The Common Good

Changing the Script with Jon Stewart

Sojomail - January 21, 2010



QUOTE OF THE WEEK

... 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.”

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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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INSIDE SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE

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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ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

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Then it dawned on me -- poverty and the earthquake have now collided. Part of this is simply the poverty they live in every day and the other part is the devastation of the earthquake. It is all one horrific problem now.
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'Who Cares?' -- A Visual Guide to Americans' Charitable Giving
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Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele neatly summarized the prevailing American attitude: "Remember, 82% of the American people like their health-care plan. They just want us to address their costs." We want what we have. We want it to cost less. And, as other commentators this morning pointed out, we certainly don't want to raise taxes to pay for it.
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Now is the Time for Congressional Courage on Health-Care Reform
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Last week a mother called crying. She was hiding in her closet with her four children, afraid to open the door to the immigration officers outside. "We have never had any problems with the law before," she cried, as my mind raced to know how to advise her. "I don't know why they have come."
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come and witness the place where a fellow peacemaker fell
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When I was a student at Christ for the Nations School of Missions, I learned about the so-called "pact with the devil" that the African slaves of Haiti made to free themselves from the French.... While I agree that Pat Robertson's comments were embarrassing and offensive (For the record: I don't think that anyone should ever claim they have divine knowledge as to why a specific natural disaster occurs. Luke 13:2-5 speaks loudly against that), I also think that the reaction of the secular media and some in the progressive faith community has been -- good intentions not withstanding -- condescending.
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Evaluating President Obama's Response to the Haiti Earthquake
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More Haitian History and Perspective on Pat Robertson and the 'Pact with the Devil'
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Like many of you, my first reaction when hearing Pat Robertson's assertion that Haiti had been cursed for making a "pact with the devil" was, well, not appropriate to write on a Christian blog. But once I got over the shock of his blaming the victims, I'll be honest -- my next impulse was curiosity: What tattered shred of historical truth could he possibly be twisting? At the risk of lending any credence whatsoever to Robertson's claims and perpetuating a distraction from what should be our main concern: RESPONDING TO THE OVERWHELMING NEED OF SURVIVING HAITIANS (click here for for Sojourners' readers' recommended ways to help), I did some additional research, and here's what I found.
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The Devil's Reparations for Haiti's Debt?
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This might be a reasonable time to point out that, when Haiti threw out the French, it was the latter who were on the side of evil -- first, as slave-owners (Haiti was the only modern nation created by a slave revolt). And then, when Haitians had finally attained freedom from plantation chattel slavery, France forced Haiti to pay reparations to the former slave-owners, to compensate them for their loss of "property."
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