Tim Townsend 03-08-2012
Golden Buddha statue | zhu difeng,

Golden Buddha statue | zhu difeng,

ST. LOUIS — The Buddha said, "I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering."

The end of suffering is something that Keith Freeman -- a former drug dealer, convict, alcoholic and crack addict -- has been after for decades.

And after taking part in an intense, five-month program at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts that connected former prisoners and homeless veterans with ancient Buddhist artwork, Freeman thinks he may have taken a step closer to enlightenment.

The group is hosting 15 performances in the Pulitzer's galleries featuring rookie actors speaking scripts culled from their own group sessions as they wrestled with Buddhist truths and their own demons.

Joshua Witchger 03-07-2012

With Super Tuesday out of the way, take a look at some of McSweeny's more eccentirc exit poll findings. Make your favorite YouTube videos mirror the aesthitic of the Oscar-winning film, The Artist. See some amazingly small apartments and ask yourself, 'How much space do you really need in your house?' And take a listen to some new music from Sufjan Stevens/ Rosie Thomas, Jeff Tweedy's teenage son Spencer, and an 8-bit rendition of The Smiths (aka Super Morrissey Bros). Read today's "Links of Awesomeness" for these links and many others...

Joshua Witchger 03-06-2012

Today is Super Tuesday, the action-packed day for GOP presidential hopefuls as 10 states undergo primary elections. To bring us further into the spirit of Super Tuesday the blog team at Sojourners has compiled 10 songs for a “Super Tuesday Mixtape.” (In addition to our favorite scene from Little Miss Sunshine: Abigail Breslin shaking it to "Superfreak.")

the Web Editors 03-06-2012

AP Survey: More Optimism About US Jobs And Economy; Rise Of Faith Within GOP Has Created America's First Religious Party; U.S. Holds Conflicting Views On Poverty And The Poor; Religion Reporting Descends Into Meme In Super Tuesday's Shadow, Ohio's Poorest Struggle To Rise; Minority Students Get Arrested, Suspended More Than White Students; Microsoft VP: God Can Use Whatever You Have To Spread The Gospel; America's Fossil Fuel Fever; What If All Sides Are Wrong About Taxes?; It's Time To Clean House; Kim Kardashian, The Donald Trump Bible For Money Advice; Who Would Jesus Vote For? (OPINION).

Joshua Witchger 03-06-2012
Denison Witmer by Ethan Luck.

Denison Witmer by Ethan Luck.

Singer-songwriter Denison Witmer’s 2005 album Are you a Dreamer? was part of the soundtrack of my adolescence — his calm voice a sonic companion as I navigated the choppy waters of high school insecurities; his complex fingerpicking acoustic guitar style a mentor as I learned to play and write my own music. Witmer’s soulful voice, thoughtful lyrics and inimitable style (some critics have called it “neo-folk” a la Cat Stevens or Nick Drake), has stuck with me for years. Just a snippet of his lyrics or melody can transport me back to precisely where I was when I first heard them, a younger me dreaming of who I might become. 

When Witmer’s latest tour brought him through Washington, D.C. last month, I caught up with him backstage before his gig at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. We talked in the artist lounge and sound check stage, before venturing out for a couple of veggie wraps while exploring a variety of subjects from music and family to saints and beer. And we even managed to persuade him to play a couple of songs for us, which we’ve captured here on video for you. (You’re welcome.)

Joshua Witchger 03-05-2012

Steve Martin reads from The Great Gatsby, the longest chain of human dominoes sets world record, littering receives a big thumbs down, Andrew Bird lyrics are explained, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. offers hop-flavored lip balm, and "The Three Little Pigs" is retold as a breaking news story. See more inside today's links of awesomeness...

Carrie Adams 03-05-2012
Changing lightbulb image via Shutterstock

Changing lightbulb image via Shutterstock

We’ve seen a lot of stressful news this weekend, so to add a little levity to your week, we’re bringing you the best Light Bulb Jokes from this week’s Prairie Home Companion-plus a few choice additions from the Sojourners blog team. We all need a good laugh.


