The Common Good

Blog Posts By Jack Palmer

Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 4 weeks ago
Today Wheaton College, a leading evangelical Christian school and the alma mater of the Rev. Billy Graham in Illinois, sought an injunction for "emergency relief," as it seeks to remain exempt from the Health and Human Services (HHS) insurance mandate which comes into effect today.Filed on Wheaton's behalf by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the preliminary injunction would, the college hopes, temporarily keep at bay the fines which would be levied on them under the mandate, should they fail to comply with the provisions.The provisions, which are part of the Affordable Care Act, would require “most employer health insurance plans to provide birthday control coverage,” as was reported on God’s Politics last month. Many Catholic institutions and groups have already filed lawsuits again the mandate, and Wheaton is one of a growing number of evangelical institutions joining in the legal challenge.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 4 weeks ago
To coincide with the opening of the 2012 London Olympics on Friday, Christianity Today had an insightful profile of Team USA member and former "Lost Boy" — runner Lopez Lomong, who was abducted from his home in Sudan during the 20-year long civil war.According to the profile:That story starts in 1991, when Lomong's home village of Kimotong was attacked by rebels in the second Sudanese civil war. "I was 6 years old when I was abducted at church, which met under a tree," Lomong told Christianity Today at his training base in Portland, Oregon. "They ripped my mother's arm from me, throwing me and other boys into a truck; they blindfolded us, then drove us to a prison camp that trained rebel soldiers."Lomong and a small group of boys managed to escape from the torturous conditions they found themselves in, and found their way to a refugee camp near the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where Lomong “remained for 10 years.”
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "It's a great opportunity to show the world the best of Britain, a country that's got an incredibly rich past but also a very exciting future.” - British Prime Minister David Cameron on the London Summer Olympics, which officially begin today. (BBC)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
Not only are they the best athletes of their generation, but they’re also solid lip syncers…Yes, it’s the video you’ve all been waiting for:The USA Olympic Swimming Team takes some time off from the pool and does ‘Call Me Maybe’!Watch it ... inside the blog.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
Billions will tune into the Summer Olympics in London over the coming weeks, excited to see their favorite athletes competing for those coveted Gold Medals.Hundreds of thousands more will brave the wind and rain of the traditional British ‘summer’ (this year, summer will officially be on August 13 if you’re interested) to enjoy the Games in person and literally some people will watch the Trampolining (because those were the only tickets that were left, let’s be honest).Everyone is anticipating a wonderful event with great excitement, which will display the very best of what Britain has to offer.Excuse me, did you say excitement? Are you having a bubble? [Editor’s note: “bubble” is Cockney rhyming slang for laugh…]Hear what "average" Londoner Brick-laying Bertha (with an assist from Monty Python's Terry Jones) has to say about this year's games inside the blog.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “One drop of rain doesn't make a difference at all, but a million drops of rain turns a desert into a garden. I can't do a lot, you can't do a lot, but together, we can do a lot.” - Pastor Rick Warren addresses a gathering of faith leaders during the International AIDS Conference. (The Christian Post)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
A palpable feeling of hope and urgency hung heavy in the air of Washington, D.C., this week as thousands of activists descended on the nation’s capital to encourage and inspire colleagues and decision-makers to “turn the tide on AIDS.”The International AIDS Conference 2012 has returned to the United States, thanks in part to the lifting of the HIV/AIDS travel ban by the Obama Administration in 2010, which followed work from President George W. Bush also to lift the ban.As part of the Conference, faith leaders from across the world were invited Tuesday morning to a forum hosted by the White House. It was an opportunity to hear from U.S. and international experts and officials, as well as come together as a community of faith, standing up against the stigma and isolation which have been two of the biggest roadblocks to achieving the goal of an AIDS-free generation.Tuesday’s event centered around two panel discussions — one examining what the faith community uniquely brings to the table in tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the other focusing on the relationship between governments and people of faith in building the effective partnerships needed to tackle it.The tone of the discussions was, in many ways, extremely positive. We heard about vast improvements in treatments and holistic care, services often administered by faith-based organizations around the world.“Hope,” as White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Executive Director, Joshua DuBois, noted, is overcoming “fear.”
