The Common Good

Weekly Wrap

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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Weekly Wrap 11.1.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. 17 Stunning Images of All Saints Day Around the World
The Guardian pictorially circles the globe to offer beautiful images of All Saints Day celebrations and remembrances. In Western Christianity — mainly Catholicism — this Nov. 1 holy day is meant to honor all of the saints, known and unknown.

2. Is Youth Ministry Killing the Church?
Churches and denominations continue in their pursuit of truly diverse congregations. But are we missing one area of diversity — age — by offering separate youth programs? Here's one former youth minister's take.

3. Germany OKs 'Indeterminate' Gender At Birth
Germany has become the first European country to allow parents to leave "gender" blank on their child's birth certificate when they exhibit characteristics of both sexes.

4. Pastor Says Ministers Who Voted For Obama Should Resign. Maybe He Should Go First
In his Faith & Culture blog, Jonathan Merritt takes on Pastor Doug Wilson, who says ministers who voted for a second President Barack Obama term "should not be entrusted with the care of souls." 

5. 'Oh No Canada:' Check Out the 6 Posters Illustrating Canada's Alleged Silencing of Tar Sands Critics
Franke James claims her name was found on a Canadian government "enemy list" because of her anti-tar sands activism. So, the artist created this series of posters, now up at Washington, D.C., bus stops. Take a look at the slideshow.

6. WATCH: 'Princess Bride' Star Mandy Patinkin Reveals His Favorite Line in the Film
The star of screen and stage — and now hit Showtime series Homeland — takes us back to the classic film The Princess Bride to talk about his favorite line … and the poignancy behind it may surprise you. Watch, if only to surface nostalgia when he recites lines in the Inigo Montoya accent.

7. Why Forgiving Others is So Hard Yet So Liberating
A beautiful reflection by Chad Bird: "They didn’t owe me an apology; they didn’t owe me repentance, tears, promises of improvement, vows never to repeat what they’d done. Nothing is what they owed me. So I crawled out of the hollow divinity I’d fashioned, threw it in the trash to rust, and said those frightening yet liberating words: I forgive you."

8. WATCH: Photographer Puts Two Strangers Together for Intimate Photographs, and the Results Are Surprising
If a photographer stopped you on the street and asked you to pose with a complete stranger as if he was a boyfriend, brother, or best friend, what would your response be? Watch these fascinating results.

9. Lamenting My Prejudice Against Beautiful Women
Is overt femininity, by definition, shallow? While many of us wouldn't put it quite so starkly, it tends to be an underlying, if unconscious, assumption. (See: blowback against Zooey Deschanel "girly girl" image). Over at Christianity Today's her.meneutics blog, Katelyn Beaty confesses her own blown assumptions after attending an all-women's conference. "They gave me a new model for what it means to lead as a woman—not as a woman trying to hide their femininity, like so many women in leadership, especially in male-oriented workplaces, feel they must do."

10. WATCH (Again): Boy Won't Leave Pope Francis' Side
Because it's adorable — and it's Friday; that's why.

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Weekly Wrap 10.25.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. All of Christendom Responds to Mark Driscoll's Jesus Was Not a 'Pansy' Remarks
But this one in particular, from Eternity Bible College's blog, comes from a writer who views himself as generally likeminded to Driscoll. And yet he states,"Mark’s assumption that pacifists are pansies is historically naïve, theologically horrendous, and shows that Mark’s been more influenced by the worldview of those who put Jesus on the cross rather than the One who hung on it."

2. Women Gain as Gender Gap 'Narrows'
According to a World Economic Forum report, the gap between men and women has decreased in most places around the world, taking into account political participation, economic equality, and rights to health and education. Check out which countries made the top 20, and which are sadly lagging behind … 

like … 

3. Saudi Police Warn of Crackdown on 'Day of Female Driving' Protest
Saturday has been organized as the 'Day of Female Driving' in Saudi Arabia. While women were given the right to vote in 2011, they still are subject to a driving ban in the kingdom. 

4. NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders After U.S. Official Handed Over Contacts
The Guardian reports on the latest round of Edward Snowden leaks that reveal the National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 unnamed world leaders. This comes on the heels of allegations from Der Speigel that the U.S. monitored phone calls of German chancellor Angela Merkel — allegations that the White House has denied.

5. For When You Marry Wrong
Grace at A Deeper Story brings us the gut-wrenching truth of a marriage based on love and good intentions that devolves through no one's fault, and examines what to do with that reality in a Christian context. "What, for example, does God suggest for two people with the personality of freight trains heading right for one another with ALL the world’s stubborn pride embodied in these two married souls?"

6. WATCH: 'American Jesus' Trailer
Can Christianity be rescued from Christians? That's the question posed in the trailer for an upcoming film exploring the various facets of American Christianity, and how our culture shapes how faith in Christ is viewed. 

7. Twitter, Women, and Power
As Twitter preps to go public, Nick Kristof at The New York Times points out the disappointing fact that their board consists of seven white men, and interestingly, "Research suggests that what matters is having a critical mass of about 30 percent women. In Twitter’s case, if it added three women, its board would still have as many men named Peter as it had women."

8. The American Church's Absence of Lament
Writing for a Sojourners blog series on the conversation of race in America, Soong-Chan Rah examines the American church's need for, and shrinking away from, true lament — lament for past wrongs, and the ones we continue to inflict whether intentionally or through our own apathy.

9. 'Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus' YouTube Sensation Releases New Book (READ EXCERPT)
Jefferson Bethke became a YouTube celebrity with his 2012 spoken-word video 'Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.' MSNBC's Morning Joe welcomed the 23-year-old this morning and released an excerpt of the book, Jesus>Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough. In it, Bethke says, "We’ve lost the real Jesus — or at least exchanged him for a newer, safer, sanitized, ineffectual one. We’ve created a Christian subculture that comes with its own set of customs, rules, rituals, paradigms, and products that are nowhere near the rugged, revolutionary faith of biblical Christianity. In our subculture Jesus would have never been crucified — he’s too nice."

10. The Bishop of Bling
A $20,000 bathtub and heated roof on a private chapel are just a couple of the expenses that earned a German Catholic priest the moniker "Bishop of Bling." He's now been suspended by Pope Francis. Will other spend-happy clergy take note?

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Weekly Wrap 10.18.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. WATCH: Shrinking Women - Lily Myers
There's a reason this bit of slam poetry has been making the rounds on Facebook over the past couple of days. It calls out the unsung truths of womanhood — truths, like the poet describing her mother as, "a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled, deciding how many bites is too many, how much space she deserves to occupy." Powerful words. 

2. This Map Shows Where the World's 30 Million Slaves Live. There Are 60,000 in the U.S.
Based on a report from the Walk Free Foundation, The Washington Post has mapped out the concentrations of people living in real slavery across the world, in situations like forced prostitution, child soldiers, and more. The highest rate is Mauritania, but the numbers that exist in the places we live should astound you.

3. The Asian-American Awakening: That Moment When You Realize You're Not White
A great read: "I believe that as Americans, we’re scared to accept difference, even in this day and age. We tell ourselves that we are more tolerant and accepting, looking to how far we have come, but in reality, we’re currently stuck in a rut." 

4. My Harassers
Photographer Hannah Price takes shots of the men who catcall her on the streets of Philadelphia. The results are stunning. Check out her images and an accompanying interview with The Morning News

5. Stephen Colbert Roasts the Pope
CNN Belief Blog brings us the highlights of Stephen Colbert's appearance at the Al Smith Dinner. "Being Catholic is like being in the Admiral's Club of Christianity: Membership has its privileges," Colbert joked. "But if even atheists can be redeemed, what's next, Lutherans?  It's madness."

6. Of Wedding Vows and Sinners Prayers
If you've ever been to an evangelical youth camp — or said the sinner's prayer on multiple occasions just to make sure it stuck — you should read this. "When we stand before the Lord someday I don’t think he’s going to ask us if we’ve said the sinner’s prayer. But he might ask us what he asked Peter that day by the seashore, the kind of thing people have been asking each other for centuries before taking the plunge of marriage: 'Do you love me?'"

