The Common Good

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Sojomail - August 18, 2011

     
  QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"It was one of those surreal things, like seeing a UFO. When you are a person who already thought that maybe you should be dead because life was so bad to you, I thought this could be a premonition."

- Laura Brooks, of Spotsylvania, Virginia, who discovered she had become one of about 14,000 people a year mistakenly declared dead when she stopped receiving her disability checks, and her rent and student loan payments unexpectedly bounced.
(Source: Chicago Tribune)

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  GUEST COMMENTARY

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Picture this: Hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children plod across barren cracked earth. Dead cows and human corpses litter the roads, revealing to us evidence of two things: 1) the hottest summer on record in Somalia, which caused the worst drought and famine in 60 years; and 2) twenty years of a truly failed Somali government swallowed up in cycles of violence.

Picture this: Posturing politicians claim to stand up for the rights of Americans, even as they hijack the proverbial steering wheel of America. They hold a proverbial gun to the heads of every American, and say outright that they'd have no problem driving us all off a proverbial cliff if millionaires and billionaires don't remain protected from raised taxes, and if we don't cut more programs that protect working and poor people.

Picture this: One Somali family walks across cracked earth and carcasses for two months in search of food. They outsmart bandits, thugs, and rapists. They sleep wherever they can find safe shelter. They arrive at a refugee camp in eastern Kenya only to find cholera and measles sweeping through the malnourished and immune-suppressed camp.

Picture this: The U.S. House of Representatives votes on a proposed budget for FY2012 that would cut emergency food aid by seventy-five percent compared to FY2008 levels.

Last week, I interviewed Ambassador Tony P. Hall just after he had returned from a trip to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya. He told me about his encounter with a family that had walked for two months in order to find food. "I can't get them out of my mind," Ambassador Hall said.

Now picture this: A woman walks into her neighborhood church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, one of the richest zip codes in the United States. She leans in close to the person working the front desk and whispers, "I have no food."

In an article titled, "Five Myths about Hunger in America," The Washington Post reported the results of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent study on hunger in America. The first myth was, "No one goes hungry in America." As of November 2010, more than 14.7 million American families struggled to put food on the table. This is approximately 15 percent of all U.S. households.

Picture this: When President Obama proposes that Congress close tax loopholes for corporate jet owners, House politicians position themselves as the defenders of corporations, jets, and loopholes.

I strongly believe that neither political party is inherently good or bad, moral or immoral. After all, the Republican Party freed my ancestors and passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, in quick succession in 1865, 1866, and 1869. But what followed was a century long shift in party politics, from the late 1860's to 1965's passage of the Voting Rights Act. Today, we see the evidence of this shift in bass relief.

An LA Times analysis of the debt ceiling deal put this in plain language and stated: "High stakes negotiations force people to reveal what they really care about." The analysis said flatly, Republicans revealed they care most about "preventing any tax increases to upper income families." The Democrats, the article stated, revealed that they care most about "ensuring no cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and a handful of other programs that aid the elderly and the poor."

It doesn't have to be this way. Polls are pleading with politicians to see the stark truth: Both Democrats and Republicans favor tax hikes for the wealthy over cuts in services for the poor. There are far more Americans (both Democrat and Republican) who care more about America's ability to help families, such as the one Ambassador Hall encountered, than about tax breaks for corporate jets. There are far more Americans (both Democrat and Republican) who care more about their hungry neighbors and family members than about protecting Bush era tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

It is time for all of us to make our voices heard within both parties. Stand up! Now is the time. If your party won't listen to your words, then speak with your votes.

People around the world are watching the rancor rise as we wade into what promises to be a brutal election season, and they feel helpless… even hopeless. But we are not without hope. We are not without help.

Now picture this: Jesus said, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because [the Lord] has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." (Luke 4:18) Jesus followers in both parties, it's time to follow our leader.

Lisa Sharon Harper is director of mobilizing at Sojourners and author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican ... or Democrat.

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  Inside Sojourners Magazine

Peace Be Upon Them

Rev. Steve Stone was just trying to be a good neighbor.Two years ago, the pastor of Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tennessee, on the outskirts of Memphis, learned that a local mosque had bought property right across the street from the church. So he decided some Southern hospitality was in order. A few days later, a sign appeared in front of the church. "Heartsong Church welcomes Memphis Islamic Center to the neighborhood," it read.

That small act of kindness was the start of an unlikely friendship between the two congregations, one that made headlines around the world.

+Continue reading "Peace Be Upon Them" in the September/October issue of Sojourners magazine

  ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

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

No Time to Think
by Duane Shank

The avalanche of information available via the Internet is both a blessing and a curse.
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Here I Am!
by Theresa Cho
This meeting was quite a controversial one as we were examining for ordination Lisa Larges, a gifted woman who has been in the ordination process for 25 years. Why 25 years, you may ask? Because Lisa Larges is gay and the ministry she was asking to be ordained is an organization that seeks full inclusion of GLBTQ people.
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A Faith-Full Labor Day Weekend
by Troy Jackson

The church has done a great job avoiding serious theological examination of many of the big challenges facing our society over the past several decades, including how scripture might best understand and engage unions and the labor movement.
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Should Worship be Entertaining?
by Debra Dean Murphy

In recent days I've been thinking through with a friend one of the enduring challenges of pastoral and catechetical ministry: how to dispel the notion that worship should be entertaining.
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Could the Riots in England Have Been Averted?
by Mary Elizabeth King

My summer in Britain has been jarred by the outbreaks of turmoil and destruction spreading from London to Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool.
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Speculative Fiction, the Church, and Hope
by Julie Clawson

So NPR just released the results of their survey for the "Top 100 Science-fiction and Fantasy Books." It's a great list with some of my all-time favorite books on it.
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Ali Forney Center's Ad Supporting LGBT Homeless Youth
by Tim King

The Ali Forney Center, a service provider for LGBT homeless youth, has a full-page ad in this month's issue of Sojourners magazine.
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6 Films for a Meaningful Summer
by Gareth Higgins

It's been a fabulous few weeks for movies -- at theaters and at home.
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Hymns for September 11
by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

Last week I wrote a new hymn for the tenth anniversary of September 11 with an emphasis on working for peace and justice for all.
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Building Bridges > Burning Bridges
by Eugene Cho

This video is such a substantive leadership lesson in itself by Bill Hybels, as he explains why Howard Schultz withdrew his commitment as a speaker at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.
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Climate Witness as Act of Faithfulness
by Gary Eladiah Houser

During the 1980s, many Christians were at the forefront of a movement to avert nuclear annihilation. Today, we face a comparable danger -- a climate catastrophe which could decimate life on earth.
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Friday Links Round Up: Free Starbucks. London. Farewell.
by Jeannie Choi

Free Starbucks. London. Farewell. Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week.
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Economic Crisis or Nonviolent Opportunity? Gandhi's Answer to Financial Collapse
by Michael Nagler

The real purpose of an economic system is to guarantee to every person in its circle the fundamentals of physical existence (food, clothing, shelter) and the tools of meaningful work so that they can get on with the business of living together and working out our common destiny.
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Oil Addicts Anonymous
by Tim Kumfer

If the United States is a fossil fuel addict, then the Alberta tar sands are our next big fix.
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Why is America Cutting Emergency Food Aid in the Middle of a Famine?
by Ambassador Tony Hall

When I first visited Ethiopia at the height of the 1984 famine, I watched as twenty-four people died of starvation in less than fifteen minutes, right in front of my eyes.
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I'm Not that Kind of Feminist
by Julie Clawson

Over the past few weeks various news outlets have run stories on the so-called feminism of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.
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  SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

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Top Stories:

Obama's Close Ties to Martin Luther King Jr.
National Journal
An article examining President Obama's ties to Martin Luther King Jr., referencing Obama's address at Sojourners' Call to Renewal.


Sojourners, FRC Ads Duel over Poverty Programs
MAARS Global News
Sojourners recent radio ads in Ohio, Kentucky, and Nevada were promptly responded to by ads sponsored by the Family Research Council.


Asked About Helping The Poor At Rick Perry’s Prayer Rally, Pastor Bemoans 'Excessively Heavy' Taxation
Think Progress
The Bible is clear about the importance of societies protecting the poor and vulnerable.

"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.


       

Mennonite Central Committee seeks Executive Director for the East Coast Region of United States. Job description at MCC Website.

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