The Common Good

Sojourners

On Scripture: Frankincense, Myrrh, and a Toothbrush? Matthew 2:1-12

In As I Lay Dying, the main character Anse appears self-absorbed when at his wife’s death he says, “God’s will be done.  . . . Now I can get them teeth.”  His character will certainly not be remembered for altruism.  But Anse will be remembered for the physical effects of poverty:  feet marred by labor, a spine permanently bent, skin unable to sweat from sunstroke suffered tending the fields, and a mouth without teeth. 

To be clear, poverty itself does not cause dental issues.  A local dentist reminds me, “Ancient skulls have minimal tooth loss.  Rough grains cause more wear.  For the most part rich, processed, sugary, and poorly nutritious foods destroy teeth.” 

Dentistry may feel far removed from Epiphany:  astronomical sighting, magi from the east, and three extravagant gifts. But I wonder, given the knowledge of these precious gifts and their use in that time for dental care, if perhaps that frankincense and myrrh would protect that winsome smile of Christ for the next three decades of his life. With these rich gifts in hand, the trio Mary, Joseph, and Jesus could leave to the safety of Egypt before Herod would threaten the life of Christ and every other young boy under two.

+Continue Reading

A New Year

At Sojourners, people are just getting back from their holiday breaks with their families and some will still be out this week. D.C. public schools don’t even start until next week for my two boys.

Of course, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives came back early to avoid sending the nation off of the “fiscal cliff.” For the first time in two decades, taxes were increased for the wealthiest two percent, something most Americans support. And programs the Circle of Protection seeks to protect for the most vulnerable, including important tax credits that have kept millions of Americans out of poverty, were kept safe in the final deal.

The legislators barely succeeded in coming to a compromise but largely avoided the more challenging issues of the automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration” and an agreement on long-term deficit reduction.  The compromise delayed the sequester for two months, which means it will kick in around the same time as an anticipated debt ceiling fight in which Republicans say they will force the nation into default unless they get the spending cuts they want. 

As reflected in this deal, I applaud the President's continued commitment to protect poor and vulnerable people. I encourage him to remain steadfast in his refusal to negotiate. However, it remains to be seen whether the President will continue on in his refusal to negotiate on such important matters with those risking our nation’s economic health to advance their own political ideology.

+Continue Reading

Spoonfed: Why We Need to Embrace the Messiness

I’m going to tell you something I do not do very well.  But, only if you will not tell the other mothers because I have listened to them talk, and apparently I am the only one not very good at this. Deal?

I'm not good at helping my children learn to feed themselves. I totally get in the way. Let me explain.

Well, actually, there isn’t much about it to explain.

I don't like messes. So, I feed my children … for too long. I sit a bowl full of spaghetti in front of them, and I get a little panicky.  I mean, have you ever found dried, crusted spaghetti noodles on the floor a week (or more) later when you're cleaning?  And what about the slimy, greasy residue left on the plastic tray attached to the high chair?  And then there's the highchair cover.  I did not realize you could take that thing off to clean it until my second child was two. Wow. That was amazing — what I found under it, I mean.

Never mind the fact that most of the food gets on the child and everything and everyone else … not in their mouths.

And, I mean, I'm also very concerned about my child’s dietary needs. Seriously, I think that is the biggest reason I insist on feeding them well into their third year. (Did I just write that?) They need me. They need me to spoon that mouthful of spaghetti straight into their teeny little mouth. That way I know where it goes — there is no guesswork.

+Continue Reading

Wind energy tax-credit extension part of 'cliff' deal

The fiscal cliff deal passed Tuesday included an one-year extension of a tax credit for the wind industry.
+Leave a Comment | Creation Care

New rule makes residency easier for immigrants with U.S. kin

An estimated one million undoumented immigrants with American citizens as immediate relatives will now be separated from their families for shortened amounts of time while they apply to become lega
+Leave a Comment | Immigration

The Poor Still Can't Breathe Easy Post–Fiscal Cliff

The Nation reports that the fiscal cliff deal is a "mixed bag" for the poor. On the positive side:
+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Russell Moore: Why adoption is a’pro-life’ policy for evangelicals

Recently Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, talked with Religion News Service about why more evangelicals should adopt
+Leave a Comment

DRONE WATCH: Senior Taliban Commander Killed

Senior Taliban commander killed in drone strike.
+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Rep. John Lewis’ wife, Lillian, dies

Rep. John Lewis’ wife, Lillian, dies.
+Leave a Comment

Are the U.S. and Israel Heading For a Showdown?

The Nation reports that the Obama administration may be heading toward confrontation with Jerusalem.
+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence