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
Tackling Hunger a Moral, Security, Economic Imperative
This weekend, amid key discussions on the future of Afghanistan and media attention on the strained relationship between the United States and Pakistan, members of the Group of Eight (G8) announced its commitment to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which will seek to “lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.”
In a speech given at the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security last Friday (May 18), President Barack Obama laid out his vision for what the Alliance could achieve, in co-operation with the private and non-profit sectors, in terms of seeing global hunger eradicated in the next decade.
And we are not going to let him forget this moral duty.
'Drowning in the Shallow' Combines Storytelling, Social Commentary
Too often, the album is a place where singles wait to be released and B-sides go to die. Very rarely does an album tell a story, or offer real insight into the artist’s world. Creating a narrative on an album is a lost art.
At the risk of sounding a little dismissive, when a musician doesn’t really have a story to tell (just a record to sell), the album stops being a work of art and just becomes a product.
But when a record actually tells a moving and coherent story, then it can become a piece of art far more powerful than simply notes and words on a page.
So it is with Andy Flannagan’s new album, Drowning in the Shallow.
Barna Reports: Issues Matter More to Voters Than Anything Else
If you have read books like Drew Westen’s The Political Brain, you might be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at this headline. A large body of work has emerged over the past few years that suggest that we vote with our hearts, rather than our heads. Policies, this body of work says, matter far less than our gut reaction to a candidate, their character and the party we naturally align ourselves with.
So to those who agree with this research, the results of a new report from the Barna Group might be surprising. Across the board, a candidates’ position on issues is overwhelmingly more important than their character, their party affiliation or their religious faith.
President Obama Backs Same-Sex Marriage
In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Barack Obama became the first sitting President to affirm same-sex marriage.
In a clip of the interview released at 3pm this afternoon, the President noted his ‘evolving’ beliefs on the subject and that he felt that he was now able to “affirm” marriage for same-sex couples.
As reported by The Huffington Post, the President told Roberts:
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
Austerity is Losing, But What's the Alternative?
All across the European continent (and yes, Britain too), proponents of austerity are losing the argument and facing the political consequences. It is a concept that brought many of them to power in the fallout of the debt crisis, has now become “a dirty word”, and one that the ‘resurgent’ European Left continues to disavow.
While we all know that “it’s the economy, stupid,” what effect do these one-issue elections have on the health of our world? What happens when we become so focused on the money in (or not in) our pockets, that other vital issues fall by the wayside?
In their attempts to prove the ‘austerians’ (very different people from the Austrians) wrong, have those who see stimulus of the economy as the path to prosperity inadvertently lost sight of what is really important to the societies that they govern? Is there a risk that economic growth becomes an end goal, rather than a means to something greater – true human prosperity and investment in human capital?
First Criminal Charges Issued, Two Years After BP Oil Spill
Two years after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill ravaged the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials today filed the first criminal charges in connection with the incident, The Huffington Post reports:
Kurt Mix, 50, a senior BP drilling engineer, allegedly destroyed hundreds of text messages sent to a supervisor that described high volumes of oil flowing from the ruptured well, located 5,000 feet underwater, according to a federal affidavit …
Mix is reportedly the first person who would actually be charged since the disaster occurred.
In its report of the arrest, The Associated Press noted that:
Kurt Mix, of Katy, Texas, was arrested on two counts of obstruction of justice.
The BP-leased rig Deepwater Horizon exploded the night of April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and setting off the nation's worst offshore oil disaster. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the well off the Louisiana coast before it was capped.
At the time of the oil spill, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis visited the Gulf Coast to view the devastation and spoke strongly, placing the culpability for the disaster in the hands of “human folly, human sinfulness and human greed.”
White House Earth Day Briefing Offers Hope, Reminds Us There Is Still Much To Do
In honor of Earth Day, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships today hosted an Environmental Briefing for a number of environmental activists from all over the country.
Students, young professionals, members of the clergy and many other long-time activists were able to hear from members of the Obama administration and other key personnel from various departments and agencies, learning more about the progress that has been made to tackle climate change and environmental degradation, and also hear about the challenges ahead in ensuring that we are good stewards of the environment that has been entrusted to us.
Young Evangelicals and the 2012 Election
On Thursday, Sojourners launched its 2012 election campaign, Voting For Us, and the Public Religion Research Institute and Berkley Center released its “2012 Millennial Values Survey.” Young Christians, and particularly young evangelicals are a significant demographic to understand. They could be a large “persuadable” population in the run up to the November elections.
What do they believe? What are their priorities? How will they vote?
Young evangelicals are different from their parents and any generation that has preceded them. Their priorities are changing, their world view is shifting and their political engagement is becoming increasingly nuanced – going well beyond the narrow interests of the Religious Right that until now have been associated with evangelicalism in the United States.
Jim Yong Kim Confirmed as World Bank President
Surprise nominee Dr. Jim Yong Kim has today been chosen as the next President of the World Bank, The Washington Post reports.
Currently serving as President of Dartmouth College, Dr. Kim was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama last month. His selection as the President’s nominee was seen as a surprising one, as the Post reports:
Kim’s selection marks a break from previous World Bank leaders who were typically political, legal or economic figures [while] Kim, 52, [is] a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world.
Kids vs. Global Warming
A lawsuit that comes to a head May 11 could set a trajectory for how we legislate and mitigate against the devastating impacts of global climate change, Think Progress reports.
The suit, which has been dubbed a ‘David vs. Goliath battle,' sees a group of young adults taking on high-level government officials, states, energy companies and big businesses over their collective failure to adequately protect our planet for future generations.
WATER: Clear Gold in the Desert
How much water have you used today?
You probably took a shower, used your toilet, brushed your teeth, maybe boiled some for a cup of tea of coffee, not to mention being well on the way to the 64 ounces of water that we’re told to drink every day.
