The Common Good

What Heaven Must Be Like

Sojomail - October 25, 2007


If we sent them home, there wouldn't be a home to go to.

- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), on the Senate's rejection of the DREAM Act, which offers the children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they serve in the military or complete two years of higher education. McClatchy papers also report that Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) unsuccessfully sought the arrests of several undocumented immigrant students who had been invited to Washington to lobby for the bill. (Source: McClatchy Newspapers)

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What Heaven Must Be Like

"This is what heaven must be like," I said to my wife Joy on the cell phone. I was between home and first, about 15 rows up from the field at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Fenway Park for the opening game of the 2007 World Series - and my nine-year-old son Luke was sitting right next to me. The "most beloved ballpark in America," as some call it, looked absolutely fabulous last night. The grass was the same dazzling emerald green color that I still vividly remember from the first time my Dad took me to Tiger Stadium in Detroit when I was just about Luke’s age. The base paths were in immaculate condition, the lights were almost sparkling, the atmosphere was electric, and the smell of great food was in the air. This is baseball.

We were there two hours early watching the Colorado Rockies take their batting practice. Luke, proudly wearing the brand new Red Sox jersey I had splurged to buy him that afternoon, just kept saying, "Wow," as Rockie hitters kept putting balls over the "Green Monster" wall in left field. "Dad! Did you see that one? Awesome!!!" We talked about the only other time Luke had ever been to Fenway, in his mother’s womb when I took my new English wife, Joy Carroll, to her first baseball game in America. Luke was soooo glad to be back, and we kept talking to Mom on the cell about how amazingly COOL everything was. She and four-year-old Jack were at home in Washington, glued to the television set and trying to spot us. A wonderful friend had given me and Luke two priceless tickets to the Series opener. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

I don’t think I’ve written about my "other life" much on this blog, as a Little League baseball coach every weekend for Luke and 13 other fourth graders whom I’ve had now for the last four baseball seasons, beginning with t-ball. My first instructions were things like, "Throw the ball overhand." They’re the veteran AA Astros now, and are undefeated again this season (but we all know that, as Christians, winning and losing doesn’t matter). I also would never brag about my son’s play - like ever tell anyone about the recent game where he went four for four, with a double and three homeruns (including a grand slam), or that he is an Little League All Star first basemen who backhanded a smash ground ball that would have gotten through on the right side of the infield and then outran the other kid to first base, winning the game. I would never talk about such things.

Those batting practice hits over the Wall were about the only ones the Colorado team got all night, as the Red Sox cruised to a 13-1 victory. The whole night looked like batting practice for the hometown boys like our favorite David ("Big Papi") Ortiz, Manny Ramirez (I love the fan’s sign from the last playoff series—"Don’t worry be Manny"), Kevin Youkilis (whose every at bat gets the fans yelling "Yoouuk, Yoouuk, Yoouuk,!"), captain Jason Varitek (who showed how a captain ought to play last night) and Dustin Pedroia (the sensational rookie who shows that little guys can play this game too). We were also amazed by starting pitcher Josh Beckett who got nine strikeouts last night (and who also inspires my son because Luke’s baseball role model is Babe Ruth, BOTH a power hitter AND a pitcher, just like he wants to be).

On Sunday, one of the other kids from our team gets to go to Denver (he’s an enthusiastic Rockies fan) for game four of the World Series. His grandfather is dying of cancer and this may be one of the last times that grandson and grandpa will do something special together. Very special indeed. Baseball is like that. "Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd, buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back ... !" Yep, just like heaven is going to be.

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'Values Voters' Summit Roundup

Video: Jim Wallis and Richard Land Debate Voter Values

On Friday, Jim Wallis and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, engaged in a dialogue on the role of faith in politics at the Family Research Council’s "Values Voters Summit," tackling such issues as abortion, poverty, the environment, and national security.

Video: Jim Wallis and the Evangelical Electorate on CBS

On the eve of his dialogue with the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land at the Family Research Council's Values Voters Summit, Jim appeared on CBS News with Katie Couric last night to talk about changes in evangelical political engagement.

A Message to All 'Values Voters' (by Jim Wallis)

I'm grateful to Tony Perkins and FRC Action for hosting the Oct. 19 dialogue focused on the "values" for values voters. I also thank Richard Land, my frequent dialogue partner and friend. I believe we found areas of real agreement and also healthy disagreement - and that is good. We both agreed that the issue is not whether faith should help to shape our public life, but how.


