The Common Good

Changing the Script with Jon Stewart

Sojomail - January 21, 2010


... Americans, you may give your goods to feed the poor. You may give great gifts to charity. You may tower high in philanthropy. But if you have not love it means nothing.

- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech, "Paul's Letter to American Christians," Nov. 4, 1956. (Source: MLK Online)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

Changing the Script with Jon Stewart

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Last night I was on The Daily Show again with Jon Stewart to talk about my new book. It’s always a fun show. I enjoyed the back and forth with Jon about values, economics, and the bad morality play of banks, bailouts, and now bonuses. I think Stewart is doing more than anybody else in the media to try to change the script.

If Twitter comments are any indication of public sentiment, my suggestion that the bankers give their massive bonuses to Haiti resonated with lots of people.

You can watch the interview and get a free download of the first chapter of my book, “Sunday School with Jon Stewart.”


This morning, I got up to do Morning Joe on MSNBC. The timing could not have been better, because today is the day that Goldman Sachs announces its record revenues and bonuses ($16.2 billion in compensation this year). My favorite moment was hearing the title of Goldman’s new charity giving program: “Goldman Sachs Gives.” I told Morning Joe how reassuring that is to me, and in response to a wry comment from commentator Mike Barnicle that they must be doing “God’s work,” I suggested that I was sure God really appreciated this public relations gesture on the part of the big banks. But then I said that in the midst of such suffering in America, these bonuses were more than a scandal and a shame -- they are a sin of biblical proportions.

I reminded everyone on the show that the bonuses are merely a symptom of a deeper erosion of societal values and spoke of the new maxims that have overtaken us -- Greed is Good, It’s All About Me, and I Want It Now. Those values wreak havoc on economies, cultures, families, and our very souls. In contrast I suggested that we need to rediscover some new/old spiritual virtues like: Enough is Enough, We’re In This Together, and learn to employ the Native American ethic of considering the consequences of decisions today by their impact on the seventh generation out. That would change the “short-termism” that has come to dominate our economic decision-making. I also learned that some people think “class warfare” only breaks out when the people who are having a war waged on them (us) get mad at the people who started the fight in the first place (Wall Street). Interesting.

Now we head to Chicago for a forum tonight with the city’s business and civic leaders.

Stay tuned.

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Video: David Bazan Interview

Since 1994, David Bazan has put sharp questions about faith, justice, and his Pentecostal-evangelical upbringing front and center in his songs. With his trademark candor and thoughtfulness, Bazan, former front man of Pedro the Lion and Headphones, spoke with Sojourners assistant editor Jeannie Choi in the musty green room of The Black Cat, a music venue in Washington, D.C.

Read the interview with David Bazan, or click to watch the video below.



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