Very quickly the amount of water you’ve used, without even thinking, adds up. Thankfully, water is not a luxury in America, or the developed world in general.
But a new video released by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today paints a stark picture of just how precious and luxurious resource water is in many parts of the world.
Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today marks the 67th anniversary of the execution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was a member of the German resistance movement against Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s and a founding member of the Confessing Church in Germany, which represented a major source of Christian opposition to the Nazi government in Germany.
An outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943 and hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp 9 April, 1945 – just a month before Germany surrendered and the War in Europe ended.
One of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers of the 20th Century, Sojourners today honors the memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
A Noted Atheist (No Not That One, The Other One) on What Religion Can Teach Non-Believers
This is not another book that simply critiques religion. In Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion, Alain de Botton, a noted author on a wide range of themes – from architecture to the works of Proust – examines those engaging and helpful aspects of religion (particularly focusing on Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism) that might, as he puts it, “fruitfully be applied to the problems of secular society.”
Anyone who might be offended by a work that from the outset (indeed on its very first page) asserts that “of course no religions are true in any God-given sense”, is encouraged to steer clear of this book by the author himself.
It is a book that seems to swing between revulsion of religion and the “religious colonization” that atheists are charged to reverse and a recognition that all is not well in the secular world, and that these ills may be somewhat righted by looking toward religion – let me clarify – toward those aspects of religious traditions that de Botton believes are relevant to the world today: community, kindness, education and art, for example.
The very first subject to be tackled is that of community – something that Sojourners knows a little something about (check out Nicole Higgins’ recent review of Wanderlust for some insights) – and what strikes me as interesting is that de Botton’s hypothesis on the loss of community mirrors a phrase often spoken by Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis:
Did we lose our sense of community when we began to privatize our faith?
Supreme Court Debates Sentencing for Minors
It has been a busy few weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court. Hundreds of people having been in line over the weekend to obtain one of the coveted public tickets for the healthcare mandate case. And last week, in a case which was somewhat less publicized, the highest court in the land debated whether juveniles should receive life without parole in homicide cases, the only crime for which such a punishment is still an option for minors.
A daunting task, but one that garnered a number of thoughtful pieces throughout the media and blogosphere.
Schadenfreude – It Really is The Sweetest Thing
DC’s resident “bad-boy reporter,” Jason Mattera thought that he had caught a major scoop when he accosted U2 lead singer Bono at a recent event, challenging him to come clean about the finances of One, the musicians charity (as well as being a classic U2 hit – FWIW, I prefer with version with Mary J. Blige).
Sadly, it turns out that Mattera’s scoop was not so Magnificent. The man he thought was Bono may have looked and sounded like Bono. But it was, in fact, a Bono impersonator, TPMreports. And even more embarrassingly for Human Events’ editor was that it wasn’t until after he promoted the clip on Sean Hannity’s radio show today that it was revealed to be a look-a-like.
America to Politicians: Easy on the Religion Please
New research released today by the Pew Forum shows that the American public are becoming increasingly anxious of the amount of religious language being used by their public officials.
More people now say that there “has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders” (4 in 10) than say that there has been too little (3 in 10). This figure is up nearly 10 percent from 2010 figures.
Supporters of former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum are the least concerned by the use of religious language by politicians, with 55 percent of them believing that there is too little expression of religious faith and prayer by religious leaders. Amongst Democrats or those who lean in that direction, a majority believe that religious language is invoked too often by political leaders.
Exec to Goldman Sachs (via the New York Times): 'I Quit.'
A long-term employee of Goldman Sachs today resigned in the most public of places — The New York Times. Greg Smith, an executive at the banking giant wrote that he was leaving because
the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money
the firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.
The global banking crisis and the ensuing bailouts did a number of things — not least to paint all employees of the big banks with the same brush — they were all money-grabbers, not caring about who they took money from or how they invested it.
Saving Tiny Kiribati from Devastating Climate Change
There may be those in the public sphere who dismiss climate change as a ‘hoax’ — doing so is good politics in some spheres — but the people of the small island nation of Kiribati do not have the luxury of debating whether climate change is real.
It is. And it's threatening the very existence of their nation.
Unresolved ... Like Jazz
As a progressive Christian in my mid-20s, it'd be safe to bet I might be a fan of Donald Miller. And I am. Miller's Blue Like Jazz and Searching For God Knows What are among the books that have significantly affected my faith journey.
And, like many others in my demographic, I met the news of an adaptation of Blue Like Jazz with both hope and apprehension. Like Miller himself, “at first, I didn’t understand how it could be a movie. I couldn’t see it on a screen.”
My own anxieties about a big-screen adaptation fell into two categories. First Jazz is, for all intents and purposes, a memoir. And memoirs — or the biopics they often become onscreen — are, in my opinion, rarely great films. They are usually little more than a path to the Oscars for actors who are pining after an ego-boost (but I guess that’s another story).
What saves Blue Like Jazz, thankfully, is that it is a memoir with a difference. It isn’t a rose-tinted, romanticized account of some historical or celebrated figure. It is the memoir of someone who is very much like me — just a little bit funnier. That’s where the appeal comes from and I'd expect that's what will make Blue Like Jazz (the film) a success both here and abroad.
President Obama's AIPAC Speech and Reaction
In a speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, President Obama urged Israeli leaders to refrain from "loose talk of war" related to escalating tensions with Iran. Quoting his predecessor President Theodore Roosevelt, Obama said when it comes to the Iran situation, both the United States and Israel would do well to, "Speak softly... and carry a big stick."
Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today at the White House. Netanyahu, who is scheduled to speak to the AIPAC conference this evening, issued a short statement repsonding to Obama's speech Sunday, saying in part, "I appreciated the fact that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat."