About Dick Dalton

Dick is a third generation native of Phoenix, Arizona, and has a BA in political science and a BA in French from Arizona State University. He currently pursues a Global MBA program in marketing at Thunderbird School of Global Management. -- While very local, he does manage to get around, having visited 23 countries spanning four continents. Some of his interests include travel, foreign language, social justice, culture, religion, politics, and writing, of course!

New Directions

Yesterday, CTA’s Next Generation made a move that marked the next turning point in its history. The Next Generation, more familiarly known as NextGen to its members, officially rebranded itself as CTA 20/30 on August 15, 2010.
The renaming of the young adult ministry of course begets the question: “What is the significance of a name?” In this case, it is more than a cursory label or a brand. In a Catholic understanding, it factors into the group’s identity and its place in the greater CTA family.
Call To Action (CTA), founded in 1976 as a lay movement in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, holds conferences annually. CTA, as a progressive organization, continues to work towards its value of social justice and its goal of internal Church Reform. The organization tackles a milieu of social issues plaguing both contemporary society and our Church. In years past, conference has focused on anti-racism, sexism, LGB issues, and ecological concerns.
The name change could not come at a more appropriate time. From November 5-7, 2010, CTA will present an intergenerational theme at its conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Faithful Prophets: God Alive in Every Generation. NextGen has always had an important presence at conference, however the new CTA 20/30 will have a more involved role this year with a theme intended to bridge the generation gap.
Part of the impetus for the name change was that “Next Generation” was not an accurate description and created presumptions about the younger generation. The name implied that our time is “up-and-coming” as opposed to “now”. It also presupposed that we are a follow-up to the older “wisdom” generation.
In reality, CTA 20/30 is designed as a young adult ministry and a safe space for young adult progressive Catholics. It is intended to complement its mother organization, not supplant it. The Millennial Generation and Generation X are equals at Christ’s table along with the Boomers and beyond.
The young adults of Call To Action needed a name that reflected our identity; who we are and what we are. The better part of 2010 was spent in the name search process. While the NextGen Leadership Team spearheaded this project, it did rely heavily on input from the greater NextGen membership.
Through the NextGen list-serve and web 2.0 applications such as facebook (a sign of our generation), NextGen opened the lines of communication. The greater membership was instrumental in providing its feedback on what it believes our ministry to be.
Not only did membership provide reflections, but also took part in voting for what our ministry will thenceforth be called. The name change process was not a top-down approach, as we often experience with the hierarchy in our institutional Church. The process was hands-on and democratic; it reflected the Church we hope to be.
Once the votes were tabulated, pursuant to a final discussion from the Leadership Team, we became CTA 20/30. This name conveyed our identity by stating the essentials: we are young adults and we are members of CTA. We are Catholic and we are progressive. We work for justice in our Church and in our society. Our mission is the same as the mission of all CTA membership: to invite all God’s children to the table.
When considering the importance of this process, two instances in scripture immediately came to mind. In Genesis, God renames Abram and Sarai as Abraham and Sarah respectively. This divine renaming is indicative of their covenant with God and the remarkable shift in the paths their lives would take.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks His follower Simon as to who he believes He is. When Simon responds that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus acknowledges that Simon has been inspired by the Holy Spirit and calls him by the new name of Peter, or “rock”. This moment was significant for the progenitors of our Catholic tradition.
As with Abram and Sarai, this is a time of transition as we become CTA 20/30. The mission has always remained the same, but may we see that mission with new eyes, as Simon did. In this time of rebirth and reinvention, may we heed our call to action.
Reinvigorated with our self-identity and sense of purpose, we hope to continue the move for progress within the Church and within our world. CTA 20/30 will celebrate its unveiling at the annual conference in Milwaukee on November 5, 2010. We hope you will join us at the table.

Rick Beitman is a third-year member of the CTA 20/30 Leadership Team. — This is now a blog of CTA 20/30.

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Real World

I graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2007, and upon receipt of my diplomas, I was pretty secure in my progressive, liberal values as well as my Catholic faith. There were many events and trials that of course prompted some soul-searching in college, which is to be expected. Nothing really challenged my faith so much in college so much as the post-graduate world.
After graduation, I found employment with one of the U.S.’ major network carriers and have worked there for the past two years. Two years of living in this so-called ‘real world’ I had heard so much about, I learned a lot: paying rent and other bills, living with a roommate, the regular 9 to 5 thing, and contending with people both from a personal and customer service standpoint.
People are selfish. And people are greedy and dishonest. People can be mean-spirited, shortsighted, and two-faced. My idealistic world shattered in slow motion.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t live in a vacuum of naïveté before the working world. I had my fair share of reality doses prior, however it occurred on a more daily basis outside of a more homogeneous, educational environment. Gradually, this began to chip away at my faith.
The recent economic crisis has made it apparent to Americans that the world is not such a cheerful place, and it seemed to me like people were showing their true colors more, and they weren’t always bright ones. Seeing how people were treated, and how people treat others made it increasingly difficult to see Christ in others.
My dismal worldview made me question my faith. I had always gone to mass every Sunday, prayed usually, and was always involved in my faith community. I began to wonder, what the hell is the point? And on the inside, I felt like my faith didn’t mean anything to me anymore. It was dead.

I can’t recall when this ironic epiphany happened, because I continued to go through the motions for however many months. It wasn’t until my trip to Europe during these past couple weeks that I reexamined my faith.
My mom had never been to Europe and I wanted to take her during my two-week vacation. One of the benefits of working for an airline is that you get to fly although it’s standby. I made an itinerary, booked the hotels, purchased the EU Rail Pass, and set up a host of activities spanning from Vienna to Amsterdam.
We departed on a holiday weekend and flights from Phoenix to our east coast hub were full, so I looked towards other alternatives. I figured we could make it to the hub of one of our partner airlines, and attempt to fly on them to get to Munich. After a bit of a runaround from both gate and ticket counter agents, three oversold flights, and being stuck in a midwestern airport all day, it became apparent we would not be making it to Germany at all that day.
While it goes with the territory, we nevertheless were haggard and a bit dejected. After a couple calls to Reservations, and with assistance from airport staff from my carrier, we managed to get on a flight to our transatlantic gateway on the east coast, and at least had plans to get out the next day to Frankfurt on my airline.
We thought an overnight stay would be the last of our worries, however mom’s bag was lost and out international reservation obviously needed to be amended (which can be touchy). We received help from a kind agent in the baggage service office of yet another airport and she advised the bag would likely be found within 24 hours.
We were burnt out and considered the possibility of not going to Europe at all. Mom wasn’t prepared to go two weeks without clothes, and we had to consider the possibility of returning to Phoenix. We slept on it.
The next day, I headed to the airport to check on mom’s bag. Miraculously, it was there, just as the agent had stated, which demonstrated that the system does work. Okay, one down, and one to go; I headed to the ticket counter to change the reservation. A ticket counter agent was very helpful but mentioned it was difficult to fix because it was international and travel had already commenced. She contacted System Support and it was fixed in ten minutes. That was it. We would be on our way to Frankfurt.
As I walked out the airport to hail a cab, I received a cell phone call from John, a friend and former coworker who had transferred to System Support.
He said, “Hey Rick, I was in your record. The ticket counter called me. When I looked at the reservation, I thought, ‘Hey, I know that guy!’ Anyway, I talked to my boss and we fixed it.”
I was a bit astounded, “No way. John, I did say a little prayer, and you answered it.”
After a dozen encounters with agents from the airport, Reservations, and System Support, mom and I were set. Some of them were friends, and others were strangers. And it was then I began to relearn that God did create us to live in community. We do need each other. And in my hour of need, people heeded the call.
A prayer had been answered. And as experience had taught me to distrust people, this new experience, forced me to reevaluate my dismal outlook towards people. True, my faith was dead. Fortunately, that’s why we believe in the Resurrection.

