The Common Good

Blog Posts By Amanda Greene

Posted by Amanda Greene 12 weeks 3 days ago
Words and music are the stock-in-trade at most Christian festivals, but the Wild Goose Festival is adding another component: the visual arts.This year’s progressive Christian smorgasbord of culture, justice, and spiritual exchange June 26-29 in Hot Springs, N.C., near Asheville, will feature plenty of speakers. Keynoters include newsmakers such as the Rev. William Barber, leader of the state’s Moral Mondays campaign; Jim Wallis, poverty activist and founder of Sojourners magazine; and Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist minister who was defrocked in December for performing his son’s same-sex wedding.Run River North and Jars of Clay will headline the musical offerings.But as with last year, the festival is making an intentional shift to include more visual art; more than 13 artists and arts groups will present their work.This year’s theme of “Living Liberation” will attempt to challenge conventional Christian art with liturgical painting, a collaborative mural project, experiential storytelling, and an exhibit called Faithmarks that explores spirituality and tattoos.
Posted by Amanda Greene 27 weeks 1 day ago
Turning part of the message over to church members is the concept behind a new worship model called WikiWorship.Yes, that’s wiki as in Wikipedia.It was developed by the Rev. Philip Chryst, pastor of a United Methodist mission in Wilmington, as part of an evangelism course when he was finishing his degree at Duke Divinity School. He’s using it as part of a Lenten series at 9:45 a.m. each Sunday through April 13 in the bar called Hell’s Kitchen.The week before each WikiWorship, participants submit questions on religion, ethics, life, or God via the mission’s website. Then Chryst chooses one to spur discussion at each service.
Posted by Amanda Greene 30 weeks 5 days ago
Seminaries have a reputation for being late adapters when it comes to modern technology.Southern Evangelical Seminary & Bible College in Matthews, N.C., wants to change that. On Friday it introduced a humanoid NAO robot (pronounced ‘now’).The 22-year-old Christian apologetics school claims it’s the first in the world to use a robot to study the ethics of emerging technologies.The white robot with an orange cap from the French company Aldebaran Robotics stands 23 inches high and includes voice and facial recognition and full mobility. It translates text to speech in seven languages. The robot retails for $16,000, but Southern got an end-of-the-year deal at $9,300.
Posted by Amanda Greene 32 weeks 3 days ago
North Carolina’s weekly protests against Republican-backed legislative initiatives last year brought thousands of people to the state Capitol in Raleigh each Monday chanting, “Forward together, not one step back.”Now the movement is ready to reprise its demonstrations, which recall the tactics of the civil rights era.The Rev. William J. Barber II and his Moral Mondays team are making final preparations for the kickoff event, dubbed the Moral March, scheduled for Saturday. Barber hopes it will be bigger than the Selma march for voting rights in 1965 that drew 25,000 people.
Posted by Amanda Greene 38 weeks 1 day ago
Kwanzaa began Wednesday but two veteran storytellers began planning for the weeklong celebration of the Western African diaspora back in October.That’s when Wilmington, North Carolina, storyteller Joyce Grear and Madafo Lloyd Wilson, host of A Season’s Griot, met to decide what story Grear should read this year.They sat in the wide, barren conference room between radio studios at WHQR Public Radio, where A Season’s Griot has been produced for more than two decades as the only nationally syndicated Kwanzaa radio show in the country. 
Posted by Amanda Greene 52 weeks 23 hours ago
Citing the need for transparency in the U.S. record on human rights, nearly 200 clergy and religious leaders from North Carolina are seeking the public release of a 6,000-page Senate intelligence report on U.S. torture of terrorism detainees after 9/11.The letter, dated Aug. 27 and released to the media on Thursday, was sent from the North Carolina Council of Churches in Raleigh to Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.The letter, signed by 18 bishops, including the leaders of both of the state’s Catholic dioceses, stated that in light of conflicts in Syria and around the Middle East, transparency on U.S. torture practices was needed.
Posted by Amanda Greene 1 year 9 weeks ago
Driving through the Spanish moss-draped gates of the Mepkin Abbey Trappist monastery in Moncks Corner, S.C., businessman August Turak felt as if he had just lost a whole lot of weight.Not physical weight, but the weight of emotional and spiritual burdens.After a corporate career with companies like MTV, Turak sold two successful software companies for $150 million, but shattering his ankle in a skydiving accident “brought me face to face with my own mortality.”
