is not fully appreciated.
The essence of this teaching is
the fundamental option for the poor."
As we approach the 70th issue of The Social Edge, I've decided to take some time for rest and reflection. As a result, beginning on May 15, 2008 we will not be publishing a monthly issue any longer. As we move into July 2008, we'll be updating our readers on where the publication is heading.
For this special issue, we selected interviews and columns from the past seven years. It wasn't easy making these selections. But it was interesting to discover new meaning in the ideas expressed by the activists, authors, journalists, and theologians who spoke to us over the years.
I was particularly drawn to Paulist priest Thomas Ryan who talked to me three years ago about his book Reclaiming The Body in Christian Spirituality. "Simply taking a day of creative non-doing to re-generate our inner spirit is something that is hard for North Americans to do --and something for which we receive little support in the culture," he said.
Fr. Ryan was critical of the emphasis in our culture upon efficiency and productivity. "It makes it so difficult for us to live with a Sabbath rhythm by taking a day each week to simply delight in all that is given: Life, health, family, friendship, the arts, and nature. And to know that it's not only okay, but doing so comes as a commandment of God at Sinai," he said.
Other selections we've included this month are interviews with Sr. Helen Prejean, Kathy Kelly, Fr. Diarmuid O'Murchu, Senator George McGovern, and Fr. Roy Bourgeois.
Reviewing our archives from the past seven years also reminded me of the fine writing of Ted Schmidt, Maura Hanrahan, Paul Butler, and Mark Klempner. I will miss their distinct voices every month.
I must also thank Robyn Lee who faithfully provided excellent copy-editing and editorial support. I will miss her encouragement and optimism. Thanks also to Kathy Perry who provided many book reviews and editorial support when needed.
A special thanks to my co-publisher Peter Robson who persisted with his vision of web publishing when I had my doubts. Your moral support and expertise were appreciated. We weathered many storms together, but managed to keep our spirits up.
Heartfelt thanks to all our advertisers and to Ontario-PLURA and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough who helped us launch our publication in February 2001.
Finally, thanks to our readers. Many of you wrote with encouragement and ideas. Every month we tried to produce the best issue we could and it was good to hear from you by letter, telephone, or e-mail.
I've been blessed with the opportunity to publish a social justice and faith magazine. It's enriched my own faith and constantly reminded me of the importance of speaking to the problems of our age with hope, love, and mercy.
Editor's Note: My wife Sheila O'Keefe-McCarthy has been a constant source of support over the past seven years. I'm not sure I could have started the publication without her loving care and spirit. My son Conor has been patient and supportive with the publication's deadlines from the beginning. My mother Mary McCarthy has been an unfailing source of love, care, and encouragement. Thanks also to my mother-in-law Teresa O'Keefe for her support and good wishes. Finally, my brothers Todd and John (and their families) have always given me their love and companionship. I also dedicate this issue to my father John A. McCarthy (1932-1997). His integrity, humility, and faith continue to inspire me.
GERRY McCARTHY, 48, lives in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada.
McCarthy is the founding co-publisher and editor of The Social Edge which is a monthly online social justice and faith magazine. He's also a writer, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including: The Toronto Star, The Christian Science Monitor, The Globe and Mail, The National Catholic Reporter, and The Montreal Gazette. In May 2008 he took a sabbatical from publishing The Social Edge and is currently working on a book.
The New American Dream Trivia Question:
To win a round button that says, "Bush Is Lying About What He Knew," be the last one to correctly answer the following.
Gerry McCarthy would rather be ....
a. Fishing with Red Green b. Playing drums for the Michael Joncas band c. Eating a blueberry muffin made by Mrs. Walters, writing his Sunday sermon d. Selling health insurance in Duluth e. Fishing with Avril Lavigne f. Looking for Bigfoot on Baffin Island
e) Fishing with Avril Lavigne (and hopefully discussing the meaning of life and our dominant culture)
NAD: Gerry, hello, thank you for taking the time for this.
Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
What did you start out wanting to be?
I grew up in Toronto, Ontario.
I graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in political science and history.
I entered St. Augustine's Seminary in 1982 and studied for the priesthood for one year.
I married my wife, Sheila, in 1984, and next year we'll celebrate 25 years of marriage. We have one son, Conor. He is a Jesuit candidate living in Halifax.
I started wanting to be a priest and ended up publishing an online social justice and faith magazine.
I also wanted to a write a play that intermingled powerful social issues with personal relationships (a kitchen sink drama).
Is there still time?
To quote Yogi Berra" "It ain't over till it's over."
NAD: How did you get the idea for The Social Edge? You started in 2002, right?
That's a long time.
I've had a long-term love affair with magazines.
My vision was to publish a social justice and faith magazine on the Internet.
I wanted it to have a magazine feel.
I was sceptical about publishing online at first.
This was eight years ago.
But I believed (and still do) that the power and "voice" of the written word comes through in print and digital form.
I also think we still haven't fully understood the revolution of Internet publishing.
There's a dark side to the Internet.
But the Net has also seriously shaken up the established media establishment in ways that we're still coming to terms with and reporting on.