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Waking Up to War with Iran (by Brian McLaren)

I am afraid, but not for the reasons our government is telling me to be afraid. I am afraid that I may wake up one morning soon to discover that our government has launched a preemptive attack on Iran. While our government is issuing national orange alerts about "them," I wonder whether we Christians should be issuing global orange alerts about our own government.

Why Rich People Will (or Won't) Go to Hell (by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle)

Dr. Marvin A. McMickle delivered the following sermon on the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) at a public witness and rally during Sojourners' "Reviving Our Spirits: Transforming Our Politics" conference in Cleveland last weekend. Dr. McMickle is pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mystery Quote Quiz of the Week (by Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

Who made the following statement in a recent television interview?

I'm not sure that that group in Washington is really representative of evangelicals across the spectrum. This is the Family Research Council and some of the James Dobson supporters; I just think that's just a narrow slice of evangelical thought.

A) Jim Wallis
B) Pat Robertson
C) Hillary Clinton
C) Rick Warren
D) Rudy Giuliani

Condi and Holy Land Christians (by Deanna Murshed)

I couldn't help but wonder what was going through your mind as you stood in the midst of some of the "living stones" of the Holy Land last week. Hearing the stories of fellow Christians who have carried on the teaching and ministry of Christ since antiquity – holding firm and weathering the elements of history for the sake of the church's witness. For what it's worth, I commend you for breaking from your diplomatic meeting schedule to sit down with top religious leaders – Christian, Jewish and Muslim. I read that you listened as leaders spoke about "real life" complaints such as the failure of Israeli authorities to recognize the Greek Orthodox patriarch. But were you surprised to find that so many of your own Christian brothers and sisters are Palestinian – and suffering as a result of the occupation, and less than enthusiastic about the U.S.'s role in the matter? You don't often hear about these folks in American media.

How Many Values Does it Take to Make a Values Voter? (by Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

No doubt there are critics who will dispute Jim's description of the Religious Right as having an overly narrow agenda. Case in point: Witness this dynamic observed by Faith in Public Life's (former Sojourner intern) Dan Nejfelt, live blogging from the FRC Summit on Friday: "Earlier [FRC head Tony] Perkins said 'values voters' aren't single issue voters. Brownback - 'you're right, I care about two issues.' [Okay, that's a paraphrase, but he said it. Those issues are abortion and 'restoring decency' to America's culture.]"

Let the Little Children Suffer - Again (by Obery Hendricks)

There is a good deal of contention about President George W. Bush's reasons for vetoing the SCHIP legislation that would have provided a much needed expansion of medical coverage for America's poorest children. Bush's supporters assert that the legislation would extend coverage to middle class families with incomes up to $83,000 a year, while hundreds of thousands of poor children would remain uninsured. They also share his argument that the bill would be a major step toward "socialized" medicine and government-run health care.

Evil Is Innovative (by Bob Massey)

Sunday we had the big sendoff at church. David Batstone (author of Not For Sale) spoke about his findings on slavery worldwide and here in California. It's completely NUTS. Like, the world should be embarrassed. People, didn't we sort this out a century or two ago? But evil is innovative. It seems there are endless ingenious ways to exploit one another. And they say there's nothing new under the sun...


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Top Stories:

Video: CBS Evening News extended interview with Jim Wallis
CBS Evening News
Click on the link to see an extended interview with Jim Wallis on CBS Evening News from 10/18/07, talking more about the changing voter values.

G.O.P. Candidates at 'Values Voters' Conference
The Caucus: NY Times political blog
Still, perhaps reflecting the growing influence of the evangelical leaders pushing change, the Rev. Jim Wallis, the leading light for liberal evangelicals, has been invited into the event this year to debate the Rev. Richard Land, president of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Values Voter Summit, Morning Session

Mobilizing the Religious Left
New York Times

Campus Cleansing
WORLD Magazine

New Century, Same Crisis

Land, Wallis debate faith & policy issues
Baptist Press

Progressive, Conservative Evangelicals Debate Divisive Issues
Christian Post

Values Voters Summit: Land, Wallis debate how faith influences politics
Associated Baptist Press

Without defining them, Wash. Post asserted Brownback "talk[ed] about Christian values"
Media Matters

Respect Opponents-and Voters: Commentary
Roanoke Times

Evangelicals gather in D.C. and reaffirm that climate is not their focus

"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.


Metanoia Community Development Corporation is seeking an Executive Director of Youth Leadership Development. Our programs are innovative and model youth leadership programs in North Charleston, SC. To apply: e-mail resume to by November 9, 2007. For more information visit<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

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Join participants from around the globe. Gain strategies to respond to trauma and break cycles of violence. Level I: November 12-16 or March 10-14. Apply online.

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