7. WATCH: Tattooed Jesus: Blasphemous or Powerful Witness?
Billboards all over Lubbock, Texas display images of a tattooed Jesus — emblematic of his taking up our sins. The illustrations are causing mixed reactions. What do you think?

8. Why I Don't Want a Progressive or Conservative Church
Sound about right? "Church is supposed to be family. It is not supposed to be progressive, moderate, conservative, or whatever label you would like. Church is a word that literally means community, and communities are diverse." 

9. How Feeling Each Other's Pain Changes Everything
"May our expanded selves and pierced souls energize and direct our actions." 12 Years a Slave comes out in limited release today, and in her piece, Christena Cleveland builds on the theme of understanding and learning to love the other by first learning their stories. Read the whole series on the film and Sojourners' contributors' reactions HERE.

10. Study: Almost Half of Public School Students Are Now Low-Income
Take a look at these startling maps, courtesy of The Atlantic Cities. "[T]he worst thing about these numbers may be that they're a glimpse of the future. … students from low-income families tend to end up parents of low-income families. And on it goes." 

Sojourners Job Opening
Sojourners is seeking a Director of Communications in its Washington, D.C. office. Check out the job description at the link above, and share with others!

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Weekly Wrap 10.11.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

Bonus Link! 
WATCH: God's Justice Never Shuts Down: Jim Wallis on #FaithfulFilibuster

1. Better When. 
Jamie the Very Worst Missionary offers a helpful reminder for our daily lives: "Every time I tell myself 'It will be better when,' I'm giving myself permission not to believe that Now can be good."

2. 12 Things Congress Can't Shut Down
While Congress does a whole lot of nothing, here's a look at the movement that can't be stopped. 

3. Get Ready for Record Temperatures — For the Rest of Your Life
Cue ominous music. According to this The Atlantic Cities report, some cities will be warmer every year than their hottest year on record beginning in 2043.

4. WATCH: Jon Stewart to Malala Yousafzai: 'Can I Adopt You?
Happy International Day of the Girl! Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for women’s rights and access to education, rendered America's jester Jon Stewart tongue tied when he hosted her this week on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Watch the clip here.

5. Government Shutdown May Drive More Young Christians from GOP
In his Religion News Service blog, Jonathan Merritt, author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars, points out that young Christians try to resist partisan battles and attempt to rise above the fray — attributes current GOP leaders aren't offering. 

6. So, Monday is Columbus Day
And The Oatmeal nails it with a slight correction to "history." "The point I'm trying to drive home is this: Christopher Columbus was awful …"

7. The Trouble With Bright Girls
Why do young girls with the same equal or better ability as young boys give up more quickly on difficult concepts? Psychology Today posits the answer may lie in the feedback they receive from parents and teachers at a young age.

8. The Crime of Poverty: Some Homeless People Face Arrest for Asking for Help
The number of anti-panhandling and anti-solicitation laws has increased 7 percent. Cities across the country are making it illegal to ask for help. What does that say about our society? Check out this piece from Take Part.

9. The Great American Water Crisis
From Sojourners magazine, "cities and towns across the country are in the midst of an epic fight to keep water as a public trust." Find out more about the battle.

10. Drunk Dial Congress
(Must be 21 or older to read on.) 
Fed up with this mess we're in? Someone has made it really easy to "call and yell at a random member of Congress," complete with talking points and drink recipes. 

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Weekly Wrap 10.4.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. An Orientation For Single Sexuality: The 'Do's' of Purity
Here's a thoughtful piece from The Mennonite: "As singles become a larger proportion of the total population, our society needs a church that models what holiness looks like in relationships—for teens in love, single thirtysomethings, and people who are married."

2. WATCH: How Social Networks Explain Violence in Chicago
"What if you could predict your chances of being shot from your social network: who you know and how you know them? Turns out, maybe you can." Check out this video from illustrating the relationships inherent in violence.

