The Common Good

Someone You Should Know

Sojomail - June 28, 2007


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"We don't owe the president our unquestioning agreement."

- Sen. Richard G. Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, in a Senate speech that called the chances of success for Bush's troop surge "very limited," and advocated the reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq. (Source: The Washington Post )

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

HEARTS & MINDS BY JIM WALLIS Someone You Should Know

I want to introduce you to someone. His name is Gordon Brown, and he just became Britain's new Prime Minister. You have probably been hearing and reading the news about the transition from Tony Blair to Brown.


Among other things, Brown is a voracious reader, and reads many American books about politics, including those that focus on moral values and politics. That’s how I first met Gordon Brown: I was speaking in Britain and got a call from the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (his former position) saying that Brown wanted to get together that evening, if I was available. So I went over to his office at the Treasury, and he told me that he had read my books and had many questions for me. So we put our feet up and began talking, and have been doing so now for a number of years.

I’ve done several interviews recently with British newspapers and television networks about what kind of man Gordon Brown is. One asked me the word I would use to best describe him, and I said "passion." That’s in sharp contrast to some of the British press, who refer to the new Prime Minister as "dour," as one Guardian columnist did this morning on National Public Radio. But that is simply not the man that I have come to know, and whose friendship I deeply value. I have taken American heads of churches and development agencies to visit with Brown, and they have been universally and amazingly impressed with his deep understanding of the issues of globalization and his personal commitment to tackling the moral challenge of inequality. I believe that Gordon Brown has more passion (and knowledge) about the issues of global poverty and social justice than any other Western leader today. And I believe his leadership could make a great difference. He is somebody you should know and follow closely.

Gordon Brown is the son of a Church of Scotland pastor and grew up in a manse where the biblical vision of justice seems to have found its place in his heart. Quotes from Isaiah and Jeremiah pepper his speeches about the kind of global economy we must be working for, and as I said in God’s Politics, Brown’s words often remind me of the prophet Micah, who knew that true security requires that "all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid."

Let me share a few of his words from his speech this week on his transition to the new post of Labor Party Leader and Prime Minister.

First on his values and moral compass:

All I believe and all I try to do comes from the values that I grew up with: duty, honesty, hard work, family, and respect for others.

And this is what my parents taught me and will never leave me: that each and every one of us has a talent, each and every one of us should have the chance to develop their talent, and that each of us should use whatever talents we have to enable people least able to help themselves.

And so I say honestly: I am a conviction politician. My conviction that everyone deserves a fair chance in life. My conviction that each of us has a responsibility to each other. And my conviction that when the strong help the weak, it makes us all stronger. Call it ‘the driving power of social conscience,’ call it 'the better angels of our nature,’ call it ‘our moral sense,’ call it a belief in ‘civic duty.’

I joined this party as a teenager because I believed in these values. They guide my work, they are my moral compass. This is who I am. And because these are the values of our party, too, the party I lead must have more than a set of policies – we must have a soul.

On children in poverty:

... let me say also that in the fourth richest country in the world it is simply wrong – wrong that any child should grow up in poverty. To address this poverty of income and to address also the poverty of aspirations by better parenting, better schools, and more one-to-one support, I want to bring together all the forces of compassion – charities, voluntary sector, local councils, so that at the heart of building a better Britain is the cause of ending child poverty.

On foreign policy:

Our foreign policy in years ahead will reflect the truth that to isolate and defeat terrorist extremism now involves more than military force – it is also a struggle of ideas and ideals that in the coming years will be waged and won for hearts and minds here at home and round the world. And an essential contribution to this will be what becomes daily more urgent – a Middle East settlement upholding a two state solution, that protects the security of Israel and the legitimate enduring desire for a Palestinian state.

Because we all want to address the roots of injustice, I can tell you today that we will strengthen and enhance the work of the department of international development and align aid, debt relief and trade policies to wage an unremitting battle against the poverty, illiteracy, disease and environmental degradation that it has fallen to our generation to eradicate.