Mit herzlichen Grüßen,

Rick Beitman

We Are One Nation, We Are One Body

Habemus presidentum. The results are in; the long and arduous journey to the White House culminated on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 with the election of Barack Obama, the first term senator from Illinois. Also at the end of the road is both war and senatorial veteran, John McCain, senator from my home state of Arizona. While this campaign has endured since the last presidential election, and the path has been wrought with embittered sentiments on both sides, it seems clear that now will be a time of reconciliation for the United States.
Irrespective of the outcome, either Barack Obama or John McCain would inherit defunct economy, bruised relations with those abroad, a war without end in sight, and a broken nation. The Bush Administration has left a poor state of affairs for the presidential successor, and the American people yearning for hope.
It seems clear that the American people had become disenchanted. And this election cycle wore on and was brutal from the neck-to-neck Democratic primary between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, to the general election throwing McCain into the mix.
The general election was no less brutal. The three presidential and the vice-presidential debates evidenced the tension between both camps. It was constant point-counter-point, diverting from questions (or evading them altogether), and of course accusations.
Ironically, the landslide election of Barack Obama did not yield a backlash from the opposition (or, at least not from the candidate). I was at the celebration for the congressional reelection of Harry Mitchell, in the district that is home to my alma mater, ASU. At approximately 9:00 PM, Mountain Standard Time,
Obama was announced the clear winner and president-elect. It was the first time in the latter half of my lifetime that the results of the presidential election were revealed the evening of the same day that ballots were cast. Shortly later, the media brought viewers to the Arizona Biltmore, mere miles from my location, to witness John McCain’s concession speech.
Senator McCain delivered a humble address acknowledging his defeat. Rather than be demoralized, he accepted responsibility for the loss, and stated that the American people have spoken… “Quite clearly.” McCain never once cursed Senator Obama, and to his credit, exhorted that his side support the newly elected president. Senator McCain affirmed that he would be there to help President Obama in the coming term. McCain promoted unity. While I personally have never had much common ground with John McCain, I have never been prouder to call him my senator.
The evening shifted to Grant Park in Chicago where Senator Obama would give his acceptance address. His words were no less inspirational. While he acknowledged that the win was a great victory for the Democratic Party, Senator Obama noted that he did not receive everyone’s vote but vowed to listen to the needs of the many with the statement, “…And I will be your president too.”
Irrespective of the events of the past eight years, and all our differences, both sides have encouraged unity. This nation under God will need to meet the challenges of the future together, because we are stronger as a whole. And this nation, this body, is in profound need of healing.
Much like the Church is the Body of Christ, despite our differences, we are one nation. As a people, we are united. As a Church, we are “universal”.
While the Catholic vote was relatively evenly split, slightly in favor of Obama at 53% according to USA Today, this indicates that there is a diversity of opinion within the Church. But we are still one Body in Christ. We are all broken. And we will receive this reconciliation together, as one.

The Voting Booth is not the Confessional

Tomorrow, America is faced with perhaps the most pivotal, political decision of the 21st century. With the economic recession’s all-encompassing effects, with fuel having reached paralyzing proportions during the summer months, and major companies declaring bankruptcy from airlines like Frontier, banks like Washington Mutual, and Wall Street giants like Merrill-Lynch, it seems that no one is immune.
How an Obama-Biden administration or a McCain-Palin White House might affect the future U.S. foreign and economic policy, and with it, shape the face of the globe, should be a grave question plaguing the mind of every American. And of course, voting being our access to the system and our means of affecting change, hopefully all those of voting age and registered have given it thoughtful consideration.
This question should plague American Catholics no less than any other citizens because of the many possible ramifications. However, much like in 2004, there are groups that try to reduce the issues to the exclusion of all but life, namely to end abortion.
In 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reaffirmed their five “non-negotiable” issues, one being abortion, and another of course being gay marriage. While the USCCB has since issued a new voter guide where “non-negotiable” issues are noticeably not present, many individual bishops still tout single-issue voting agendas.
As Senator John Kerry was both a self-proclaimed Catholic and choice supporter, the backlash he experienced from the institutional Church hierarchy was a factor of import in the election. The issue divided Catholics, almost down the middle, with 53% approximately in favor of George W. Bush, and 47% in favor of Senator Kerry.
Now, the economic tides have turned, the candidate faces are different, and the single-issue agenda has once again reared its head in the wake of a real national crisis. One such example would be CatholicVote.com.
On the homepage of the aforementioned website is a clip that presents our choices of candidates, and brief bytes of issues, such as the price of fuel at the pump, and an unborn fetus. During the clip of the fetus, the subtitles state, “Some issues are more important…” Then shifts to the gas stations and continues, “…than others.”
In summation, the website clearly directs Catholics to vote for “life” and “family”. However, the single-issue agenda is flawed, as voting in favor of just one issue does not mean supporting life as a whole. After all, capital punishment (to be used in the rarest of circumstances, according to the Vatican) is often overlooked. And the conflict in Iraq has resulted in the deaths of not only American soldiers and Iraqi insurgents, but also many innocent civilians. Another issue brushed aside by the single-issue, so-called “life” supporters.
If life and family are really the paramount values espoused by CatholicVote.com, they are contradicted by an outright ignorance of issues that directly affect both. Domestic policy concerning education, healthcare, and the economy will influence lives and families greatly. The next administration will have an impact for positive or for negative in this arena.
Whether there is work, food, medicine, and knowledge, will affect the very survival of the American people, and the family. An economic recession has a greater propensity to destroy a family than gay marriage. A recession will affect if the mortgage has been foreclosed, if there is a college fund, if there is food on the table, if there is a choice between utilities or rent. These choices have physically deep impacts on families… And gay marriage does the same how?
If the value of life from conception to natural death is really the moral, then the concern needs to go from beyond just the womb and the obsession with Roe vs. Wade. The concern needs to continue on how to support the families of those newborn children… How to educate them, feed them, clothe them, shelter them, and care for them factors into the vote for life.
No statement from Barack Obama or John McCain has indicated that either will appoint judges to the Supreme Court that will outright overturn Roe vs. Wade. It would therefore appear, that abortion will remain legal one way or the other. But how either of these gentlemen will affect life in other ways should be an issue of salience to all Catholics, and all Americans.
The CatholicVote.com clip, while well made, exhorts that Catholics vote their conscience, while clearly steering Catholics down a very narrow path… not necessarily down the path of one’s own God-given conscience.
Life should be given the highest consideration when Catholics vote. But Catholics must ensure that they are looking at the whole picture, and are comprehensively supporting life from conception to natural death. And that has to do with a lot more than Roe vs. Wade. The voting booth is a place where a Catholic should vote his or her own conscience, not a confessional where they must vote their guilt.

