Class

Jim Wallis 07-21-2011

Today is another intense day of politics at the White House. The debt default deadline is fast approaching. The stakes for the nation are high as politicians can't agree on how to resolve the ideological impasse on how to reduce the deficit before the nation defaults on its financial obligations.

Yesterday, before Congressional leaders were due at the White House for critical negotiations, I, along with 11 other national faith leaders, met with President Obama and senior White House staff for 40 minutes. We were representing the Circle of Protection, which formed in a commitment to defend the poor in the budget debates. Sitting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, we opened in prayer, grasping hands across the table, and read scripture together. We reminded ourselves that people of faith must evaluate big decisions on issues like a budget by how they impact the most vulnerable.

'Statue of liberty' photo (c) 2011, Rakkhi Samarasekera - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"I will call them my people, who were not my people. And her beloved, who was not beloved." (Romans 9:25 referencing Hosea 2:23)

Estranged, alienated, and removed; anyone living in an industrialized modern society in the 21st century would be able to define, or at least identify the sentiments of these words. Our time is one of mass communication and instantaneous access to knowledge. And yet our lives are too compartmentalized, increasingly divided, and our society reflects this. Indeed the existential writers of yesteryear were correct in diagnosing the iron cage that would befall us, ultimately leading to an eclipse of reason.

Betsy Shirley 07-19-2011

oh yes I amphoto © 2007 Laura Askelin | more info (via: Wylio)Though I like a rousing round of ave maria's as much as the next person, the past few centuries of church prayer trends have eschewed Latin in favor of the vernacular -- that is, the language of the people. And to the tune of 450 million copies in more than 70 translations (and counting), it's clear that people the world around speak the language of Harry Potter. Or rather, the story of Harry Potter speaks to them.

So as I watched the final Hogwarts Express depart from Platform 9¾ in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II this past weekend (slightly teary-eyed, I confess), I started to wonder: What might it sound like to pray in the language of Harry Potter -- language that clearly resonates with folks around the world? Would it be cheesy? Probably. Profane? Perhaps. But I figured the God who relied on earthly parables about wineskins and fig trees to explain the Kingdom would understand.

Jeannie Choi 07-15-2011

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookiesphoto © 2009 Ted Major | more info (via: Wylio)Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:

  • The changing face of AIDS.
    Steve Holt 07-11-2011

    I was not one of the 1,500 who attended the inaugural Wild Goose Festival in Shakori Hills, North Carolina last month, but I did grow up going to Christian summer camp. What’s the connection, you ask, between a festival and summer camp? Summer camp -- like festivals and extended retreats -- is often deeply formative because it gives kids (and adult counselors, for that matter) a glimpse at a kingdom lifestyle.

    Rose Marie Berger 06-07-2011
    Have you seen the Dos Equis commercials starring actor Jonathan Goldsmith as "the most interesting man in the world"?
    Jeannie Choi 05-13-2011

    Tomatoes. Uganda. Fair Trade. Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:

    • Stop the hate in Uganda.
    • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asks Senator John Boehner for a budget that "reduces future deficits, protects the poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity."
    • Continue praying for Egypt.
    Debra Dean Murphy 05-11-2011
    I can appreciate how difficult it must be to craft a good commencement address. The need to avoid well-worn pieties while also offering something of the best-distilled wisdom of the ages.
    Theresa Cho 05-06-2011

    Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." (John 19:24-27)

    Mother's Day is always fun when the kids are young -- the homemade crafts, the valiant efforts of breakfast making, and the conscientious attention a mother receives in contrast to the usual "being taken for granted" and "aww mom, do I have to" gestures. My son is a sweet boy -- caring, empathetic, and a rule follower. When I was pregnant with him, it was as if this little organism had invaded my whole body. I felt pregnant from head to toe -- migraines, severe morning sickness, bloody noses, swelled feet, strong cravings for watermelon, and oh yeah ... my favorite: constipation. Sorry if that is sharing too much, but like I said, I was literally pregnant from head to toe.

    Julie Clawson 04-27-2011
    Hollywood is generally fairly reluctant to produce films with strong feminist messages. It is far easier to sell women cast as the sexy sidekick or vapid damsel in distress.
    Ernesto Tinajero 04-25-2011
    Ah, the voice of Ayn Rand from St. Petersburg, Russia rises again with the opening of a new movie based on her novel, Atlas Shrugged.
    Sasha Adkins 03-31-2011

    The April issue of Sojourners magazine takes on climate change denial. One challenge is that the truth is hard to face -- but, as scientist Sasha Adkins describes from personal experience, one strategy is to draw inspiration from the comforts of home.

    The question that I am most often asked when I talk about my Ph.D. research on the impacts of pollution has nothing to do with my methodology or my data. It is, "How do you live with this knowledge? Where do you find your hope?" It's a good question. My research results on the impact of plastics on human health and the environment are often quite demoralizing to hear. More than once when I am presenting them, an audience member has literally started to cry.

    I took a year off from my environmental studies program to search for the answer to that very question, to find hope -- but this time, instead of turning to peer-reviewed journals for answers, I turned to my cats. I asked them if they would be willing to try living without fossil-fuel heat for the winter.

    Jim Wallis 03-30-2011
    "How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
    Julie Clawson 03-30-2011
    When I was in high school as part of my participation in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, I had to write what was called an "extended essay" -- basically an essay of the (then) extreme
    Rose Marie Berger 03-24-2011

    In 2010, Hope House DC received a grant from the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. to support participation in the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read project. Hope House placed about 100 copies of Earnest J. Gaines' classic A Lesson Before Dying in two prisons that have high concentrations of District of Columbia inmates.

    Jim Wallis 03-24-2011
    The extreme budget cuts proposed to critical programs that save the lives, dignity, and future of poor and vulnerable people have crossed the line.
    Jake Olzen 03-23-2011

    In a country torn by 30 years of war, where the promise of peace continues to be broken, despair and resignation seem to be the norm for Afghan society. War -- and its corollaries of social decay, poverty, corruption, and trauma -- does not discriminate.

    the Web Editors 03-14-2011
    Lord, we pray that you bless our president and members of Congress with wisdom and right judgment.

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