The Common Good

God's Politics

Advent or Government Shutdown, Which Matters More?

There is, once again, a threat of a government shutdown. Congress, once again, can’t get along. Even the most basic decision making has stalled as each party postures for their base.
 
But, it’s almost Christmas and there a better and brighter things to focus on then the latest Rasmussen tracking poll.

I’d like to share some Advent reflections from my former professor at North Park University, Scot McKnight. He is in the midst of a series that points to what Advent is supposed to remind Christians of. It’s a simple message with deep meaning: Jesus is King.

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Follow the Golden Calf: Washington, D.C.

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in the world is the Golden Calf? 

Remember that huge golden replica of the Wall Street Bull that led the faithful of New York to Zuccotti Park a couple months ago? Well, it’s back! And this time the iconic sculpture is serving as more than spectacle. 

Members of Catholics United, along with faith leaders and residents of Occupy DC, marched with the Golden Calf from McPherson Square to the Capitol on Thursday to deliver a petition in support of a bill that would raise taxes on the rich.

“If we’re really concerned with the ‘least’ of our brothers and sisters, then cutting their resources isn’t the way to do it,” said Jason Miller, one of the artists who worked on the Calf and a member of Catholics United. “We need to get rid of the deficit, but not on the backs of the poor.”

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Righteous Indignation: Half of America is Poor

There are times when a story in the news just makes one stop with a righteous indignation.The news I heard today that one in two Americans is now classified as poor makes me angry.

This means half of the people living the richest nation in the world are poor. Is this the American exceptionalism we want?

I am angry because this is a not necessary. I am angry that so many people are suffering, while our elected officials are playing games, unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to promote the general welfare of the nation.
   

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Rape: The Horrific Tale of Two Surveys

Earlier this week, the Burlington Free Press broke the story about the circulation of a provocative online survey among members of Sigma Phi Epsilon — the largest fraternity at the University of Vermont — which included the question: "If I could rape someone, who would it be?"

On the questionnaire, fraternity members were asked to respond to questions ranging from the benign (“Who’s my favorite artist?”) to the debauched (“Where in public would I want to have sex?”) But it was “Personal Question #3” — the hypothetical rape question — that drove the university to put the fraternity on suspension.

The University of Vermont’s chapter is under investigation by Sigma Phi Epsilon's national office. Women’s and other human rights groups in the Burlington area circulated petitions, gathered for protests on campus, and have called on the university to terminate the fraternity once and for all.

This isn't the first time the men of University of Vermont’s Sigma Phi Epsilon aka “SigEp” – a fraternity founded on the principals of “Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love” – have gotten themselves in trouble. A few years ago, SigEp’s national office temporarily revoked the school’s charter, stating that the house’s hazing rituals and other risky behaviors made the organization vulnerable to lawsuits.

It’s impossible to ignore the significance of the most recent SigEp transgression in light of a very different survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the day after the Vermont story broke.

The CDC study found that nearly 1 in 5 American women have been raped.

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The Friday News: Dec. 16, 2011

Nikki Haley Endorses Mitt Romney For President; Lawmakers Agree on Spending Bill, Avoid Shutdown; Omaha Tri-Faith Initiative Has Unique Approach To Interfaith Relations; Christopher Hitchens Has Died; Did Bachmann Just Save Romney?; Wikileak suspect wants recusal; Health Care Experts Warn That Wyden/Rayn Plan Will End Guaranteed Access To Care For Seniors; New Evangelicals, Old News.

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The Top 10 Stories of December 16, 2011

Quote of the day.
“It was like an angel fell out of the sky and appeared in our store,” - Edna Deppe, assistant manager of a K-Mart store in Indianapolis, speaking of an anonymous donor who paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people, especially toys and children’s clothes set aside by impoverished parents for Christmas gifts.
(AP/Washington Post)

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Hit the Hallelujah Button: What Happens in Vegas...

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today we bring you season's greetings and aquatic Hallelujahs from the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Sure they call it " Sin City," but at Christmastime, the famous fountains at the Bellagio Hotel wow tourists from around the world with their syncronized musical water shows, including sacred music. The fountain's Christmas show — seen multiple times each day — includes the Mormon Tablernacle Choir's rendition "Hallelujah Chorus"  along with Placido Domingo's "O Holy Night" and Johnny Mathis singing "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. See for yourself...on the blog.

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The war is over. Lowering the flag.

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usually end in one of two ways – victory or defeat.

World War II ended with a ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri, with Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signing a document of surrender, which U.S. General Douglas MacArthur accepted.

On the other hand, the war in Vietnam ended with a frantic two-day evacuation of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel from the Embassy in Saigon, culminating in the final helicopter leaving the roof with Vietnamese civilians hanging from the skids.

The “official end” of the war in Iraq was neither of these

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Lowes, Lowes, Lowes ...

Lowes pulled its ad dollars from a show that aims to tighten the tapestry we call America because of a faux controversy drummed up by a hate group that said, through its claims of “propaganda," that it's not possible for Muslims to be American.

But the fabric of our nation exists because of the genius of our nation’s founder, who, in the very first amendment to our Constitution, protected the integrity of religion by forbidding the establishment of any one religion as the religion of the state.

In every single society before the founding of our Union, religion and state were married. History has taught us that religion co-opted by the state loses its integrity and its prophetic power. 

Ours was a grand experiment that built America into a grand tapestry of ethnic and religious groups that thrive side by side in relative peace—more so than in any other nation in the world.

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Christmas Favorites from SoJo's Christmas Favorites: Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips is achingly honest.

Whether she's singing about relationships — with loved ones, the world or God — politics, art, the church, Aimee Semple McPherson or Christmastime, you can count on Sam to bring her singularly pure voice and the truth. She is true blue (and one of her favorite guitars is as red and shiny as RudolfOn her new album, Solid State: Songs from the Long Play, Sam has two songs that have quickly become new favorite Christmas tunes for me. One is explicitly about Christmas, and the other is not, but both speak eloquently (and truthfully) about the mystery and melancholy that the season brings to many of us.

In "It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas," Sam talks about missing someone special during the holidays. The lyrics are sad, her voice is sweet, and the juxtaposition of the two strikes a deep chord in my heart. True. Difficult. Beautiful.

 

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