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Nuns on the Bus

“On Being” with Krista Tippett airs on Atlanta’s NPR station on Sunday afternoons. I love listening to it, but that is a tough time for a preacher to stay awake. One episode that we all need to stay awake for, though, was her interview with the founder of Nuns on the Bus. This is how Krista’s blog describes her:

Campbell, SimoneSr. Simone Campbell became a national figure–a bit of a religious rock star–as a face of the “Nuns on the Bus.” She is a lawyer and lobbyist in addition to being a nun, a poet, and a serious Zen practitioner. Simone Campbell is the executive Director of NETWORK–a lobbying organization created to represent people on the margins of society on Capitol Hill. Their mission includes “mending the wealth gap,” “enacting a living wage,” and “crafting a faithful budget that benefits the 100 percent.” Sr. Simone grew up in southern California, became animated by the Civil Rights movement, and took first vows with the Catholic order of the Sisters of Social Service in 1967.

The episode with Sister Campbell was entitled, “How to be Spiritually Bold.” I wish it was a course that all Christians could take, particularly those of us who are in positions of leadership. It is remarkable that a nun–a woman living under the authority of men, in a very hierarchical system–has been able to assert her views and vision in such a powerful way. I think what she has to say to us is really important:

MS. TIPPETT: I really like the way you talk about being for the 100 percent. You know? I mean, in some ways, a lot of the issues you take up and the policies you take up are maybe, in a superficial way, associated with this language of the 99 percent, which had its moment and it’s had its meaning.

SR. SIMONE: Well, it’s because everybody’s story has a place. But no one should be dominating the rest of the community. And that piece is–I got this chance to talk–we’re doing business roundtables, and I got this chance to talk to some entrepreneur, C.E.O. types. And so I got to ask them finally this question that I’ve been really wondering about which was­–the report was that the average C.E.O. of a publicly traded company got $10 million in salary a year, and they were going for 11 million. And so I got to ask them, “Well guys, I’m kind of curious about this. Is it that they’re not getting by on 10 million that they need 11 million? I don’t get it.” And this one guy said, just like this-he said, “Oh, no Sister Simone. That’s not it. It’s not about the money.” He said, “It’s–we’re very competitive. And we want to win. And money just happens to be the current measure of winning.” And then I think, well, could we have a measure that’s a little less toxic? [laughter]

Because that’s it. It’s not that they want to hoard this money, they want to win. And so if we can understand for the common good what is underlying their desire, and then we could find some other measures that would free up money, so they pay some decent wages for heaven’s sakes. So anyway, it was an interesting conversation. But seeing–having the curiosity to see their perspective allows for finding new solutions. Because if we just fight and resist-this is the other piece about contemplative life. If we just fight against something, it reinforces it.



Rev. Michael Piazza

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