The Common Good

Crisis in the Village

Sojomail - March 1, 2007

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"In the story of the Thurmonds and the Sharptons is the story of the shame and the glory of America."

- Rev. Al Sharpton, upon the revelation that he is descended from slaves owned by ancestors of the late Senator Strom Thurmond. (Source: The Washington Post )

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" - our daily quote and Bible verse e-mail

HEARTS & MINDS BY JIM WALLIS

Crisis in the Village

A new book just came out that you don’t want to miss. It’s by my good friend, Robert Franklin, who is the Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Emory University. He is someone I have come to deeply respect as an insightful public intellectual and social commentator as we’ve worked together over many years.


Last week, I was part of a panel discussion to launch Bob’s new book, Crisis in the Village. It’s one of the best contemporary analyses of the state of Black America I’ve seen. He pulls no punches in describing the crisis, identifying three key institutions in the community and what they now face. It’s a "crisis of commitment" for the Black family, a "crisis of mission" for the Black church, and a "crisis of moral purpose" for historically black colleges and universities. Bob calls these the three "anchor institutions" that "are the bedrock of civil society." He cites alarming social indicators that powerfully show how vulnerable the black community still is, especially black children.

But, it is not a book of despair - it’s a strategy for resolving the crisis. The subtitle is "Restoring Hope in African American Communities," and that hope is where he focuses. Bob wrote the book, he said, "because I have seen an abundance of books out there that describe the problems of the African American community ... but there are fewer than you might think that offer practical visions and strategic thinking about how to move forward." And, he added, the reversal of the crisis "begins with personal renewal and commitment to community uplift."

Also on the National Press Club panel were journalist E.J. Dionne, Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, former National Urban League President Hugh Price, and Professor of Christian Ethics at Howard University Cheryl Sanders. Cheryl talked about how much sense this book made from the perspective of the street, where she lives as pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. Marian spoke passionately about how the future of black children is at stake in the issues raised in Crisis. Hugh Price said the book cuts through so much of the confusion about these issues in the black community, and E.J. Dionne showed how Bob’s ethic of combining personal and social responsibility also cuts through our polarized political debate. I recalled a book by Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Book!, which was memorable only for its title, and suggested that this one should be re-titled Read This Book! Bob Franklin always cuts through the morass of blame and despair to offer us a politics of solutions and hope. This book is Bob at his best. He transcends left and right, and helps us understand what is right and wrong. Then he points the way forward. We had a lively discussion about the book, and the importance of realizing that the crisis and its solution must involve all of us.

Read this book! Crisis in the Village is one book I really do urge you to read. Bob’s challenge calls us all to deeper reflection and more serious action. His passionate vision for change and prophetic call for commitment are for everyone who cares about the black community and about America. At the Press Club, Bob left us with one of his favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which I have often heard him use. It has now become a favorite of mine. "This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. The saving of our world from pending doom will come not from the actions of a conforming majority but from the creative maladjustment of a transformed minority."

+ Read and respond to comments on this article on the God's Politics blog

THIS WEEK IN GOD'S POLITICS

+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Randy Woodley: Is U.S. Democracy A Failed Experiment?
It’s a question I had to finally face because it has been gnawing at me for years, just below the surface. As a Native American and a student of history, I know of the hypocrisy, the constant sway toward American myth-building, the social construction of "the White Man" in order to maintain power - and how many treaties were made by the United States with really no intention of keeping them. I’ve seen the disregard for the poor and the hate exhibited for those who are not mainstream or not from the "right" ethnicity. I’ve seen all this sin, both in its ugly raw grassroots forms and in its heinous sophisticated expressions.

Bill McKibben: The Gospel Versus Global Warming
We need more religious involvement, because it's one of the ways we can show wavering congressmen and women that this isn't an "alternative" movement – that instead it comes straight from the heart of America. And straight from the heart of the gospel tradition, with its paramount call for love of neighbor. At the moment, the 4 percent of us in this country produce a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide – once you look at maps of rising sea levels and spreading mosquitoes, you realize that we've probably never figured out a way to hate our neighbors around the world much more effectively. That's got to stop – and with your help on April 14, we will take the first big steps to making it stop.