Christian Piatt 03-04-2012
Face of Jesus from an old cemetery statue. Photo by Brasiliao/

Face of Jesus from an old cemetery statue. Photo by Brasiliao/

There was a movement back in the 1960s that many of us only have read about, while others vividly remember. Philosophers and theologians explored what was labeled the “Death of God” movement. Interest in the subject has re-emerged particularly as of late because William Hamilton, one of the more prominent voices in the Death of God movement, diedlast week  at age 87.

The movement inspired TIME Magazine’s now-famous cover (seen here) in 1966, raising the question in the public forum: Is God Dead? The cover has since been listed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the “Ten Covers that Shook the World.”

Hamilton’s faith was shaken during his teenage years when three of his friends were making a homemade pipe bomb. The project went wrong and detonated, killing two of the three boys.

The two killed were Christians. The lone survivor, an atheist.

Hamilton’s crisis of faith centered around a theological concept known as theodicy, which explores the question: why do bad things happen to good people? More specifically, why does misfortune seem to befall the faithful, while those lacking faith enjoy what seems to be a providential hall pass?

Duane Shank 03-02-2012
Photo by Tischenko Irina/

Photo by Tischenko Irina/

One of my must reads is the Sunday New York Times Book Review. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written.

Last Sunday, the Review ran an essay on how books affect Washington policy makers. Lawrence Summers, former director of the National Economic Council, says that a good review can often summarize what’s necessary for a policy maker to learn. He was quoted as saying, “If you tell me that the policy makers are reading the reviews, not the books, I don’t take that as evidence that the books aren’t influential.”

While I don’t fancy myself as a policy maker, the sentiment is also true for the rest of us.

Learn about two such new titles that may have an impact on public policy inside the blog...

the Web Editors 03-02-2012

'We Wish Like Hell We Had Never Bought': Voices From The Housing Crisis; One Nation Under Gods; Mass Appeal To Governors: Don't Privatize Prisons; “Green On Blue”; Obama To Iran And Israel: 'As President Of The United States, I Don't Bluff'; For America's Least Fortunate, The Grip Of Poverty Spans Generations; Inequality, Poverty, And Why We're Definitely Not Broke (OPINION); Jacksonville Lawmaker Says No 'Extreme Poverty' In N.C.

Joshua Witchger 03-01-2012

Paper airplane throwing your way into the Book of World Records, creative films on Waldo and "clapping butter," jewelry + aviation, Record Store Day, and Bo Obama invites you to the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll.

Andrew Wilkes 03-01-2012

The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James H. Cone.

Gareth Higgins 03-01-2012

A perfect time to catch up on the 10 best Blu-ray releases of the past year.

Elizabeth Palmberg 03-01-2012

The tattooed former meth cook, Zach, is at the heart of the business—the artisan coffee roaster.

Stacia M. Brown 03-01-2012

Excerpt from Accidents and Providence by Stacia M. Brown, 2012.

Shefa Siegel 03-01-2012

A dispatch from the shrinking middle class.

Ed Spivey Jr. 03-01-2012

Who knew hideous sea creatures had their own club?

Julie Polter 03-01-2012

Homies and Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America; The Amish; Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit; The Ethical Vision of Clint Eastwood. 

Joshua Witchger 02-29-2012

New television ad from Wes Anderson, BBC follows a monkey's quest for alcohol, creative bike frames, phone booth libraries, and a mid-week music update.

the Web Editors 02-29-2012

GDP Revised Up To 3 Percent In Fourth-Quarter; Why Foreign Assistance Is Still Important; Syrian Army Assaults Rebel Districts; Public Views Of The Divide Between Religion And Politics; What Did Congress Do To Combat Poverty In 2011? Virtually Nothing (OPINION); Environmental Justice A Form Of Social Justice (OPINION); Occupy LSX May Be Gone, But The Movement Won't Be Forgotten; World’s Extreme Poverty Cut In Half Since 1990; Poverty Resolutions, Microloan Nonprofit, Shows How Far $1 Can Go To Provide Jobs For Poor; Alabama Lawmakers Calls For Immigration Law Repeal.