James is a former campaigns assistant (Intern Cycle 28) for Sojourners, and currently works as assistant to the CEO, Jim Wallis. He grew up outside of Chicago in Wheaton, IL, and graduated from Hope College (Holland, MI) in 2011 with a degree in political science. At Hope, he was able to pursue his passion for social justice, as well as study the effects of religion on social and political life. However, it was through his church in Holland that he began to learn about community and what it means to be a good neighbor.In his spare time, he enjoys breaking a sweat by running and bicycling, or playing ultimate frisbee, football, tennis, and basketball. He is inspired by good music, creative cafés, and thriving farmers markets. He serves as a utility musician on his church’s music team, but enjoys playing regular, old pianos the most. Even though East Coast beaches are nice, none of them compare to the ones on the west coast of Michigan.You can follow James on Twitter at @JamesColten.
Posts By This Author
Protesters March as SCOTUS Hears SB 1070 Arguments
I participated the Jericho March for people of faith, organized by the New Sanctuary Movement of New York. We walked the half mile loop around the Supreme Court in silence, praying for a society that builds up justice and dignity. The tough part about this morning was dealing with “the others.”
She Said, He Said: On the Misogyny of the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson
FOX NewsChannel host Sean Hannity calls the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, "the most courageous, outspoken critic of the liberal left and the so-called 'black leadership' in America today."
He also calls him pastor.
Peterson, 62, is president and founder of The Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny (BOND) — an organization dedicated to promoting the conservative agenda in the African American community. Host of his own radio and television programs, Peterson also is a member of Choose Black American, which stridently opposes illegal immigration in the United States and a former member of the California Christian Coalition.
Hannity has hosted Peterson as a guest on his Fox show numerous times and sits on the board of BOND, which he lauds for having, "played an instrumental role in helping young men and women build lives which will help inspire the next generation. BOND continues to fight the good fight standing for the values of God, family, and country, and are deserving of our support."
On March 5, Peterson took to the airways on his "Exploring Your Destiny with Jesse Lee Peterson" program and delivered a message/sermon titled, "How Most Women Are Building a Shameless Society." The video clip came to our attention Thursday afternoon, when Fox and Daily Beast contributor Kirsten Powers, a Democtrat who also happens to be an evangelical Christian, began posting a litany of tweets on Twitter castigating Peterson for his blatant misogyny.
Senate Blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline
Last week, 56 senators voted to include the Keystone XL Pipeline in a highway bill — four short of the required 60.
The vote proved that ordinary people still can make a difference. Months of action, hundreds of thousands of messages and phone calls, and stalwart determination made the difference in those four votes. And I think it shows that people are looking for a different paradigm of environmental stewardship.
The Lin-carnation of Tim Tebow?
Tim Tebow references were a dime a dozen as the 2011-2012 NFL season drew to a close. News media, op-eds, fans, Bill Maher — everyone was talking about the Broncos QB's accomplishments, his unabashed Christian faith, the way he would pray when he scored a touchdown. (See: Tebowing.)
And plenty of people questioned whether or not God was really on Tim's side.
Football season is over, and the lull in “Tebow fever” is forcing more than a few of us to look for similar athletic incarnations of the John 3:16-face painted footballer. So when word got around that the New York Knick’s (until recently) virtually unknown point guard Jeremy Lin is scoring some big points at the start of his professional career AND that he is a committed Christian, the masses have found their new fixation.
But are the comparisons between Tebow and Lin really valid?
Pro-Life = All Life: Mitch Hescox
“Life, especially protecting our unborn children and infants, should not be a ‘matter of party or economic commodity.’ Protecting life and providing the opportunity for abundant life must be a matter of principal and morality.” – The Rev. Mitch Hescox, delivering a testimony on “A Christian Perspective on the Costs of Mercury to Human Health and Wellbeing” before the Energy and Power Subcommittee for the House of Representatives.
The Selling of America's Children
An estimated 27 million people are held in slavery today, and human trafficking is expected to pass drug trafficking as the largest criminal industry in the world. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 slaves (Salvation Army), many of them children. So we sang “All creatures of our God and king lift up your voice and with us sing, Oh Praise him”, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come” (“Come Thou Fount”) and “How great is our God.”
Court blocks Oklahoma's Islamophobia
Earlier this week, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to halt anti-Sharia initiative from going into effect.
Sharia law, also known as Islamic law, comes from the Qur’an, the Hadith (sayings from the prophet Muhammad), and fatwas (rulings of Islamic scholars). While many people in the West view Sharia as unfair and archaic, many Muslims view it as something that sustains humanity (read more from BBC). In practice, it is therefore not uncommon for Islamic countries to be ruled partially by Sharia law.
New Report: "The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Laws in 2011"
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization) released a report Tuesday on anti-immigration legislation passed or considered by states. The 41-page report focuses primarily on Arizona’s SB 1070, and similar laws, and the effects these had on issues other than immigration.
Do Not Take Revenge, My Friends
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:16-21 NIV)
EPA’s New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards = Breath of Fresh Air
After years of opposition from coal industry lobbyists, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued the first national standards for mercury and air toxin pollution.