Ryan Beiler: Your Comments on Walking the Sensitivity Tightrope
I've attempted to distill the most helpful elements from the rather heated comments on Tony Jones' post on Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, much of which focused on this sentence: "I'm skeptical of a religion that admonishes its adherents to wear sacred undergarments ... that didn't allow non-whites to be clergy until 1978, and that follows the teachings of Joseph Smith, whose scriptures I find highly dubious." As I've reflected on these comments it's occurred to me that from a Mormon perspective, such questions, however intentioned, can be offensive when they're perceived through the lenses of those who've endured patterns of ridicule or condescension. And as a member of the majority dominant culture, I generally want to give extra credence to the testimony of those who've been marginalized in these ways. I felt a creeping double standard as I reflected on my own words regarding the Biden blow-up.

Tony Jones: Three Choices in Pluralism
Call it globalization, postmodernism, or a "flat world," we live in a radically pluralized society, and it is only becoming more so. As the U.S. pluralizes, we become increasingly aware of the "otherness" of those around us. The Other looks, talks, and worships differently than I do. And, case in point, we've got a woman, an African-American, and a Mormon as leading contenders in a presidential race, a situation unthinkable just 50 years ago.

Rose Marie Berger: Catholic Womenpriests?
"Rocking the Boat," on the ordination of Catholic women in the March 2007 issue of Sojourners magazine, was an article I’ve been wanting to write for years. The ceremony was held by the international organization Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which has held five ordination ceremonies since 2002. As you may have heard, Catholic women can’t be priests. I’ve never been a Catholic made in the image and likeness of the Pope. I’m a failed Catholic, a proud Catholic, a free-thinking Catholic, a dogged Catholic, a confessional Catholic, an angry Catholic, a cradle Catholic, and a Catholic woman.

FAITH IN ACTION

Jeff Carr Reports from Iran

Jeff Carr traveled to Iran with a delegation of Christian leaders last week, meeting with Muslim clerics, members of Iran's Christian community, and top government officials, including Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Read his posts from Iran, and watch the God's Politics blog for more updates on the delegation in the days to come:

Welcome to Iran 2-20-2007

How Do You Know Someone Until You Talk? 2-22-2007

Two Different Histories 2-23-2007

BUILDING A MOVEMENT

Host A Peace Witness for Iraq Vigil in Your Community


Will you host one of the many local Christian Peace Witnesses that are being organized across the U.S. and Canada? If you're unable to join us in Washington, D.C., please consider doing an event in your community. A vigil toolkit to help you plan your event is also available for download at this link.

+ Sign up to host an event in your community

More than 1,500 people have already signed up to attend the March 16 service at the National Cathedral, observing the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Space is limited, so register soon! After the service, we'll march to the White House for a prayer vigil calling for a just peace in Iraq. Those who choose to do so may take part in further symbolic action and risk arrest through civil disobedience. Admission to the service is free, but if you want to join us for the service or participate in civil disobedience (which requires nonviolence training, provided) you need to register:

+ Register today to attend the March 16 service at the Washington National Cathedral.

SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" e-mail - the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:

Tehran Delegation Returns Stressing Talks Between the U.S., Iran
Religion News Service
"Our governments have not spoken for 30 years," said the Rev. Jeff Carr, of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. "We think that beginning dialogue and paving the way for mutual respect and peaceful relations is really something that needs to happen, and religious leaders could play a significant role in that."

American Religious Delegation Travels to Iran to Seek Peace
Associated Baptist Press

New Book: It Takes a Village to Raise a Young Person
Baltimore Times

'God's Politics' Pastor to Give Lecture at Susquehanna University
The Daily Item

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.


ADVERTISERS












Online Lenten devotions. During the Lenten season, join Goshen College students, faculty and staff for reflections, personal stories and prayers around the lectionary and the theme "Blessed hunger, Holy feast." To access the weekday devotions online or sign up to receive them in your inbox, go to: www.goshen.edu/devotions.

Employment Opportunity. Director, Church Planting. Moravian Church Northern Province. For more information visit our Web site: www.mcnp.org

Be a Tipping Point for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Sojourners seeks a media-savvy organizer to coordinate the Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform campaign. Position is for a 9-month contract to start ASAP. Find out more here.

















GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: sojourners@sojo.net | Advertising: advertising@sojo.net | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.