Twelve Practices by Brian McDermott, SJ

Twelve Practices

by Brian O. McDermott, SJ,
Rector of the Jesuit Community at Loyola
University Maryland

exerpt from “What is Apostolic Spirituality?”
full article appeared in
America, Nov. 11, 2002

  1. Growing in one’s knowledge of Sacred Scripture (word) and actively
    participating in the church’s sacramental life (worship).
  2. Wasting time with God through the discipline of dedicating definite periods
    of time to God, praying in whatever way works: for example, imaginative prayer,
    affective prayer, meditative prayer (i.e. pondering holy texts), praying before
    icons or holy pictures, engaging in centering prayer or Zen sitting.
  3. Making the examination of consciousness daily.
  4. Spontaneously and briefly turning to God, to Jesus, to the Spirit, to Mary
    or one of the saints during the course of the day.
  5. Seeking to live and act in the here-and-now.
  6. Becoming more and more detached from my ego-centered thinking and feeling.
  7. Recalling where my identity comes from, as I act in my varied roles and need
    to deal with criticism that comes to me in these roles.
  8. Developing a contemplative attitude, i.e., attending to the other (whether
    it be a rose, a sunset or a person) as other and letting the other affect me,
    move me, on its terms.
  9. Moving back and forth from the dance floor of direct engagement to the
    balcony view of the system as system, asking what God is trying to do on each
    level.
  10. Deepening, and asking the Spirit to help me deepen, my gratitude as a
    fundamental virtue.
  11. Learning how to discern spirits, moods, feelings, as they affect my outlook,
    attitude and choices.
  12. Making the effort, with increasing frequency, to choose what is more to
    God’s greater glory in the world and more congruent with my deepest desires at
    significant junctures in my life.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Michelle Alexander writes this in the Introduction:

An extraordinary percentage of black men in the United States are legally barred from voting today, just as they have been throughout most of American history.  They are also subject to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, education, public benefits, and jury service just as their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents once were.

What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it?  In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion and social contempt.   So we don’t.  Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind.  Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans.    Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion form jury service  –are suddenly legal.   As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow.  We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.