Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Jane Addams

Today is the birthday of Jane Addams, a woman who would be canonized, if I was in charge of canonization.  What a remarkable woman!

I could argue that the roots of liberation theology trace back to her.  She was a big believer in Christians becoming more involved in the world, not to convert the world to Christianity, but because the study of the Bible shows us that we find God in the midst of the poor and the oppressed.

Addams is most famous for found Hull House, a settlement house that helped poor women and their children.  What most people forget about Hull House is that it was modeled after a house in Britain, where upper class men and underclass men lived together.  Likewise, Hull House sought to do the same thing.

Jane Addams brought culture to the inhabitants of Hull House, in addition to good health and solid work.  The complex eventually grew to have such offerings as a library, a book bindery, an art gallery, a gym, a public kitchen, a music school, and school/training for all sorts of groups of people.

Addams' involvement in the lives of women and girls led her to become a tireless crusader for peace, and she was the first woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here's an Addams quote for you to ponder on this day after Labor Day:  Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics. We continually forget that the sphere of morals is the sphere of action, that speculation in regard to morality is but observation and must remain in the sphere of intellectual comment, that a situation does not really become moral until we are confronted with the question of what shall be done in a concrete case, and are obliged to act upon our theory." from Democracy and Social Ethics (1902)

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