Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Jack Rakosky: List of Posts

We need to pay attention to the global so as to avoid narrowness and banality. Yet we also need to look to the local, which keeps our feet on the ground. Together, the two prevent us from falling into one of two extremes.
 In the first, people get caught up in an abstract, globalized universe, falling into step behind everyone else, admiring the glitter of other people’s world, gaping and applauding at all the right times.

 At the other extreme, they turn into a museum of local folklore, a world apart, doomed to doing the same things over and over, and incapable of being challenged by novelty or appreciating the beauty which God bestows beyond their borders.
Francis, The Joy of the Gospel

There are a number of local projects here in Lake County that are related to my posts, of which the following are the most obvious..

I have been intrigued by the "Commonweal Local Communities."  They have not created one in Cleveland yet,  It may be difficult creating one, it will likely meet far from Lake County and  may involve few people. But I recently met someone at a gathering of Democrats who was a former Commonweal reader; so the idea of creating a local community here in Lake County may not be out of the question.

Whether or not that happens I am interested in being a catalyst for a digital community here in Cleveland that would draw on the resources of Commonweal and this blog.

The following list of my posts allows me to access them all quickly on my iPhone. It allows me to give people a card with my e-mail, phone number, and this link to all my posts. I can easily write the dates of the relevant ones on the back.  I plan to keep this link updated, and have located it at this date because it comes up immediately when one clicks the May posts. Some time in the future I may rearrange it by category rather than month.

List of Jack Rakosky's Posts





PrayTell Blog Posts





  1. Hi, Jack,

    I'm not sure what this means: "I am interested in being a catalyst for a digital community here in Cleveland that would draw on the resources of Commonweal and this blog."

    Do you want to expand participation here to your friends in the Cleveland area?

    Do you want this blog to serve as a platform for a Commonweal Community for Cleveland?

    Thanks for clarifying.

  2. Hi, Jean

    Some good questions.

    I see this blog as a model for a Cleveland Blog and/or a Lake County blog.

    While I plan to encourage people to read Commonweal and this blog as a way to establish a community of interests beyond our local selves, I don't plan to encourage them to become commenters and contributors here but rather on their own blog.

    I am happy with this blog as it is. I enjoy the posts and comments. I am settling into a routine of a post a week, and giving others my comments and support. I have no desire to make any changes, but I also realize that changes may happen. There isn't even a guarantee that this blog will not vanish like the Commonweal blog did.

    Where this blog goes beyond what it is now is up to you. Some discussion of that might be more worthwhile than discussion of my many projects.

    If this blog expands commenters and contributors, I presume those would most likely be to people who commented on the old Commonweal Blog. But I've also noticed some of the people from that Blog who joined us as contributors rarely comment much less post.

    My hope is that this blog would assemble as many of the old Blog people as possible and let them continue what they liked to do, and thereby serve as a model for other groups of people who form their own blogs using the resources of Commonweal.

    I also hope that Commonweal reconciles with this blog, gives it mention and a link on their website. However, how much this blog and Commonweal collaborate in the future is not high on my agenda. I am not even sure I will collaborate a lot with Commonweal in the future. I am also a subscriber to America, so as part of my being a catalyst for local digital communities, I am going to see how much America might be an organizing vehicle.

    I plan to attend two events in Lake County this month which helped motivate me to make this post. Both could result in future posts to this blog that would be of interest nationally to Commonweal readers. Both however would also be models for local digital communities, i.e. events that people could attend locally, interact with each, and then engage in conversation on a local website with other members of the local digital community on an issue of national, and even international importance.

    As a person who spent his work life as a planner, I always have a lot of ideas and plans, and I am willing to share them in the interest of transparency. But I am an idea person more than a doer. I have always found that other people take my ideas and work them out far better than I would have done. So I can't really predict the future and can only point out the possiblities.

  3. Many communities/neighborhoods have websites where everyone can exchange news and plan events and other stuff - sort of online neighborhood watches. Maybe this would be something similar?

    1. The experiential model that I am using is Voice of Faithful as it was implemented in the Cleveland Diocese beginning in 2003. The VOTF model was Parish Voices, i.e. face to face communities. VOTF had about 50 members in the diocese, about 10 of which were in one parish, the rest of us where scattered around. I showed up at the third meeting where they had about 30 people, and gave my ideas about what we should do. They asked me to be part of the leadership group.

      I argued that even if VOTF Cleveland had 2000 members that would be a drop in the bucket of the diocese. However, if we had 20 members in each of the 100 largest parishes, and those 20 members consisted of 10 people very active in the parish, and 10 very active in their communities then we would have the making of an organization that could have some substantial impact by creating an alternative networking environment for Catholic lay leadership in both church and society.

      My model said that the Voice in VOTF should be our ability to talk to each other, i.e. to network. We should be able to have adult conversations without chaperones. VOTF should be about us not the bishops or the priests. The most important thing wasn’t talking to the bishop or priests but in creating a different lay leadership environment by means of VOTF.

      We should not spend our time writing position papers, or passing resolutions, etc. If we had 90 people who were for issue A but did not want to do any work to make things happen, a resolution was worthless. If 10 people wanted to work hard on issue B they should go ahead and do it without VOTF organizational backing.

      The leadership group asked me to run an electronic newsletter, which I called VOTF Perspectives. It consisted of reviews of articles, books, etc. relative to VOTF. I knew nothing about how to use blogger until we started this one. My articles functioned as blog posts linking us to national activity. The local news was not only our own activity but also other events, and even courses that our members might want to attend. So we had a lot of opportunity to network with each other around other organizations events, and many members took advantage.

      We also had our own events: several Masses for Victims; several Priest Sounding Board s(off the record discussions with priests); we sponsored Father Doyle who talked after Mass at one parish. The Bishop initially was going to ban us from diocesan property, but he listened to his advisors who told him that nothing VOTF was doing was against church teaching. In that case the Bishop said it was completely up to the discretion of the local pastor, and we got a lot of cooperation. We attended masses as a group in some parishes, welcoming by the pastor. We even had our own retreat. We had a national representative on the VOTF council. All this without investment in infrastructure, paid staff, dues, etc. So we had the beginnings of a hybrid community, i.e. both digital and face to face across the diocese.

      I have sent my name to Commonweal in case they start a local community here. If they do, I will suggest to that local community that we start a blog, and point to NetGathering plus my VOTF experience as models. I have not yet volunteered to host a local community, but if I get enough interest here in Lake County I will do that. I still have several years of old issues. The local parish has changed its library to a free book rather than a lending library. If you like the book keep it; if not return it. Sounds like a good idea of what to do with old issues. Staple a note advertising the local group to each old issue.

  4. Good luck with your efforts, Jack.

    1. Thanks, Jean.

      Either luck or divine providence has seemed to converge a large number of potentially mutually supportive coincidences at the same time. Who knows?

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