Gordon Brown is a new kind of political leader, one who seeks to practice moral politics. He has already worked very closely with the community of faith and seeks a vital partnership. He knows that even politicians like him need to be challenged and held accountable by social movements with spiritual foundations. He once told me that without Jubilee 2000, the church-based movement to cancel Third World debt, the Labor government would have never done so. He encouraged me to keep building such movements because the world of politics needs them.

So pay attention to what Gordon Brown does now and please pray for him. I believe he could become the kind of international leader who really helps to change things. I watched his remarks on the BBC, just before he and his wife walked through the door of 10 Downing Street to spend his first night as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I’m glad he is there.

+ 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

Chuck Gutenson: Christians and Torture
I participated in the National Religious Campaign Against Torture rally and press conference held on Capitol Hill yesterday. Here are some excerpts from two very short talks I gave. The first asserts that it is "an unconditional aspect of Christian faith that torture is always immoral." ... The second asks, "On what basis are we normally assured that torture of detainees is an acceptable practice?"

Janna Hunter-Bowman: Political Robbery Hits Colombian Church Office
On the Sunday after the attack, a persecuted widow with five children sought me out after church. She was on the stolen lists because she had documented her horrific story of loss and continued persecution. The widow (I’ll call her Maria) cried as she clung to me, choking on her fear that her whole family was now going to be killed, just as her husband had been a few years ago.

Jim Wallis: A New Challenge for Tony Blair
A month before the war in Iraq began, I took a delegation of religious leaders to meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street, to urge that he find a better alternative. We met with Mr. Blair for nearly an hour, and along with Iraq, the critical need for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict figured prominently in our discussions. The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu El-As, told Prime Minister Blair, "The road to Baghdad leads through Jerusalem." Even then, the British government was making the critical connection between peace in the Middle East and the problem of terrorism and Iraq, much more than the U.S. government.

Diana Butler Bass: Sock Puppet Church
My mother is nearly 70, has had two heart attacks, and is slowing down. When I think of her—as I do a lot these days—I remember sitting in the piles of scraps, creating biblical worlds together. I remember making the Virgin Mary out of a sock. I remember the deep economy of being Christian, of practicing our faith in the living room with scissors and glue, not the size or success of our congregation. I remember our neighborhood church, small and quirky, where we produced our spiritual lives with our hands and from our hearts.

Bob Francis: Wrong Choice on Darfur
In the March/April issue of the University of Chicago magazine, an article announced that the University decided not to divest from companies connected to the genocide in Darfur. I wrote a response and it was published in the May/June issue: "Advocacy organizations have done a commendable job of educating the public about this ongoing genocide. While this increased awareness represents progress, knowledge without action is worthless. I commend the University on the creation of a fund to underwrite faculty and student work (a truly creative and worthwhile idea), but it is no replacement for divestment (or any other proactive measures)."

SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

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

Top Stories:

UK Christians Hear Call for 'Justice Revival' to Call Brown to Account
Ekklesia
American evangelical social activist, theologian and pastor Jim Wallis has made a stirring plea for a 'justice revival' among the churches in the UK and beyond - saying that Christians and those of goodwill must help Gordon Brown keep his promises.

'Radical Truth Teller'
The Washington Times
Sojourners seems to be about people who think spiritually and yet socially. They see the implications of spiritual ideas in terms of social action. I definitely make those connections as an artist. There is a natural connection that has happened between us over the years.


'Red-Letter Christians' a Growing Political Force
Associated Baptist Press

Scripture Not Easy Recipe in Politics, Ethicists Say
Associated Baptist Press

Cross Purposes: Christians Confront Immigration Issue
Religion News Service

Civilian Gang Czar to Manage L.A.'s Numerous Efforts
Copley News Service

Democrats Try Out Faith-Based Message
The Concord Monitor

Campolo's Creed: Help Everyone
The News Journal

Faith Issues in the Morally Ambiguous Field of Politics
The Huffington Post

"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














Campaign for Another 100 Years.The Maryknoll Sisters, Making Gods Love Visible.

Sojourners Job Openings
Sojourners seeks qualified applicants for a variety of positions in our growing work to articulate the biblical call for social justice. Please see our new opening for Deputy Press Secretary. Click here to learn more.















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.