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The U.S. and U.K. are two economies. That’s to say they’re each two economies. Both countries are divided into the finance-based asset rich minority and the rest.” - Journalist Alen Mattich writing in today’s Wall Street Journal. (The Wall Street Journal)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “Everyone deserves compassion. Everyone deserves dignity. Everyone, everyone, everyone deserves love. Why am I telling you this? Because the Aids disease is caused by a virus, but the Aids epidemic is not. The Aids epidemic is fuelled by stigma, violence and indifference.” - Sir Elton John addresses the International Aids Conference in Washington DC. (The Guardian)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. “Even in the darkest of days, life continues and people are strong,” - President Obama speaking in Aurora, Colorado, following the fatal shooting rampage that took place during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises on Friday. (The New York Times)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 5 weeks ago
In light of the tragic events which took place in Aurora, Colo., a few days ago, I feel uncomfortable providing a review of a film I was watching at the same time as the dozen souls who lost their lives in such an unfathomably awful situation. I’m sure that the emotions of excitement and anticipation that I felt in the days leading up to the film, as the previews rolled and as the opening scene of The Dark Knight Rises unfolded before my eyes, will forever be mixed with feelings of deep sadness and anger the senseless violence that descended in Colorado.Through the lens of what happened last Friday, The Dark Knight Rises has, rightly or wrongly, taken on a new layer of meaning for me (and, I'd imagine, many other moviegoers). It is a film about the very darkest of times — when all hope seems lost, when there are no heroes — and what happens when we allow the worst of ourselves to take control.But it is also a story about redemption. It is a tale of finding courage in the face of overwhelming adversity, in spite of overwhelming physical and spiritual suffering. Christian Bale’s Batman (and indeed his Bruce Wayne), is in some ways a more timid character, by comparison, to the Batman who saved Gotham City from The Joker's psychotic games in The Dark Knight.Older, weaker, and yet not much wiser, in The Dark Knight Rises Batman/Wayne does not see the city that in which he has made himself a recluse, in the same way as its other citizens. We see a man out of touch with those he once had inspired, with many citizens of Gotham believing Batman to be a murderer (the ghost of Harvey Dent looms large throughout the film) or leaving him for dead.He has nothing more to give to a Gotham where organized crime is a thing of the past, a city that no longer believes it needs a hero to protect it. Gotham, its leaders conclude, is doing just fine without "the Bat."
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 6 weeks ago
It often seems that just as we begin to get our heads around how we might understand our world, everything changes. There have been tipping points at various moments in history; events or advances which move us from one epoch to another in such a way that we can never see the world with the same eyes again. It happened during the Industrial Revolution; it happened with the Communications Revolution; and it happened on September 11, 2001. And according to Ayesha and Parag Khanna, we are approaching (or indeed, have already reached) another of these defining moments—what they call “The Hybrid Age.” In their book, Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization, published as part of the TED Books series, they examine how we have reached this moment, and what that means for our futures, and for generations beyond our own.Hybrid Reality, in a similar fashion to many of the e-books that have developed out of the popular series of talks, reads like a manifesto – and in this case, it is a manifesto for navigating the unknown, exciting, and at times, downright terrifying potential futures which we are opening ourselves up to as technology becomes more and more sophisticated and more and more a part of us.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 6 weeks ago
It’s just 10 days until the biggest show on earth begins.No, not Lady Gaga’s new tour. It's the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.The timing of this year’s Olympics has put thousands of participating athletes in something of a quandary. Writing from TIME Magazine, Aryn Baker explains:When an estimated 3,500 Muslim athletes come to the London Olympics this summer, the pinnacle of their athletic careers will directly coincide with one of the most important periods in their spiritual calendar. This year, all 17 days of athletic competition take place during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are required to fast and refrain from drinking water from sunrise to sunset....
