The Common Good

Weekly Wrap

Weekly Wrap 1.10.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. 14 Reasons 2014 Might Not Be So Bad
John Green gives us 14 reasons for some optimism this year, including lower divorce and caner rates and more women’s literacy.

2. And the Winners for Religious Art & Architecture Are...
Faith&Forum announces the winners of its 2013 International Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture.

3. 'Wolf of Wall Street' Called 'Profoundly Moral'
It sets a record for expletives, but Laura Turner calls Wolf of Wall Street a profoundly moral film precisely because it depicts those things to which Catholic News Service objects.

4. Burka Anyone?
recent survey taken in seven countries with Muslim majorities finds that most respondents prefer that a woman completely cover her hair, but not necessarily her face. 

5. Five Religious-Themed Apps Banned by Apple
Brian Pellot’s tracking with religious themes that Apple has rejected or pulled from the App Store, including one that allows users to paste their faces onto the bodies of faith leaders.

6. No Charges for 'Snake Salvation' Pastor
A grand jury has decided not to indict Rev. Andrew Hamblin, who’s been featured on National Geographic’s Snake Salvation series, on charges of violating a Tennessee ban on possessing venomous snakes. Hamblin says the Bible commands him to handle the serpents.

7. Snow Chapel
Indiana’s Tyler Watts didn’t stay snug inside when the university where he works shut down in light of weather that was 13 below zero. Instead, he built an 8-foot chapel made of snow.  

8. 5 Films to Make 2014 'the Year of the Bible'
Forget lists about the year past, Jonathan Merritt looks ahead at the films major movie studios are releasing this year.

9. Colbert and the Priest Talk Economic Inequality
Rev. Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest, stops by the Colbert Report to talk economic injustice.

10. Want to Win the War on Poverty?
On the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of a war on poverty, Sojourners' Jim Wallis says liberals and conservatives must work together for the sake of the vulnerable.

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Weekly Wrap 1.3.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Utah’s Salvation Army Marches to the Beat of Service
The big red kettles and bell ringers are gone until next Christmastime, but the Salvation Army’s congregations worship all year long.

2. Are You a 'Duck Dynasty' American or a 'Downton Abbey' American?
Fans of these two TV family sagas live in parallel worlds. Which show best reflects your faith and values?

3. Body Atlas Reveals Where We Feel Happiness and Shame
More than 700 people participated in an experiment aimed at mapping their bodily sensations in connection with specific emotions. Turns out we feel different emotions in different parts of the body.

4. And Now There's Facial Recognition for the People in Your Pupils
Shakespeare said the eyes are the windows to the soul, but they’re also a mirror for what we see.

5. Pastor Andy Stanley Tells Christians ‘How to Be Rich’
In his new book, How to Be Rich, Pastor Andy Stanley has a message for American Christians: “You’re wealthy. Now starting acting like it.”

6. One in Four Alums Leading Interfaith Group Is Nonreligious
A survey of young people involved in Interfaith Youth Core — a leading interfaith organization in the United States that works with college and university campuses to equip young people for cooperative service and dialogue around shared values — found that nearly 1 in 4 IFYC alums identify as atheist (4.7 percent), agnostic (7.1 percent), secular humanist (5.3 percent), or spiritual but not religious (6.5 percent). 

7. Faith and the Obama White House
Slide show of President Barack Obama’s moments of faith in 2013.

8. Esquire’s Best-Dressed Man of 2013 Is Pope Francis 
The magazine calls the pope’s attire an outward acknowledgement of his progressive orthodoxy.

9. Three Things Big Data Tell Us About How People Use the Bible
YouVersion, a popular Bible app, released its summary of its Bible usage data from 2013, showing how people use their apps to read and share the Bible.

10. Evolutionary Beliefs
Six in 10 Americans believe in evolution, while a third reject the notion, according to a Pew Research Center study. Sixty-four percent of white evangelical Protestants, meanwhile, believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time, while only 15 percent of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.

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Weekly Wrap 12.27.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

We love providing you with daily scripture passages and quotes! Support this and all of Sojourners' work by giving your year-end gift today.

