On the Very Last Day ...

"Priests, clergy should be saving souls – not medical supplies…
Church ~ religious ~ workers shouldn't be mixing politics
with true gospel teaching."

This said a fundamentalist priest in El Salvador – on WBUR radio in Boston, January 21, 1990.

Do you agree? Are there any “red lines” that must not be crossed?

The First of May

by Janusz Korczak

(appeared in May 1st, 1920 issue of In the Sun ~ the children's supplement to Warsaw's leading Jewish newspaper – of which the children themselves were the managing editors and writers  - a supplement which Dr. Korczak founded and advised and to which he regularly contributed an article)

Different are the holidays. For different are the holidays of the Catholics, different are the holidays of the Jews, different the holidays of the Moslems, different the holidays of those called the Provoslavs. Something needed to be done so that all the people in the whole world would choose one day and say: 'Let this day be the holiday for all the working people.' A day that will be hot and happy must be chosen. And thus the workers chose the first day of May.
Also on the first of May it can rain, it can be cold, and then the hike won't succeed; but what can one do? You'll always find someone who'll say: 'I don't want to, and I don't like it.' If no – no. He who doesn't want to, doesn't have to. The working people are the majority in every place, and if they want to, then they celebrate The First of May. For all year they work, and in the spring they can have fun for one day.

Not everyone has fun only. There are those who go to meetings, to assemblies, and they speak about what needs to be done in order to improve people's lives, so that they don't get sick, so that they don't starve, so that they read nice books. The workers chose a red flag, for 'the blood of the workers is upon it', and blood is red. The workers said: 'We want a flag, like in the army.' For the workers – they are also soldiers, but instead of killing people, they build. When a cobbler pierces himself with his awl, he bleeds blood. When a carpenter is hurt, blood is spilled. Sometimes, when a tinsmith falls from the roof or when a machine severs the hand of a worker in the factory blood also spills. And there were days when the workers protested and organized for their rights and even organized in revolt – and the soldiers fired their guns at the workers, so that also then blood was spilled. Therefore the workers chose the red flag and they sing that it is red like blood.

They also sing that the old order is collapsing. The old order is not good. Because everyone quarrels and struggles with one another without pause, and too many people lie and cheat and don't live with honesty unless he has good reason to be afraid he will be caught. But there is no great strength in obeying and in not cheating when it is forbidden and someone is watching over you. The new order about which they sing on the First of May – its meaning is that every person will know what to do and what he shouldn't do and that every person will be the one who will watch over himself.

The new order must be such that every person will work some and that people won't be lazy or free-loaders – who enjoy life without contributing his share. The new order – means that schools will be interesting and whoever wants to learn will go to school. The new order – means that the strong won't strike the weak and won't take his property. The new order – means that the scholar won't make fun of those younger than he, who don't understand well, and won't call them bad names and won't deceive them. The new order – it means that children won't hurt other children, and that the children won't cry. The new order – it means that it will be clean and happy every place.

Until one person works, while the other doesn't do anything and he bothers his fellow. Many times the person who doesn't do anything owns a lot of property and his life is happier than the life of the man who works. And this is bad, for this old order is disorder. For it also happens that a person want to work, but he can't find work. For they tell him: 'You are too old, too weak, you are sick.' This is injustice. Must the old and sick die of hunger? What is their guilt? Or someone doesn't know something.
- Why don't you know?
- Because they didn't teach me.
- Why didn't they teach you?
- Because I didn't have parents.
- Because my parents were poor.
Therefore, if a person is poor, must he suffer all the days of his life?!

Therefore, the workers sing on the First of May about the new order. And they are happy that it will be better for their children. Because also for the children it isn't good now. For they are still small and weak, and when they meet a bad person, they don't have the power to defend themselves. Perhaps the children also will choose for themselves a holiday, so that all the children of the whole world can celebrate together – all the children – including the Chinese and the African children. And black and yellow children will come to Europe and together with the while children they'll conduct a demonstration and sing. And afterwards they'll return to Asia and to Africa.

Peter, Paul & Mary
On the very last day

Music & lyrics by Noel Paul Stookey & Peter Yarrow

In the lyrics of this song what is revealed 'on the very last day' is not that this or that religious tradition is true or false or more true or more false, but rather that 'we all are brothers [and sisters] and we all are free' ~ that 'mankind was made of clay; each of us in the very same way' ~ and that '[all of us – ] from dust we came and to dust we'll go' ~ And it is in relation to these truths that we will be judged!