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 7 weeks ago
Religion reporter Amy Sullivan has an interesting piece in The New Republic today on the politics surround the deep cuts to government food programs being proposed by the House Agriculture Committee.As she notes:"Some conservatives have argued that government shouldn’t even be in the business of feeding people—that the job should be handled by local congregations and other community organizations. Paul Ryan has sparred with Catholic bishops who oppose cuts to SNAP, quipping that 'a preferential option for the poor does not mean a preferential option for big government.'”The article goes on to note that, while churches were the only social safety net the country had for many years, it was the Great Depression which ended this role. Quoting from an article by Alison Collis Greene:“'The Depression crippled churches’ finances, and the economic downturn forced them to slash services when people needed help most. Religious leaders and local church members alike recognized the crisis, and many demanded that the federal government intervene.'”Sullivan argues that we find ourselves in a situation not so different to that of the 1930s today:"We are watching a similar situation play out now. Many religious traditions and individual churches were struggling when the recession began. The Catholic church was dealing with the fallout from the priest sex abuse scandals. It and other traditions are still embroiled in debates over homosexuality that have led to splits or caused members to leave altogether. Congregational membership levels are down in almost every religious tradition. And as a result, their resource pools have shrunk."Yes, smarter and more effective government programs are vital when budgets are being cut across the board. But indiscriminate cuts to vital services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and calls for churches to pick up the pieces are simply immoral and ultimately impossible.The cuts being proposed by the Committee will have a devastating impact on poor Americans. It’s time to stand up for the poorest and more vulnerable. You can help. Tell Congress to oppose cuts to nutrition programs in the Farm Bill today.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 7 weeks ago
You probably have a gallon of milk in your fridge. It might be fat free, soy, or maybe even 1 percent. Most of us drink milk in some form. But how long does it take for us to earn enough to buy it?As part of their ‘Raise The Minimum Wage’ campaign, 99 Uniting produced this telling infographic, comparing how long it takes a minimum wage earner, a median wage earner and ‘CEO Guy’ to earn a gallon of milk. It makes for some sad and frustrating reading …
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 11 weeks ago
Most discussions around development in Africa fall into the false dichotomy of trade vs. aid. The United States has commitments that inextricably connect trade and aid, development and technical assistance alongside strong economic relationships with many of the continent's countries. Understanding these relationships and continually working to strengthen them is of vital importance, both for the African continent (in particular in sub-Saharan Africa) and for the United States. Gone are the days of paternalism – in today’s world, we must view the developed and developing states as equal partners in a complex and interdependent world.The most comprehensive legislation on the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa is The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), signed into law by President Clinton in 2000 in the hope of creating mutual benefits for both the U.S. and Africa. This week, the Brookings Institution hosted an event which looked back at the last 12 years of the legislation, which the Institution estimates has created 300,000 jobs in Africa and taking the opportunity to look forward.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 11 weeks ago
CNN reports on worrying developments in Egypt:"Egypt's highest court on Thursday declared the country's parliament invalid and cleared the way for a member of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime to run in a presidential election runoff this weekend.The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that parliament must be dissolved, state TV reported. An Egyptian constitutional law expert told CNN that following the court's decision, a political decision would be made about whether to dissolve parliament.Following the ruling, Egypt's interim military rulers claimed to have full legislative control of government. Parliament had been in session for just over four months."
Posted by Jack Palmer, Sandi Villarreal 2 years 11 weeks ago
Church leaders today gathered in Washington, D.C., to announce the launch of the Evangelical Immigration Table – a broad coalition of organizations, churches and pastors from across the political and religious spectrum coming together to advance a cohesive immigration reform message.The Immigration Table was launched at a press conference, with speakers including Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Association of Latino Evangelicals and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, setting out a common set of principles reflecting the common ground that all members of the Table have found on the issue of immigration.Read on to view photos from the press conference.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 11 weeks ago
Ever wondered what your tweets would look like if they were a person? No, neither had we. But Mashable today reports on a new tool called Tweepify that “turns your Twitter activity — how often you tweet, followers-to-following ratio, etc. — into humanoid “tweeple.”
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 12 weeks ago
It’s a little over 12 hours since I walked out of the movie theater, as the seemingly never-ending credits of Prometheus rolled behind me. It’s safe to say that I walked out of the theater in a very different mood than I had entered it. Three hours previously, I had butterflies in my stomach – the anticipation that I and my fellow late-night moviegoers exuded was palpable – we were all ready to witness something special. A master storyteller returning to, arguably his greatest work. It is 33 years since Sir Ridley Scott scared the wits out of filmgoers with his horror/sci-fi classic Alien. In Prometheus, he returns to the universe he created all those years ago, to the mysterious workings of the Weyland Corporation, and to deep space where, as we all know, “no one can hear you scream.”At 12:01 this morning, I was ready to see a film that has been a decade in development, an epic piece of cinema that would tantalize everyone who loves the Alien franchise, and that would introduce a younger generation to one of the most feared cinematic monsters in history. Sadly, the film I was ready to see was not the one I saw.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 12 weeks ago
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel offers his thought on the Syrian crisis in The Washington Post:Syria’s story is now both tragedy and scandal. Day after day, its police and army humiliate, frighten and kill scores of its citizens. Old and young, educated and ignorant, rich and poor: All have become targets. One day alone, two weeks ago, youngsters were massacred individually — with bullets in their heads. And the so-called civilized world isn’t even trying to stop the massacre. Its leaders issue statements, but the bloodshed continues. A situation that has lasted 13-odd months is not about to end. His suggest for how to bring the crisis to an end? Why not warn Assad that, unless he stops the murderous policy he is engaged in, he will be arrested and brought to the international criminal court in the Hague and charged with committing crimes against humanity? Such a charge would have discouraging aspects. He would lose any support, any sympathy, in the world at large. No honorable person would come to his defense. No nation would offer him shelter. No statute of limitations would apply to his case. If and when he realizes that, like Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, he will end up in disgrace, locked in a prison cell, he might put an end to his senseless criminal struggle for survival. Why not try it?
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 13 weeks ago
A fascinating visual from the wonderful blog ‘I Love Charts’ caught some attention on the inter-webs yesterday, highlighting a little known fact from the statute books of some of the nation’s states:There are seven states in the union which ban atheists from holding public office.And by association, ban atheists from running for public office, unless a ‘Road To Damascus’ moment fortuitously occurs on the campaign trail.The constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all have provisions that require public office holders to adhere to a religious faith.In Tennessee for example,"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."In Arkansas, atheism also appears to deny you the ability to testify in court:"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court." There’s probably an important lesson to learn from this revelation:People looking to run for office should make sure they know their state’s constitution very well before they inadvertently break the law!
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 13 weeks ago
In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank raises the question that has (apparently) been on everyone's lips during this election season: Is Mitt Romney a unicorn? An interesting question, we can all agree. By why are people asking? According to Milbank: The MittRomneyIsAUnicorn.com campaign came about because Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, citing allegations that the birth certificate President Obama released is a fraud, threatened to take the incumbent off the ballot. Another Post, writer, Alexandra Petri noted that, as many 18,000 people have signed on to a petition "demanding proof that Mitt Romney was not a unicorn", in light of the fact that "unicorns, as the petition pointed out, are ineligible for the presidency of the United States". We will let you make up your own minds on this one folks... P.S. Take a few seconds to check out the fantastic artwork that Petri employed to bring some clarity to the Mitt Romney/Unicorn claims. They are, in her own words "some of my best MS Paint work yet."
