The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

The Top 10 Stories of November 9, 2011

Quote of the day.
"We are taking care of people who are most in need at a time they're far away. We've had some soldiers deployed four and five times." - Father Donald Rutherford, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, on the role of military chaplains. 
(Catholic News Service)

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Dr. Billy Graham at 93: "The Father's Love," This Child's Gratitude

In the photograph, Dr. Graham is seated in a wooden chair, dressed casually in dungaree-blue slacks, an open-collar shirt and red sportcoat, and he looks straight ahead, his face in profile to the camera lens. “America’s Pastor,” as he is often called, is looking into the distance, to a place out of frame – his gaze fixed on something we cannot see.

I cherish that photograph of Dr. Graham for myriad reasons, but perhaps most importantly because it reminds me of the gift of vision – spiritual vision – to see things that are not of the physical realm. A sacred and holy perspective. An orientation of the heart and mind that looks beyond itself, to the More.

A vision of faith – the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen – and colored by grace, mercy and divine love.

Dr. Graham has such a vision – a mighty gift he has shared with the world for more than six decades. A gift he imparted to me as a child, sitting in the balcony of an old auditorium at Yale University in my native Connecticut in the mid-1980s, watching him preach during one of his famous crusades.

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Links of Awesomeness: Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011

Flying rhinoceri. Wordless storytelling. A religious culture of hip. And much more.

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The Afternoon News: Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011

Oppression is not a state right. OpEd: Twenty-five years after Reagan's "Amnesty Bill," conservatives should support increased immigration. A new survey says strong majority of Americans would be better off if our distribution of wealth were more equitable. Environmental activist Bill McKibben says surrounding the White House on Sunday was an "historic step" in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama mulls siding with Christians, environmentalists or the unions in tar sands debate. And nearly a third of U.S. homes are underwater (figuratively.)



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The Morning News: Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011

Human trafficking and sex slavery thrives in the U.S. and abroad. Census Bureau measure more Americans living in poverty. Debate brews over new method of measuring poverty. Poll finds voters deeply torn. Faith important in 2012 presidential election, but skepticism about Mormonism remains. Health tab for climate change: $14 billion. What do the Copts mean for Arab Spring?

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Join a Circle of Protection on Nov. 16: Standing For and With the Poor

The New York City Human Circle will be replicated throughout across the nation, when faith leaders host Human Circles as members of the Sojourners National Mobilizing Circle, which is bringing together faith and community leaders to organize faith-rooted actions in their communities.

The purpose of these circles is not only to lobby for the poor but also with them.

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Loaves and Fishes: Occupy Wall Street and Feeding the Two-Thousand

Whenever we harvest, prepare, and eat food in the context of community, we reenact that wondrous moment on the shores of the Sea of Galilee when Jesus took a few fish and two loves of bread and managed to feed 5,000.

But we can’t forget the whole story — Jesus fed everybody, surely even some folks who despised his message. After all, they were all God’s children, and they were hungry too. I can’t help but think that as they ingested the food, they took in his love too, and it changed them.

Still today, food is a great equalizer and bridge-builder. Who isn’t at least momentarily transformed by a perfect heirloom tomato or a slice of homemade pie?

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God in a Brothel: These Children Have Names

God in a Brothel isn’t about nameless, faceless children. It’s about real children — children with names, personalities, and potential as specific and precious as those belonging to the children you and I know. But, unlike the kids in our lives, these children have been kidnapped or sold into slavery by adults who should be their protectors.

In some cases, traffickers visit poor, rural settings in their own countries and convince parents to allow their daughters to accompany them back to a city where, the parents are told, the girls will be given well-paying and respectable jobs. The girls are then kidnapped, often across national borders, and sold into slavery.

Other parents deliberately choose to sacrifice one or more of their children and sell them into slavery in order to provide for other children at home.

Still others function as their own children’s pimps.

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Faith and Politics: New "American Values Study" Shows a Nation Divided

The 2011 American Values Survey -- a large annual survey exploring important issues at the intersection of religion, values and politics -- released this morning (11/8) by the Public Religion Research Institution, highlights American attitudes on equal opportunity and inequality, the Mormon question in the 2012 election, and attitudes about the Obama presidency. "We are witnessing the emergence of a generational fault line over what constitutes a good society," said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute. "Seven-in-ten of the Millennial generation believe that society would be better off if the distribution of wealth were more equal, while a majority of seniors disagree."
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From Jim Wallis to Billy Graham, on His 93rd Birthday: "Thank you!"

Billy Graham has always been a life-long learner, passionate about preaching the gospel but always ready to understand more about what that gospel means in the world. It was never surprising to me that this southern born and raised American evangelist decided early on to insist on preaching only to racially integrated coliseums and crusades, when many others just went along with their culture. Later, as a result of falling in love with the new congregations we was preaching too in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, had a "change of heart" on the nuclear arms race-which we featured in a cover interview with the evangelist in Sojourners magazine. Billy Graham has also been willing to admit his mistakes and grew from them, which is something all of us as "leaders" need to constantly learn from. And while a conservative evangelical all his life, Graham was never drawn to the hard edged and politicized fundamentalism of the "Religious Right" but instead often winced at them.

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