The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

Neon Tree's Tyler Glenn Is Gay, Mormon, and Proud of It

KISS may have been on the cover of the April 10 issue of Rolling Stone, but the most eye-opening headline may have been the one that proclaimed: “Gay, Mormon & Finally Out.”

It led readers to page 46 and a story about Tyler Glenn, the frontman for Neon Trees, Utah’s most prominent band.

After years of denials and lyrics that obscure the issue, Glenn declared proudly that he is gay — and still a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I believe and I have faith and I was born with this,” Glenn told The Salt Lake Tribune in one of the first interviews since coming out.

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When Immigration Takes a Human Face

I recently looked out my front door and saw a woman sitting on the stairs of my patio. She was out of breath, sweaty, and had a large basket next to her full of cans and plastic bottles to be recycled. She looked desperately in need of some rest and refreshment. I’m pretty good at ignoring people in need (sadly), but when they come to your physical doorstep, I couldn’t imagine not stepping outside to check on this woman.

Opening our front door, she looked up at me with a bit of concern on her face thinking I might ask her to get off my patio. To calm her nerves, I simply sat down on the steps next to her and we exchanged warm smiles. Because she offered me a greeting in Spanish, I quickly realized she didn’t speak much English and I gave my best shot at speaking in Spanish. Over the next 10 minutes, we simply sat on my patio overlooking the main street of our neighborhood that runs in front of my house. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we just sat in comfortable silence. Her name was Conchetta. Finally, I asked if I could get her some food and a cold drink and she quickly said, “yes.”

After taking in some needed nourishment, Conchetta, offered me a warm smile filled with the richness of humanity and gratitude, and leisurely went back to work assembling the best of our neighborhoods “trash” so she could bring some life to her family.

Our faith community has spent a lot of time over the years becoming students of our neighborhood. As a result, we discovered that roughly 60 percent of our neighborhoods’ residents are Latino (most are Mexican because of our proximity to the border), and a high percentage of those are undocumented. In fact, it’s a safe assumption that my new friend, Conchetta, is undocumented.

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Reorienting Ourselves to the Earth

The accelerated pace of climate change deterioration in recent decades is highlighted in the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that was released in December 2013. This report highlights the alarming rates of carbon emissions in recent years and the massive disruptions to the nature that occur as a result. It warns that the disruptions could affect all areas of life and endanger the world’s food supply itself. The worst is yet to come. All this might sound a bit apocalyptic.

Acts 2:14-32 posits a similar scenario. Luke’s Peter predicts the signs that will occur in the last days (vv. 19-20). The Sun will turn into darkness and the moon into blood. There will be blood and fire and smoky mist. Joel 3, Luke’s source text behind these verses, was intended as a warning about potential disturbances in the natural order. Joel posits such calamities as consequences of human wickedness and calls on the people to alter their ways. Peter warns that such last days are about to arrive. They will be marked by disturbances in the natural order and terrible signs that will precede the day of the Lord. Interestingly, people in Jerusalem have already witnessed such (un)natural phenomena during the death of Jesus (Luke 23:44-45).

Acts 2 parallels the account of disruptions in the nature with the account about the death of Jesus (2:19-24). 

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Eating Greens to Keep the Earth Green

One of the best things about food and cooking is sharing. From devouring cheap local eats with best friends to inviting people over for dinner or hosting a full on party, food brings people together.

This week is Earth Week and as an intern community we are choosing to make concerted efforts to be greener in our choices to promote healthy bodies and ecosystems. This is the motivation behind Meatless Mondays. This global movement asks for restaurants, organizations, and individuals to go veggie on Mondays, being mindful of how our eating habits affect the globe.

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An Occupied Cross Before an Empty Tomb

I used to hate Good Friday. Jesus dying a gruesome and unjust death didn’t seem particularly “good” to me. Even now, when I watch a Jesus movie like The Greatest Story Ever Told (or let’s be real: Jesus Christ Superstar), I find myself secretly hoping that someone in the crowd will say “wait a second! Just four days ago we really liked this guy. Crucifixion is a terrible idea, let’s go have Passover.” Mic drop.

The idealist and optimist in me would prefer to be reminded that the cross was empty, that Jesus was alive, to focus less on Good Friday and more on Easter Sunday. But I have come to appreciate the image of Christ on the cross much more now that I’m an adult and there are things that I have said and done in my life that deserve a reckoning. Jesus is there, gladly bearing my sin on the cross.

I’ve come to appreciate that there are so many broken and twisted places in this world that need a Redeemer. And Jesus is there, undoing the power of sin and evil on the cross.

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Bleeding Joyfully

Don’t you hate it when you accidentally slice the tip of your finger on one of your knives and the cut is deep enough to draw blood? Or when one of the cats gets a little too playful with the claws and you’re soon looking for a bandage?

