| QUOTE OF THE WEEK|
"There is a beginning of a political process, but I have difficulty using the word optimism. Time is on nobody's side. We cannot give up, though."
- Jan Eliasson, U.N. special envoy to Sudan, speaking about peace talks among Darfur's rebel groups that will hopefully prepare the way for negotiations with the central Khartoum government. (Source: The Washington Post)
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I watched much of the cable television coverage of Jerry Falwell's death and legacy. And I did a lot of grimacing, in response to both the uncritical adulations of his allies (who just passed over the divisive character of much of Falwell's rhetoric), and also the ugly vitriol from some of Falwell's enemies (who attacked both his character and his faith). And there were even some who attacked all people of faith. I ended up being glad that I had passed up all the invitations to be on those shows. On the day of Rev. Jerry Falwell's death, I was content to offer a brief statement, which read:
I was saddened to learn that Rev. Jerry Falwell passed away this morning at age 73. Rev. Falwell and I met many times over the years, as the media often paired us as debate partners on issues of faith and politics. I respected his passionate commitment to his beliefs, and our shared commitment to bringing moral debate to the public square, although we didn't agree on many things. At this time, however, what matters most is our prayers for comfort and peace for his family and friends.
Two days later, I might add that Falwell, in his own way, did help to teach Christians that their faith should express itself in the public square and I am grateful for that, even if the positions Falwell took were often at great variance with my own. I spent much of my early Christian life fighting the privatizing of faith, characterized by the withdrawal of any concern for the world (so as to not be "worldly") and an exclusive focus on private matters. If God so loved the world, God must care a great deal about what happens to it and in it. Falwell agreed with that, and blew the trumpet that awakened fundamentalist Christians to engage the world with their faith and moral values. And that commitment is a good thing. Jerry and I debated often about how faith should impact public life and what all the great moral issues of our time really are.
But many conservative Christians are now also embracing poverty, HIV/AIDS, Darfur, sex trafficking, and even the war in Iraq as matters of faith and moral imperatives. It would have been nice to hear on those TV shows that Jerry Falwell, too, had moved to embrace a broader agenda than just abortion and homosexuality. Rev. Falwell, who was admittedly racist during the civil rights movement, was in later years honored by the Lynchburg NAACP for his turn-about on the issue of race, showing the famous founder of the Religious Right's capacity to grow and change. But two nights ago on television, I saw the pain on the face of gay Christian Mel White, who lamented that despite his and other's efforts, Falwell never did even moderate his strong and often inflammatory language (even if maintaining his religious convictions) against gay and lesbian people. They still feel the most wounded by the fundamentalist minister's statements; that healing has yet to be done.
Ralph Reed said that Jerry Falwell presided over the "marriage ceremony" between religious fundamentalists and the Republican Party. That's still a concern about the Religious Right for many of us, and should be a warning for the relationship of any so-called religious left with the Democrats. But perhaps in the overly partisan mistakes that Jerry Falwell made - and actually pioneered - we can all be instructed in how to forge a faith that is principled but not ideological, political but not partisan, engaged but not used. That's how the Catholic Bishops put it, and it is a better guide than the direction we got from the Moral Majority. But Falwell proclaimed a public faith, not a private one. And I am with him on that. As I like to say, God is personal, but never private. So let's pray for Jerry Falwell's family, the members of his Thomas Road Baptist Church, and all the students at his Liberty University. And let's learn from his legacy - about how and how not to best apply our faith to politics.
+ Read and respond to comments on this article on the God's Politics blog
+ Read a summary of commentaries on Falwell's legacy from across the religious and political spectrum
| BUILDING A MOVEMENT |
There's Still Time
There's still time to register for Pentecost 2007: Taking the Vision to the Streets, to be held June 3-6 in Washington, D.C. Pentecost 2007 will feature our nationally televised presidential candidates forum with Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama. Don't miss this chance to be a part of history in the making - click here to register for Pentecost 2007 and join us for four days of captivating speakers, inspiring worship, prophetic advocacy, and hands-on training.
Can't make it to Washington? You can still be a part of this monumental event by gathering with other people of faith in your community to watch the candidates tackle faith, moral values, and poverty. Organizing a watch party is an easy and fun way to build community, discuss the presidential race with other people of faith, and issue a prophetic challenge to put poverty at the top of the national agenda.
