The Contract With America and the emergence of the Christian Coalition as a sophisticated political force in American life couldn't have been anticipated when Fred Kammer, president of Catholic Charities-USA, was writing his latest book. But Salted With Fire will be a welcome antidote to social justice activists beleaguered by the "contract" and perplexed by the Religious Right.
Taken from Jesus' admonition to his followers in the ninth chapter of Mark that everyone must be salted with fire, Kammer's latest book is a companion to his 1991 offering, Doing Faithjustice . In that work, the author examined the connection of faith to justice in the context of Catholic social thought. He made the compelling and accessible case that serving faith and promoting justice couldn't be separated.
As he did in Doing Faithjustice, Kammer combines social analysis, theological reflection, and personal anecdotes in Salted With Fire to explore the painful, seemingly futile, yet ultimately hopeful ways that persons can live out a commitment to faithjustice.
Those who have been in this vineyard a long time will find the life described in the author's first chapter on burnout eerily and uncomfortably like their own lives. As Kammer reels off the indications of burnout-long hours, a cluttered lifestyle, a dwindling circle of friends, injustices at our own workplaces-the reader will sigh in agreement. This is much needed analysis because people in faithjustice circles have traditionally been reluctant to countenance these issues. As the author indicates, however, there are signs of hope: an acknowledgment of the problems; a willingness to talk about them; and a growing interest in prayer, spirituality, and building community.