The Common Good

Sojourners

Weekly Wrap 7.18.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Germany 'May Revert to Typewriters' to Counter Hi-tech Espionage
German politicians are considering a return to using manual typewriters for sensitive documents in the wake of the US surveillance scandal. Yes, really.

2. World Cup Winners Donate Their Prize Money
Some German soccer players who took gold on Sunday—and fellow runner-ups from Argentina—both gave away portions of their earnings to charity, earning gold stars for empathy to go along with their trophy.

3. The Crisis in Israel-Palestine
Vox is keeping an up-to-date StoryStream on the developing crisis in Israel-Palestine. While world leaders call for peace, we pray.

4. Leading AIDS Researchers Among Those Killed in Malaysian Airlines Crash
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine yesterday. Evidence now suggests that more than one-third of the passengers were headed to an international health conference, including leading AIDS researchers.

5. Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing
The names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were household names in 1969. But they were all but forgotten by 1970. How did the astronauts to land on the moon pass into obscurity, and why are their names famous again now?

6. Meet The Former Call Girl Saving Hookers For Jesus 
Annie Lobert, who spent 16 years as a prostitute in Las Vegas, is running a ministry that gets women out of the sex trade.

7. Why You Should (Really, Seriously, Permanently) Stop Using Your Smartphone At Dinner
A “new paper from Virginia Tech … confirms that the mere passive presence of cellphones cheapens in-person conversation, even when we’re not looking at them.”

8. On Campus, Young Veterans Are Learning How to Be Millennials
“That difference in background made Horton see all his classes in a whole other light. His friends read Moby Dick and saw the story of a whale hunt. Horton saw a man who lost his leg and set out for vengeance … he knew what it felt like to cling to the timbers with his shipmates, hurtling forward on a mission that threatened, at any moment, to kill them all.” 

9. Watch 1,000 Balls Blast Through a Vacuum-Powered Maze
Inspired by hulking machines like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, Roy’s contraption is a playful attempt to provide an artistic visualization to what happens in actual particle accelerators.

10. Word Crimes
“Everybody wise up!” Did you miss him? Weird Al returns with a pitch-perfect spoof on Robin Thicke’s infamous “Blurred Lines”—but this time, it’s about grammar. A catchy song on proper verb tense usage? Our web team says YES. #grammarnerds.

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Women Bishops in the UK: All Our Gifts Are Needed For the Common Good

I met my wife, Joy Carroll, at Greenbelt, a summer festival of faith, arts, and justice held annually in England. It was August 1994. A few months earlier, in May, Joy was one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England. We were both speakers on a panel one day at Greenbelt, in a tent with 5,000 young people. Afterwards, we met for coffee. Joy had been an ordained deacon in the church for six years and was a leader in the movement to recognize all the gifts women had to offer both to the church and the parishes they served. She was the youngest member of the General Synod that decided to ordain women, and she was there for the historic vote in Church House Westminster in London. That cup of coffee eventually led to our marriage in 1997.

I have a vivid memory of returning to Greenbelt as speakers in 2002 with our almost 4-year-old son Luke. It was Sunday morning, and Joy was up on the worship platform celebrating the Eucharist for 20,000 people. My little boy was sitting on my lap watching his mom lead worship up on the stage. Luke looked up at me and said, “Daddy, can men do that too?”

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Faith Communities Are Dumping Their Fossil Fuel Investments

Worried about global warming, a growing number of churches and other faith groups are divesting their holdings in fossil fuel companies, which release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“The warning in Scripture that ‘the wages of sin is death’ could not be more literally true than it is in the case of fossil fuels,” said Serene Jones, president of New York’s Union Theological Seminary, whose board voted in June to divest its $108.4 million endowment from fossil fuel companies.

“While we realize that our endowment alone will hardly cause the fossil fuel giants to miss even half a heartbeat, as a seminary dedicated to social justice we have a critical call to live out our values in the world. Climate change poses a catastrophic threat, and as stewards of God’s creation we simply must act.”

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In 'The Devilers' Comic Book, Exorcists Convene to Stop Hell from Breaking Loose

There’s never a better time for a bunch of holy avengers than when all hell actually breaks loose.

