The Common Good

God's Politics

Supreme Court Debates Sentencing for Minors

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.

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The Hunger Games Movie Misses the Point

Editor’s Note: This review may include spoilers if you have not seen the movie or read the book.

I really didn’t want to read The Hunger Games. I had resisted the time sucks that were the Harry Potter and Twilight series. I’m too old for such nonsense.

But about two months ago, my friends settled on the trilogy for our next book club pick. After some initial whining, I gave in. Our last selection was Cutting for Stone—I could use a mental break. Of course, the inevitable happened. I was engrossed so completely that I flew back to Minneapolis for opening weekend and book club.

Our group of seven twentysomethings settled in with our themed cocktails among the hordes of fans, ready to be wowed. Later at our debrief in the rented-out sky club at my old apartment building—we were serious about this—we settled on a resounding “eh.”

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The Delicate Art of Persuasion

It’s been a mind-boggling fortnight at the Internet water cooler. Kony 2012. Mike Daisey’s dubious portrayal of Apple’s manufacturing practices abroad. Questions of whether the “Christian Movie Establishment” is “out to get” Blue Like Jazz … and an Amazon petition to let Rachel Held Evans use the word “vagina” in her forthcoming book, The Year of Biblical Womanhood.

Running through each of these stories and the surrounding debate are similar themes: truth, storytelling, power, persuasion. The online conversation is often vicious and acrimonious, reflecting a trend that’s spurred some writers to leave reader comments unread.

Adding to the intensity of the discussions is that almost each of these controversies involves an effort to change something: the Ugandan geo-political scene; unethical manufacturing practices; ways of talking about religious experience; “Christian” expectations for women. That’s not to say these creators set out with those ends as their foremost goal, but their projects were certainly meant to be more than beautiful or useful.

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Never Again: Shaima Alawadi and Islamophobia in America

http://youtu.be/Bn-jEVYVVw0

On Saturday, doctors took Shaima Alawadi, 32, an Iraqi mother of five, off life support, three days after her 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Al Himidi, found her brutally beaten and unconscious in the dining room of the family’s home in El Cajon, Calif. She died a short while later at 3 p.m.

Fatima told reporters that her mother’s head had been repeatedly smashed in with a tire iron — a metal rod used to pry the rubber tube from a bike tire. Next to Alawadi’s barely breathing body was a note: “Go back to your country, you terrorist."

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The Top 10 Stories of March 26, 2012

Quote of the day.
“We can’t stay at home any longer; we want to come to school, to learn. I’m fed up. I want to be in school.” - Aruna Mustapha, 16, who lives in a town in Nigeria where a violent insurgent group is burning school buildings.
(New York Times)

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Church Sign Epic Fails, Continued

You’d think I’d eventually run out of material for this weekly series I’ve been doing. Fortunately for me, there is no apparent end to the phenomenon that is the bad church sign.

The person who invents a spell-check app for church signs will be very wealthy.

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White Christians Sleep While Young Black Men Die

This is largely addressed to my white brothers and sisters, particularly those in the church. I’m a white woman, was raised in an almost all-white town and have spent most of my life in predominately white faith communities. White people don’t like to talk about racism. We like to pretend it isn’t real and we don’t benefit from it. This has got to stop.

When Barack Obama was elected president, there was all kinds of talk about the United States being a post-racial society. This was, and is, total BS. It was (and is), however, a really nice bedtime story us white folk can tell to our kids and to ourselves. Rest easy, everyone. Racism is dead. No need to worry about race anymore. Go to sleep, sleep. sleep …

Every once in a while, we (by we I mean my white brothers and sisters) wake up from our little racism-doesn’t-exist slumber. When a celebrity says something out loud that we know is something you just don’t say (inner voices, white brethren) we get all up in arms and demand an apology. Then we go back to sleep. While we sleep, some of us clutch our purses on the train, lock our doors when we drive through minority neighborhoods or cross the street when groups of dark-skinned men stand in our path. We tell ourselves that we are doing it for our own safety, if we realize we are doing it at all. We make assumptions about people’s intelligence, responsibility, work ethic and a whole host of other things based on the color of a person’s skin. I do not exclude myself from this description. I do it too.

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Walking a Mile with a Meth Head

Emmanuel shows up on our front porch about once a week. His name means “God with us,” but if there’s anyone on the planet who appears to have been forgotten by the Divine, It’s him. He stands at about 5’4″ and has maybe a handful of teeth left. when he speaks, I catch about half of what he says, but there’s a childish innocence in his eyes that betrays the years of hard living he has endured since then.

Sometimes he offers to do work; sometimes he asks for food. Usually he just wants money. I’ve written before about my struggles with this, as the controlling side of me wants to have a hand in how he spends “my” money. This particular day, he’s looking for fifteen dollars for rent.

“I told you you had to get clean before I’d give you any money man,” I shook my head. “I can give you some food.”

“I’m clean, sir, I’m clean,” he always calls me that, even though he’s nine years older than I am. He was speaking more clearly than usual and his eyes were unusually bright. “Come with me sir. If you’ll drive me to the Catholic Woman’s house, she’ll tell you I’m clean.”

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Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Hunger Games Edition

Experience the Hunger Games... a history of dystopian literature, tips for surviving the environmental apocalypse, a spoof Coca-Cola ad, soundtrack music from Arcade Fire, fans of the games depicted in charts, American voices respond to the film, and a longer, slightly more accurate book title.

 

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Misguided Encouragement Leads to Deportation of Indonesian Immigrant

The day before the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale was supposed to meet with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, a tragedy occurred — one more Indonesian immigrant from his congregation was deported.

Like many of his fellow Christian brothers and sister who arrived in the United States in the late 90's and early 2000's, Ferdy Warouf fled Indonesia because of a rise in Islamic extremism that threatened the lives of the Indonesian Christian community.

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