The Common Good

Weekly Wrap

Weekly Wrap 2.27.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. PHOTOS: Painter Immortalized Last Meals of 600 Prisoners Put to Death

Artist Julie Green collects information published in death-row inmates’ death notices about their last moments. She then puts cobalt blue paint to porcelain plates to illustrate their final meals — from pizza and birthday cake to Jolly Ranchers. Her goal: “to continue paining fifty plates a year until capital punishment is abolished.”

2. Net Neutrality Victory Is Civil Rights History in the Making

“Today’s civil rights activists have a much more powerful tool at our disposal – the open Internet. Our ability to be heard, counted, and visible in this democracy now depends on an open Internet, because it allows voices and ideas to spread based on their quality – not the amount of money behind them.”

3. WATCH: It Turns Out Lighting Affects Color

And lots of other things, actually. If you’re still hashing it out with your roommates or spouse about the color of #TheDress, here’s science (and music!) to the rescue. (Team #whiteandgold!) Also, if you need more science, you can always ask Science Mike, who offers this great video explainer.

4. Activists Warn of End of Christian Presence in Middle East

Following ISIS’ kidnapping of at least 90 Assyrian Christians in an attack on about 35 mostly Assyrian settlements, groups in the region warn that we may be witnessing the end of Christian presence in the region: “After the Iraq war of 2003, and since the Syrian crisis began, the persecution unleashed on them – including extortion, kidnappings, murder, the ethnic cleansing of entire swaths of Baghdad, the Nineveh plains, and now much of north-east Syria, has been so vast that their very existence in their ancestral homelands is in grave peril.”

5. In 23 States, the Largest Religious Group Is Now ‘Unaffiliated’

This, according to Public Religion Research Institute’s just-released American Values Atlas, which breaks down various religious and political demographics. Find out the largest religious group in your state at the link!

6. WATCH: Jim Inhofe’s Snowball Has Disproven Climate Change Once and For All

That one time a United States senator — the one who also happens to be the chairman of the environment committee — threw a snowball while on the floor to dispute climate change. Because snow. 

7. An Anti-ISIS Summit in Mecca

“Whether ISIS’s deeds are labeled ‘violent extremism’ or ‘Islamized terrorism,’ the conversations in Washington and Mecca had at least one thing in common: They deepened the debate over whether ISIS and its fellow travelers are ‘Islamic,’ and whether the answer matters in the first place. That debate is not just academic. It has real consequences for how the Islamic State’s opponents mount their counteroffensive.”

8. VIDEO: Banksy Goes Undercover in Gaza, Releases MIni-Documentary

The unidentified street artist Banksy has re-emerged in Gaza to create a political mini-documentary about life inside the war-torn region.

9. Why We Must Change How We Change the World

World Relief President and CEO Stephan Bauman’s new book Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World is now out. In this piece, he lays out why he is hopeful about the future of efforts to address injustice: “We are caught in a vicious cycle, a dangerous dynamic that shapes our views about the people who experience suffering. As a result, those trapped in poverty are dehumanized and poverty is dumbed down while good, well-intended people really believe they are caring, world-conscious, and ethical. But change is coming.” 

10. 10 Things Catholics Are Tired of Hearing

Why do you worship statues? Why do you pray to Mary instead of God? And more confusion in the Protestant understanding of Catholicism. Handy to bookmark for the next inevitable conversation about the purpose of confession or the Apocrypha. 

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Weekly Wrap 2.13.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. How David Carr Described His Messy Relationship with Faith
“I am a man who swears frequently, goes to church every Sunday, and lives in search of faith.” New York Times media columnist David Carr died Thursday after collapsing in the newsroom. He was 58.

2. Friends of the Chapel Hill Shooting Victims Share Their Memories
In the aftermath of the shooting deaths of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, N.C., Coming of Faith compiled stories from friends of the victims. And view a collection of moving images from the Wednesday evening vigils that brought together three rival colleges and an entire community.

3. AUDIO: 'Hello, My Name is Yusor Abu-Salha'
“Growing up in America has been such a blessing. … I feel so embedded in the fabric that is our culture. And here, we’re all one.” In May 2014, one of the victims of Tuesday’s Chapel Hill shooting recorded a StoryCorps interview with her 3rd grade teacher. Here are clips from that interview and her teacher’s reflection on Yusor’s death.

4. U.S. Slams Sudan for Blocking Darfur Mass Rape Investigation
“Speaking at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power referred to a new report by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which accused Sudanese soldiers of raping at least 221 women and girls in the village of Tabit over the course of three days. … ‘To this day, the government of Sudan has shamefully denied the U.N. the ability to properly investigate this incident,’ Power told the 15-nation council.”

5. WATCH: Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About
In case you’re not one of the 20+ million people who have already watched this clip, check out President Obama’s BuzzFeed video debut. … You know you have trouble pronouncing February too.

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Weekly Wrap 2.6.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. MLK's Mother Was Assassinated, Too: The Forgotten Women Of Black History Month

"Historical omission points toward a culture’s subconscious beliefs that some people matter less than others. When female stories are muted, we are teaching our kids that their dignity is second class and the historical accounts of their lives is less relevant."