Posted by Amanda Greene 1 year 17 weeks ago
Amanda Holowaty didn’t need God to get married. She just needed her husband Mike.When the Wilmington atheist couple decided to join their lives a year ago, they knew they wanted a secular wedding celebrant, but their families weren’t so sure. Her family is Methodist and his is “generally spiritual.” And they worried about even telling Mike’s grandmother, who is Eastern Orthodox. So they found a wedding celebrant ordained through the Humanist Society, Han Hills, who allowed their family members to read a spiritual poem.“Nobody seemed to notice that we didn’t mention God,” Holowaty said. “People came up afterward and said it was one of the best weddings they’d seen.”
Posted by Amanda Greene 1 year 23 weeks ago
WILMINGTON, N.C. — A resolution to allow North Carolina to defy the Constitution and establish a state-sanctioned religion may be dead in the state capitol, but minority faiths say there’s more than enough reason to remain nervous.Some worry about the implications the bill has for North Carolina, a majority Protestant state with growing Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist populations.Manzoor Cheema, a Raleigh resident and board member of the Triangle Interfaith Alliance, said he believes the resolution should be a wake-up call.“I think this is a very disturbing development; very bad for our state. In my opinion, as a Muslim, a minority community member and immigrant from Pakistan, I believe that separation of church and state is fundamental and grants us many freedoms,” he said.“But it’s a blessing in disguise to mobilize the interfaith community in North Carolina.”
Posted by Amanda Greene 1 year 42 weeks ago
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”  – Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.WILMINGTON, N.C. — ‘Tis the season for “Bah Humbug” and “God bless us every one,” especially as the world caps off a year of celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the birth of novelist Charles Dickens.Starting this weekend as the Christmas season begins with Advent, cities will transform their streets to Victorian English landscapes with strolling carolers and stage different productions of Dickens' most famous yuletide work, A Christmas Carol.
Posted by Amanda Greene 1 year 51 weeks ago
The difference between sex trafficking and freelance prostitution is who has the control and who is keeping the money, said prosecutor Lindsey Roberson, an assistant district attorney in New Hanover County. If a girl or a woman is being forced or coerced by a pimp to perform sex acts without monetary gain, that’s trafficking.The North Carolina Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking ranks the state among the top 10 states for the problem. North Carolina’s three major highways connect much of the East Coast, and the state has a large transient military and farmworker population, and international seaports in the Cape Fear region.In May, Roberson helped start a deferred prosecution pilot program for first-time offenders with prostitution charges, partnering with a local rape crisis center.As a Christian, Roberson is also on the board of a new faith-based effort called the Centre of Redemption, which is scheduled to open in December to help pregnant teens and teen moms who are also trafficking victims.
Posted by Amanda Greene 2 years 19 weeks ago
The sign outside the polling station at Devon Park United Methodist Church exemplified this state's struggle with a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage."A true marriage is male and female and God," the church marquee read. All around the church sign were small campaign signs that read: "Vote Against Constitutional Amendment" and "Amendment One Harms Children Vote Against."The amendment was approved Tuesday (May 8) by 61 percent of voters, with some counties endorsing it with more than 80 percent of the vote. Only seven counties voted against it."In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs," according to the Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling firm said. "Fifty-three percent of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both."
Posted by Amanda Greene 2 years 22 weeks ago
Andrew Bowen sat yoga-style in his armchair, absent-mindedly fingering a set of Muslim prayer beads in his left hand as he talked about 2011 -- his year of conversion.But he's not Muslim. In fact, the 29-year-old Lumberton resident doesn't call himself by any of the 12 faiths he practiced for a month at a time last year.Not Hindu (January). Not Baha'i (February). Not Zoroastrian (March). Not Jewish (April). Not Buddhist (May). Not agnostic (June). Not Mormon (July). Not Muslim (August). Not Sikh (September). Not Wiccan (October). Not Jain (November). And not Catholic (December).Finding faith in God again was not Bowen's aim. This young father of two was looking for faith in humanity.
Posted by Amanda Greene 2 years 29 weeks ago
WILMINGTON, N.C. — As the only Southern state without a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, North Carolina is the next battleground, with religious groups on both sides bracing for a high-stakes fight on May 8.Against a recent string of gay-marriage victories in California, Washington state and Maryland, North Carolinians will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment on May 8, the same day as the state Republican primary.Same-sex marriage has been illegal in the Tar Heel State since 1996;  Minnesota also has a marriage amendment planned for a vote in November."Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state," the proposed amendment reads.