1. Holiday Deliveries — Tetris Style
Ever think about all the trucks that delivered all those holiday goodies? Check out this three-minute time-lapse video at just one UPS parking lot.

2. Fewer 'Toys from Hell' Under Christmas Tree this Year
This should be a relief as your kids play with all those new toys: There were only 31 toy recalls in fiscal 2013 — and none of them involved a lead violation, one of the most common forms of manufacturing trouble, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

3. 100 Things We Didn’t Know Last Year
Top 10 lists are a dime a dozen, so the BBC has come up with a list of 100 “news facts” from the past year including that the name Lucifer is banned in New Zealand.

4. Myth of Christian Unity
Hollis Phelps wonders if “liberal Christians” and “conservative Christians” are worshipping the same God.  

5. The Bible in 10 Minutes a Day
Justin Taylor gives tips on how to read the Bible in a year.

6. Was There Really a Star Over Bethlehem?
Physicist Aaron Adair, author of the new book, The Star of Bethlehem, says it’s unlikely.

7. Brooklyn Church a Home for Arab Christians
The Salam Arabic Lutheran Church is a kaleidoscope of Middle East Christianity— Greek and Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Iraqi Chaldeans, Lebanese Maronites, Egyptian Copts and Greek Orthodox from the Galilee in northern Israel.

8. Farewell to Iconic Buildings
Among the buildings demolished in 2013 were several once considered futuristic, such as the Pan Am Worldport Terminal at New York's JFK International Airport and Houston’s Astrodome

9. Sojo’s Top 10 Blog Articles for 2013
Sojo editors looked back at the blogs of 2013 and found that these were the 10 most widely read Sojourners blog articles of the past year.

10. The Seven Best Articles You'll Regret Missing from 2013
Jim Wallis lists his favorite posts from the past year.

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Weekly Wrap 12.20.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

We love keeping you informed with the Weekly Wrap! Support this and all of Sojourners’ work by giving your year-end gift today.

1. The United States of Religion
Maps highlight such things as which religions are predominant by county and state, which states have the most religious adherents and the biggest non-Christian religion in each state.

2. And, Speaking of Maps
Kansas State University geographers have created a map of the spatial distribution of the seven deadly sins across the United States. Considering high rate of obesity in this country, we’re surprisingly not very gluttonous.

3. Christmas Light Show Like You’ve Never Seen
A Japanese resorts displays 7 million sparkling, colorful and changing LEDs, revolving around Mount Fuji.

4. Airline Pulls Off a Christmas Stunt
Westjet Airline passengers get more than their luggage when the airline plays Santa.

5. When It Comes to Sermons, Live Beats Video
So much for online church services. A new survey by LifeWay Research finds that most people would rather hear real-life preacher than view a video sermon. 

6. Christmas in America: Belief in the Virgin birth and visits from Santa
Nearly one in three Americans, including many with no little children at home and those with no religious identity, pretends Santa will visit on Christmas Eve, while 73 percent of adults in the Pew survey believe Jesus was born of a virgin. Meanwhile a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Services finds a plurality of Americans agree stores and businesses should greet their customers with “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” instead of “merry Christmas,” and 26 percent see Dec. 25 as a cultural holiday, not a holy day.

7. Is Evangelical Christianity in America Losing Its Power?
Writer Jim Hinch looks at Rev. Robert Schuller’s Chrystal Cathedral in California’s Orange County and sees trouble.

8. The 60 Best Immigration Reform Pictures of the Year
Activists for immigration reform have held rallies, gone on hunger strikes, conducted acts of civil disobedience and tweeted/emailed/called/faxed/petitioned members of Congress, fighting for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented Americans.

9. 13 for 13 — Intriguing Religion and Faith Findings for the Year
The Public Religion Research Institute’s top 13 findings from 2013 provide such tidbits as how many American believe God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events and what percentage of Americans favor a path allowing undocumented Americans to become citizens.

10. Flying Spaghetti Monster Joins Christmas Trees in Public Holiday Displays
A university group sets up satirical display at a Wisconsin state capitol holiday display whiles other get into the act.

