The Common Good

by Jim Wallis & Sandi Villarreal 

Failure to recognize the sins of power and domination that influence the acts of violence against half of God’s creatures is simply bad theology.

In spite of the best efforts of such public prophets, we remain bound to such a torturous future, because we continue to condone what we condemn. Such widespread hypocrisy is our most serious weapon of mass self-destruction.  

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Demonstration in New York City on Dec. 7, protesting the non-indictment in Eric

Mary sang her Magnificat in the context of a police state called Rome. She belonged to a contained and threatened people. She waited and celebrated the day when her womb would birth hope for the oppressed and the lifting up of those tread down.

We've sanitized and romanticized the manger scene. We’ve removed all the blood and sweat and tears and pain and goo. We’ve left out all the messy parts. The oh-my-God-what-now parts. The I’m-screaming-as-loud-as-I-can-because-it-really-hurts parts. The oh-no-I’ve-stepped-in-the-animal-droppings parts. The real parts.

I strongly believe that to have any moral authority in the current crisis, we must first confess the Western policies and attitudes that have contributed to where we find ourselves today—and then repent of those policies and attitudes.

On The Blog

  • Whether it is described in the vocabulary of religion or more "secular" terms, violence — and in the case of torture, shockingly inhumane violence — is described as a necessary means for bringing about the good. This logic is at the heart of all religious violence, and it is a view that is alive and well today.
  • For Christians in Iraq, a foundational creed of the faith is facing a sticking point. The creed is itself a challenge to human nature — “But I say to you, love your enemies; bless those who curse you; do good to those who hate you; pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.
  • This year many of us will experience Christmas not as the shepherds, but as the wise men. If we have the courage to peer through the darkness, we’ll see love as a twinkle in the distant sky. We’ll pack up life-as-usual, and pursue it.
  • Wild is a movie that’s afraid to upset people. It acknowledges the hard stuff, but barely hints at the true emotional complexities of its story and of its main character. Where it ought to challenge, it merely suggests. And while that’s okay, it’s disappointing that it isn’t more.
  • I grew up reading Scripture, have written several books about Jesus and the Bible, but somehow I’m always left with a sense that there’s more — a lot more — about Jesus and about being a follower than we generally consider.
  • For us, the 1,000+ deportations per day means the breakup of families we have come to know and love in our own congregations and communities. Their families are now our families; their kids are our kids. For us, this is an issue for the body of Christ, a question of our obedience to Jesus Christ. It is about things that are so much more important than politics.
  • Wherever peace is elusive, the first ones to suffer are the vulnerable.
  • “When politicians wanted to use the religious fibers to divide the people, whether to maintain power or to conquer it, we stood up as if we were a single man to say ‘non’ to this war and ‘yes’ to peace.”
  • When justice and changemaking are buzzwords, how do we embrace the long challenge of bettering the world while remaining humble about our place in it?

In The Magazine

Featured Blog Series

In this new series, we explore the ongoing conversation within the church over LGBT identities, affirmation, and inclusion. As the push for equality expands, how are communities of faith participating and responding — and is it enough?