God Is Great

Genesis tells us that man is made in God’s likeness and image, and is therefore set apart among God’s creation. You might think, therefore, that man is great for being made in the image of God. However, it is not we who are great, but God who is great, for he made us.

I work full time in a customer service call center, and in the year that I have been in my position, I have learned a great deal about the human condition… or perhaps the fallen human condition is a more apt term. The lies that people employ to get what they want, the greed, the anger, the demands, and the pervasive sense of entitlement.

It seems now more than ever that people have unrealistic expectations of others. There is a sentiment that an individual’s whims are to be served. It’s almost as if people overestimate their self-worth, especially in comparison with others. While every individual is endowed with an inherent dignity, what is forgotten is that the whole of humanity is equal in dignity.

Fr. Fred Lucci OP, pastor at All Saints Catholic Newman Center at Arizona State University, delivered an excellent homily last Sunday in relation to the Gospel reading. He expounded on how man is great because God is great. Fr. Fred was careful to note that God made us to be good, even though we do not always act as such.

Man is imperfect. We know this. However, Jesus brought a radical message of love that would overturn the ancient law of vengeance. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” was not only a common maxim since before Jesus’ time, but also put into practice. Jesus in turn introduced “turning the other cheek,” a concept that we today still have difficulty grasping.

And when Christ’s detractors attempted to trick Him by asking what the greatest commandment is, He responded, “…love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your heart, and with all your strength. The second one is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”

The message is simple and has been around for 2,000 years, but a cursory glance at history is evidence that we still don’t get it. We are all members of the Body of Christ, and Christ resides in all of us, we reside in Him. The Eucharist is a perfect illustration of this, in the flesh.

To be sure, it is a challenge to see Christ in every person. Due to our limitations, and the limitations of others, we do not always see Christ in the beggar on the corner, our coworkers, our competitors, those of differing political persuasions, different creeds, varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds, disparate socioeconomic statuses, ranging from the elderly to the unborn, the gay to the straight, and the list goes on. But they still are Christ, every last one.

I confess I fall short of this. It is a daily struggle. But I am capable. We are all capable. And it is not because we are great, but because God is great.

Bloggers are in Good Company

Proclaiming the truth can be dangerous, as so demonstrated in Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ recent blog: http://themoderatevoice.com/media/newspapers/20433/arresting-bloggers-who-speak-truth-to-lies/#more-20433. In her piece, she cites how bloggers in Myanmar have been arrested. In her reference of a University of Washington report, she notes how 192 people were arrested for this pastime in 2007, but this figure is not inclusive of those killed, maimed, or otherwise persecuted.

Dr. Pinkola Estés’ gave me a new appreciation, not only for my protected freedom of expression (at least, more-so protected than in other locales abroad), but also invigorates me and gives me a greater sense of purpose writing for this blog.

Throughout history, people have been persecuted for thinking differently, whether it was by the government, the Church, or a circle of peers. However, as individuals, we all think differently. Therefore, the danger lies not with thinking differently, but with vocalizing those thoughts.

For those malcontents not satisfied to fall in the rank and file, some people speak up. And every time someone levels criticism of those in power, there are naturally repercussions. There have been persecutions of people that vocalize their dissent since before the time of Christ. There are persecutions of this nature still today.