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 13 weeks ago
It all got a little much for Illinois State Rep. Mike Bost yesterday during a discussion in the State House on pension reform.The Atlantic reports:The longtime Republican representative from a southern Illinois district was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it any more, unleashing an epic rant at Speaker Mike Madigan.The top moments are undoubtedly early in the clip, when he tosses a bunch of papers in the air, then punches them on the way down; and when he shouts, "Let my people go!" But stay with it until the end for his excellent variation on the old rap-battle mic drop. Also worth noting: the faces on his colleagues around him, trying to maintain a sense of dignity, except the woman in the burgundy behind him who seems willing to indulge her amusement.Watch the full rant below:
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 13 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "You were often blamed for a war you didn't start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened." - President Obama, in a “welcome home” message to veterans in a Memorial Day speech at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., 37 years after the war ended. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 14 weeks ago
Take Part on Tuesday has created to great infographic that shows who actually votes in America.Some of the highlights:Married people are more likely to vote than widowers, divorcees or those who have never been married.The higher the level of education you have received, the more likely you are to vote.More than 9-in-10 people with an annual family income of over $100,000 vote, compared with just 5-in-10 whose income falls below $20,000.Our busy lives are the number one reason why we don’t vote.Congratulations to Minnesotans – your state tops state-by-state voter turnout with 75%Must do better: Hawaii - only half of Hawaiians voted in the 2008 election.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “It just makes me nervous when you take genetic matter from something else that wouldn’t have been done in nature and put it into food.” - Cynthia LaPier, a mental health counselor in Massachusetts who engages in “guerilla labeling” of foods she knows contain genetically modified organisms. (New York Times)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “We never would have expected a Democratic president — let alone one seeking to be ‘transformative’ — to open up the Arctic Ocean for drilling.” - Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club on the Obama administration’s decision to allow Shell to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic. (New York Times)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 14 weeks ago
This weekend, amid key discussions on the future of Afghanistan and media attention on the strained relationship between the United States and Pakistan, members of the Group of Eight (G8) announced its commitment to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which will seek to “lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.”In a speech given at the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security last Friday (May 18), President Barack Obama laid out his vision for what the Alliance could achieve, in co-operation with the private and non-profit sectors, in terms of seeing global hunger eradicated in the next decade.And we are not going to let him forget this moral duty.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “I feel freedom and for the first time, my voice and opinion really counts.” - Mounira Fawaz, after casting her vote in the Egyptian presidential elections, the first democratic election in the country’s history. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “You’ve grown up quickly over the last year. You’ve learned at a younger age than most that we can’t always predict what life has in store for us. No matter how we might try to avoid it, life can bring heartache. Life involves struggle. Life will bring loss. But here in Joplin, you’ve also learned that we have the power to grow from these experiences. We can define our lives not by what happens to us, but by how we respond.” President Barack Obama addresses graduating seniors at Missouri Southern State University, marking the one-year anniversary of a powerful tornado that ripped through Joplin, destroying the local high school and much of the city. (New York Times)
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 15 weeks ago
Too often, the album is a place where singles wait to be released and B-sides go to die. Very rarely does an album tell a story, or offer real insight into the artist’s world. Creating a narrative on an album is a lost art.At the risk of sounding a little dismissive, when a musician doesn’t really have a story to tell (just a record to sell), the album stops being a work of art and just becomes a product. But when a record actually tells a moving and coherent story, then it can become a piece of art far more powerful than simply notes and words on a page.So it is with Andy Flannagan’s new album, Drowning in the Shallow.  
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 15 weeks ago
If you have read books like Drew Westen’s The Political Brain, you might be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at this headline. A large body of work has emerged over the past few years that suggest that we vote with our hearts, rather than our heads. Policies, this body of work says, matter far less than our gut reaction to a candidate, their character and the party we naturally align ourselves with.So to those who agree with this research, the results of a new report from the Barna Group might be surprising. Across the board, a candidates’ position on issues is overwhelmingly more important than their character, their party affiliation or their religious faith.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 16 weeks ago
In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Barack Obama became the first sitting President to affirm same-sex marriage.In a clip of the interview released at 3pm this afternoon, the President noted his ‘evolving’ beliefs on the subject and that he felt that he was now able to “affirm” marriage for same-sex couples.As reported by The Huffington Post, the President told Roberts:"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 16 weeks ago
All across the European continent (and yes, Britain too), proponents of austerity are losing the argument and facing the political consequences. It is a concept that brought many of them to power in the fallout of the debt crisis, has now become “a dirty word”, and one that the ‘resurgent’ European Left continues to disavow. While we all know that “it’s the economy, stupid,” what effect do these one-issue elections have on the health of our world? What happens when we become so focused on the money in (or not in) our pockets, that other vital issues fall by the wayside? In their attempts to prove the ‘austerians’ (very different people from the Austrians) wrong, have those who see stimulus of the economy as the path to prosperity inadvertently lost sight of what is really important to the societies that they govern? Is there a risk that economic growth becomes an end goal, rather than a means to something greater – true human prosperity and investment in human capital? 
