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Alinsky Is Dead, Long Live Paul

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
©Catholic Online 2005

There is a new day in our church and even a radical day. People of faith are now invited to make a choice, be followers of Christ or be followers of the world, but do not do both. It is also a day marked by the death of the ideas of Saul Alinsky.


Who was Saul Alinsky? He was the famous 20th century community organizer who wrote the book Rules for Radicals among others. He was notable for teaching deceptive practices in the interest of helping groups to pursue selfish political interests. the text was used for a Harvard Divinity School course entitled Organizing: People, Power and Change. (HDS 3914) I would be shocked if a divinity school with the Prestige of Harvard would actually approve the use Machiavellian techniques to bring forth selfish agendae, which is, of course, the method of Alinsky’s madness. What is more interesting is that the syllabus can be found, as of this writing, on the Carnegie Foundation website, and I am sure that organization has its own reasons for posting that syllabus and that text.

This course, as cited on the Carnegie Foundation website, was taught in the fall of 2001. This was the last semester before the attack on the Church by media, government and universities that began in the Spring of 2002. According to Aimee Carevich of Voice of the Faithful, a teaching fellow for this class, it is this course and its teacher, Marshall Ganz that are behind this attack and this dissident group and its goal to attempt to stage a coup of the Catholic Church. However evidence is now growing that those in that course and other disciples of Alinksy may have just walked into a trap courtesy of their now deceased mentor.

The most famous Alinsky quote in this book cites Lucifer as a great model because he was the first radical. Yes, indeed that is true. He is also the first radical that lost. (Hello!!) Further, the quote cites that at least Lucifer gets his own kingdom. Well that is true, but that is literally like saying to a prisoner on death row, “Well, look at it this way, at least you get your own room and when they publicly execute you, you will be the star of the show.”


What is more important is that Alinsky is obsolete. He represents a mode of philosophical thinking out of a model of humanity that is becoming more and more outdated by the second. Other radicals, such as Walter Wink, recognize that the best model for the radical is not the pride filled Lucifer, but the humble St. Paul.

St. Paul saw change as beginning on a personal and spiritual level. He saw that it begins with a relationship with the living God, Jesus, and proceeds on a four-dimensional human level. Here prayer not only provides results, but more importantly it provides insights and direction in the fight for true human freedom and liberation. Of the forces that tried to affect change, history shows that consistently it is Paul and his successors, rooted in Christ who remain the most successful.

Paul also saw that such change had to be rooted not in the selfish means but in Love. “God,” Paul taught, “is love.” Therefore, it is essential that the warrior for God, is a person of love and like himself one who is passionately committed to the truth.

Alinsky and for that matter Harvard University root themselves in a thinking that rejects that spirituality. Harvard is a Unitarian Universalist school. One of the tenets of Unitarian Universalism is a rejection of the bible and divine revelation and exaltation of anthropocentric thinking. Therefore, the roots of Harvard philosophy do not give St. Paul his due as servant of Christ and strategist for His Kingdom. The best Harvard can do is to put Alinsky and Paul on the same footing, at worst is to put Alinsky higher than Paul because he is more modern than the Saint is.


Yet, that only works if Alinsky’s materialistic anthropology is correct. In other words, that only works if indeed God does not exist and life has no meaning. Yet, time and time again, we learn that God is real and, therefore, Alinsky’s tactics are obsolete. This is the reason Paul’s ideas are more important than Saul Alinsky’s and his disciples.

Indeed, Walter Wink demonstrates in his books that Jesus’ teachings of how to retaliate by “turning the other cheek” are extremely effective techniques in radical non-violent protest in service to the Kingdom of God. These are techniques that Paul understood and practiced well.

Yet, what are the fruits of these realities? This brings me to my original point. God is sovereign. The bible teaches over and over again that when God wants to call his people to repentance, He uses his enemies to do his work. The Crisis in the Church is actually a call to ...

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