The Common Good

Weekly Wrap

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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Weekly Wrap 8.30.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Watch Martin Luther King, Jr. Go on 'Meet the Press' in 1963
As part of NBC News' look back ''Remembering the Dream,'' David Gregory takes us back to 1963, when Martin Luther King, Jr., was preparing for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

2.  The Ethics of Syrian Military Intervention: The Experts Respond
Religion News Service asked a panel of theologians and policy experts whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria in light of the regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. Would the “Just War” doctrine justify U.S. military action, and what is America’s moral responsibility?

3. The Women Who Sang Out for Civil Rights
"In our day and age, when young women make the news for singing and performing in vulgar, suggestive, and less than life-giving ways, the anniversary of the march is—among many things—a much needed reminder of the transforming power and legacy that women can have with their voices and with song," Enuma Okoro writes for Christianity Today's Her.Meneutics blog.

4. When Miley Cyrus and I Were at Church
"There is no place for finger-pointing by people who hide their sins in privacy at those that broadcast their mistakes to the world." David Moore at Fuller Theological Seminary's The Burner Blog puts judgey Christian bloggers in their place with this piece on Miley Cyrus' VMA performance heard 'round the world. 

5. How Poverty Taxes the Brain
Emily Badger at The Atlantic Cities points to an interesting new study on brain capacity and poverty. One chilling statistic: "the condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points, or comparable to the cognitive difference that’s been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults."

6. Seeking Nonviolent Solutions in Syria
Writing in the July issue of Sojourners magazine, David Cortright outlined reasons why the U.S. should avoid military intervention in Syria. 

7. Seamus Heaney: 10 Best Poems
Irish Poet Seamus Heaney died in Dublin on Friday at the age of 74. The Telegraph compiled a list of his best works. 

8. Hurricane Michele Bachmann? Groups Hope to Name Storms After Climate Change Deniers
From Alex Brown at National Journal: a new petition from Project Name Change and 350+ Action Fund is asking the World Meteorological Organization  to change naming conventions to shame Congress members, like Sen. James Inhofe, who deny climate change — hoping for future weather reports like: "Marco Rubio is expected to pound the Eastern Seaboard."

9. The Winners in Immigration Control: Private Prisons
Aubrey Pringle at The Atlantic shines light on one big force behind anti-immigration reform efforts: the private prison lobby, which, according to the article, has shelled out $1 million on lobbying so far this year.

10. Kid President Explains It All. 
The latest installment from everyone's favorite child president shows more ways to make the world awesome. "EVERYONE DESERVES A PARADE."

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Weekly Wrap 8.23.13: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

Editor's Note: Daily Digest is now the Weekly Wrap! Sojourners' new weekly newsletter offers you the best stories from the week''s news that you may have missed. Enjoy this weekly dose of in-depth articles and commentary? Share with your friends and tell them to sign up HERE.

1. One Dream — 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech commemorates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King''s historic speech with a beautiful multimedia essay, featuring file photo, video interviews, and archival coverage. 

2. Toward a New Understanding of Modesty
The Atlantic uncovers a broad movement in the Christian — and secular — communities to talk about modesty in new ways that acknowledge the problem of objectification of women and keys in on ways some Christian theologies on the topic of modesty is actually linked to rape culture. 

3. Help Unwanted
Texas Monthly — publishing from the home state of hardline voices like Rep. Ted Cruz — has the following take on the immigration debate. "Not only did we Texans deliberately leave the back gate unlocked, but for decades our businesses have avoided the legal consequences of employing undocumented workers by misclassifying them as ''independent contractors'' responsible for checking their own papers. It’s the height of hypocrisy to blame willing workers for breaking the law when they were so eagerly welcomed by their employers, no questions asked." 

4. Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society
"… I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan." Bradley Manning — the Army private who this week received 35 years for disseminating documents to WikiLeaks, and who has since indicated a desire to be known as Chelsea and live as a female — offered this statement on Wednesday, read by lawyer David Coombs. 

5. Christians and the Myth of the 'Hookup Culture'
Jonathan Merritt writes for Religion News Service about new data that debunks this generation''s supposed "hookup culture" — that young people are actually not being more promiscuous than their parents'' generation — and that many Christian''s assumptions about a downward moral decline are just incorrect. "How did so many Christians get this one so wrong?"

6. Immigration Reformers Are Winning August
The Atlantic talks about how the Republican efforts to stymie immigration reform over the August recess, led by Congress members like Rep. Steve King — who famously stereotyped young undocumented immigrants as drug mules — has largely fizzled out, as reform advocates are rallying at the local level. 

7. Saying Goodbye to My Child, the Youngster
"Eighteen years is not enough." Michael Gerson''s moving op-ed in the Washington Post about taking his eldest son to college made parents ''round the country tear up on Monday morning. Four days later, you''ll still want to grab your hankies before taking a read.

8. The Party of No Compromise
Sojourners magazine editor Jim Rice examines some Republicans'' attempts to prevent the Obama administration''s Affordable Care Act education efforts. "Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and whip John Cornyn sent a threatening letter to the NFL, saying that the football league shouldn’t help teach people about the health-care law because of the ''persistent unpopularity of this bill'' (conveniently ignoring the fact that once it’s enacted into law it’s no longer a ''bill'')." 