We started publishing The Social Edge in February 2001.
In May 2008, I decided to take a sabbatical from publishing every month.
By the end of January 2009 we'll make a final decision on what direction the publication will be taking.
We published nearly 70 issues over the past seven years.
Most of our editorial (99 percent) was original.
That can be exasperating.
Sometimes you only have so many issues in you.
NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?
We don't ask this to make fun. We ask because we really seek the answers.
— Are UFOs real?
— Did we land on the moon in 1968?
— Did Bush knock down the towers?
— Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
— The Oklahoma City bombing? Wasn't that just another U.S. government terrorist exercise? Or not.
— Waco. We burned kids, right? You can see flames shooting out of the tanks. Or not.
— Is Bigfoot real?
— Is there a God?
It's virtually impossible to answer this question in a few sentences. But I'll try. Recently the 90-year-old Dominican monk Sebastian Moore wrote: "Love led Jesus to walk deliberately into the role of the scapegoat on which our fallen world depends for its ordering, in order to set us free for ever of this horror and make us lovers."
In short, we are loved. And so we should love others.
... What makes you think that?
There's plenty of hatred and fear in the world. But I see love and forgiveness every day. I see possibility. I see determination.
The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.
NAD: Do you cover the Canadian Catholic Church as well as the U.S. Catholic Church, or visa versa?
We cover both.
NAD: What's so important about what the Catholic Church believes, does?
This is difficult to summarize. But I'll try.
The Church is the People of God. It's not about a clerical aristocracy.
The Church should be a light to the world.
It must resist the spirit of the age, especially when that spirit is one of fear and materialism.
The Church must lead by example. It must accept that there will be dissent among the faithful at times.
But it must dialogue with love, patience, and hope.
The Catholic Church's social teaching is not fully appreciated. The essence of this teaching is the fundamental option for the poor.
In thinking about the Church today, perhaps we should keep in mind what Yves Congar said about Pope John XXIII. "He loved people more than power."
NAD: Is religion still relevant?
Religion is always relevant when it's about love.
It’s especially relevant when it holds up a mirror to the prevailing culture.
NAD: Who are some of the folks you have been able to speak to, report about during your years with Social Edge?
We've interviewed loads of wonderful people:
Wendell Berry, George McGovern, Sr. Joan Chittister, Fr. Dan Berrigan, Howard Zinn, Jonathan Schell.
I especially enjoyed speaking with the journalist David Gibson on the Catholic Church.
He is a thoughtful, wise, and kind man.
NAD: Please tell us more about yourself, the things you have done, what you would like to do, what you did today. What do you eat, what do you drive, what do you drink.
What color is your toothbrush?
Blue and white
Do you wear pajamas or sweatpants?
Does your favorite coffee cup have words on it? What are they?
I never drink coffee.
I would like the words of Martin Luther King Jr. on my cup: "Take the first step in faith, you don't have to see the whole staircase."
What did you absolutely have to get done by noon today?
Prepare lunch for my 19-year-old son.
How about by Christmas 2009?
Finish my book and repair the ceiling.
NAD: What's next for you?
Make a decision on The Social Edge. Finish my book. Pay bills. Write a play. See the movies Nixon/Frost and Revolutionary Road.
NAD: What else would you like to add? What else should I have asked?
That's it, except to ask what makes me laugh. The answer: Mel Brook's 2000-year-old man.
Congratulations on The American Dream, Mike.
My best for 2009.
NAD: Please insert a link here to something you would like linked to, with a brief tag re: where that link goes:
Everyone once in awhile we need to leave North America — see The Times Literary Supplement
If you search the archives below, you will find, in a sort of order [last to first], interviews with:
Jim Cullen, editor of The Progressive Populist magazine
Bartcop, old-school blogger from Tulsa
Lee Rayburn, radio show host from Madison, Wisconsin
Aimee England, bookseller in Michigan
Al Markowitz, poet for the working woman & man
Timbre Wolf, a Tulsa peace minstrel goes to Hawaii
Steven Stothard, a radical grows in Indiana
Dale Clark, an artist in the desert
Jacqui Devenuau, Green Party organizer in Maine
Don Harkins, co-editor of The Idaho Observer
Stewart Bradley, independent film producer
Rick Smith, Cleveland area radio host
William P. Meyers, independent book publisher, political activist
Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, 9/11 Truth activist
Richard D. Brinkman, Edmonton, Canada 9/11 Truth
Lynn Berg, New York City actor
Alejandro Rojas, of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network
Brian Kasoro, publisher of The Liberator magazine
Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth
Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change
Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times
Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams
Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher
Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author
Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love
Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines
Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City
Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza
Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier
Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs
Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker
Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker
Bob Graf, One of the Milwaukee 14
Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher
Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia
David Ray, Great American Poet
Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas
Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter
Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show
Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother
Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas
David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author
Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist
Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal
Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle
Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota
Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary
Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist
Meria Heller, radio show host
Phil Hey, professor, poet
John Crawford, book publisher
Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher
Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth
Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist
Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist
A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha
Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher
Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left
Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist
Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners
Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper