jim wallis

South Africans Visit D.C.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Thorne/Washington Diocese

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Thorne/Washington Diocese

Engaging in international travel to participate in political justice — especially anti-apartheid issues in the Mid East and Africa — is a bit like playing big league baseball.  The “player” must submit to an excellent coach, pick a good team, learn the essential rules about foreswearing violence, not getting caught stealing by the opposition, and arrive home safely with limited physical or psychic injury. 

One of the “hall of fame” coaches still is Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who wisely said, “if we had taken up arms when things appeared hopeless in our struggle against apartheid in South Africa we would all be dead and apartheid would still exist.”   

The Archbishop was in town last week for a CBS webcast interview along with American Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori on the “Mission of the Church.” He reinforced that “mission is about receiving the love of God in Jesus and then going to the world to make love incarnate” rather than trying to resolve the world’s terrible conflicts with military interventions.   

Unexpected Hope: The Vocation of the Church

Photo by hxdbzxy / Shutterstock.

Photo by hxdbzxy / Shutterstock.

I feel very honored to be invited by this class to give this commencement address, and I asked about the make-up of your class. Most of you, I am told, are going right into the church, or are already there— to ordained ministry and other missions of the church.

So I want to speak directly to you about the vocation of the church in the world. Let me start with a baseball story. I have been a little league baseball coach for both my sons' teams over many years. And I’ve learned that baseball teaches us “lessons of life.”

Just a few weeks ago, our 9-year-old's team was down 5-0, and we had already lost our opening couple of games. It didn’t look good. But all of a sudden, our bats and our team came alive; and all the practice and preparation we had done suddenly showed itself. Best of all, our rally started in the bottom half of the order with our weakest hitters. Two kids got on with walks and our least experienced player went up to the plate. With international parents, Stefan had never played baseball before and you can tell he doesn’t have a clue. But somehow he hit the ball; it went into the outfield. Our first two runs scored and he ended up on second base. Being from a British Commonwealth culture, he began to walk over to the short stop and second baseman and shake their hands! “Stefan,” I shouted, “You have to stay on the base!” “Oh,” he said, “I’ve never been here before.”

Letters to the Editor: Friday, April 27, 2012

Typewriter image via tadija /Shutterstock.com

In response to Jim Wallis' post, "Having the Sisters' Back" :

Thank you so much for bringing this issue to the attention of your readers. I am a Catholic woman and mother of three. My husband is a Methodist and we have raised our children in the two traditions we hold dear. I have become a recent friend to a sister who is very concerned with what is happening. We have recently begun to work on social justice issues in our parish. We are small, but I believe, with the help of the Spirit, we will one day be mighty....

Having the Sisters’ Back


Nuns attend Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. NICHOLAS KAMM/ AFP / Getty Images

After an official investigation, the Vatican seems pretty upset with the Catholic Sisters here in the United States. They have reprimanded the women for not sufficiently upholding the bishop’s teachings and doctrines and paying much more attention to issues like poverty and health care than to abortion, homosexuality, and male-only priesthood. 

The Vatican’s approach to its concerns, to say the least, is quite regrettable. Condemnation and control were chosen over conversation and dialogue. Quite honestly, do most of us believe, or even most Catholic believe, that the bishops are the only “authentic teachers of faith and morals?”


Remembering Charles Colson

The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Charles Colson, former aide to President Richard Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship, passed away Saturday at the age of 80. His death came as a result of complications of a brain hemorrhage. 

Many news stories this weekend emphasized Colson’s role in the Watergate scandal of the mid-1970s, in which he led Nixon’s efforts to discredit Daniel Ellsberg following the release of the Pentagon Papers on U.S. decision making during the Vietnam war. As a result of those activities, he pled guilty to obstruction of justice and served seven months in prison. Shortly before going to prison, Colson had a religious conversion to Christianity. And that led to the more important part of his life.

Jim Wallis and Richard Land on Finding Common Ground

Jim Wallis and Richard Land at the Q conference, Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners

Jim Wallis and Richard Land at the Q conference, Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners

How different would the state of our political system—and the tenor of the election season—be if voters and politicians on both sides decided to speak civilly?

Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land spoke at the Q conference Tuesday on the topic “What Can We Agree On?”

The intention is to acknowledge difference but—as Christians—focus on the areas of agreement based on our biblical understanding.

Why Mark Driscoll Needs an Elephant

African bull elephant in Kenya. Image via Getty Images.

African bull elephant in Kenya. Image via Getty Images.

Driscoll appreciates strong males. He respects them.

As I understand it, in India where rural people live and work with elephants, they’ve come to learn things about elephant behavior. Like humans, elephant calves stay close to their mothers side longer than most other animals. When young male elephants are finally sent forth on their own, they sometimes form wild gangs that terrorize villagers with their rampages.

The villagers have learned that introducing a fully grown bull elephant into the gang of hoodlums mellows them out almost instantly. They thrive when there’s a large male around who they all know could kick their butts (that’s the paradigm that Driscoll operates out of). It’s not really about the potential to kick-ass. It’s that they respect a fully grown mature male and know that they can learn much about how to socialize from being around him. They learn patience, self-control, and they blossom into maturity.

I would submit that

we need to introduce the Christian equivalent of some bull elephants into Driscoll’s village where he is on a rampage.

They're Baaaa-aaack: OWS Protesters Return to Zucotti Park

 The Occupiers have returned to Zucotti Park!

The barricades that have kept them out since the park was cleared November 15 are gone and steady streams of protestors are returning to their adopted home.

It remains to be seen whether the camp will be allowed to return to its former glory, or whether the security guards who have been controlling entry to the plaza will keep the returning protestors on a tight leash. According to The Associated Press

One security guard told a group of protesters: "No sleeping bags allowed, either, OK, folks?"

Gary Bauer is Wrong about the Bible

In a recent column for USA Today, Gary Bauer (former GOP presidential candidate and President of a conservative political organization called American Values) makes a big biblical blunder. He addresses the issue of the role of faith in politics and uses Jim Wallis as an example of a Christian with whom he shares religious heritage but not political conviction.

Sojourners Editor Jim Wallis and I are both evangelical Christians. But we come to radically different conclusions about government's role in addressing poverty. Wallis thinks Republican tax cuts are unbiblical, and that more government spending and taxes are the main antidote. But nowhere in the Bible are we told that government should take one man's money by force of law and give it to another man. Jesus' admonition was a personal command to share, not a command for Caesar to "spread the wealth around."

First, Bauer mischaracterizes Wallis’ position. Sojourners and the entire Circle of Protection have called for a balanced approach to deficit reduction. This means that taxes should be on the table. But, the Circle acknowledges that there does need to be spending reductions and explicitly states that some of those reductions will need to come from entitlements.

Now, on to the biblical problem.