2. LABOR PAINS: More Women Than Ever Are Having Babies at the Peak of Their Careers. When Will We Stop Punishing Them for It? 

"For the majority of new parents, whose penniless postpartum months (or weeks, or days, or whatever they can afford to take without pay, which is often nothing) are simply the result of the way things are in a country that venerates motherhood but in practice accords it zero economic value, the situation … makes parenting a privileged pursuit, takes women out of the workforce, and ultimately affirms public and professional life as being built for men."

3. WATCH: From Prison to the Pulpit

Rev. Darren Ferguson shares the story of his journey from an inmate at Sing Sing witnessing first-hand the effects of our broken criminal justice system to preaching from the pulpit. In this powerful video, he gives the viewer a glimpse into the realities of the system — and issues a challenge to the church.

4. Harper Lee, Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Is to Publish a Second Novel

With longstanding fame as a classic tale of racial and social injustice, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is the lone work of author Harper Lee. Lee, 88, now reveals she wrote a sequel to the classroom favorite. The book, 'Go Set a Watchman' features a now-adult Scout visiting her aging father, Atticus.

5. No Worship Services in Public Schools, De Blasio Tells Supreme Court

In NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign, the candidate opposed a city policy that prohibited churches from renting public schools for services. "In response, religious voters helped de Blasio trounce his opposition with 73 percent of the vote. But after de Blasio took office in January 2014, he didn’t make the change, even though it could be done executively." This month de Blasio went a step further by filing a court petition in support of the city’s policy.

6. A Republican Against Prisons

"One of the most potent arguments against mass incarceration, for conservatives, is that if you believe in limited government and are against dependence on the state, and you look at our criminal-justice system, you’re just not going to be very impressed by it. We have about one out of every hundred adults in this country under total state control. Think about that."

7. Islamic State Selling, Crucifying, Burying Children Alive in Iraq — UN

There is seemingly no end to the brutality perpetrated by ISIS. But this latest report details how the group is trafficking children — from Yazidi and Christian, but also Sunni and Shi’ite communities.

8. The Evolution of the Word ‘Slut’ and the Problems with Reclaiming It

An informative Q&A with Leora Tanenbaum, author of the recently released ‘I Am Not a Slut: Slut Shaming and the Age of the Internet.’ Tanenbaum takes on online harassers, the difference between ‘slut-bashing’ and ‘slut-shaming,’ and the implications of racial privilege in the conversation.

9. Croatia Just Canceled the Debts of its Poorest Citizens

"Although the program is expected to cost between 210 million and 2.1 billion Croatian kuna ($31 million and $300 million), according to conflicting reports by Austrian press agencyAPA and Reuters, the Croatian government expects economic long-term benefits that will outweigh the short-term investment."

10. Why There's So Much Riding on ‘Fresh Off the Boat

As one AsAm FB friend put it, "I cannot believe I just watched an AsAm family on network TV. I also can't believe how long it took to happen."

 
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Weekly Wrap 1.30.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. WATCH: The NFL’s Chilling New Anti-Domestic Violence Ad Will Make You Stop and Listen

The ad, which is set to air during Sunday’s Super Bowl and depicts a real-life 911 call, comes after a media storm uncovering high-profile domestic violence cases involving NFL players this past year.

2. The Problem with Immodest Pastors

Kaetlyn Beatypens this brilliant response to the #ChristianCleavage “debate,” the latest in the occasional flare-up of “ladies, let’s not cause our brothers in Christ to stumble by wearing _______.” (Insert: yoga pants, v-necks, makeup, high heels … y’know, clothes in general.) From the piece: “I truly care for the young men and women tasked with leading our churches. And my hope is to help them find their worth in Christ, and not succumb to what ads for Urban Outfitters’ new line of moto jackets portray as right.”

3. Let’s Talk About Millennial Poverty

“In the United States, approximately 15 [percent] of residents live below the poverty line and another 10.4 million are considered ‘the working poor.’ And yet, we have very, very concrete — and very incorrect — perceptions about how poverty actually looks. And it does not look like Millennial college grads. So we kind of keep ignoring it.”

4. Hundreds of Thousands of Children in Gaza Suffering from ‘Shell Shock’ 

"Children who saw their siblings or parents killed, often gruesomely, have been left stricken and around 35 per cent to 40 per cent of Gaza’s million children are suffering from shell-shock according to Hasan Zeyada, a psychologist with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme."

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Weekly Wrap 1.16.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Can the U.S. Ever Figure Out its Messed-Up Maternity Leave System?
“According to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, there are only two countries in the world that don’t have some form of legally protected, partially paid time off for working women who’ve just had a baby: Papua New Guinea and the U.S.”

2. Post-Evangelicals and Why We Can’t Just Get Over It
Rachel Held Evans pens this spot-on column about identity and why it can be difficult to “simply” ditch the label: “When you grow up believing that your religious worldview contains the key to absolute truth and provides an answer to every question, you never really get over the disappointment of learning that it doesn’t.”

3. This Is What the Oscar Nominations Look Like Without All the Men
A really great visualization.

4. From Lone Wolf to Wolf Packs, What Paris Says About a New Model of Terror
If some interpretations of the recent terrorist attacks hold true, they "point to a dangerous evolution [in] global jihadism: an acceleration in hard-to-detect lone-wolf or wolf-pack attacks that hinge more on the proliferation of an ideology than actual sponsorship by any group.

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Weekly Wrap 1.9.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. 9 Points to Ponder on the Paris Shooting and Charlie Hebdo
“I try to resist the urge to turn the victims into saintly beings, or the shooters into embodiments of evil. We are all imperfect beings, walking contradictions of selfishness and beauty. And sometimes …  it results in acts of unspeakable atrocity.”

2. Amusing Ourselves to… tl;dr
When we expect every part of our lives to entertain us, could attending a boring church be a virtue?

3. 9 Charts That Force the Question, Does Black Life Matter?
Why is black life expectancy in the United States so short?

4. What Ruth Bader Ginsberg Taught Me About Being a Stay-at-Home Dad
One reason we’re down with RBG. Great piece from The Atlantic on the never-ending ‘having it all’ conversation. “The gender-equality debate too often ignores this half of the equation. When home is mentioned at all, the emphasis is usually on equalizing burdens—not equalizing the opportunity for men, as well as women, to be there.”

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Weekly Wrap 1.2.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Here Is What Happens When Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type Makes A New Year’s Resolution
These may or may not be scarily accurate... 

2. The Birth of a New Civil Rights Movement
“The shattering events of 2014, beginning with Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, in August, did more than touch off a national debate about police behavior, criminal justice and widening inequality in America. In 2014, the new social justice movement became a force that the political mainstream had to reckon with.”

3. 10 Resolutions for 2015
“We often only use the word in the context of this season, but “resolution” is a nuanced noun. Some of its definitions include: A firm decision to do or not to do something; the quality of being determined or resolute; the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter. In a world of seemingly endless conflicts, I sure like the sound of that. We need more of all of these qualities just now in this brand new year.”

4. The Tragedy of the American Military
“The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.”

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Weekly Wrap 12.19.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Hero mom calls into C-SPAN to berate her arguing pundit sons 
Whether or not your family expects heated political debate over the holidays, you''ll appreciate the way this mom quiets her sons.

2. 14 Women of Color Who Rocked 2014 
From the creators of #BlackLivesMatter to the founder of an organization focused on women with incarcerated loved ones, meet the women of color at the forefront of the fight for justice.

3. The Myth of Crying Rape
From Jim Wallis and Sandi Villarreal: "The reality is, these survivors are often re-victimized by a system that interrogates rather than advocates and then fails to deliver justice in a vast majority of cases ... Failure to recognize the sins of power and domination that influence the acts of violence against half of God’s creatures is simply bad theology."

4. Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State
A win for environmentalists that could set an important precedent.

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Weekly Wrap 12.12.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Read the Torture Report
While its 525 pages — and disturbing subject matter — may cause you to opt for the news coverage and analysis, you can actually read the entire Torture Report yourself — even before Melville House Books ensures it’s on the shelves your local bookstore. Download now.

2. WATCH: John McCain’s Floor Speech on Torture
In case you do need some context on the importance of releasing this report, watch this floor statement by Arizona Sen. McCain, quite an authority on the matter. “I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored.”

3. Two Years Since Newtown: WATCH This Father’s Story
Sunday marks the two-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 children and six faculty and staff were killed. Mark Barden, the father of Daniel, 7, who was killed in the tragedy, tells his powerful story in this video. 

4. What MSU Protesters Are Really Fighting For
With all of the “controversy” over the Rolling Stone UVA rape story, it might be tempting to think that college campus sexual assault — and the mishandling of cases by college administrators — is not quite on the epidemic scale the piece made it out to be. (Y’know, kind of like when it’s cold outside and people say, “So much for ‘global warming!’” *facepalm*) But it’s not just one person’s story, and it’s not just UVA. Check out this piece to see what’s happening on another college campus.  

 

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Weekly Wrap 12.5.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. A United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner
The Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who killed unarmed Eric Garner was a shocking injustice — but this time the injustice has been universally condemned across religious and political lines. Read this great roundup of evangelical leaders’ responses.

2. These Are the Best Jobs Numbers in Months, Maybe Years
In good news today, the jobs numbers released this morning were a pleasant surprise. The Upshot breaks down the numbers for you. 

3. This Atheist Is Thankful for the Clergy
“The clergy here in St. Louis are a credit to their traditions and to their profession. They are doing what religious leaders ought to do: holding society to a higher moral standard, using their authority as a weapon against injustice, mobilizing the rich resources of their religion to bring hope and encourage change. I’m glad they are here, and I feel privileged to work with them.”

4. Why Are Some Cultures More Individualistic Than Others?
Apparently it all comes down to farming practices. “As we enter a season in which the values of do-it-yourself individualism are likely to dominate our Congress, it is worth remembering that this way of thinking might just be the product of the way our forefathers grew their food and not a fundamental truth about the way that all humans flourish.”

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