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 18 weeks ago
Two years after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill ravaged the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials today filed the first criminal charges in connection with the incident, The Huffington Post reports:Kurt Mix, 50, a senior BP drilling engineer, allegedly destroyed hundreds of text messages sent to a supervisor that described high volumes of oil flowing from the ruptured well, located 5,000 feet underwater, according to a federal affidavit …Mix is reportedly the first person who would actually be charged since the disaster occurred.In its report of the arrest, The Associated Press noted that:Kurt Mix, of Katy, Texas, was arrested on two counts of obstruction of justice.The BP-leased rig Deepwater Horizon exploded the night of April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and setting off the nation's worst offshore oil disaster. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the well off the Louisiana coast before it was capped.At the time of the oil spill, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis visited the Gulf Coast to view the devastation and spoke strongly, placing the culpability for the disaster in the hands of “human folly, human sinfulness and human greed.” Jack Palmer is a communications assistant at Sojourners. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackPalmer88. 
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 18 weeks ago
In honor of Earth Day, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships today hosted an Environmental Briefing for a number of environmental activists from all over the country.Students, young professionals, members of the clergy and many other long-time activists were able to hear from members of the Obama administration and other key personnel from various departments and agencies, learning more about the progress that has been made to tackle climate change and environmental degradation, and also hear about the challenges ahead in ensuring that we are good stewards of the environment that has been entrusted to us.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 19 weeks ago
On Thursday, Sojourners launched its 2012 election campaign, Voting For Us, and the Public Religion Research Institute and Berkley Center released its “2012 Millennial Values Survey.” Young Christians, and particularly young evangelicals are a significant demographic to understand. They could be a large “persuadable” population in the run up to the November elections.What do they believe? What are their priorities? How will they vote?Young evangelicals are different from their parents and any generation that has preceded them. Their priorities are changing, their world view is shifting and their political engagement is becoming increasingly nuanced – going well beyond the narrow interests of the Religious Right that until now have been associated with evangelicalism in the United States.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 19 weeks ago
Surprise nominee Dr. Jim Yong Kim has today been chosen as the next President of the World Bank, The Washington Post reports.Currently serving as President of Dartmouth College, Dr. Kim was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama last month. His selection as the President’s nominee was seen as a surprising one, as the Post reports:Kim’s selection marks a break from previous World Bank leaders who were typically political, legal or economic figures [while] Kim, 52, [is] a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 20 weeks ago
A lawsuit that comes to a head May 11 could set a trajectory for how we legislate and mitigate against the devastating impacts of global climate change, Think Progress reports.The suit, which has been dubbed a ‘David vs. Goliath battle,' sees a group of young adults taking on high-level government officials, states, energy companies and big businesses over their collective failure to adequately protect our planet for future generations.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 20 weeks ago
How much water have you used today?You probably took a shower, used your toilet, brushed your teeth, maybe boiled some for a cup of tea of coffee, not to mention being well on the way to the 64 ounces of water that we’re told to drink every day.Very quickly the amount of water you’ve used, without even thinking, adds up. Thankfully, water is not a luxury in America, or the developed world in general.But a new video released by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today paints a stark picture of just how precious and luxurious resource water is in many parts of the world.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 20 weeks ago
Today marks the 67th anniversary of the execution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was a member of the German resistance movement against Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s and a founding member of the Confessing Church in Germany, which represented a major source of Christian opposition to the Nazi government in Germany.An outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943 and hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp 9 April, 1945 – just a month before Germany surrendered and the War in Europe ended.One of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers of the 20th Century, Sojourners today honors the memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 21 weeks ago
This is not another book that simply critiques religion. In Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion, Alain de Botton, a noted author on a wide range of themes – from architecture to the works of Proust – examines those engaging and helpful aspects of religion (particularly focusing on Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism) that might, as he puts it, “fruitfully be applied to the problems of secular society.”Anyone who might be offended by a work that from the outset (indeed on its very first page) asserts that “of course no religions are true in any God-given sense”, is encouraged to steer clear of this book by the author himself.It is a book that seems to swing between revulsion of religion and the “religious colonization” that atheists are charged to reverse and a recognition that all is not well in the secular world, and that these ills may be somewhat righted by looking toward religion – let me clarify – toward those aspects of religious traditions that de Botton believes are relevant to the world today: community, kindness, education and art, for example.The very first subject to be tackled is that of community – something that Sojourners knows a little something about (check out Nicole Higgins’ recent review of Wanderlust for some insights) – and what strikes me as interesting is that de Botton’s hypothesis on the loss of community mirrors a phrase often spoken by Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis:Did we lose our sense of community when we began to privatize our faith?