3. WATCH: Jimmy Kimmel: Do You Prefer Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?
People have such strong opinions about Obamacare … but not so much about the Affordable Care Act. 

4. 'This Doesn't Go Away'
Appropriate for this time in our nation — an excerpt from Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission. Read the excerpt at Sojourners magazine.

5. Is the 'Communion Burger' in Poor Taste?
Do you agree with the Chicago restaurateur, that God "has a sense of humor"? Or is the burger sacrilegious? Read the CNN Belief Blog story for more. 

6. Sinead O'Conner Pens Open Letter to Miley Cyrus
After the former Hannah Montana star referenced the Irish songstress as inspiration for her latest video, O'Conner responds. Poignant or inappropriate? Read it for yourself: "Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent."

7. Proof the Voting Rights Act Has Helped Boost Black Political Representation

Now that the Voting Rights Act is effectively gutted, a new study shows that it did, in fact, work and was continuing to — based on national city council numbers from the years 1981-2006. 

8. What It Takes: Does Wendy Davis Have a Chance in Texas?
Texas Monthly examines Wendy Davis' chances against Republican Greg Abbott in what may be one of the most "optically fascinating" gubernatorial races next year. Filibuster extraordinnaire to some and "Abortion Barbie" to others, the Texas Democrat stepped onto the national scene this year after talking for nearly 11 hours to stop a Texas legislature vote. 

9. What if Mahatma Gandhi Had An Instagram Account?
In honor of his 144th birthday, Buzzfeed has the #nofilter and #superfluouslyhashtagged photo collection. 

10. In Memoriam: Tom Clancy
"Very few writers can lay claim to creating a genre but the techno-thriller — that all falls at the feet of Tom Clancy. He was so ahead of the curve." Read more from The Baltimore Sun.

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Weekly Wrap 9.27.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. The Geography of U.S. Hate, Mapped Using Twitter
Can a map derived from hateful tweets tell us where homophobes and racists live in the U.S.? TIME highlights a Humboldt State University project that maps out how hate speech is used on Twitter. How does your county measure up?

2. I'm Coming Out … As Pro-Vaccine
Writer and mom J.J. Keith writes in the Huffington Post, breaking down the history of the anti-vaccine movement and says more parents should speak out about vaccinating their children, adding, "Vaccines are different from every other parenting issue in that the choices that parents make affect everyone else as well. Vaccines are everyone's business."

3. WATCH: Give Peace a Dance
Iranian-born Muslim comedian Maz Jobrani and Jewish comedian Elon Gold sit down in a video to talk about the situation in Iran, and advocate for a peaceful, diplomatic solution. Their plan: Give Peace a Dance. Just dance it out, y'all.

4. INFOGRAPHIC: East Meets West: An Infographic Portrait by Yang Liu
Visual artist Yang Liu was born in China but has lived in Germany since she was 14. Here, she illustrates beautifully her perception of difference between Eastern and Western cultures through things like the ideal of beauty, individual ego size, and complexity of self-expression. 

5. Trader Joe's Ex-President To Turn Expired Food Into Cheap Meals
As one-third of our food globally goes to waste, grocery chain former president Doug Rauch launches a new project called Daily Table, which takes cooks and prepares just-expired grocery food and sells it at fast-food prices. 

6. The Geography of the Gender Pay Gap: Women's Earnings by State
From Forbes: Nevada ranks the highest among states in terms of gender paycheck equality and Wyoming the lowest. Where does your state rank?

7. Can You Really Tell the Difference Between Christians and Non-Christians? 
Stephen Mattson posits there's only one thing that separates the two, and that's Christ: "The poor rationale that some Christians use is that nonbelievers are really 'hurting deep down' and simply appear happy in order to compensate for their feelings of hopelessness. But this is far from the truth, and constantly propagating the idea that Christians are — and should be — generally 'better' than everyone else reinforces many unhealthy habits."

