The Common Good

A Message of Gratitude

Sojomail - January 6, 2011


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Absent data that show liens make a meaningful contribution to revenue collection and especially in this economy, I find it unacceptable that the IRS continues to torment financially struggling taxpayers in this way."

- Nina E. Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent ombudsman within the IRS, in an annual report to Congress critical of the agency filing tax files liens against people who have no money and no assets. (Source: Washington Post)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

A Message of Gratitude

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On New Year's Day I sat and reflected on the past year. The feeling that rushed through me was gratitude -- of course, for Joy and my boys, Luke and Jack, who are the loves of my life and a constant source of delight, fun, and happiness I never knew before; for the wonderful team at Sojourners that I am blessed to work with; for the faithful love, prayers, and support from so many Sojourners friends and donors; and ultimately gratitude to God, who gave us this mission many years ago and continues to sustain us. Amazing grace all around.

In many ways, it was a difficult year. Our commitment to social justice and living out Christ's call for us to be his hands and feet in this world came under attack like never before. But when television and radio shows and the resources of an entire cable network were turned against us and all "social justice Christians," it only expanded the number of those who understood the importance of a commitment to the biblical vision of social justice.

In the midst of some of the worst attacks, one of my staff members told me he received a call from his parents. They told him that while they don't agree with every policy stance Sojourners takes, they believe that we do our best every day to live out the gospel of Jesus in a broken world, and if the attacks are that bad, we must be doing something right. So they became supporters. This December, the number of donors who gave to our work increased two-and-a-half times over. More than 4,500 people donated to Sojourners in the month of December alone. For all that, I am filled with gratitude.

Every time a new supporter joins our work it is a reminder that while the fight for biblical justice might sometimes be lonely, we are never alone. This is more important now than ever before. Most likely, the attacks from the Far Right that intensified this year are likely to continue and even grow in volume and vehemence. But Sojourners has been attacked before. Our commitment to not only helping the poor, but also asking why they are poor, has been vilified in the past. I remember what Brazilian Archbishop Dom Helder Camara once said: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."

Saying that we should be Christians first and Americans after has always made some people mad. We are not "America-first" Christians, but "Christ-first" Christians, and there is a difference. Reaching out and building bridges with those who are different, foreigners, strangers, or "the other" to create peace and reconciliation has been demonized time and again. But we have always said and done those things and always will. Sometimes the attacks hurt -- especially when they are false accusations -- but God has always been faithful, and so has our extended community of Sojourners.

That is why this year we are renewing our focus on providing resources that teach us how to understand our identity as Christians, follow Christ into a world desperate for justice and peace, and think critically about the issues we face as a church and a nation. We want to make sure you have the biblical knowledge and insights you need to speak and act on God's heart for the poor, needy, and marginalized in your church, neighborhood, and world. We want to make sure you have the opportunities for action that could make a difference.

I am filled with gratitude that so many of you have committed just a few dollars a day, or much more, to this work -- even in tough economic times. This is important because one of the attacks that was made up last year was that we get most of our funding from secular atheists! Nope, it's mostly a bunch of Christians -- lots of them. The support that we are blessed by is a testament to how important this work is to so many of you who made the decision to start giving this year, or to keep giving even in challenging times.

Of course, there is so much more work to do. The attacks will keep coming, but the movement will keep growing. We will continue to grow the gospel movement of love and justice, particularly by inviting a new generation of activists to join. I pray that you will continue to be a part of this movement, by reaching out to those around you with the help of the resources and inspiration we try to provide.

Giving transforms us. It changes the way we see the world. And when the way we see the world changes, changing the world isn't far behind.

Thank you, thank you, for your support in tough times, which may get even tougher. But I know there are many people I can trust to support the vision and mission God has given to us. Thanks be to God!

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Building a Movement

2010: A Look Back

Last fall we urged you to contact Congress on two important issues: the DREAM Act for undocumented students, and the nuclear START Treaty. Thankfully, the Senate ratified START -- thanks, in part, to your advocacy. Unfortunately, the DREAM Act was not passed by the Senate, despite passage in the House and strong grassroots efforts. The 112th Congress convened this week and with your ongoing support we will prepare for new opportunities to be a voice for justice in Washington.

+Check out what else we accomplished together last year.


ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

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Today, the new 112th Congress convenes. Among the new rules for this Congress adopted by the incoming Republican majority is that in this opening session, the U.S. Constitution shall be read aloud.
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Half a million messages. That's how many our most engaged Sojourners activists sent on behalf of important justice issues in 2010.
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I am greatly saddened and angered by Congress' failure to pass the DREAM Act before Christmas last year.
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Remembering Judy Bonds, Mountain Defender
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This past Monday, January 3, anti-mountaintop removal activist Judy Bonds exhaled her last breath from the homeland she loved.
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Daughters of Deborah: What is a Leader in the 21st Century?
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There aren't many examples of women's leadership in the Bible. Luckily the few that are listed depict women of strength, endurance, faith, and loyalty.
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Palestinians Protest Death of Nonviolent Activist
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For nearly six years, the Palestinian residents of the West Bank village of Bil'in have held a weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall -- a barrier cutting through large portions of Palestinian land that has been declared illegal by the International Criminal Court and the Israeli High Court.
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'Come and See': A Reflection from Afghanistan
by Jerica Arents

"Tell them to come and see who we are." Almost every Afghan we met said that. Tell them to come and see. While my mind flashed to nightly news programs that portray all Afghans as dark, bearded men with big guns, ordinary Afghans told me that they want Americans to see them as just that: ordinary people.
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Does Sunday School Have a Future?
by Sheldon C. Good

Sunday school. It was one of the main reasons I enjoyed church as a child. As a young adult, it sometimes still is. But there's a conversation brewing: Does Sunday school have a future?
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The Truth of Tax Transparency Will Set Us Free
by Melanie Weldon-Soiset

It's started. I saw my first ad for a tax help company on TV yesterday, and I received an email recently about using an online service to settle my bill with the government.
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So, just to get it out of the way, I didn't get what I wanted for Christmas. No, not an iPad or world peace. Anyone who knows me well knows that what I really wanted for Christmas was a brand new back since mine is wrecked.
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What Does Violence in the Bible Tell Us About God?
by Brian McLaren

How would someone like me -- who cannot say "God is violent" without feeling like I'm blaspheming -- respond? Do I deny the Bible? Do I seek to minimize the cross, or diminish its power, as Pete suggests? Am I just trying to "save God" to make God more palatable to a "secular mind"?
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Archbishop Deng, George Clooney, and You
by Elizabeth Palmberg

As of December 30, Satellite Sentinel is now live: a website where the United Nations, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and the Enough Project analyze commercial satellite images of Sudan in order to reveal humanitarian disasters -- such as mass movements of displaced people, or burned villages – in the making.
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Praying and Fasting in the New Year
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

Biblical wisdom teaches that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. The holiday season is a season of feasting and of celebration. We share good times with family and friends over sumptuous meals with a variety of desserts -- cakes, pies, candy. However, after the holiday of feasting, I suggest a time of fasting.
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Disarm Now Activists Demonstrate What it Means to 'Pay the Price' for Peace
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On December 13, a Tacoma-based jury declared five Disarm Trident Now Plowshares activists "guilty" of trespass, felony damage to federal property, felony injury to property, and felony conspiracy to damage property.
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Several days ago, I spent two days in Washington, D.C. continuing this education. And, while I wasn't able to play hoops with President Obama and throw him a couple elbows, I did have the opportunity to attend a briefing at the White House.
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Record Levels of Violence in Afghanistan Do Not Equal Progress
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Greetings from Afghanistan. I arrived here now almost two weeks ago and there is so much to share about this experience that it's hard to know where to start. I'd like to offer a few random observations about Kabul that I'm sure will make more sense upon reflection.
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Where is my Mother? The Injustice of a Broken Immigration System
by Bethany Anderson

Maria, Lupe, and their older brother, Juan, were all born here to their American-citizen dad and their non-citizen, Mexican-born mom. When their parents first married they sought to legalize the status of the new bride. It seemed like a no-brainer: If you marry an American citizen, you should get your papers.
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SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

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Top Stories:

Quick glance back at 2010
Get Religion Blog
It’s that time of year when we tend to reflect on the good, bad or ugly in 2010 and resolve to do something better in the next 12 months.
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Good Christians Don’t Follow Ayn Rand
Utne
It’s fascinating to see Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand posthumously elevated to the level of saint by conservatives who are allegedly driven by Christian values.
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On Muslims, Gays and Tolerance In America
The Chicago Tribune

No one is happier to wave goodbye to 2010 than American Muslims. Favorability ratings for our faith actually declined this year.
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"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.




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