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 22 weeks ago
It has been a busy few weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court. Hundreds of people having been in line over the weekend to obtain one of the coveted public tickets for the healthcare mandate case. And last week, in a case which was somewhat less publicized, the highest court in the land debated whether juveniles should receive life without parole in homicide cases, the only crime for which such a punishment is still an option for minors.A daunting task, but one that garnered a number of thoughtful pieces throughout the media and blogosphere.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 23 weeks ago
DC’s resident “bad-boy reporter,” Jason Mattera thought that he had caught a major scoop when he accosted U2 lead singer Bono at a recent event, challenging him to come clean about the finances of One, the musicians charity (as well as being a classic U2 hit – FWIW, I prefer with version with Mary J. Blige). Sadly, it turns out that Mattera’s scoop was not so Magnificent. The man he thought was Bono may have looked and sounded like Bono. But it was, in fact, a Bono impersonator, TPMreports. And even more embarrassingly for Human Events’ editor was that it wasn’t until after he promoted the clip on Sean Hannity’s radio show today that it was revealed to be a look-a-like.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 23 weeks ago
New research released today by the Pew Forum shows that the American public are becoming increasingly anxious of the amount of religious language being used by their public officials.More people now say that there “has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders” (4 in 10) than say that there has been too little (3 in 10). This figure is up nearly 10 percent from 2010 figures.Supporters of former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum are the least concerned by the use of religious language by politicians, with 55 percent of them believing that there is too little expression of religious faith and prayer by religious leaders. Amongst Democrats or those who lean in that direction, a majority believe that religious language is invoked too often by political leaders.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 24 weeks ago
A long-term employee of Goldman Sachs today resigned in the most public of places — The New York Times. Greg Smith, an executive at the banking giant wrote that he was leaving becausethe interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making moneyand thatthe firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.The global banking crisis and the ensuing bailouts did a number of things — not least to paint all employees of the big banks with the same brush — they were all money-grabbers, not caring about who they took money from or how they invested it.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 24 weeks ago
There may be those in the public sphere who dismiss climate change as a ‘hoax’ — doing so is good politics in some spheres — but the people of the small island nation of Kiribati do not have the luxury of debating whether climate change is real.It is. And it's threatening the very existence of their nation.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 24 weeks ago
As a progressive Christian in my mid-20s, it'd be safe to bet I might be a fan of Donald Miller. And I am. Miller's Blue Like Jazz and Searching For God Knows What are among the books that have significantly affected my faith journey.And, like many others in my demographic, I met the news of an adaptation of Blue Like Jazz with both hope and apprehension. Like Miller himself, “at first, I didn’t understand how it could be a movie. I couldn’t see it on a screen.”My own anxieties about a big-screen adaptation fell into two categories. First Jazz is, for all intents and purposes, a memoir. And memoirs — or the biopics they often become onscreen — are, in my opinion, rarely great films. They are usually little more than a path to the Oscars for actors who are pining after an ego-boost (but I guess that’s another story).What saves Blue Like Jazz, thankfully, is that it is a memoir with a difference. It isn’t a rose-tinted, romanticized account of some historical or celebrated figure. It is the memoir of someone who is very much like me — just a little bit funnier. That’s where the appeal comes from and I'd expect that's what will make Blue Like Jazz (the film) a success both here and abroad.
Posted by Jack Palmer 2 years 25 weeks ago
a speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, President Obama urged Israeli leaders to refrain from "loose talk of war" related to escalating tensions with Iran. Quoting his predecessor President Theodore Roosevelt, Obama said when it comes to the Iran situation, both the United States and Israel would do well to, "Speak softly... and carry a big stick."Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today at the White House.  Netanyahu, who is scheduled to speak to the AIPAC conference this evening, issued a short statement repsonding to Obama's speech Sunday, saying in part, "I appreciated the fact that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat."