Sheldon C. Good, a former Sojourners media assistant, is associate director of Eastern Mennonite University's Washington (D.C.) Community Scholars' CenterHe is a graduate of Goshen (Ind.) College and a member of Salford Mennonite Church.

Posts By This Author

Reimagining Christmas

by Sheldon Good 11-05-2013
A movement is underway to free people of faith from the yoke of Christmas consumerism.

CHRISTMAS, ON THE surface, looks like the most wonderful time of year—the season of love, lights, carols, candles, and family reunions, the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Look a bit deeper, though, and one might notice a more idolatrous narrative shining just as brightly: consumerism.

From Black Friday to New Year’s Day, we are inundated with the commercial demands of Christmas. For many, the list of things to do and gifts to purchase can seem endless. We buy into the mantra that the more money we spend, the more love we convey. We become lost in crowded stores, endless websites, and credit card debt. Christians often struggle to faithfully observe Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the miraculous birth of Jesus.

While many of us purchase this spurious version of Christmas, a new movement has been born. It’s called Advent Conspiracy (AC), and its participants are seeking to turn Christmas upside down by exchanging consumption for compassion.

“Advent Conspiracy is not a four-point checklist on how to do Christmas. If anything, it’s a chance for us to rediscover the wonder and the mystery of the incarnation and what that means to us personally and what that might mean for the world,” said Greg Holder, lead pastor of The Crossing church in the St. Louis area.

The Demonization of 'Terrorism'

by Sheldon Good, by Cyrus McGoldrick 04-26-2013
marsmet547 / Flickr

A photo taken during the bombing at the Boston Marathon. marsmet547 / Flickr

The recent explosions at the Boston Marathon and subsequent media coverage exposed yet again a dangerous trend in U.S. culture: rushing to judgment in labeling and prosecuting crimes, and throwing away long-held U.S. American ideals and legal principles of due process.

Terrorism — a form of communication and a military tactic, not an ideology — is the systematic use of violence against civilians to intimidate them for a political purpose. Too many media outlets, elected officials, and community leaders have prematurely labeled the Boston Marathon bombing an act of terrorism. Some people were upset President Obama did not label the acts "terrorism" in his address just hours after the explosions.

NYT Magazine Article Misleads on D.C.'s 'Economic Boom'

by Sheldon Good 01-24-2013
Washington, D.C., rowhouses, Kim Seidl /

Washington, D.C., rowhouses, Kim Seidl /

Annie Lowrey's recent New York Times magazine article "Washington's Economic Boom, Financed by You" provides a stimulating look into Washington, D.C.'s "economic boom" of the last few years. As D.C. residents, many of us encounter the ongoing transformation of our city every day. We know the area's economy has grown about three times as much since 2007 as the country — largely a result of expanded government spending (primarily in the form of two foreign wars). We also know that the greater metropolitan region is one of the richest in the country. As Lowrey noted, the Washington metro area has seven out of the top 10 highest-income counties in the U.S., including the three highest.

However, Lowrey only tells one side of the story — the rich side. The "economic boom" has largely passed by D.C.'s poor and working people. By not mentioning D.C.'s grossly high poverty rates, the article is misleading.

Amid Washington's economic boom, there is also massive economic displacement, increased economic inequality, and higher rates of poverty.

A Call to Conversion

by Sheldon Good 11-02-2012
Ex-offenders confront the for-profit prison industry.

AS LARRY WATSON arrived by charter bus at the Corrections Corporation of America in Nashville, Tenn., apprehension pulsed through his body. An ex-offender, Watson had been at prison facilities before, but never for this reason—and never willingly.

Watson had been incarcerated three different times—in 1978, 1983, and 1990—for distribution of drugs. The last time, he was sentenced to up-to-30 years in jail. He was released on Jan. 14, 1993, after serving 36 months.

Now he found himself on a very different path. Watson and 17 others, mostly ex-offenders, had trekked nearly 700 miles in May 2010 on a pilgrimage from Washington, D.C., to Nashville. As they pulled into the grandiose Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) headquarters, home to the largest private prison company in the United States, a swarm of security officials greeted them. Watson and his fellow sojourners became increasingly mindful of the spirit in which they journeyed.

Their plan was creatively simple: Purchase a share of stock in the Corrections Corporation of America, the behemoth corporation that owned the private prisons where some of the group had been incarcerated. Attend a CCA shareholders’ meeting. Then, as stockholders, tell their personal stories as a way of witnessing to the “spiritual crisis” occurring within the prison industry, while also building relationships with key CCA personnel.

In essence, using their experience from the inside, members of the group planned to tell CCA how to do its job better.

Two Years After a Devastating Earthquake: Hope for a New Haiti

by Sheldon Good 01-12-2012
Port-au-Prince church post-earthquake. Photo by Colin Crowley via Wylio http://w

Port-au-Prince church post-earthquake. Photo by Colin Crowley via Wylio

How does one dig out from under such tragedy? How does one have hope for a better life, for a new Haiti?

In a meditation titled "The Gates of Hope," Minister Victoria Safford writes:

"Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope -- not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of self-righteousness ... nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of 'Everything is gonna be all right,' but a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see."

Indeed, we need to plant ourselves at the gates of hope and work toward a just peace, on Earth as it is in heaven.

Should We Seek Our Dreams or God's Will?

by Sheldon Good 06-07-2011
When young people graduate, they're often told to follow their dreams. Change the world. After all, the sky's the limit.

The Most Controversial Prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast? A Prayer for Peace

by Sheldon Good 02-07-2011
The National Prayer Breakfast is based on broad inclusivity, inviting "individuals of various nationalities, religi

Defending the 'Cult' of Environmentalism

by Sheldon Good 01-24-2011
Environmentalism is "deadly." It is "one of the greatest deceptions of our day," "striving to put America and the world under its destructive control" and "seducing your children." It is a dangerou

Shooting a Reminder of Our Swords of Words

by Sheldon Good 01-11-2011
God's heart broke just as ours did upon hearing of the victims in Tucson.

Does Sunday School Have a Future?

by Sheldon Good 01-04-2011
Sunday school. It was one of the main reasons I enjoyed church as a child. As a young adult, it sometimes still is. But there's a conversation brewing: Does Sunday school have a future?

Haitians Protest Election, And So Do I

by Sheldon Good 12-13-2010
Anxiety set in for many people in Haiti long before Dec.

Another Advent of 'Waiting' for Undocumented Students

by Sheldon Good 12-02-2010
This Advent season, "waiting" has new meaning for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrant students.

Are Mennonites Taking Over the World?

by Sheldon Good 11-22-2010
Not likely.

Things Worth Remembering from the Rally to Restore Sanity

by Sheldon Good 11-01-2010

On my way back to Pennsylvania after attending Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C. last Saturday, I couldn't get one sign out of my head which read, "It's too bad we even need a rally to restore SANITY."

Key Provisions in SB1070 Struck Down

by Sheldon Good 07-28-2010

What Does Justice Look Like in Cambodia?

by Sheldon Good 07-26-2010
For the first time, a senior Khmer Rouge commander has been found guilty of crimes against humanity in Cambodi

BP Deliberately Alters Images from Houston Command

by Sheldon Good 07-21-2010
BP is spewing sludge into the world again, this time via the Internet, not the Gulf.

Wanted: A Strong Dose of Bipartisan Civility

by Sheldon Good 06-25-2010
"How good and pleasant it is when the people of God live together in unity" (Psalm 133:1). Yes, and how ugly it is when we don't.

Untold Story: BP-sized Oil Spills Happen All the Time in Nigeria

by Sheldon Good 06-04-2010
The BP Oil Spill is the worst oil spill in U.S. history, much worse than Exxon Valdez.

What Rand Paul and I Have in Common

by Sheldon Good 05-27-2010
I'm not a college student anymore, but Dr. Rand Paul just gave me some homework.