The standards will slash emissions of these dangerous pollutants by relying on widely available, proven pollution controls that are already in use at more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
The EPA estimates that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks each year. The standards also will help America’s children grow up healthier — preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year.
Ron Santo: “Now that’s what I’d call a God-given gift”
Ron Santo, former Chicago Cubs third baseman and radio announcer, was finally inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame on Monday, just over a year after his death.
As many now know, Santo had type 1 diabetes and endured many hardships during his baseball career, as well as every year that followed. In a Guideposts article he wrote about his diagnosis, “Diabetes? I didn't even know what that was. I had just one concern: "Can I still play baseball?"”
Keystone XL Update: The Buck No Longer Stops Here
President Obama said he’d make a decision on the Keystone pipeline after the election.
The decision to not decide until later was a victory for environmental activists, as the pipeline would be a serious threat to the ecosystems it passes through should it spring a leak (TransCanada has already had 12 oil spills in 2011 alone. That’s 12 too many, by the way.)
"Lord, when did we see you hungry?": The 2012 Hunger Report
Bread for the World has many recommendations in the new report, but I’d like to highlight just one for now: “Farm policies should lean more towards the production of healthy foods.”
Why this one? Most farm subsidies go to (wait for it) the largest, wealthiest producers (shocking, right?). Billions of dollars are spent subsidizing corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton and rice. Small and medium-size producers (many of whom grow vegetables — the foods that are supposed to make up half our dinner plate) receive little, if any, support from the current U.S. farm policy.
Securing affordable, healthy foods for our country’s poorest will in turn help us address other issues such as malnutrition and obesity, immigration, health care, and employment.
"Love Your Enemies" = "Don't Shoot Them, Either."
The House of Representatives just passed a law that would allow gun-owners to carry their guns through other states based on the Constitutional right to bear arms (as opposed to the right to bear legs — once global warming kicks it up a notch expect to see this one on the floor soon).
As a native Illinoisan, I’m not sure how I should feel about this bill. Illinois is one of two states (not including Washington D.C.) that don’t have concealed carry provisions. This provision would allow Missourians and Michiganders and people from Indiana to waltz right through our state with their guns as they please. I see the merit and legality to the 2nd Amendment, yet at the same time, I recognize we have a gun violence problem in America.
Here’s how dialogue around gun control goes these days:
For: Guns kill people.
Against: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
For: People kill people using guns
Against: And the Second Amendment?
For: Shoot… No, wait!
Raise Your Voice: Crucial Votes on Foreign Aid in Senate Begin Wednesday
This week, the Senate will vote on H.R. 2354, an appropriation bill that will determine the amount of funds we allocate for poverty-related development assistance. There are a number of amendments proposed that will severely cut this aid, which currently helps millions of the world's poorest and most vulnerable. The bottom 1 percent, if you will.
Say It Ain't So, David
Abuse of physical strength and power hasn’t been limited to the locker rooms at Penn State. Nor is it limited to middle-aged men. It's in every culture, every city and state, and in every generation. And, I might add, it is both wicked and foolish.
I think we’ve been given enough examples of such abuse being handled incorrectly—to be swept under the rug instead of dealt with directly. The silence of witnesses only allows the abuse to continue. When I spoke with Daniel Walker, author of the new book God in a Brothel, about child slavery and prostitution, he noted that the men who oppress women and children don’t need to be ministered to as much as they need to be held accountable.
Joe Pa, 84, who had coached at Penn State for more than 45 years, has been fired, and the university’s president has resigned over the abuse scandal. Both actions were reactive responses to a problem that really needed proactive intervention.
Light in the darkness – an interview with Daniel Walker, author of "God in a Brothel"
You need to read God in a Brothel because:
- 30 million people are enslaved around the world,
- It’s a $32 billion industry per year,
- 2 million children are enslaved in the sex trafficking industry,
- 100,000 of these children are living right here, in the United States.
The sex trafficking industry would not exist without the demand for commercial sex that flourishes worldwide.
The church played a central role in the Civil Rights and anti-apartheid movements. Now the church has the power -- and the responsibility -- to fight human trafficking with all of its rich resources.
One Reason the U.S. Must Continue Funding Foreign Aid
"For every 5 percent drop in income growth in a developing country, the likelihood of violent conflict or war within the next year increases by 10 percent. Poverty-focused development assistance supports economic growth, protects vulnerable people, and helps curtail desperation that may lead to violence" (Bread for the World).
On Wednesday, the Senate will vote on the budget for foreign aid. Should the proposed cuts occur, it would prove disastrous for the rest of the world, potentially leaving millions without food, education, and livelihood.
Please, contact your Senators today and tell them to continue funding poverty-focused development assistance.
"We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world."
Last night 25 individuals were awarded the Freedom from Fear Award in Seattle at the National Immigrant Integration Conference. Contrary to news coverage we see day after day, these awards, sponsored by Public Interest Projects (PIP) show us courageous individuals who, to each their own capacity, are standing up to and fighting injustice.
A Decade of War (and Football)
Let’s face it — while lawmakers are picking their own battles in Washington, they aren’t fighting on the ground in Afghanistan. Winning elections has become more important than implementing winning foreign policy strategies that would end the war and bring our service men and women safely home.
And it’s my generation that’s being sacrificed.