The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

Pope Francis Appeals for Peace with Shimon Peres, Mahmoud Abbas

As Israel continued its ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, Pope Francis urged Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end the spiraling conflict.

The pontiff telephoned the two leaders on Friday to express “his very serious concerns” only six weeks after both me joined him at the Vatican for an historic prayer meeting.

Francis said he was concerned about the “climate of growing hostility, hatred, and suffering” that was claiming many victims, resulting in “a serious humanitarian emergency”, the Vatican said in a statement.

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Weekly Wrap 7.18.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Germany 'May Revert to Typewriters' to Counter Hi-tech Espionage
German politicians are considering a return to using manual typewriters for sensitive documents in the wake of the US surveillance scandal. Yes, really.

2. World Cup Winners Donate Their Prize Money
Some German soccer players who took gold on Sunday—and fellow runner-ups from Argentina—both gave away portions of their earnings to charity, earning gold stars for empathy to go along with their trophy.

3. The Crisis in Israel-Palestine
Vox is keeping an up-to-date StoryStream on the developing crisis in Israel-Palestine. While world leaders call for peace, we pray.

4. Leading AIDS Researchers Among Those Killed in Malaysian Airlines Crash
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine yesterday. Evidence now suggests that more than one-third of the passengers were headed to an international health conference, including leading AIDS researchers.

5. Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing
The names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were household names in 1969. But they were all but forgotten by 1970. How did the astronauts to land on the moon pass into obscurity, and why are their names famous again now?

6. Meet The Former Call Girl Saving Hookers For Jesus 
Annie Lobert, who spent 16 years as a prostitute in Las Vegas, is running a ministry that gets women out of the sex trade.

7. Why You Should (Really, Seriously, Permanently) Stop Using Your Smartphone At Dinner
A “new paper from Virginia Tech … confirms that the mere passive presence of cellphones cheapens in-person conversation, even when we’re not looking at them.”

8. On Campus, Young Veterans Are Learning How to Be Millennials
“That difference in background made Horton see all his classes in a whole other light. His friends read Moby Dick and saw the story of a whale hunt. Horton saw a man who lost his leg and set out for vengeance … he knew what it felt like to cling to the timbers with his shipmates, hurtling forward on a mission that threatened, at any moment, to kill them all.” 

9. Watch 1,000 Balls Blast Through a Vacuum-Powered Maze
Inspired by hulking machines like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, Roy’s contraption is a playful attempt to provide an artistic visualization to what happens in actual particle accelerators.

10. Word Crimes
“Everybody wise up!” Did you miss him? Weird Al returns with a pitch-perfect spoof on Robin Thicke’s infamous “Blurred Lines”—but this time, it’s about grammar. A catchy song on proper verb tense usage? Our web team says YES. #grammarnerds.

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The Clickbait Bible: New Testament

Ephesians: Can You Find All the Run-on Sentences in this Classic Book? Philippians: How To Build Your Endurance Using This Neat Old Trick. Colossians: You’ll Never Believe What God Looks Like!

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Doubly Called: Living (and Accepting) Life as Mom & Pastor

I've always been one who feels guilty easily, so being a mom and a pastor—and a Lutheran—comes naturally to me. It's silly really, but there are ample opportunities to feel guilty in two of the singularly most deified and diminished roles modern society has to offer.

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Hidden Pictures

As a child, I thought the only good part of going to the doctor’s office was getting to read the "Highlights" magazine in the waiting room. The "Hidden Pictures" page was my favorite. You‘ve probably seen it. There’s an intricate line drawing that has small pictures cleverly embedded within the big picture. The challenge is to find them. There’s a list of the hidden pictures, and you search to find the comb that’s blended into the girl’s bangs, the carrot concealed in plain sight as part of a spoke in a wheel.

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How Would Jesus Vote?

We’d all love to claim Jesus for our team, but in doing so, we can safely assume that Jesus actually would wriggle free from such limitations. While it would be comforting to validate ourselves by claiming Jesus as a Baptist, Disciple, Catholic, or something else, what we’re effectively trying to do is keep from changing ourselves. We want to rest in the certainty that we’re all right how we already are, with no real need to grow or do things differently.

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Fence-Sitters and Boundary-Pushers: A Postmodern Reflection

The modern era is marked by a tendency to worship such fences, such rules, institutions, doctrines and traditions, simply because they already exist. And oftentimes, the very things we are preserving are products of those with privilege and power—so in sustaining, or even not actively challenging, such systems, we’re actually contributing to the holding-back of those with less of a voice.

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Women Bishops in the UK: All Our Gifts Are Needed For the Common Good

I met my wife, Joy Carroll, at Greenbelt, a summer festival of faith, arts, and justice held annually in England. It was August 1994. A few months earlier, in May, Joy was one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England. We were both speakers on a panel one day at Greenbelt, in a tent with 5,000 young people. Afterwards, we met for coffee. Joy had been an ordained deacon in the church for six years and was a leader in the movement to recognize all the gifts women had to offer both to the church and the parishes they served. She was the youngest member of the General Synod that decided to ordain women, and she was there for the historic vote in Church House Westminster in London. That cup of coffee eventually led to our marriage in 1997.

I have a vivid memory of returning to Greenbelt as speakers in 2002 with our almost 4-year-old son Luke. It was Sunday morning, and Joy was up on the worship platform celebrating the Eucharist for 20,000 people. My little boy was sitting on my lap watching his mom lead worship up on the stage. Luke looked up at me and said, “Daddy, can men do that too?”

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A View From the Bus Station

“The United States is wonderful,” said one woman, after I helped get her oriented to what buses she would take from Tucson to Florida, gave food and snacks to her and her 8- and 9-year-old sons, and helped her find sweaters and a blanket to stay warm through the inevitably extreme air conditioning of the buses. In that moment, I thought about other U.S. towns passing laws to keep people like her out and protesters angrily blocking buses full of unaccompanied minors or mothers and their children. 

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Faith Communities Are Dumping Their Fossil Fuel Investments

Worried about global warming, a growing number of churches and other faith groups are divesting their holdings in fossil fuel companies, which release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“The warning in Scripture that ‘the wages of sin is death’ could not be more literally true than it is in the case of fossil fuels,” said Serene Jones, president of New York’s Union Theological Seminary, whose board voted in June to divest its $108.4 million endowment from fossil fuel companies.

“While we realize that our endowment alone will hardly cause the fossil fuel giants to miss even half a heartbeat, as a seminary dedicated to social justice we have a critical call to live out our values in the world. Climate change poses a catastrophic threat, and as stewards of God’s creation we simply must act.”

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