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| THIS WEEK IN GOD'S POLITICS|
+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends
Amy Ard: I'm Harboring an Undocumented Person
It'll feel good to get this off my chest: I'm harboring an undocumented person. Growing at the rate of half a pound each week, somewhere between my rib cage and my bladder, this interloper is preparing to make his/her grand entrance sometimes in the next four to seven weeks - and for the life of me, I can't figure out whether he or she is a true-blooded U.S. citizen. Unlike many of our uninvited, hard-working guests currently in the United States, this little stowaway doesn't have so much as a library card for documentation. And what about this meaningless "birth certificate" I'll sign with the aid of my coyote (okay, midwife)? I've looked that document over, and as far as I can tell it doesn't offer any guarantee that this new citizen will be productive, good looking, or give a hoot about U.S. foreign policy. Do we really want such an unpredictable kid running wild on the streets of Washington, D.C.?
Shane Claiborne: Questions for an Empire's Candidates
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Don't let anyone make you think that God has chosen America as [God's] divine messianic force to be reckoned with." There are compelling voices who claim that God has chosen America (not the church) as a special embodiment of hope for the world, and then there are times (perhaps in more recent history) when it seems America embodies an antithesis of what God hopes for. U.S. flags colonize the altars and the money is branded "In God We Trust," but the economy is an eerie reflection of the seven deadly sins listed in scripture, with a culture dangerously close to the sins of Sodom, a culture the prophet Ezekiel describes as "arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned." Given the fact that America and God's kingdom are not the same - and are often at odds - how do we resist the temptation of thinking that America, rather than God or God's church, is the hope of the world?
Virginia Lohmann Bauman: Women Standing To Save the World
For many of us, Mother's Day is now a check mark on the "to-do" list, an "x" on the calendar, a card tucked into a drawer or scrapbook. But before the flowers wilt, I wanted to share the power and witness of thousands of women who stood in silence on Mother's Day, 2007, to manifest a dream to save the world.
Elizabeth Palmberg: New Day or Bad Gamble?
Why is it so ironic that, last Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that congressional leaders had reached a compromise with the Bush administration to make proposed trade agreements with Peru and Panama somewhat less terrible, and would now encourage Congress to approve those agreements?
Video: Jim Wallis Announces Candidates Forum on Larry King
Chap Clark: Beyond Crafted Answers to Obvious Questions
Since in one way or another they all reference some level of spiritual interest, if not outright commitment, the obvious question would be, "In what ways does your faith influence your political opinions, agenda, and rhetoric?" But since every candidate has an a priori answer carefully crafted for this exact question, which would certainly fall within the parameters of what each candidate's staff deems an appropriately elusive and/or encompassing response, and since they all espouse a Christian faith, I would rather ask them ...
Jim Wallis: The Ever-Widening Evangelical Agenda
I've had some good conversations with Rick Warren about his deep passion to serve the poor. He's helping to guide a shift among religious conservatives that should not go without notice or welcome. I pray that this movement keeps moving - beyond personal changes that produce acts of charity (where it always begins) to structural changes that bring about social justice.
Brian McLaren: My Questions for the Democratic Candidates
I'm writing from the Republic of South Africa, where I've been speaking in conferences and other gatherings with church leaders from across many denominations. With the memories of apartheid still alive here, with a poverty rate of about 40 percent, with crime rates moving higher and higher - in part due to desperate immigrants from Zimbabwe - and with the continuing work of creating a successful multicultural democracy ongoing, several questions come to my mind for the three candidates. Here is how I would formulate them sitting in a home in downtown Johannesburg ...
Nancy Chan: Exiled Evangelicals Return to Campus
Nine months ago, shortly before the school year began, six evangelical Protestant groups were abruptly de-recognized by Georgetown University and informed that they would "no longer be allowed to hold any activity or presence on campus." ... In response to the flood of more than 400 letters, e-mails and petitions from concerned students, alumni, and parents in the fall, the university convened an advisory committee of Georgetown faculty, students, campus ministers, and off-campus ministry leaders to explore the matter.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler: The Mother's Day Manifesto
As we have in various ways over the years, it is incumbent upon us here at Sojourners/Call to Renewal to remind our readers of the history behind the Mother's Day holiday. For while honoring one's mother is important - see commandment #5 - like most holidays, Mother's Day has been distorted nearly beyond recognition by the greeting-card-candy-and-floral-industrial-complex.
| SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS|
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Harnessing the Large 2008 Field
The New York Times
Sojourners, a liberal Christian organization, will sponsor a Democratic presidential forum, but has invited just three of the nine Democratic contenders — Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards – based on their double-digit standings in national polls.
Christianity Without Salvation: The legacy of the "Social Gospel" - 100 years later
The Wall Street Journal
Ties With US Could Shift Under Blair's Expected Successor Cybercast News Service
No current presidential candidate is “tailor-made” for evangelical voters, Mohler tells “Larry King Live” audience The Towers Online
"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.