The Common Good

Sojourners

Arctic Ice Melt and Our Christian Call

The melting of sea ice during summer in the Arctic is part a natural cycle, but the rate at which the sea ice is currently melting is unprecedented, as illustrated in today’s BBC News.  

"Norwegian researchers report that the sea ice is becoming significantly thinner and more vulnerable.

Last month, the annual thaw of the region's floating ice reached the lowest level since satellite monitoring began, more than 30 years ago.

It is thought the scale of the decline may even affect Europe's weather."

 

 

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Willing to Work, Where Are the Jobs?

August report shows 8.1 percent unemployed.
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Rebels FOR a Cause

“In order to serve our world," Bono once said, "we must betray it."

I’ve always wanted to change the world. I’m inspired by stories of people who have left their fingerprints on the very face of culture. I want to be a historymaker. I want to be one who people remember as a person who revolutionized her world.

As noble as this sounds, I’m afraid that up until a few years ago, this has come from a very self-serving motivation. I truly did want to love people and make a difference for their benefit, but I also wanted the credit. Visions of winning a Nobel Prize danced through my mind; dreams of becoming the “woman of the year.” I’ve thought out speeches just in case.

I can’t believe I just admitted that to you. I must really like you.

I had to come to a broken place in order to be ready to bring about the change I so desired to initiate. You see, transformation, no matter how small or big, is never about us. It’s not about the recognition we will receive or about the merit badge that will feed your need for approval. No, it’s the most selfless thing we will ever do. We need to be trustworthy to lead such efforts.

All it takes is a heart that truly cares for others — that’s it. Once your eyes are off yourself, you become incredibly useful! What a thrill it is to add benefit to others and get no credit for it.

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A Season of Civility in Response to Campaign Incivility

"In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve." – Alexis de Tocqueville

With the Democratic and Republican national conventions behind us, and an increase of political campaigning in front of us, we recognize the timeliness of the above quotation from Alexis de Tocquville. In a democracy the citizens choose their government, thus we indeed receive the government we deserve. As Lisa Sharon Harper recently stated:

"In its purest form, politics is simply how we organize our life together in society…in a Democratic Republic like our own, the [people are] ultimately responsible for the policies, laws, and structures that guide daily life. As we vote for candidates and ballot measures, we shape our society."

With such thoughts in mind, we affirm the collective ability to “shape our society," but we do so not only through the ability to choose our candidates and pass ballot measures, but we also possess the capacity to shape the process of how our leaders and policies are selected. In other words, while many complain about the high quantity and low quality of political campaigns, we are confronted with a harsh reality: In a democracy, we get the political campaigns we deserve. 

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Black Pastors Move to Counter New Voter ID Laws

African-American clergy are joining forces with civil rights groups to push for increased voter registration ahead of the November election, spurred on by new voter laws they say restrict opportunities for minorities to enter the voting booth.

"We must vote because we must counteract the corrupt and diabolical strategies of those who are trying to take away our vote by passing laws to suppress and diminish our voting rights," said the Rev. Julius Scruggs, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, at a news conference Wednesday (Sept. 5) during his denomination's Annual Session in Atlanta.    

Scruggs, leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and top officials of four other black Baptist groups gathered to rally against the new laws and continue longtime efforts to get blacks registered to vote.    

More than two dozen new voter laws have passed in 19 states since 2011, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Some have been overturned but others remain on the books, such as a voter ID law in New Hampshire and proof of citizenship requirements in Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee. Proponents say they prevent fraud, while opponents say they are reducing access to the polling booth.    

The voting laws — through which some states have reduced early voting or required government-issued identification to enter the polls—  have changed some of the clergy's voter education initiatives.  

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How a Mormon Scholar Went From Doubter to Believer

As an 11-year-old boy, Don Bradley went looking for gold plates.

After all, Mormon founder Joseph Smith said he was directed to a set of such plates, buried in a hill near his house in upstate New York.    

On a childhood visit to that hill, Bradley turned over lots of rocks, feeling certain he might find some sacred record overlooked by others.    

That quest for Mormon gold became a metaphor for Bradley's lifelong spiritual journey. It led him first to dig into Smith's history to enhance his LDS devotion and then to uncover uncomfortable facts and omissions in the faith's story, which bred disillusionment and distance.    

Eventually, Bradley's research helped bring him back to the Mormon fold, this time with a broader view of Smith's spiritual abilities.    

"I could describe many of the events of Joseph Smith's life, but I couldn't explain the thing that really mattered: why it all worked," Bradley, now 42, said in a July speech at the annual Sunstone Symposium, a conference in Salt Lake City for Mormon intellectuals. "Joseph Smith wasn't of interest because he'd been a merchant, a mayor, or even a much-married husband, but because he was the founder of a religion. And it was precisely the religious dimension I couldn't account for."    

Besides rediscovering Mormonism, Bradley learned how to balance faith and facts, science and spirituality, reason and revelation.  

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Amish Bishop Describes Beard-Cutting Attack

Law officers testified Wednesday about the chaotic and bizarre scene they discovered the night of Oct. 4, 2011, when they arrived at the Holmes County, Ohio, home of Raymond Hershberger, a 79-year-old Amish bishop.

The officers recalled that clumps of gray hair lay on a rocking chair and on the floor of the living room, and a crowd of people were crying and yelling in Pennsylvania Dutch, their first language.

Hershberger’s son, Levi, told the officers that "Some guys broke in and gave Grandpa a bad haircut," a Sheriff’s Department detective said.

The testimony opened the second week of the hate-crime trial of Amish bishop Samuel Mullet Sr. and 15 of his followers. They are accused of conspiracy and kidnapping in what prosecutors describe as hair-cutting attacks on nine religious enemies and estranged family members.

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'Nun on the Bus' and the DNC

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWERK, a Catholic social justice group, shares her perspective on the financial challenges facing the nation — and the conversation we should be having.

Via Odyssey Newtorks.

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Watch 'The Line': The Most Important Film You'll See This Year

Matthew 25 doesn’t say, “As you have done to the middle class you have done to me."

What it records Jesus saying is, “As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” Chances are that will never be the central message of political conventions during election years.

But every four years for the last 40 years (even before we were called Sojourners), our community has done what we can to lift up the issue of poverty during presidential elections. While political party platforms have changed, our commitment to the least of these has not.

So it is with that spirit, this election year, that I am proud to present a new short film called The Line.

Written and directed by Emmy-award winning producer Linda Midgett, it chronicles the very real stories of four real people struggling with real poverty in America today.

You’ll meet a banker in the suburban Midwest who used to earn six-figures a year and now, after the economic collapse, must go to a food bank to feed his three kids; a fisherman on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana who has watched his livelihood and his culture wash away in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and a devastating off-shore oil spill; a blue collar guy in North Carolina who worked hard his whole life but lost his job, became homeless, and started over as a restaurant bus boy; and a single mom in Chicago who battles daily to ensure that her son is safe, healthy, and has the opportunity to go to college.

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A Revolutionary Picture

Baseball players Larry Doby was black and Steve Gromek was white. Gromek was from the working-class culture of Hamtramck, Mich., and Doby from the Jim Crow culture of Camden, S.C.

One year earlier, on July 5, 1947, at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Doby had become the second African-American behind the great Jackie Robinson of the immortal Brooklyn Dodgers to play for a major league baseball team and the first African-American to play in the American League.

It was a revolutionary picture because it showed the world a way white supremacy and racism could be overcome.

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