Hailing from the United Kingdom, Jack was born in the coastal town of Brighton, but having spent over 10 years living in London, now considers himself a true resident of the greatest city in the world (in Jack’s mind, there is no argument about this). He spent six years at a boarding school that looked suspiciously like Hogwarts, before relocating to the University of Surrey for four years, where he studied International Politics, developing a passion for social justice in his town and overseas. Spending 6 weeks in Rwanda in 2008 ignited a passion for God’s heart for the poor and marginalised and he spent his third year at university working full time for Tearfund, a UK-based Christian international development charity. He graduated this summer and is so glad that Sojourners has given him the opportunity to have an adventure in Washington, D.C. this year!
Brought up in a theatrical family (his parents started a touring theatre company when he was 6 months old), Jack has always been encouraged to be creative and loves to act, sing and play the guitar. He is also a big fan of football (and will do his best not to start calling it ‘soccer’), although it is highly likely that you won’t have heard of the team he supports, as they are pretty awful. No, seriously, they are truly terrible. He also enjoys running, reading (although he is better at starting books than finishing them) and snowball fights.
Posts By This Author
Wheaton College Files Injuction for 'Emergency Relief' from HHS Contraception Mandate
Today Wheaton College, a leading evangelical Christian school and the alma mater of the Rev. Billy Graham in Illinois, sought an injunction for "emergency relief," as it seeks to remain exempt from the Health and Human Services (HHS) insurance mandate which comes into effect today.
Filed on Wheaton's behalf by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the preliminary injunction would, the college hopes, temporarily keep at bay the fines which would be levied on them under the mandate, should they fail to comply with the provisions.
The provisions, which are part of the Affordable Care Act, would require “most employer health insurance plans to provide birthday control coverage,” as was reported on God’s Politics last month. Many Catholic institutions and groups have already filed lawsuits again the mandate, and Wheaton is one of a growing number of evangelical institutions joining in the legal challenge.
GODSPEED: Former Sudanese 'Lost Boy' Now Running for God (and Team USA)
To coincide with the opening of the 2012 London Olympics on Friday, Christianity Today had an insightful profile of Team USA member and former "Lost Boy" — runner Lopez Lomong, who was abducted from his home in Sudan during the 20-year long civil war.
According to the profile:
That story starts in 1991, when Lomong's home village of Kimotong was attacked by rebels in the second Sudanese civil war. "I was 6 years old when I was abducted at church, which met under a tree," Lomong told Christianity Today at his training base in Portland, Oregon. "They ripped my mother's arm from me, throwing me and other boys into a truck; they blindfolded us, then drove us to a prison camp that trained rebel soldiers."
Lomong and a small group of boys managed to escape from the torturous conditions they found themselves in, and found their way to a refugee camp near the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where Lomong “remained for 10 years.”
QUIRK: USA Olympic Swim Team Does 'Call Me Maybe'
Not only are they the best athletes of their generation, but they’re also solid lip syncers…
Yes, it’s the video you’ve all been waiting for:
The USA Olympic Swimming Team takes some time off from the pool and does ‘Call Me Maybe’!
Watch it ... inside the blog.
QUIRK: Some Londoners Slow to Catch the Olympic Spirit
Billions will tune into the Summer Olympics in London over the coming weeks, excited to see their favorite athletes competing for those coveted Gold Medals.
Hundreds of thousands more will brave the wind and rain of the traditional British ‘summer’ (this year, summer will officially be on August 13 if you’re interested) to enjoy the Games in person and literally some people will watch the Trampolining (because those were the only tickets that were left, let’s be honest).
Everyone is anticipating a wonderful event with great excitement, which will display the very best of what Britain has to offer.
Excuse me, did you say excitement? Are you having a bubble? [Editor’s note: “bubble” is Cockney rhyming slang for laugh…]
Hear what "average" Londoner Brick-laying Bertha (with an assist from Monty Python's Terry Jones) has to say about this year's games inside the blog.
Turning the Tide on AIDS
A palpable feeling of hope and urgency hung heavy in the air of Washington, D.C., this week as thousands of activists descended on the nation’s capital to encourage and inspire colleagues and decision-makers to “turn the tide on AIDS.”
The International AIDS Conference 2012 has returned to the United States, thanks in part to the lifting of the HIV/AIDS travel ban by the Obama Administration in 2010, which followed work from President George W. Bush also to lift the ban.
As part of the Conference, faith leaders from across the world were invited Tuesday morning to a forum hosted by the White House. It was an opportunity to hear from U.S. and international experts and officials, as well as come together as a community of faith, standing up against the stigma and isolation which have been two of the biggest roadblocks to achieving the goal of an AIDS-free generation.
Tuesday’s event centered around two panel discussions — one examining what the faith community uniquely brings to the table in tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the other focusing on the relationship between governments and people of faith in building the effective partnerships needed to tackle it.
The tone of the discussions was, in many ways, extremely positive. We heard about vast improvements in treatments and holistic care, services often administered by faith-based organizations around the world.
“Hope,” as White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Executive Director, Joshua DuBois, noted, is overcoming “fear.”
He Said: 'The Dark Knight Rises' Is a Redemption Tale
In light of the tragic events which took place in Aurora, Colo., a few days ago, I feel uncomfortable providing a review of a film I was watching at the same time as the dozen souls who lost their lives in such an unfathomably awful situation. I’m sure that the emotions of excitement and anticipation that I felt in the days leading up to the film, as the previews rolled and as the opening scene of The Dark Knight Rises unfolded before my eyes, will forever be mixed with feelings of deep sadness and anger the senseless violence that descended in Colorado.
Through the lens of what happened last Friday, The Dark Knight Rises has, rightly or wrongly, taken on a new layer of meaning for me (and, I'd imagine, many other moviegoers). It is a film about the very darkest of times — when all hope seems lost, when there are no heroes — and what happens when we allow the worst of ourselves to take control.
But it is also a story about redemption. It is a tale of finding courage in the face of overwhelming adversity, in spite of overwhelming physical and spiritual suffering. Christian Bale’s Batman (and indeed his Bruce Wayne), is in some ways a more timid character, by comparison, to the Batman who saved Gotham City from The Joker's psychotic games in The Dark Knight.
Older, weaker, and yet not much wiser, in The Dark Knight Rises Batman/Wayne does not see the city that in which he has made himself a recluse, in the same way as its other citizens. We see a man out of touch with those he once had inspired, with many citizens of Gotham believing Batman to be a murderer (the ghost of Harvey Dent looms large throughout the film) or leaving him for dead.
He has nothing more to give to a Gotham where organized crime is a thing of the past, a city that no longer believes it needs a hero to protect it. Gotham, its leaders conclude, is doing just fine without "the Bat."
Nobody is Quite Ready for Tomorrow: The Advent of ‘The Hybrid Age’
It often seems that just as we begin to get our heads around how we might understand our world, everything changes. There have been tipping points at various moments in history; events or advances which move us from one epoch to another in such a way that we can never see the world with the same eyes again. It happened during the Industrial Revolution; it happened with the Communications Revolution; and it happened on September 11, 2001.
And according to Ayesha and Parag Khanna, we are approaching (or indeed, have already reached) another of these defining moments—what they call “The Hybrid Age.” In their book, Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization, published as part of the TED Books series, they examine how we have reached this moment, and what that means for our futures, and for generations beyond our own.
Hybrid Reality, in a similar fashion to many of the e-books that have developed out of the popular series of talks, reads like a manifesto – and in this case, it is a manifesto for navigating the unknown, exciting, and at times, downright terrifying potential futures which we are opening ourselves up to as technology becomes more and more sophisticated and more and more a part of us.
Praying, Fasting and…Competing?
It’s just 10 days until the biggest show on earth begins.
No, not Lady Gaga’s new tour. It's the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The timing of this year’s Olympics has put thousands of participating athletes in something of a quandary.
Writing from TIME Magazine, Aryn Baker explains:
When an estimated 3,500 Muslim athletes come to the London Olympics this summer, the pinnacle of their athletic careers will directly coincide with one of the most important periods in their spiritual calendar. This year, all 17 days of athletic competition take place during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are required to fast and refrain from drinking water from sunrise to sunset....
Churches Can't Be the Primary Social Safety Net
Religion reporter Amy Sullivan has an interesting piece in The New Republic today on the politics surround the deep cuts to government food programs being proposed by the House Agriculture Committee.
As she notes:
"Some conservatives have argued that government shouldn’t even be in the business of feeding people—that the job should be handled by local congregations and other community organizations. Paul Ryan has sparred with Catholic bishops who oppose cuts to SNAP, quipping that 'a preferential option for the poor does not mean a preferential option for big government.'”
The article goes on to note that, while churches were the only social safety net the country had for many years, it was the Great Depression which ended this role. Quoting from an article by Alison Collis Greene:
“'The Depression crippled churches’ finances, and the economic downturn forced them to slash services when people needed help most. Religious leaders and local church members alike recognized the crisis, and many demanded that the federal government intervene.'”
Sullivan argues that we find ourselves in a situation not so different to that of the 1930s today:
"We are watching a similar situation play out now. Many religious traditions and individual churches were struggling when the recession began. The Catholic church was dealing with the fallout from the priest sex abuse scandals. It and other traditions are still embroiled in debates over homosexuality that have led to splits or caused members to leave altogether. Congregational membership levels are down in almost every religious tradition. And as a result, their resource pools have shrunk."
Yes, smarter and more effective government programs are vital when budgets are being cut across the board. But indiscriminate cuts to vital services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and calls for churches to pick up the pieces are simply immoral and ultimately impossible.
The cuts being proposed by the Committee will have a devastating impact on poor Americans. It’s time to stand up for the poorest and more vulnerable. You can help. Tell Congress to oppose cuts to nutrition programs in the Farm Bill today.
Dollars By the Gallon
You probably have a gallon of milk in your fridge. It might be fat free, soy, or maybe even 1 percent. Most of us drink milk in some form. But how long does it take for us to earn enough to buy it?
As part of their ‘Raise The Minimum Wage’ campaign, 99 Uniting produced this telling infographic, comparing how long it takes a minimum wage earner, a median wage earner and ‘CEO Guy’ to earn a gallon of milk. It makes for some sad and frustrating reading …
The U.S. and Africa – Where There is Political Will, There Is A Way
Most discussions around development in Africa fall into the false dichotomy of trade vs. aid. The United States has commitments that inextricably connect trade and aid, development and technical assistance alongside strong economic relationships with many of the continent's countries.
Understanding these relationships and continually working to strengthen them is of vital importance, both for the African continent (in particular in sub-Saharan Africa) and for the United States. Gone are the days of paternalism – in today’s world, we must view the developed and developing states as equal partners in a complex and interdependent world.
The most comprehensive legislation on the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa is The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), signed into law by President Clinton in 2000 in the hope of creating mutual benefits for both the U.S. and Africa.
This week, the Brookings Institution hosted an event which looked back at the last 12 years of the legislation, which the Institution estimates has created 300,000 jobs in Africa and taking the opportunity to look forward.
Egypt Court: Parliament Dissolved, Elected Illegally
CNN reports on worrying developments in Egypt:
"Egypt's highest court on Thursday declared the country's parliament invalid and cleared the way for a member of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime to run in a presidential election runoff this weekend.
The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that parliament must be dissolved, state TV reported. An Egyptian constitutional law expert told CNN that following the court's decision, a political decision would be made about whether to dissolve parliament.
Following the ruling, Egypt's interim military rulers claimed to have full legislative control of government. Parliament had been in session for just over four months."
Evangelical Leaders Announce Immigration Table Launch
Church leaders today gathered in Washington, D.C., to announce the launch of the Evangelical Immigration Table – a broad coalition of organizations, churches and pastors from across the political and religious spectrum coming together to advance a cohesive immigration reform message.
The Immigration Table was launched at a press conference, with speakers including Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Association of Latino Evangelicals and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, setting out a common set of principles reflecting the common ground that all members of the Table have found on the issue of immigration.
Read on to view photos from the press conference.
QUIRK: Meet Your 'Tweeple'
Prometheus: Promises Much, But Fails To Deliver
It’s a little over 12 hours since I walked out of the movie theater, as the seemingly never-ending credits of Prometheus rolled behind me. It’s safe to say that I walked out of the theater in a very different mood than I had entered it. Three hours previously, I had butterflies in my stomach – the anticipation that I and my fellow late-night moviegoers exuded was palpable – we were all ready to witness something special. A master storyteller returning to, arguably his greatest work.
It is 33 years since Sir Ridley Scott scared the wits out of filmgoers with his horror/sci-fi classic Alien. In Prometheus, he returns to the universe he created all those years ago, to the mysterious workings of the Weyland Corporation, and to deep space where, as we all know, “no one can hear you scream.”
At 12:01 this morning, I was ready to see a film that has been a decade in development, an epic piece of cinema that would tantalize everyone who loves the Alien franchise, and that would introduce a younger generation to one of the most feared cinematic monsters in history. Sadly, the film I was ready to see was not the one I saw.
Elie Wiesel on Syria: Charge Bashar al-Assad with Crimes Against Humanity
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel offers his thought on the Syrian crisis in The Washington Post:
Banning Atheists from Public Office
A fascinating visual from the wonderful blog ‘I Love Charts’ caught some attention on the inter-webs yesterday, highlighting a little known fact from the statute books of some of the nation’s states:
There are seven states in the union which ban atheists from holding public office.
And by association, ban atheists from running for public office, unless a ‘Road To Damascus’ moment fortuitously occurs on the campaign trail.
The constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all have provisions that require public office holders to adhere to a religious faith.
In Tennessee for example,
"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."
In Arkansas, atheism also appears to deny you the ability to testify in court:
"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court."
There’s probably an important lesson to learn from this revelation:
People looking to run for office should make sure they know their state’s constitution very well before they inadvertently break the law!
QUIRK: Mitt Romney = Unicorn?
In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank raises the question that has (apparently) been on everyone's lips during this election season:
Is Mitt Romney a unicorn?
An interesting question, we can all agree. By why are people asking?
According to Milbank:
The MittRomneyIsAUnicorn.com campaign came about because Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, citing allegations that the birth certificate President Obama released is a fraud, threatened to take the incumbent off the ballot.
Another Post, writer, Alexandra Petri noted that, as many 18,000 people have signed on to a petition "demanding proof that Mitt Romney was not a unicorn", in light of the fact that "unicorns, as the petition pointed out, are ineligible for the presidency of the United States".
We will let you make up your own minds on this one folks...
P.S. Take a few seconds to check out the fantastic artwork that Petri employed to bring some clarity to the Mitt Romney/Unicorn claims. They are, in her own words "some of my best MS Paint work yet."
QUIRK: (Figurative) Fireworks at Illinois State House
It all got a little much for Illinois State Rep. Mike Bost yesterday during a discussion in the State House on pension reform.
The Atlantic reports:
The longtime Republican representative from a southern Illinois district was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it any more, unleashing an epic rant at Speaker Mike Madigan.
The top moments are undoubtedly early in the clip, when he tosses a bunch of papers in the air, then punches them on the way down; and when he shouts, "Let my people go!" But stay with it until the end for his excellent variation on the old rap-battle mic drop. Also worth noting: the faces on his colleagues around him, trying to maintain a sense of dignity, except the woman in the burgundy behind him who seems willing to indulge her amusement.
Watch the full rant below:
The Electorate – Who Are We?
Take Part on Tuesday has created to great infographic that shows who actually votes in America.
Some of the highlights:
- Married people are more likely to vote than widowers, divorcees or those who have never been married.
- The higher the level of education you have received, the more likely you are to vote.
- More than 9-in-10 people with an annual family income of over $100,000 vote, compared with just 5-in-10 whose income falls below $20,000.
- Our busy lives are the number one reason why we don’t vote.
- Congratulations to Minnesotans – your state tops state-by-state voter turnout with 75%
- Must do better: Hawaii - only half of Hawaiians voted in the 2008 election.