Nobody likes to bleed, even though bleeding is part of life. To live is to bleed. If we’re not bleeding, we’re not living.

We all bleed lots of times, in lots of ways. We skin our knees and scrape our emotions. We often have to head for the medicine cabinet for a bandage. Sometimes, we feel like we need a tourniquet.

There are the little, daily cuts that we all get. Someone says something that hurts our feelings. Something doesn’t turn out the way that we’d hoped, and we get discouraged. A project that we’ve invested so much of ourselves into gets rejected, and we feel rejected, too.

It happens all the time.

Sometimes, we wind up with a deep spiritual cut that needs to be stitched closed with the help of others. A relationship ends. A job disappears. A tumor appears. A storm blows through our neighborhood and destroys what we’ve built over the years.

I admire those who learn not only to accept the blood-stained moments, but to embrace them. They develop a capacity to see beyond the momentary hurt. They recognize that bleeding is part of the grand process of life.

And they bleed joyfully.

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Weekly Wrap 4.18.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

Editor's Note: As we head into the weekend with eyes toward the resurrection, we must first journey through the darkness of Good Friday. Here are some reflections to help you reflect on that journey.

1. Simply Service
"Jesus is The Servant of Servants. If we wish to be like Jesus, we cannot forget this.There is no empire building. There is no entrepreneurial vision. There is no institution keeping. There is simply service."

2. Lent Hymn
"For in this desert silence
And dark night of the soul
I am rooting you deeper
I am making you whole"

3. How Does Dying for Our Sins Work?
"The cross is not what God inflicts upon Christ in order to forgive. The cross is what God endures in Christ as he forgives. Once we understand this, we know what we are seeing when we look at the cross: We are seeing the lengths to which a God of love will go in forgiving sin."

4. The Five Lessons of Good Friday
"The sufferings and death of Jesus, which Christians commemorate on Good Friday, may seem far removed from our everyday lives. … So what can the story of Jesus's crucifixion, as recorded in the Gospels almost 2,000 years ago, teach us about our own lives?"

5. Good Friday and the Prophets in Detention
"'Holy Week is a special time for us…' Ruth told me in her detention robe. 'Jesus’ passion gives us perspective to see that our situation is nothing compared to what Jesus suffered on the Cross. His journey encourages us to keep going.'"

6. Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Story
Number 4: "Don't bypass the role of the women as the witnesses of the resurrected Christ."

7. Easy Easter Girl
"For people to whom life has been hard, there is a form of solace in praying to a God who does not look spotless, shining like the sun. For many, love is the very wounds of Christ, the greenish-purple skin tones, the bruised and battered life. By his wounds we are healed, the scriptures say. I didn’t realize another way to read it is like this: only the wounded can truly experience a savior."

8. The Enthralling Art of Easter
"… the agony and Crucifixion and Resurrection are no footnote. They are the bedrock we deal with. It's not hard to see why Bob Dylan became enthralled with the Christ story. It's not hard to see how people who stare too long at Titians can end up in monasteries."

9. The Risen Christ: The Call to Conversion
" For so many of us, Easter is not just a religious holiday — it is a personal celebration and re-commitment. How do we personally experience the resurrection? Every year, as I hear and say “He is risen,” I remember that it’s not just a theological affirmation, but something I need personally."

10. 

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Jews Ordered to Register in East Ukraine

Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to “register” with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation, and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website.

Donetsk is the site of an “anti-terrorist” operation by the Ukraine government, which has moved military columns into the region to force out militants who are demanding a referendum be held on joining Russia.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal to Keynote Liberty University's Commencement Ceremony

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, widely considered a rising star in the Republican Party and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, will be the commencement speaker at Liberty University on May 10.

“Many believe [Jindal] could hold the highest office in the land someday,” Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday.

In an interview, Falwell was hesitant to give his personal opinion of Jindal since the two men have never met. Instead, he deferred to Liberty’s law school dean, Mat Staver.

“He’s a committed Christian,” Falwell said. “Mat Staver said he heard him speak and he sounded like a Baptist preacher.”

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Why Earth Week Matters

Click to share on FacebookEditor's Note: Sojourners is celebrating Earth Week with a special message series every day next week. Click here to join us!

“Behold, I am making all things new!” says Jesus in the book of Revelation. It’s this spirit of hope and second chances that we celebrate at Easter time. Life triumphs over death and decay. We get a second chance.

But what about our planet? A cursory glance shows us that God’s creation could use some renewal.

Creation is definitely groaning. We’re losing species, spilling oil, and changing our climate at an alarming rate. We’re building sea walls and responding to pumped-up natural disasters. Energy companies are pushing for even more access to the fossil fuels that are harming God’s creation. Action from Congress seems far away, and moneyed special interests are working hard to block other kinds of action.

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