The Common Good

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The Problem With Christian Labels

A week or two after the 2004 election, I was dining with some friends in New York when the conversation turned to religion and politics -- the two things that you're never supposed to discuss in polite company.

George W. Bush had just been re-elected with the help of what was described in the media as "evangelical voters." And knowing that I am an evangelical Christian, my friends were terribly curious.

"What, exactly, is an evangelical?" one gentleman asked, as if he were inquiring about my time living among the lowland gorillas of Cameroon.

I suddenly found myself as cultural translator for the evangelical mind.

"As I understand it," I began, "what 'evangelical' really means is that a person believes in Jesus Christ, has a personal relationship with him and because of that relationship feels compelled to share their experience of God's love with other people. "How they choose to share that 'good news' with others is entirely up to the individual. Beyond that, the rest is details and style."

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Friday Links Round Up: Free Starbucks. London. Farewell.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ - click to view more info about 'Sunlight behind clouds 1, Cumbria, 2010' or find free 'sunlight' pictures via Wylio" href="http://blog.sojo.net/2011/08/12/friday-links-round-up-free-starbucks-london-farewell/" target="_blank">'Sunlight behind clouds 1, Cumbria, 2010' photo (c) 2010, John Davey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:

  • Sandwich coasters are fun.
  • Voters put corn kernels into jars with their favorite Republican presidential candidates.
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Who is Organizing the California Prison Hunger Strike?

Behind Bars. Fremantle Prisonphoto © 2009 Amanda Slater | more info (via: Wylio)On the first day of this month, inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison, joined by inmates in other prisons around the state, began a hunger strike to protest "inhumane and torturous conditions" in the Security Housing Unit, which holds inmates in solitary confinement for decades at a time. They're still at it; the state has admitted that as many as 6,600 inmates around the state have participated in the strike. Last week, corrections officials offered the prisoners a proposed deal, which they unanimously rejected.

This comes after a Supreme Court decision in May that ordered California to reduce its prison population, as overcrowding was causing "needless suffering and death."

Part of what's making the standoff worse is the belief that the strike is, in essence, a form of gang activity. For one thing, as Colin Dayan noted in passing in a New York Times op-ed, "How they have managed to communicate with each other is anyone's guess." The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), though, isn't so stumped.

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Should Churches Be Allowed to Meet in Public Schools?

A recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, and the subsequent fallout here in New York, hits close to home for many of us New Yorkers. The ruling, which came down on June 2, allows for the city of New York to restrict religious groups from meeting in schools

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Friday Links Round Up: Asians. Bumper Stickers. Levitation.

Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:
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Nonviolence is More Powerful Than Violence

In the midst of the American discussions of violence and civility in public discourse following the tragic shootings in
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The Dream Deferred for Millions of Americans

In his "I Have a Dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Friday Links Round Up: John Perkins, Laughter Yoga, a New Planet

John Perkins. Laughter yoga. A new planet. Here's a little round up of links from around the web you may have missed this week:
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Faith in the Park51 Muslim Community Center

Faith cannot exist without doubt. The lack of certainty enables us to engage in the holy, human endeavor of believing when we do not have empirical proof.
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With the Health-Care Debate, Let's Begin with Honesty

"Has he been pre-authorized? Because if the test hasn't been, it may not be covered and you may be caught with the bill as my husband and I learned." Her jagged words hit me like a political ad.
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