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Weekly Wrap 12.13.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

We love keeping you informed with the Weekly Wrap! Support this and all of Sojourners’ work by giving your year-end gift today.

1. Movies for the Soul
Bet you didn’t expect Die Hard to join It’s a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas among the feel-good flicks for the holiday season.

2. 101 Christian Women Speakers
In light of recent criticisms that Christian conferences feature few women speakers, Rachel Held Evans has put together a list of 101 women she describes as just a small portion of the talent, wisdom, expertise, passion, and faith present among women in the church. No surprise to us, Sojourner’s own Lisa Sharon Harper, director of mobilization, makes the cut.

3. Advent, German Embassy Style
The German Embassy has an interactive advent calendar including music, recipes and games.

4. The Number One Target for Religious Lobbyists
Find out which federal legislation draws the most attention from religious groups. You may be surprised.

5. Ten to Tweet
Blogger Jana Reis gives her top 10 list of Christian writers to follow on Twitter. We’ll add one more to her list: @jimwallis.

6. The 500 Muslims of the Year
Forbes has its 400 American billionaires, People has its 50 “beautiful people,” Time has its “Person of the Year,” and the Royale Islamic Strategic Studies Center has its “Muslim 500 — the World’s Most Influential Muslims.” Topping the list: Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar University, Saudi King Abdullah and Iranian Grand Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei.

7. Nuts for Nutella
You probably think the popular hazelnut spread comes from Italy. This globalization map will tell you otherwise.

8. ‘Home Alone’ Can Teach You to Pray?
No, we didn’t know either, but this writer believes that Macaulay Culkin’s character can help us to understand the words of the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:13 and Mark 10:15.

9. Letter to Santa From a 10-Month-Old
Ah, those things that a baby wants to touch — but shouldn’t. 

10. WATCH: ''Evil Did Not Win'' At Sandy Hook
As we approach the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, we remember all those affected by the tragedy. The mother of Emilie Parker, a 6-year-old victim of the shooting, speaks from her pain, "Evil did not win." Warning: Have the tissues nearby.

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Weekly Wrap 12.6.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Research Shows Those Who Give Feel, and Look, Better
Philanthropy isn’t just good for the soul; it’s good for our health and looks, too.

2. A Religious Sting Operation
A Mormon bishop goes church disguised as a homeless man in order to teach his congregation something about compassion

3. Hug It Out for YouTube
A YouTube mascot has been moving through Karachi, Pakistan, with a placard: "If you want me back, hug me.” The video service has been banned in Pakistan for more than a year.

4. In 1968, Minimum Wage Kept Family of Three Out of Poverty
Graph illustrates what would happen to the minimum wage in relationship to poverty if Congress passes a bill to gradually increase the minimum.

5. The Pope in Disguise?
Vatican officials deny reports the pope has been slipping out at night to visit the poor in Rome, but such tales seem in line with Francis’ unconventional and pastoral style.

6. Celibacy, Sex, and the Priest
While Pope Francis speaks a lot about change, clerical celibacy hasn’t gotten much attention. Bill Keller of the New York Times tells the story of one of his teaching nuns who married a priest later in life. Keller says, “If I’m an émigré from the country of Catholicism, the Hydars would be best described as dissidents who stayed. They ended up in one of the many small communities of disaffected Catholics.”

7. Tips for Jesus!
Forget 15, 18, or 20 percent tips for the wait staff, the anonymous person (or people) behind @TipsforJesus has been way more generous than that.

8. A Pastor's Confession on Immigration
A Pastor repents of his previous stance on immigration, telling of the story of those around him.

9. They’re Tough on the Outside, But Inside...
These mean looking bikers aren’t what you might have first thought. They’re helping protect children who have been sexually abused.

10. How the Media Treated Women in 2013
There was a lot to celebrate this year for women in the media. But some things aren't changing fast enough. Check out an overview of how the media treated women this year

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Weekly Wrap 11.27.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week (So Far)

(Editors Note: Due to Thanksgiving, we''ve compiled the stories from the week so far. Enjoy that turkey!)

1. What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform
Sixty-three percent of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 14% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens.

