The Common Good

Sojourners

Calling All Filmmakers: Show Us What the Common Good Means to You

Our country just hit a tipping point. Leading up to the election, contentious posts filled our Facebook feeds, and bickering pundits caused more stress than is healthy. We split ourselves down the middle. But in the aftermath of the election, out of the rubble, a new consensus is forming—that we need to come together to solve the nation’s most pressing and impending problems.

We believe what we need right now is to come together and have a robust discussion about the “Common Good.” It’s an old concept that’s being reinvented by a new generation. From caring for our neighbors, whether next door and across the glove, it’s also the theme of Jim Wallis’ newest book, On God's Side, set to release from Brazos Press in early February of 2012.

Jim’s book is the beginning of the conversation, but he can’t have it by himself. An essential part of the common good is a multi-faceted, community-driven exploration of what that really means.

This is where you come in.

We’re looking for one- to three-minute submitted videos that examine what the common good means to you. We’ll send you an advance copy of Jim’s book for inspiration, and you take it from there.

The best part? We’ll pay you $1,000.

Afterwards, we’ll promote your video on all our platforms. You can expect nationwide publicity, and a huge bump in your viewership. Your portfolio will thank you.

 Here’s the process:

Start applying today, November 16th. The application is HERE. It’s pretty straightforward. Submission deadline is December 10th, and we’ll let you know by the 12th if you’re 1 of 3 finalists. You send us a rough cut by January 16th, and a final cut on January 30th. January 30th comes, we get a final cut, and you get $1,000.

Want in?

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Faith, Hunger, Politics, Chicken & Waffles: A Conversation Between Chris LaTondresse and Adam Phillips

Adam Nicholas Phillips: Chris, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Christopher LaTondresse: As the son of American evangelical missionary parents, I spent several formative years living in the former Soviet Union — Novosibirsk, Russia to be exact — smack dab in the middle of Siberia. My family is originally from Minnesota, so I was convinced that they were trying to find the one place on the planet colder than our home state to do missions work.

Growing up as a missionary kid, my parents taught me to take my faith seriously, to take Jesus seriously, no matter what the cost. Their example — leaving the trappings of an American middle-class lifestyle behind to pursue something they believed in — sticks with me to this day. The major lesson: There are things in this life worth making exceptional sacrifices for, especially things close to the heart of God.Adam Phillips

I guess this is really what informs who I am, and animates my work today. True, I’m not a full-time missionary, but I’ve tried to devote my life to playing a role, however small, in what God is doing in the world. For my parents this was about planting churches and, to use the language of the Navigators (the missions organization that sent them) “making disciples”. For me it’s about taking Jesus seriously when he said, “What you do unto the least of least, you do for me.”

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White Christian Voters No Longer Hold Keys to the White House

The road to the White House is no longer white and Christian.

President Obama won last week with a voter coalition that was far more racially and religiously diverse than Mitt Romney’s – a phenomenon both predicted in the days before the election and confirmed in the days after.

What the Public Religion Research Institute has concluded since, however, has farther-reaching implications: that relying on white Christian voters will never again spell national electoral success — especially for the GOP.

“The changing religious landscape is presenting a real challenge to the strategy that relied on motivated white Christians, particularly white evangelical Christians,” said PRRI Research Director Dan Cox, referring to a PRRI study released Thursday.

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Catholic Bishops Warn Congress Not to Throw Poor Off ‘Fiscal Cliff’

BALTIMORE — As Congress embarks on high-stakes budget negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are warning elected officials not to target programs for the poor and instead raise taxes and reduce defense spending.

“In developing frameworks for future budgets, Congress should not rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons,” Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, wrote in a Nov. 13 letter to the House and Senate.

Blaire and Pates chair the bishops' committees on domestic and international issues, and the letter asks that “poverty-focused international assistance programs” also be spared because they are a small slice of the budget pie, are effective and enjoy bipartisan support.

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Atheists Sue IRS for Failure to Monitor Church Politicking

A First Amendment watchdog group is suing the Internal Revenue Service for failing to challenge the tax-exempt status of churches whose pastors engage in partisan politicking from the pulpit.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates total separation of church and state, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Western Wisconsin, where the 19,000-member organization is based.

The lawsuit claims that as many as 1,500 pastors engaged in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” on Sunday, Oct. 7, when pastors endorsed one or more candidates, which is a violation of IRS rules for non-profit organizations.

IRS rules state that organizations classified as 501(c)(3) non-profits — a tax-exempt status most churches and other religious institutions claim — cannot participate or intervene in “any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any political candidate.”

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What About Them?

All this talk about the three Israelis killed by Gaza rockets …

What about the fifteen Palestinians killed by Israeli bombs?

If I were inclined to give mathematical value to people based on the media coverage I watched on “Fox & Friends” this morning, I would come to this conclusion:

3 Israelis > 15 Palestinians

I don’t think God sees it that way.  To God, all human life is equally precious.

I saw a photo showing an Israeli holding a blood-covered, critically injured 8-month-old baby. 

There’s another photo of a man, Jihad Masharawi, clutching his 11-month-old son on today’s Washington Post front page. Jihad is a Palestinian and a BBC Correspondent. He lives in Gaza. I presume he has a wife, with whom he had his son, Omar. 

Omar was killed.

It is one of the great tragedies of war that the innocents on both sides suffer.

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