The Common Good

Breaking the Fast, Building the Movement

Sojomail - April 21, 2011

  QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Think of church like family. You don't 'go to family.' Family is what you are wherever you are. This is about spiritual families. We just live life with Jesus. So every day is Easter."

- Felicity Dale, Austin, Texas, who started a house church in her living room and helps others through the House2House network. (Source: USA Today)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

Breaking the Fast, Building the Movement

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On Easter weekend, I will break my fast. I will have spent almost four weeks drinking only liquids. But, as is often true of fasts, what has been gained is far greater than anything given up. More than 36,000 people and 28 members of Congress joined the fast in their own ways. Millions of people heard the message that a budget is a moral document. Politicians have begun to feel the pressure of those in the faith community who believe that we should not balance the budget at the expense and pain of poor people.

In the FY 2011 budget, the lives and well-being of vulnerable people were compromised. Wasteful military spending was protected while some effective anti-poverty programs at home and abroad were cut. While these cuts crossed moral lines that should never be crossed, analysis by organizations such as Bread for the World and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that these cuts could have been much worse if the original House budget proposals had been adopted. Pressure on Congress and the administration has been crucial in helping to protect important programs for vulnerable people. Continued pressure will be even more important over the next weeks, months, and years.

Our work to speak out for "the least of these" in the budget process has only just begun. The FY 2012 budget plans that passed the House last week show that the attacks on the poor are getting worse. The big-money interests are using their lobbyists to get what they want out of the budgets. And it is up to people of faith and conscience to push back.

Christians are speaking out against politicians who claim that funding for education for our children and health care for our seniors is wasteful spending. People of conscience are telling politicians that spending $107.3 billion on a misguided strategy in Afghanistan is unacceptable, and military spending is where they should start with the budget cuts. Growing movements of people are calling for corporate tax dodgers to be held accountable. For example, the Boeing Corporation earned $9.7 billion in profits over the last three years, but they did not pay any taxes. General Electric reported $26.3 billion in profits between 2006 and 2010 to their shareholders, but they also did not pay any taxes. These corporations are the real face of "theft" in American life today.

Programs for poor and vulnerable people are not being cut because we can no longer afford them; they are being cut because these programs are simply not a priority for most politicians. Even worse, cuts to programs that serve the poor and vulnerable are being directly used to finance tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations -- not to reduce the deficit as was promised. And programs that serve vulnerable people are on the chopping block first because we lack political leaders with the moral courage to make better decisions -- in both parties.

The past four weeks of fasting have been personally transformative for me. Fasting has reminded me of the pain that so many in our country and world experience when they go hungry every day. They don't get to end their "fast" at Easter. Most of all, I have been encouraged by all of those who have participated. Too often, injustice is perpetuated because good people just stand on the side lines or feel disempowered to act. The tens of thousands of people who joined in the Hunger Fast for a Moral Budget and added their own passion, creativity, and energy to the movement have confirmed for me that these cuts will not stand. While sometimes the way seems long, this Lent has been spiritual preparation for a sustained political fight. Next week, Sojourners will announce a new coalition of leaders and organizations who will work to grow a movement of Christians and other allies of faith and conscience who oppose unjust and immoral budgets.

On a more personal note, the fast has made me feel fuzzy at times, but also more focused. In coaching both of my sons' Little League baseball teams while fasting, I have had to be careful not to send my players to the wrong base! But my focus on the moral imperative of a decent, fair, and just common life together -- as demonstrated by our budget choices and priorities -- could not be clearer. My two sons, Luke and Jack, understand this message also. Other than their concerns for their Dad's health, they have been very attentive, supportive, and even articulate about the issues at stake in their own ways. I want their generation to understand this message because they will be the ones to build a future with more promise and hope than what we see in our currently confused political moment. And it is my trust in the priorities of the generation represented by my sons, and Sojourners' younger staff and constituency, that gives me the strength to persist with or without my daily bread. The fast will soon be over, but the battle for our common good has just begun.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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  Building a Movement

Oil Spill: One Year Later -- No Action?

One year has passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling disaster, and the people and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast are still suffering. We want the oil and drilling companies who caused the destruction in the Gulf to be held responsible for their actions, yet Congress has not taken legislative action.

+ Tell your members of Congress to ensure that the fines levied against BP are used directly for Gulf Coast restoration.


  ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Reflections on the Gulf Oil Spill and a Prayer for Lost Lives
by Jeffrey Wilson

Last year, I was deeply troubled by the Gulf Oil Spill, having been born and raised on the Florida Gulf Coast. I was especially saddened that 11 people lost their lives from the explosion of Deepwater Horizon.
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Jesus Knows Sign Language
by Taylor Johnson

During my last year of college, my pastor lent me the book Living Gently in a Violent World, co-authored by Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas. This book is an exploration on how followers of Christ ought to live in broken world.
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Make Earth Day a Church Day
by Matthew Sleeth

It is fitting that this year Earth Day falls on Good Friday and that three days later the greatest dawn since the beginning of time is celebrated.
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Rediscovering Values For Lent: Risky Hope
by Jim Wallis

The economic crisis is not just something that has happened to us, but has happened with us.
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Can't Forgive Your Dad, Mom, Ex-Wife, or Friend? Well, Forgiveness is a Choice
by Ken Fong

Our ability to love others who have sinned against us flows out of our real experience of Jesus forgiving our own sins. If we find it impossible to love one who has hurt or wronged us, it is probably because we refuse to forgive that person.
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Video: Afghan Youth Ask, 'Are There No Other Options Than Killing?'
by Rose Marie Berger

The Afghan Youth for Peace held a candle-lighting prayer vigil to remember all of their family who have died as a result of aggression from the U.S. war, the Taliban, local war lords, and terrorist groups.
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UPDATED: The Hunger Fast Resource Post
by Hannah Lythe

Last week Congress passed a budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that includes harmful cuts to domestic and international programs that help make up the social safety net and contribute to the common good.
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One Year Later, Big Oil Still Isn't Sorry
by Andrew Simpson

One year after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, life has not returned to normal in the Gulf.
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Let's Not Forget: It's Not About Us
by Eugene Cho

I'm very fond of this season in the Christian calendar because I can mention the word "ass" during my blog post and sermon and still keep all the fundamentalists off my back.
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Was Jesus a Passive Doormat?
by Margaret Benefiel

Upon reflecting on the circumstances surrounding Christ's death, I found myself asking: Was Jesus a passive doormat or a strong leader?
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America's National Humiliation
by Ambassador Tony Hall

Almost three weeks ago I stopped eating and started fasting, calling people of faith and conscience to do the same. At the height of the Civil War in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling the nation to a day of fasting, prayer, and what he called, "national humiliation."
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For Gulf Coast Residents, the Oil Spill Nightmare Continues
by Patty Whitney

For the people of the Gulf Coast the nightmare continues. Oil still washes up daily in marshes and beaches along the coast. Birds and marine animals are dying in unprecedented numbers, and scientists can't seem to find the cause.
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Oh Lord, Won't You Make Me Rich So I Can Pay More Taxes!
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

The gospel according to the movie True Grit (2010) is as follows: "You must pay for everything in this world one way or another. There is nothing free except the grace of God." This is true for individuals and it is true for nations.
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Friday Links Round Up: Weddings. T-Shirts. Taxes.
by Jeannie Choi

Weddings. T-Shirts. Taxes. Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week.
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Lord, What a Parade!: A Hymn for Palm Sunday
by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

Lord, what a parade! The crowd quickly grew; What noise they all made in welcoming you. "Hosanna!" they shouted. "It's David's own son! Hosanna! Come save us! God's reign has begun!"
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Embracing Creation Theology
by Julie Clawson

Today is the annual National Day of Silence, a day where students across America pledge to be silent for a day in order to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying, and harassment in their schools.
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Homeless Men and Women Donate $1,000 to the Hunger Fast Movement
by Evan Trowbridge

A quilt hangs in the dining and fellowship hall of Christ House, a medical facility for homeless women and men in Washington, D.C. The patches in the quilt tell the story of its creator, a former resident at Christ House.
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Experiencing God's Creation, Rain or Shine
by Tracey Bianchi

I'm a Midwestern girl coming out of her winter shell this month. Flip flops are lost companions just now crawling out from under beds and hidden closet shelves.
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  SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

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Top Stories:

How Would Jesus Do the Budget?
The Wall Street Journal
A letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal written by Jim Wallis in response to a recent column by Roger Pilon regarding Sojourners work around the federal budget.


The Tavis Smiley Show
Tavis Smiley Show
Rev. Jim Wallis was interviewed on Friday, April 15 regarding the Hunger Fast and the moral issues at stake in our nation's budget.


Democracy Now
Democracy Now
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now interview Jim Wallis regarding the immoral budget cuts that are being considered in Congress and the Hunger Fast that Sojourners is helping to lead against these cuts.


"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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