9. Bob Filner vs. 'Mad Men:' Our View
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner — the guy who at least 18 women have now accused of some form of sexual harassment or misconduct — will reportedly resign today after reaching a deal with the city. A 1986 Supreme Court ruling recognized sexually hostile workplaces as a thing. USA Today wonders why it is taking so long for some people to get the picture. 

10. What I Won't Tell You About My Ballet Dancing Son
Ashleigh Baker at ''A Deeper Story'' tells the tale of her ballet-loving 7-year-old son in this moving first-person piece. 

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The Top 10 Stories of August 16, 2013

Quote of the Day.
"It's not just about burning churches, it''s about burning churches to initiate a response that then spirals into even greater violence — and that is a very, very dangerous game to play." - Bishop Angaelos, the Cairo-born head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, in response to the violence against Christian churches in Egypt
(CNN Belief Blog)

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The Top 10 Stories of August 15, 2013

“We have reached a state of harder polarization and more dangerous division, with the social fabric in danger of tearing, because violence only begets violence. The beneficiaries of what happened today are the preachers of violence and terrorism, the most extremist groups, and you will remember what I am telling you." Mohamed ElBaradei, former interim vice president and  a Nobel Prize laureate and former diplomat who had lent his reputation to selling the West on the democratic goals of the military takeover, wrote in a public letter to the president.

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The Top 10 Stories of August 14, 2013

"I was always focused on negotiating for my team but never as good at negotiating for myself." Dawn Lepore, former chief executive at, in a new Bloomberg report that finds that out of the top executives at each of the companies in the S&P 500 index, only 8 percent were women, and that these women at the top ranks of Corporate America earned 18 percent less than men.

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The Top 10 Stories of August 13, 2013

"I feel like I’m stuck in a perpetual nightmare. I can’t seem to adjust to this life. In the Marines, we have a motto that we never leave a man behind. I feel like I’ve been left behind.” Milton Tepeyac, a deported veteran who served eight years as a U.S. Marine, scrapes by on $3 an hour in the northern Mexican city of Hermosillo.

Al-Qaeda expands in Syria via Islamic State.
A rebranded version of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate is surging onto the front lines of the war in neighboring Syria, expanding into territory seized by other rebel groups and carving out the kind of sanctuaries that the U.S. military spent more than a decade fighting to prevent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Washington Post)

2. Bulger found guilty in racketeering case.
James "Whitey" Bulger, who ruled this city's violent underworld before eluding capture for 16 years, was convicted Monday in a sweeping racketeering case, including involvement in 11 murders. Mr. Bulger stood grim-faced with his hands clasped in front of him as the verdict was read. The 83-year-old, who has been in federal custody since 2011, faces life in prison at a sentencing scheduled for Nov. 13.
(Wall Street Journal)

3. North Carolina governor signs extensive Voter ID law.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Monday signed into law one of the nation’s most wide-ranging Voter ID laws. The move is likely to touch off a major court battle over voting rights, and the Justice Department is weighing a challenge to the new law, which is the first to pass since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. 
(Washington Post)

4. Racial discrimination in stop-and-frisk.
Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court in New York upheld the bedrock principle of individual liberty on Monday when she ruled that the tactics underlying New York City’s stop-and-frisk program violated the constitutional rights of minority citizens. She found that the city had been “deliberately indifferent” to police officers illegally detaining and frisking minority residents on the streets over many years.
(New York Times)

5. Two powerful signals of a major shift on crime.
Two decisions Monday, one by a federal judge in New York and the other by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., were powerful signals that the pendulum has swung away from the tough-on-crime policies of a generation ago. Those policies have been denounced as discriminatory and responsible for explosive growth in the prison population.
(New York Times)

6. U.S. retail sales data points to improving economy.
A gauge of U.S. consumer spending rose in July at its fastest pace in seven months, a sign of quicker economic growth that could strengthen the case for the U.S. Federal Reserve winding down a major economic stimulus program.

7. Hillary Clinton calls for election reform.
Potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton kicked off a series of speeches on Monday with a call to combat what she called an "assault on voting rights." She spent most of her 45-minute talk to about 1,000 members of the American Bar Association assailing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a significant part of the Voting Rights Act and discussing what she sees as "deep flaws in our electoral system" as it relates to racial discrimination at the polls.
(Associated Press)

8. Air pollution takes toll on China's tourism.
China, one of the most visited countries in the world, has seen sharply fewer tourists this year — with worsening air pollution partly to blame. Numbers of foreign visitors have declined following January's "Airpocalypse," when already eye-searing levels of smog soared to new highs.
(Associated Press)

9. Clashes break out in Cairo between pro-and anti-Mursi factions.
Clashes broke out in central Cairo on Tuesday when supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi came under attack as they marched to the Interior Ministry, a Reuters reporter said. Supporters of the new military-installed government hurled stones at the marchers and threw bottles at them from balconies. Police then fired tear gas at the pro-Mursi protesters.

10. Kerry works to shore up relations with Brazil.
Secretary of State John Kerry will seek to allay the concerns of Brazil's top leaders about U.S. surveillance in their country while highlighting the expanding relationship the U.S. is nurturing with the economic powerhouse in Latin America.
(Associated Press)

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