2. Religious Americans Give More, New Study Finds
The more important religion is to a person, the more likely that person is to give to a charity of any kind, according to new research released by Connected America. Among Americans who claim a religious affiliation, the study said, 65 percent give to charity. Among those who do not identify a religious creed, 56 percent make charitable gifts.

3. High Stakes Raids on Religious Groups?
From Scientology to the Apostles of Infinite Love in Canada, the Pinnacle Rastafari in Jamaica and Hikari no Wa in Japan, an expert claims that governments are raiding nontraditional religious groups like never before.

4. Wear Pants to Church Day
Last December, a grassroots effort by Mormon feminists urged women to wear pants to church  — something that is nowhere forbidden by LDS doctrine but in some locations has been frowned upon by the conservative subculture of Mormondom. Women will be doing it again Dec. 15.

5. Looking to Australia to Celebrate Thanksgiving
Australia acknowledges its Aboriginal culture far more than America acknowledges Native American roots. This Thanksgiving, should we look for inspiration Down Under? 

6. The Macy''s Thanksgiving Parade Balloons Used to Be Extremely Creepy
Windy weather may ground the giant balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year, but decades ago, you might have preferred skipping these creepy-looking balloons.

7. The Supersized American Turkey
Those turkeys just keep getting bigger and bigger.

8. Solar-Powered Bikes
Here’s a way to give your two wheels extra power without relying on electricity — but balancing might be a bit tough.

9. Five Characteristics of Happiness
The science of positive psychology has revealed five character strengths especially connected with higher levels of happiness. Do you have any of them?

10. A new literary mash-up: Amish romance and vampire tales
Amish Vampires in Space is the latest literary mash-up to gain rave reviews and social media buzz. It’s part of a small but growing group of new bonnet and bloodsucker books that combine two of today’s best-selling genres: Amish romance and vampire tales. 

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Weekly Wrap 11.22.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. 805 Speakers, 159 Women
Jonathan Merritt’s informal study of prominent evangelical conferences found that only 19 percent of speakers at plenary sessions were women led to a lot of buzz in the Christian world. Check out which conferences he looked at.

2. But Americans Don’t Have to Wait for Health Care ... Do We?
The Commonwealth Fund’s annual report on health care in 14 developed countries shows that America spends 50 percent more per capita than does Norway, the next-most-expensive nation. Yet, if you’re sick and need a same-day or next-day appointment, you’re more likely to get it in seven other countries.

3. Zombies 101? Colleges Offer Courses on the Undead
Monmouth University in New Jersey is the latest school to offer a course on the growing zombie phenomenon. "Zombies: Social Anxiety & Pop Culture" was among the first courses to fill up when students at the private university in West Long Branch registered for fall classes. But studying zombies also involves some serious scholarship, said Edward González-Tennant, the professor of the class.

4. Catholicism Gets Funny
Catholic humor is spreading — from Stephen Colbert and other comedians to Eye of the Tiber, the Catholic version of The Onion.

5. Charlotte Churches Get Cameos in ‘Homeland’
Ever wondered where some of the Middle Eastern scenes featured in Showtime’s Homeland really took place? Blogger Tim Funk tells about a few churches in Charlotte, N.C., used as film sets.

6. Santorum to GOP: You Can Learn Something From Francis
Rick Santorum, the former senator who ran for president, believes that Republicans should look to Pope Francis as a model for maintaining beliefs while agreeing to talk about common ground.

7. Vancouver’s Banning Doorknobs
Vancouver, Canada, is phasing out traditional round doorknobs in favor of easier-to-grasp levers in a nod to its aging population. Perhaps, it’s also a nod to the commandment to honor thy mother and father?

8. Restless America
Using 2012 census data, analyst Chris Walker gives an interactive kaleidoscope look at migration patterns in the United States.

9. Racial Preferences and Online Dating
Data from the Facebook dating app, Are You Interested?, finds, in a surprise twist, that all racial groups prefer another race over their own.

