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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What is more important is that Alinsky is obsolete. He represents a mode of philosophical thinking out of a model of humanity that is becoming more and more outdated by the second.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 repentance to God's people. Repentance from what? Centrist Mediocrity.


If there is one point that our detractors and I agree on, it is that the true victims of priest sexual abuse are prophets. This is because their plight is nothing short of the symptoms of mediocre Catholicism. You will also notice that the nature of the crisis itself is the fruit of those decision makers in the Church leadership who violated at least one commandment, the eighth against bearing false witness. This is because some decision-makers paid out settlements without determining guilt or innocence of any particular accused priest. This circumvented the standard of truth by which we determine such guilt or innocence--the trial before a judge and or jury, essentially in some cases bearing false witness by default. This may be civilly legal, but, it is questionable in the moral realm. (cf Romans 8) Lawyers and non-profit organizations began to see the Church as the new pot of gold at the end of the tunnel because of that practice.

According to the Alinsky based "Voice of the Faithful" its target for membership is not the Catholic on either end of the spectrum, but those in the middle. They are neither deeply committed, nor completely uncommitted. Voice of the Faithful wants to fill its membership with the middle ground, the centrist Catholic, the medium Catholic, in other words, The mediocre Catholic lay and clergy.


The funny part is that Voice of the Faithful has worked hard to recruit these Catholics and even invested a lot of money to do so. More so as I stated on CNN, MSNBC and NECN they are upper part of the upper middle-class. Yet, strangely, they always belonged to Voice of the Faithful even before the group planned to exist. This is because Jesus rejects the mediocre, centrist, middle ground disciple. Let's go to the word of God.

Revelations 3:15 "I know your deeds, I know that you are neither hot nor cold! How I wish you were one or the other--Hot or Cold! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I spew you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16)

Do not miss those to whom he is speaking. The passage continues

"You keep saying, 'I am so rich and secure I want for nothing.' Little do you realize how wretched you are, how pitiable and poor, how blind and naked. Buy from me gold refined from fire if you would be truly rich. Buy white garments in which to be clothed. If the shame of your nakedness is to be covered. Buy ointment to smear on your eyes if you would see once more. Whoever is dear to me I reprove and chastise. Be earnest about it, therefore, Repent!"

It is exactly the centrist Catholic that Jesus turns over to the rebels rooted in Lucifer because they do not stand for anything. He cannot count on them to be his disciples. Here in this passage he is calling on such Catholics to choose for Him or be rejected totally by him.

Pope Benedict XVI prior to his election predicted that our Church will be stronger, but smaller. That is true. Those who heed the call of repentance from mediocrity are preparing themselves to live the powerful life to which Christ has called us. Those who choose to be mediocre and centrist Catholics are those who do not have the strength of commitment to follow Christ in the first place, neither will they be able to be loyal to the successors of Alinsky. Something that Alinsky did know, but apparently his successors did not build that into their plans. If we choose to be disciples of Christ, then we need to repent of our mediocrity and seek Him. If we choose to be Alinskyites, then we need do nothing more than attend meetings and complain that Jesus is not the accommodating God we want him to be.

Either way, the choice is now ours which radical we will follow, the one who gets his own room until he becomes the star of the show, or the one who runs the universe.



Catholicism Anew MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - parochial vicar, 617 625-0029



Alinksky, Ganz, Harvard, Radical, community organizing

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