The Dynamite Entertainment series The Devilers debuts Wednesday as an action-packed supernatural comic book full of demonic beasties, big-picture philosophies, and heroes that have to put religious differences aside in order to save Vatican City – and the world – from being turned into brimstone.

“When suddenly it’s ‘Oh that is a giant hellmouth that opened up in front of me,’ that changes your beliefs,” said series writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (The Bunker, The Life After), who’s doing the The Devilers alongside artist Matt Triano.

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California Judge Rules the Death Penalty Unconstitutional

A U.S. District Court judge declared the death penalty "unconstitutional" in the State of California.
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'The Children Come': A New Hymn on the Exodus of Children from Central America to the U.S. Border

This new hymn is inspired by the crisis in Central America that has caused over 70,000 children to take the dangerous journey to the United States in recent months. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has led many mission trips to Honduras for the past sixteen years. The brother of a child that Carolyn sponsored in Honduras was recently killed there.

The hymn’s reference to “On one boy’s belt, a number carved in leather” is from a news report ("Boy's Death Draws Attention Immigration Perils") of a body of a dead child found with his brother’s phone number on his belt.

“As angry crowds are shouting, “Go away!” comes from the news reports of Americans yelling at the detained children on buses in Murrieta, California. Jim Wallis of Sojourners reflects on this incident in his powerful online essay “The Moral Failure of Immigration Reform: Are We Really Afraid Of Children?" Biblical references in the hymn are Matthew 25:31-46 and Matthew 19:14-16.

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Americans View Jews, Christians Warmly; Atheists, Muslims Get Cold Shoulder

A new Pew Research survey finds U.S. adults feel most warmly about people who share their religion or those they know as family, friends or co-workers.

Americans give their highest scores to Jews, Catholics, and Evangelicals on a zero-to-100 “thermometer” featured in the survey, “How Americans Feel about Religious Groups,” released Wednesday. They’re nestled within a few degrees of each other: Jews, 63; Catholics, 62; evangelicals, 61.

In the middle of the chart: Buddhists, 53; Hindus, 50; Mormons, 48. Trending to the chilly negative zone: atheists at 41 and Muslims at 40.

Pew took the thermal reading because “understanding the question of how religious groups view each other is valuable in a country where religion plays an important role in public life,” said Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director of religion research.

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Spotlight on The Summit: World Change Through Faith and Justice 2014: Sara Johnson

Editor’s Note: We at Sojourners thought it would be nice to share first-hand reflections on our inaugural annual conference, The Summit: World Change Through Faith & Justice, from participants. Our first post comes from Sara Johnson, who hails from Ennis, Mont. and is the founder of the Million Girl Army, a brand new non-profit launching this year focused on engaging middle school girls in the U.S. on gender justice advocacy. Sara is an emerging leader who was able to attend The Summit because of a sponsorship from one of our Change Maker donors. The donor covered all of Sara’s costs, from registration to travel and had a tremendous impact on Sara’s work, as she shares below. 

Although nervous to be a founder of a non-profit that hasn’t officially launched yet attending a conference with heavy hitters in the non-profit world, within seconds of walking into the initial Summit gathering I was glad I came.

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Waiting for the Music

I am waiting for the music to return — the sonorous graces of laughter and kitchen clinking, of bird call on the hillside. 

I am waiting for the music to return — the precarious arrangement of hope and memory that uplifts and guides. 

I am waiting for the music to return — the band, the orchestra, the seisiún, the jam, the people who make and craft sound.

Instead, I am stranded in an eschatological posture like pause on my mp3 player. The Wifi Spirit does not respond and even if I could connect, the playlist I have randomized is sore lacking. I miss the people who make these sounds. I miss their voices. 

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Church of England Kicks the Devil Out of Baptism Rite

While Christians waited to learn whether the Church of England would approve the consecration of women bishops, the church’s governing body — the General Synod — quietly voted to drop all future references to the devil in a new baptism service.

The simplified wording was written after priests said the traditional service was unnecessarily complex and might confuse people who are not regular churchgoers.

In the traditional service, godparents are asked whether they are ready to renounce the devil and all his works for the sake of the child being baptized.

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