10. Preachers, Snakes and Salvation — Oh, My!
A Tennessee pastor pleads not guilty to keeping dozens of poisonous snakes that he and his parishioners touch during services. "This ain’t no longer just a fight for snake handling," Andrew Hamblin, pastor of the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette and a star of National Geographic’sSnake Salvation, said. "This is a fight for freedom of religion."

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Weekly Wrap 11.15.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. One Nation, Under God, With 11 Cultures for All.
The United States comprises 11 distinct cultures according to Colin Woodard, author of American Nations. See how different issues all stem from the earliest settling of the U.S. Which one do you belong to?

2. Why Faith Groups Are Rallying Behind Immigration Reform
As the 2013 legislative year winds to a close, immigration reform seems to be pushed down on the agenda once again. Here's a look at why, despite this, faith groups are embracing the importance of reform.

3. 'Super' Typhoon Haiyan: Suffering and the Sin of Climate Change Denial
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite writes about the moral evil of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan that caused so many deaths and so much destruction in the Phillipines. For Thistlethwaite, the theological answer to climate change is simple: "confession, repentance, and change."

4. Pub Theology
Pub Theology brings together millennials, not in church, but in bars for beers and burgers. 

5. WATCH: Having a Bad Day?
What would it look like if we all cared more about each other? Here are seven things that everyone needs to hear every day.

6. For mothers of war dead, Arlington National Cemetery becomes a weekly ritual
In the wake of losing their sons, three women join weekly at Arlington Cemetery to remember their sons. Although they didn't anticipate finding community, the women found each other through the proximity of their sons' graves.

7. 'You Are Not a Princess'
A Kentucky Catholic school's focus on female empowerment has reignited a debate over feminism and religion.

8. Feminism Hurts Men
A satirical and fresh look at the many ways men are (not) harmed by feminism.

9. Urban-Climbing Adventures
A series of photos by Tom Ryaboi give dizzying views of city life. "It was important to include people in my photos," Ryaboi said, "because they are the real story here. The cities are beautiful, but how we use them is much more relevant."

10. Can God Take a Tweet?
And, finally – "The Twible," lets you tweet the Bible, chapter and verse in 140 or fewer characters.

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Weekly Wrap 11.8.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. America’s Homeless Kids Crisis

Department of Education data says the number of homeless youngsters in our country has hit a record high, topping 1 million and representing a 72 percent increase since the beginning of the 2008 recession.  

2. 13 Things I Learned About Church History From ‘The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2’

Rachel Held Evans in responses to her readings around Reformation Sunday. Among them, Teresa of Avila is the only woman in the history of the church to have founded monastic orders for both women and men, and King James, as in the King James Bible, was probably gay.

3. Are Stereotypes Keeping Women Away From Science?

We’ve come a long way in our work for women’s rights, but women still make up only 24 percent of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) workforce. Giving females confidence in science from a young age may stem the tide.

4. ‘12 Years a Slave’ Has Hidden Environmental Lesson

Land exploitation went hand-in-hand with the subjugation of human beings – and it’s still happening today.

5. Incarceration in the United States

This infographic from Boston University, explores the numbers behind the high prison population in the U.S. Why is our country’s prison population so large?

6. Shots Heard Around D.C.

The city is listening through its Shotspotter — sensors that pick up the sounds of gunshots, distinguishing them from firecrackers. In the past eight years, it’s detected 39,000 outdoor gunshots.  

7. Uncensored in North Korea

In a glimpse into a country typically cloaked in secrecy, AP photographer David Guttenfelder shows daily life in North Korea … through Instagram.  

8. Edenics, the Theory That Every Language Came From Hebrew

An eccentric Jerusalem-based researcher says the secret to the origin of languages lies in the Bible. Isaac E. Mozeson has dedicated his life to exploring the similarities of languages.

9. Look, She Can Shrink, She Can Grow

She’s the newest superhero — a Muslim girl who faces familial conflicts and religious tensions, along with supervillians. Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim girl from Jersey City, will be the latest addition to the Marvel Comics universe. Her creators say the series will explore “the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are.”

10. Awesome Art Made From Recycled Skateboards

And finally what Friday would be complete without some fun colored sculptures. You’ll never believe these sculptures started as skateboards. 

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