The Common Good

God's Politics

QUIRK: Geez Goes 'Overboard' on a Christian Singles' Cruise

Those cheeky Canadian Christians are at it again!

In its summer issue, Geez Magazine sends a reporter under cover on a Caribbean cruise for "Christian singles." Hilarity (and outrage) ensues.

Earlier this year, Geez  — with its tagline "holy mischief in an age of fast faith" — dipsatched their reporter to take a five-day luxury cruise in the Caribbean, the "Christian Singles Valentine's Day Cruise," promoted by AllChristianCruises.com.

With tape recorder in hand and cameraman in tow, Lyndon Froese, a 26-year-old single guy from Manitoba with "Mennonite roots" (who considers himself only quasi-Christian these days), drove from Canada to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and hopped aboard the Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas in search of a story about "the underbelly of the Christian leisure industry."

 

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The Top 10 Stories of June 8, 2012

Quote of the day.
"Even after getting psychiatric help, I was still afraid to go outside. I was afraid to go into public places or anyplace that had a crowd. With Kaeci, I''m able to do that. I can have more of a normal life." - James "Jimmy" LaCaria, retired Army major diagnosed with PTSD, on the difference that Kaeci, his 5-year-old Australian service dog, has made in his life.
(USA Today)

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Electric Burma and Amnesty International's Musical "Toast to Freedom"

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Amnesty International has released a new song, "Toast to Freedom," recorded by nearly 50 artists from around the world.

The original tracks for the song were recorded in Levon Helm's famed studio in Woodstock, N.Y., known as "The Barn," where acclaimed artists like the Black Crowes and My Morning Jacket have made recordings and where Helm, a four-time Grammy winner, for years stages his intimate, multi-artist concert performances known as the “Midnight Ramble.” (Helm passed away in April after a long battle with cancer.)

Artists who sing and/or play on the recording includ Kris Kristofferson, Roseanne Cash, Keb Mo, Carly Simon, Marianne Faithful, Donald Fagen (of Steeley Dan), Sunny Landreth, Shawn Mullens, Ewan McGregor (who knew he could sing so nicely?) and the late Mr. Helm himself.

Have a listen to the song and read about the "Electric Burma" concert later this month in Ireland honoring Burmese justice champion Aung San Suu Kyi, where some of the "Toast to Freedom" artists will perform the song live, inside the blog ...

 

 

 

 

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Maternal Mortality, Birth Control, and What God Desires

I find myself thinking a lot about maternal mortality (and the issues that surround it, like access to contraception) lately, partly because I’ll soon be moving to a country with one of the world’s most dismal maternal mortality rates, and partly because my husband and I aren’t planning to have more biological children, which means that we’re contracepting for the duration.

Also, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky movement is gaining even more visibility — PBS’s Independent Lens is creating a series of short films and some longer features on issues raised in their bestselling, well-worth-reading book even as birth control reemerges again and again as a point of contention between Catholic bishops and nuns, between government policy and religious conviction, and even, as Amy Frykholm as suggested, among evangelicals.

Recently I’ve become aware that unwanted pregnancies are nothing new — certainly not the product of a culture that’s “anti-life” or anti-children, as the new-ish evangelical suspicion of birth control has it. In the 1850s, Mathilde Shillock, a German immigrant settled on the Minnesota frontier wrote,

“God has entrusted us with a son...it seems that his father is happy over it, I myself do not wish for any more children, as I look upon life as a heavy burden. [...] pity is all I can offer [this child]. Pity and a feeling of duty towards him to lighten his blameless fate.”

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House GOP Moves to Act on Religion in Vets’ Funerals

Families of deceased veterans were shocked and angry last year when religious references were banned from funeral rituals and a Memorial Day service at Houston National Cemetery.

A lawsuit eventually resolved the matter, but a House bill would enshrine in law the lessons learned from that isolated incident.

Such protections already exist as a result of the lawsuit and Bush-era policies that protect families’ free exercise of religion at military funerals. However, the bill filed by Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, would spell out families' rights to religious expression while curtailing the government’s role.

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Episcopal Bishops Ask Obama for Continued Aid to Middle East Hospital

A group of Episcopal bishops is asking President Obama to help assure that a United Nations agency continues to support a diocese-run hospital in the Gaza Strip.

In a June 6 letter, the 102 bishops ask the president to support funding for Al Ahli Hospital from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. The letter asserts funding was cut off in May, though an UNRWA official said a final decision has not been made.

The hospital, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, “is the only facility of its sort in the Gaza Strip that is not run by the Hamas government and as such, it is able to provide care without any outside interference or political calculation,” the letter states.

 
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Franciscan Friars Back American Nuns in Vatican Spat

The brothers have come to the sisters’ defense.

Leaders from the seven Franciscan provinces in the U.S. publicly backed a group of American nuns on Thursday (June 7), calling a Vatican crackdown on the women “excessive.”

The Franciscan friars are believed to be the first Catholic religious order to voice support for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious since the Vatican announced a full-scale makeover of the group in April.

The Vatican’s “doctrinal assessment” also faulted the sisters for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Noting that many members of LCWR belong to female Franciscan orders, the friars pledged solidarity with the sisters and called the Vatican assessment “excessive, given the evidence raised.”

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Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: June 7, 2012

Andy Samberg's PSA on cannibalism -- behind the scenes look at The Hobbit -- The Atlantic's Puppy Cam and scientific survey -- and Japan's Wan Wan Dog Circus. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

 

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QUIRK: Mister Rogers Remix

If you grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, then this video may give your day a little extra cheer. In this new remix, engineered by Symphony of Science’s John Boswell for PBS Digital Studios, the many wonderful sayings and happenings of one Fred Rogers are mashed together in a tune they’re calling, “The Garden of Your Mind.” Take a listen to the remix song below. [via USA Today]

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Indentured Servitude: Why Student Loans Won’t Go Away

There have been lots of news stories lately about student loan forgiveness and the like, and as the holder of serious five-figure graduate student loans, you’d think I’d follow the discussion closely.

But to be honest, I haven’t paid much attention for one, possibly cynical, reason; the systems isn’t going to change.

I joke sometimes that my dream is to pay off my student loans before I retire, but to be honest, that probably won’t happen. It wouldn’t surprise me if I have them with me the rest of my life.

I know, typical twenty-first-century young adult nihilism, right? Maybe. But my monthly payments are already the second largest bill we have next to our mortgage. Still, the payback time line spans many, many decades. I’d like to believe that those in power have the necessary motivation to change things, but here’s why I hold little, if any, hope they ever will.

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