Everybody gonna pray on the very last day / Oh when they hear that bell / A ring the world away / Everybody gonna pray to the Heavens on the Judgment Day // Well you can sing about the great King David / And you can preach about the wisdom of Saul / But the judgment falls on all mankind / When the trumpet sounds the call // All equal and the same / When the Lord, He calls your name / Get ready, brother / For that day // Everybody gonna pray on the very last day / Oh when they hear that bell / A ring the world away / Everybody gonna pray to the Heavens on the Judgment Day // Oh, well one day soon all men will stand / His word will be heeded in all the land / Men shall know and men shall see / We all are brothers and we all are free // Mankind was made of clay / Each of us in the very same way / Get ready, brother / For that day // Everybody gonna pray on the very last day / Oh when they hear that bell / A ring the world away / Everybody gonna pray to the Heavens on the Judgment Day // Oh well the law is given and the law is known / The tale is told and the seed is sown / From dust we came into dust we’ll go / You the know the Lord once told us so // Each brother takes His hand / Heed the meaning of the Lord’s command / Get ready, brother / For that day // Everybody gonna pray on the very last day / Oh when they hear that bell / A ring the world away / Everybody gonna pray to the Heavens on the Judgment Day

Here is just one of endless ways
to engage
this eleventh challenge concerning religiousity/faith & socio-economic justice
~ one of many ways to explore it in a context of Christians and Jews come together
to engage the sacred work of
to enter into some
better understanding of one other,
to develop something
that at least approaches
elements of genuine dialogue !

~ By now you can actually apply any one (or combination of several)
of the now ten other modes of sharing (an) idea(s) with others
that we've shared with you heretofore in this guide.

But, yes, one approach is once again to compose a kind of cantata – perhaps beginning with Peter, Paul & Mary's song ~ and closing with it. Though here we suggest it all begin even before listening – and perhaps viewing the video also of Peter, Paul & Mary singing 'On the Very Last Day' – perhaps you'll begin - even before the music – with the short passage with which we've begun our guide here of the eleventh challenge – with the words of 'our'(!) church worker in El Salvador.

You might even have those words ~ which, of course, we are suggesting be understood ironically – critically ~ you might want to have them in large script on a black or whiteboard or on a large piece of mural paper in the room where you'll be meeting – as participants come into the room.

Choose a few phrases and/or lines from some of our recommended resources on the web and set those out on one or two pages…

See our description above – in our guide to the tenth of The 12 Challenges – of what's involved in composing a kind of cantata which all the participants of your group then enact – read together aloud. For sharing ideas from this our guide to the eleventh challenge – vis-à-vis the two pieces written for children by Dr. Korczak – we suggest that in going around the room and having each participant read slowly and distinctly each reading – we suggest that each paragraph be read by a different participant.

And, again, we suggest that all discussion, sharing of responses, reactions, thoughts and feelings in relation to the readings, the visuals and the music – happen after the cantata-like 'presentation'/'program'. But, of course, that sharing can also happen during – in between – each of the readings, the visuals and the music. It;'s your 'call'! Just let people know clearly how you want to do it – how you'll all proceed with the 'program !

And – of course – you can – it is even preferable to ~ add your own texts, images/visuals and music ~ that what we share here in our guide – suggests, evokes in and for you ~ for yourself – and in developing your 'program' for sharing something of the ideas of each of The Twelve Points with your colleagues in the task, the work of Christian-Jewish dialogue.

What is Happening in the World

Janusz Korczak

January 1, 1919 issue of In the Sun

The war is almost over and people are fighting less, but they are arguing more. The are arguing over the manner of things after the war. They say, that the army is needed, and only that there be few soldiers; and others say, that we need kings, and others say that it is precisely money that causes all the chaos, that because of money there is no justice in the world, because one has plenty and an other lacks everything. Some say, that a person should work as many hours as he likes, and others say, that it should be forbidden to work more than eight hours a day….

They establish different political parties, hold meetings, organize demonstrations. Every person says: - The truth is mine, logic is with me, justice is with me:… How to bring about all these changes, this too is a rock of contention. Some say, if something is to be done, it should be done immediately, and others – that one shouldn’t be hasty and it is best to change everything little by little…

It is indeed true that it is difficult to find a strategy by which the lot of all people in the world will be made better, so that none will be starving, freezing, and sick, and so that there will be justice in the world, and every person will be given whatever he lacks.

People have now gathered in Paris. The have come from America, from England, from Italy, from all the countries,  -  people of all the nations – and have begun to consult together how to arrange things in the world. This is now the most important conference. Everyone is curious to know, will there too they begin to quarrel, or will there be order.

The beginning was very beautiful. Everyone wished each other well, washed and changed clothes, for they came from distant countries, and afterwards they ate lunch together, and afterwards they wanted to tour Paris, because it is a beautiful city. Everyone speaks French.

They don’t have to hurry to begin the proceedings, they’ll wait till everyone comes, so that no one will say afterwards, that again there was no justice, for someone was absent.

Janusz Korczak

~ after a photograph of 'The Old Doctor' ~
Drawing by Steve Copeland

Also see these online resources

On Judaism and economic justice:
(Note two typos in this article: In the second line – should read 'Maimonides' – without the 'i' at the end. And the end of line 5 should read 'pay off debts'.)

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism ~ Economic Justice and Jewish Values ~

Arthur Waskow and The Shalom Center: 'Dedicated to inspiring the Jewish community to greater attention and action on questions of peace and justice for the planet and all who dwell on it; and as part of this effort, to making common cause with peace and justice advocates of all faiths.'

Tikkun ~ 'a magazine dedicated to healing and transforming the world. We seek articles that directly or indirectly give us new insight on how to make that healing and transformation a reality'

'Liberation theology' in the Catholic Church

Catholic Social Teaching ~ Office for Social Justice – St. Paul and Minneapolis ~