8. The Power of Teaching Girls to Code
WIth the U.S. Department of Labor estimating that there will be 1.4 million computer jobs by 2020, one organization is making sure the number of women in those jobs increases from its dismal 1-in-7 current rate. 

9. Can a Facebook Meme End Nuclear Standoff? 
Meet the man behind the popular "Israel Loves Iran" founder. With 115,000 likes on Facebook, Ronny Edry hopes to be "a bridge in the Middle East between the people." Check out his Christian Science Monitor interview. 

10.  Dear Parents With Young Children in Church
Great message from mom and blogger Jamie Bruesehoff: "It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community."

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Weekly Wrap 9.20.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Shamed in Edina for Using Food Stamps
Read this moving 'apology note' from one mom in Edina, Minn., an affluent Minneapolis suburb, to the woman behind her in line at the supermarket: "I did not observe you, but my daughter was with me packing the groceries and saw it all: 'EBT: Yeah, right,' you muttered, with that look of disgust that would have shattered someone feeling just a little bit of shame over needing food stamps."

2. WATCH: The Most Beautiful, Haunting Infomercial You'll Ever See
If you haven't caught the latest, "advertisement disguised as an anti-commercial animated short," check it out. With Fiona Apple on vocals covering "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka, the Chipotle ad / commentary against factory farming has drawn 4 million views on YouTube already.

3. From the Mouths of Rapists: The Lyrics of Robin Thicke's 'Song of the Summer' Blurred Lines
WarningThis post contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault. 
Featuring images from Project Unbreakable — an online photo essay that features images of sexual assault survivors holding signs with sentences their rapists told them — The Society Pages breaks down popular, yet somewhat lyrically disturbing, song "Blurred Lines." 

4. Pope Says Church is 'Obsessed' With Gays Abortion, and Birth Control
Laurie Goodstein at the New York Times has the excerpts from Pope Francis' lengthy interview: “We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

5. How Stop-and-Frisk is Creating a Generation of Young People Who Don't Trust the Police
In interviews with New Yorkers age 18-25, only 40 percent said they would feel comfortable calling the police if they needed help and only 25 percent would report someone for committing a crime, The Atlantic Cities reports. 

6. INFOGRAPHIC: 16 Mass Shootings Since Newtown You Haven't Heard About
The definition of "mass shooting" is a shooting event in which four or more people other than the shooter are killed. Huffington Post collected information on 16 such incidents that have occurred across the country since December's horrific Newtwon, Conn., massacre. 

7. The Language of Lament
Diana at A Deeper Story reads all of our minds as we grieve another difficult week for our country. "It is lament that carries us directly into the presence of God when we are feeling furthest away; it is lament that addresses our unanswerable questions honestly, even profoundly; it is lament that opens the door to worship."

8. Talking Sex With a Married Catholic Priest
With Pope Francis' inclusive language and prioritization of love above divisiveness, many have speculated about possible changes to the Catholic Church's stance on priestly celibacy. Christian Piatt sat down with a married Catholic priest (who joined the priesthood from the Anglican clergy) to discuss the pope, celibacy, and more. 

9. The Dramatic Rise of Life Without Parole, in 3 Charts
From The Atlantic Cities: "Nationally, almost half (47.2 percent) of life-sentenced inmates are African American, though the black population of lifers reaches much higher in states such as Maryland (77.4 percent), Georgia (72.0 percent), and Mississippi (71.5 percent)."

10. WATCH: Rick Warren on Guns, God, and Son's Tragic Death
Shining a light both on mental illness and gun sales in the U.S., Rick Warren and his wife Kay sat down with CNN's Pierce Morgan to talk about their son, who took his own life in April. "“One of the hard things was forgiving the person who sold him the gun,” Rick Warren said. “Because I didn't want to forgive him.”

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Weekly Wrap 9.13.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. My Year of Modesty

What happens when you decide to live as if appearances really don’t matter? One woman’s quest to find out.

2. The First Victim of September 11

A fascinating portrait of the first person killed on September 11, 2001 — whom, as it happens, was an entrepreneur trained to combat terrorism.

