Reflection 4/2

This week, we first learned about the variety of students’ experiences at sectarian churches. In some respects, the our experiences in sectarian churches were similar to our experiences in denominational churches. For example, both kinds of churches often seemed desperate for newcomers and vigorously welcomed young adults into their community. On the other hand, the theology of the sectarian churches differed sharply from the that of their denominational counterparts. Generally, these churches espoused a Biblically literalistic point of view that spawned conservative social and political values. Some of them also embraced an eschatological worldview that focused on right belief leading to heaven or hell. While the denominational churches usually hosted 50-300 people, the sectarian churches fell on either side of this spectrum, hosting anywhere from a dozen to thousands.
On Wednesday, Dr. Spickard presented on social justice Catholics. These Catholic workers tended to focus heavily on actions over belief or adherence to hierarchical standards. Their justice work took two forms: work with the homeless on Skid Row and larger political acts of civil disobedience. Wednesday night Eucharist helped fuel their seemingly endless energy for activism. The ritual centered around a narrative that took participants from despair to jubilance over the course of the hour, which they then funneled into their Wednesday night soup line. This progression from Eucharist to soup line underscores the fundamental connection for these Workers between faith and justice; many interviewees commented that one could not exist without the other. In all, Dr. Spickard’s presentation captured the unique position the LA Catholic Workers occupy, in the heart of the Catholic faith but on the fringes of the institution.