In spite of the potential harm to oneself, many figures throughout history stood up for what they believe. Martin Luther spearheaded the Protestant Reformation not because he sought to start a separatist movement, but it came about as a result of speaking against corruption of the clergy for practices of simony, nepotism, and the notorious selling of indulgences. After Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, obviously Pope Leo X (who promoted the selling of indulgences) was not amused.

In the end, the Protestant Reformation led to an internal counter reformation of the Catholic Church. This eliminated the corrupt practices of Church officials, and ultimately created a more just Church.

Others have spoken out against injustice and have been martyred for their cause, first and foremost, our Lord Jesus Christ. In more recent history, political reformers like Mahatma Gandhi were assassinated, and still others have been incarcerated, like Aung San Suu Kyi who still presses for the freedom of the Burmese people while under house arrest in Myanmar.

While the Nobel Peace Prize recipient is detained, many of her people blog for the same freedom that she espouses. However, some of them meet with a more permanent fate. Possibly that is because it doesn’t take a Nobel Peace Prize winner to write a blog. It is a free flow of information from the commoner, the general public, and this pervasive communication can be more of a threat to those in power.

For that reason, I feel compelled to speak out for what I believe to be true and just. Granted, as a blogger in the U.S., I face a different set of challenges. I do not personally fear bodily harm, but blogging can carry a social stigma. There are always those ready to pounce and attack with their own set of opinions.

As a member of Call To Action, I do see the need for Church reform in a few areas, some pertaining to teachings on gender and human sexuality. I also believe there needs to be a major refocus on issues of social justice ranging from education, healthcare, ecological concern, and the general welfare of all God’s people. Voicing one’s opinions on these matters can be controversial; there has been no shortage of commentators on this blog that do not agree with all the conclusions posed by our bloggers.

Even so, we have established this online community to reach out not only to the like-minded, but also to share our ides of a more just Church and society with everyone, in the hopes of one day “being the change we seek” (Gandhi). Those who disagree will not be a deterrent, but rather will assist us in the spread of ideas as well as the expansion of our own understanding. With the other bloggers of the world, we are in good company

God’s Defects

“Defective” was the word used by a fellow parishioner to describe homosexuals. I gaped at his callous response and asked him to clarify. This young man had completed his first year as a Ph.D. student of microbiology and he was of the mind that sexuality was designed for procreation and that sex is reserved between a man and a woman.

My conservative comrade’s comments certainly do typify how some Catholics feel about homosexuality. He also believed that sterile heterosexual couples should still be permitted to marry, contradicting as this might seem to the original argument. He also held the view that couples not intent on having children should also be allowed to marry. The Church agrees that marriage serves a greater purpose between a couple than just the propagation of the species.

Perhaps more disturbing was his terminology to refer to same-sex attraction as a “defect”. However, to illustrate his point, my friend said that a person born blind does not possess the full range of abilities that a prototypical human does. In the same way, a homosexual person’s attractions prevent him or her from procreating. I asked him if he thought God makes mistakes. He said, “I believe mistakes were made,” but he did not confess that God Himself makes mistakes. I, of course, do not believe that God makes mistakes.

Due to his expanded definition, I of course had a multi-faceted interest in this argument, not only due to my own sexual identity, but also the fact that my brother has special needs. I am of the mind that life is precious and God does create each individual uniquely, not all possessing the same physical assets, intellectual prowess, or mental and emotional capabilities. I found his assessment to be uncompassionate and unloving.

Moreover, to “other” people as it were, runs very much counter to what Jesus taught. Jesus was not known for catering to the power elite or adhering to societal norms. His “turn the other cheek” notion was unheard of to a people that long believed an eye for an eye was justifiable.

Jesus had a habit of associating Himself with those deemed undesirable by society. He would minister to the lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors, oftentimes to the chagrin of others. However, Jesus did not back down from those marginalized by the world.

I recently attended a retreat in Racine, WI, where Fr. Anthony Gittins of the Chicago Theological Union was the presenter. Fr. Anthony said that God created a world of “we” not a world of “us and them” because this leads to discrimination and violence. He promotes the idea that Jesus lived on the margins and catered to a community of nobodies. And to verify this, we need not look farther than the scriptures. After all, the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew 5:3-10 shows Jesus stating that, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.”

Fr. Anthony expounded that heterogeneity in the community is good and that there is a dignity of difference; we are to glorify God in our identity and our relationships. We create this “Jesus Society” by building up the community, building up the kingdom.

Fr. Anthony’s words… and Jesus’ words remind me that we are all God’s children, and all members of the same unified Body of Christ. Therefore there must be room in heaven for those marginalized by society. There must be room even for those of us who are God’s “defects”.