3. Which Niebuhr, President Obama?

In 2007, the President professed his love for Christian ethicist Rienhold Niebuhr. But it’s Rienhold’s younger brother, H. Richard, whose argument for self-reflective “moral inactivity” has particular implications for the President on Syria.

4. Letter to the Editor, from the Pope

Pope Francis discussed his own faith in a letter written in response to editorials by the atheist founder of an Italian newspaper. The Pope also addressed themes of God’s mercy and Christian relations with Jews.

5. This Is a Complete List of Wall Street CEOs Prosecuted for Their Role in the Financial Crisis

The Washington Post's Wonkblog hitches a ride on the lists-as-blog-posts train, featuring Homer Simpson...and a twist. Read up on what’s happened to Wall Street’s CEOs in the wake of the financial crisis.

6. Learning Life Lessons from an Obituary

Ever wondered what people will say about you when you enter eternal life? The family of Mary Agnes Mullaney honored her memory by passing along her love of life in this obituary.

7. The Ups and Downs of Fighting for Gender Equality

Laura Barton of The Guardian reflects on Harvard Business School's nurturing of female students. Bottom line: while there have been great improvements in equality, we've still got a long way to go. 

8. Syria's 99 percent: The Problem with Focusing on Chemical Weapons

If Assad agrees to forsake sarin, how can we intervene if he continues to slaughter civilians while technically playing by our rules?

9. Smoking Spells High Cost Under Affordable Care Act

As the Affordable Care Act comes closer to going into effect, tobacco use is one provision that raises costs for people under the new plan. “Tobacco disproportionately targets low-income communities.”

10. Obama, Seacrest, and Our War Against Indifference

It might not surprise you that despite wars and rumors of war, many of us are more concerned that our favorite TV shows may be interrupted by breaking news from the President. Brian Konkol argues that this indifference to indifference is one of our major spiritual challenges today.

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Weekly Wrap 9.6.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. When It's Too Big (A Reflection on Syria)
Sometimes, all there is left to do is pray. Rachel Held Evans offers her prayer and an incredibly open lament in this piece on her blog.

2. Seeing a Woman: A Conversation Between a Father and Son
From Nate Pyle. Parents of boys: go ahead and put this one up on your fridge. "[A woman''s body] will not make you do stupid things. If you do stupid things it is because you chose to do stupid things. So don’t contribute to the fear that exists between men and women."

3. Isn't It Time the Church Gave Singles a Break? 
"Not everyone attending a Sunday service is married. We’re not all parents. We’re not all employed at nine-to-five jobs. And yet, while a majority of the Scripture applies to every single one of us, we spend a lot of time focused on responsibilities that don’t." Jayson Bradley has the four reasons churches shouldn't spend so much time preaching on marriage (and other "roles").

4. Syria Explained: How it Became a Religious War
Confused by the religious factions involved in Syria's civil war? CNN Belief Blog's Daniel Burke breaks it down for you.

5. Immigration Reform: A Moral Imperative
With Congress back in session next week, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan pens a clear-cut case for immigration reform and his desire to "keep families intact."

6. Misery Loves Comedy
Read an excerpt from Nadia Bolz-Weber''s new book Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, which releases Sept. 10.

7. Assad's Bizarre Instagram Account: Propaganda With a Comments Section
The Atlantic offers us a peek into the strange Instagram world of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — one that paints a rosy picture of his war-torn country. The comments section, on the other hand, tells a different story.

8. A Love Letter to My Body
“Who was I to rail at you? To beat you down day after day after day? To abuse you in front of others? I never really saw you, did I?” This piece dates back to July, but it's a beautiful reminder to love the skin you're in, from SheLoves Magazine.

9. Miley Cyrus' Contribution to Feminism
"Women historically have been held to different standards of sexual expression than men, and when in doubt, blame the woman." Fair?

10. When Bad Christians Happen to Good People
Have you ever wondered what people on the other side of proselytizing think? Here's your glimpse — and how not to go about fulfilling the Great Commission — from John Shore at the Unfundamentalist Christians blog.

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