lives, their livelihood, and their freedom all over the world simply because they are Christian. We discuss further on the ancient understanding of “martyr” as a witness who suffers for the faith. Michael asks the very provocative question, “What would you die for?” which leads to further questions: “What are you living for now? What would you be willing to suffer for?” Finally, our attention turns to the witness of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a 20th century Christian martyr and how his words of martyrdom lead them to create the song “Romero.”
With this podcast, I begin the first of three conversations with Michael Bell and Duane Arnold. Duane and Michael founded “The Martyrs’ Project,” an Indianapolis based endeavor that takes the words of various Christian martyrs through the ages, many times the words uttered just prior to their death, and interprets them through various original musical compositions and genres. Intrigued by the meaning of martyr in Greek (marturious, “to witness”), Duane and Michael and I converse about their faith journeys in Jesus Christ that found direction and depth through the study of Church History and the Fathers of the Church. They note the profoundness of the martyrs in that they not only gave their lives because of their relationship with Jesus Christ, they died forgiving their executioners. The discussion highlights the Christian historical grounding of liturgy and social justice without drawing false division between the two.
Tuesday, April 4, I was privileged to celebrate the Chrism Mass in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The cathedral was packed, standing room only. There were almost 130 priests present, more than in many a year. Among those gathered was Archabbot Justin Duvall of the St. Meinrad’s Archabbey, permanent deacons, PLCs, religious, seminarians, and lay folk from all over the archdiocese. The music was superb, our singing accompanied and encouraged by a choir made up of singers from all over the archdiocese. I offer for those who desire an audio file of my homily.
Bishop Coyne and Fr. Hunt actually do get around to discussing the use of the social sciences in biblical interpretation. The key point is that the social sciences are used “in the service of the sacred word” under the guidance of the Church’s magisterium. In addition, they spend some time in conversation unpacking the idea of biblical “inspiration:” the texts as inspired texts, the inspiration present in the reading of the texts under the inspiration of the Spirit.
Just when it appears that Fr. Hunt and Bishop Coyne will finally be discussing the question, “What is the role of the human sciences in helping us understand and interpret biblical texts?,” they go off on another few excursions: What does it mean to interpret the Bible in the literal sense? Fr. Mark makes the distinction between reading the texts “literally” versus reading the texts in the “literal and spiritual sense” and drawing upon the Church’s teaching, proceeds to explain what he means by this. Finally, they discuss the dynamic of moving from an ancient language and the meaning that the words held within that context to the meaning the words now bear in the present translation.
In this podcast, Bishop Coyne and Fr. Hunt continue their discussion concerning the canonicity and interpretation of the Bible as a book in itself. Topics covered: Is it the “Hebrew scriptures” or the “Old Testament?” Why do the number of books in the Bible vary from one edition to another? How did the early Christian communities collect and use the Old Testament texts? Bishop Coyne and Fr. Hunt also discuss the interesting and pivotal role that St. Jerome played in the compilation and translation of the biblical texts from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. Finally, they discuss the numbering of the psalms: are there 149 or 150 psalms and why the discrepancy in different editions?