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Leaven: An Independent Catholic Voice In The Rocky Mountain Region

June 18, 2010

(Note: John Kane – not to be mixed up with a Denver federal judge of the same name – recently retired after many years teaching Philosophy at Regis University, Denver’s Jesuit University. For some time, I am not sure how long but it is many years, Kane has also edited `Leaven’ – which he describes as an Independent Catholic Voice In The Rocky Mountain Region. As I publish the Colorado Progressive Jewish News I was interested in knowing more about this`alternative’ Catholic publication. We met once over coffee near Regis and had what I consider to be a memorable exchange. Both of us are dealing with religious-cultural communities whose histories lie strongly within what might be called `the progressive movement’.

Yet at the same time both groups – US Jews and Catholics – in different ways are moving right politically. In the past, both have been victimized in this country by bigotry, a bigotry that has not entirely disappeared by any means. Although it often forgotten, one of the more persistent forms of racism in this country was (and remains to a certain extent) anti-Catholicism. This was especially true around the end of the 19th and turn of the 20th century but it has never really disappeared. This state’s KKK  which was one of the nation’s strongest for a short period of time in the 1920s – was based largely on an anti-catholic thrust and that despicable and organization burned their racist crosses on the Regis campus (among other places) . More or less at the same time – Jewish immigrants, largely from Eastern Europe,were facing similar large doses of bigotry.

Flash forward a hundred years and how both communities have evolved and changed. There are differences – American Jews, other than on Israel remain generally moderate and liberal on social questions, minus, of course, the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Surveys on the political preferences of American Catholics show a shift in a more conservative direction for may. A publication like `Leaven’ which I suppose within American Catholicism can be considered on the liberal or left side of American Catholicism’s political spectrum would have represented mainstream Catholic thinking 50 or 75 years ago. Today that is not the case as the progressive base is narrowing. As for myself  and the Colorado Progressive Jewish News – I’ve long felt that the publication a half century ago would have been within the mainstream of American Jewish thought. Then at dinner, young Jews would agonize as to whether they join the Socialist or Communist Parties, as many did. Today, young Jews agonize over whether they should drop their Democratic Party credentials and become Republicans, as so many young Jews have here in Denver.

Not all that long ago, I went to a labor-related event sponsored by a labor research organization called FRESC (which as I recall stands for something like Front Range Economic and Social Council). They do good work. It was a fund raising dinner and some three to four hundred people attended to show support, most of the from local unions. I had not been to such a clearly working class event in Denver for a long time and was deeply satisfied to reconnect to the movement from which I have, my whole adult life, gotten my political and moral values. Mayor Hickenlooper was there, pounding flesh and lying through his teeth about how he supports labor. I remember looking at him and thinking what a pathetic figure – essentially run by the city’s developers – this phony guy is. And now, run by those same folk, there is a good chance he’ll be governor.

That said, I suddenly felt a wave of sadness, of a kind I rarely experience, as I looked around the room. There were lots of Chicanos – many of them young, some blacks, many people whose ethnicity I could not identify for sure… but precious few Jews. Where were the Jews? At the Green Gables Country Club cutting deals? What happened to the likes of Rudy Schware, Harry Nier, Walter Gerash? And I thought – fifty years ago, half the people in this room would have been Jewish – now it’s just a few burnt out leftie stragglers like me, while the sons and daughters of Denver’s working class Jews of past generations have `moved on’.  True there was one rabbi, Silverman? – I forget his name – who won an award.

I know, I’m drifting. My hunch is that John Kane could tell similar stories about Catholics who had, it seems, `lost their way’.

In any case, John Kane put a great deal of thought and emotional struggle into this statement and I hope that it is read far and wide)


Working For Peace In Israel/Palestine

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 20, 2010 1:24 pm

    Incredible story

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