The Common Good

Blog Posts By Tim King

Posted by Tim King 2 years 45 weeks ago
It is unclear how the adjective employed to describe a coniferous tree intended as public celebratory display became a “slap in the face” to the Christian community.  It’s especially curious considering that the use of the fir tree around the winter solstice is commonly traced back to Germanic pagan traditions, not Christian ones. The display of a Christmas tree, a nativity (or manger, or crèche) or any other “stuff” on public property is made central to the celebration of Christ’s birth. Suddenly the profound and unique Christian mystery of the Incarnation — the profound truth of Emmanuel, God with us — is reduced to a set of cultural traditions and a demand for public officials to sponsor and endorse their particular brand of celebration.When that happens, it’s no longer clear what the difference is between a Christmas tree, a golden calf or a two-story blow-up polyurethane Frosty the Snowman. 
Posted by Tim King 2 years 46 weeks ago
But to say that kids in poor neighborhoods have “no habits of working” and have “nobody around them who works” is false and trivializes all of the hardships that poor people in this country face.Three-quarters of those who live under the poverty line have jobs. Many more are looking for work. I don’t doubt that you can find people out there who are poor because they don’t have a strong work ethic, but all you need to do is turn on E! or browse TMZ for a few minutes to find lazy rich people who take no responsibility for their actions.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 46 weeks ago
By 2015, we could have an AIDS free generation.AIDS was first identified nearly 30 years ago and has claimed countless lives. Currently, 1,000 babies around the globe are born with the virus each day. During much of the past few decades it’s been hard to see much hope when it comes to turning the tide against this disease.But, thanks to smart public health decisions, public investment in strategies that work, and innovative implementation by NGO’s, we can now begin to envision a day when this mountain will be moved. During FY 2011 PEPFAR, (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief) supported the prevention of 200,000 children contracting HIV/AIDS from their mother.With continued investment we are just a few years away from preventing nearly ALL children from being born with the virus.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 47 weeks ago
A new poll out from the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service shows that just about the same number of American’s feel that Occupy Wall Street shares their values as does the Tea Party.The split comes down partisan lines but is also generational. Eighteen-to-thirty-nine year olds are much more likely to feel that Occupy Wall Street shares their values then does the Tea Party.What will be of great interest to watch over the coming months is the overlap between concerns of both movements. For example, neither group is a fan of the bank bailout and express an overwhelming feeling that elected officials aren’t responsive or accountable to those who elected them. I’m not arguing they will join forces any time soon, but they still could find a few areas of agreement.What convinced me that common ground might be possible was another unlikely event, I read a column by Sarah Palin that I liked. 
Posted by Tim King 2 years 48 weeks ago
Yesterday, Congress passed the 2012 Agricultural Appropriations Bill or “minibus” as it has come to be called. The good news is that cuts to both national and international nutrition programs were not as severe as originally expected. The bad news is, poverty is still at record levels and there is still more we can do to help those in need.Over the past few weeks, Sojourners activists have sent thousands of emails to Congress urging them not to cut poverty focused foreign aid. While that fight continues, the passage of this bill -- without any major cuts to vital programs for poor and hungry people -- is an important step.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 48 weeks ago
A new poll released this morning by Public Religion Research Institute shows the American public has clear ideas about what steps political leaders should take to reduce the federal deficit.The poll shows that a majority of white evangelicals are opposed to cutting federal anti-poverty programs for the poor and nearly three-quarters of white evangelicals oppose cutting funding for religious organizations that help the poor.The poll, based on a survey of 1,002 American adults performed November 10 -14, also shows a nation divided both by political affiliation and generation when it comes to attitudes towards Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.The survey found that nearly 7-in-10 (68 percent) of Americans say that in order to reduce the deficit, it’s fair to ask wealthier Americans to pay a greater percentage in taxes than the middle class or those less well off.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 48 weeks ago
The Norton commercial says explicitly what most advertisements only imply.You are the things you own. Your identity is the stuff you have. Your worth is what you own.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 49 weeks ago
Christians are called to be peacemakers and healers. Disagreement on policy does not excuse us from a responsibility to help those who come home broken and in need of help.You might call yourself a pacifist, a just-war theorist, a pragmatist, a dove or a hawk but today (and every day), you should be a good neighbor to a veteran.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 49 weeks ago
Low-income people are likely to spend additional income on food and basic consumer products. This is good for sales. When sales go up, so does hiring.We don’t have to make a choice between helping low income people and helping small businesses. We can do both.We all benefit when parents are able to feed and clothe their children.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 50 weeks ago
Less than one percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. Our spending on development and foreign assistance is not -- by any stretch of the facts or imagination -- our national debt.Cutting foreign aid programs will do little to get us out of debt, but would be a devastating setback in the fight against global, extreme poverty.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 50 weeks ago
Tonight, Sojourners and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission are co-sponsoring an event to discuss religion and the 2012 elections. Rev. Wallis and Dr. Richard Land will delve into what they believe the religious issues will be and should be from now until election day. The event is already turning some heads. A Washington Post article by Michelle Boorstein summed up the unique nature of the event in a headline, "Evangelical opposites to hold discussion on 2012 presidential race."
Posted by Tim King 2 years 50 weeks ago
It lasted 72 days. And now, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are calling it quits. The two were first spotted together one year before when Kim attended one of Kris' basketball games. After a 2 million dollar engagement ring, a 10 million dollar wedding, and a 4-hour TV special about the wedding, the two were married. Kim has assured her fans that it was not an "easy decision." It is unclear as to what she means by "easy," considering that many people spend more time considering their next purchase at Ikea than Kim and Kris spent married. The very public and very short wedding is more unfortunate evidence of the state of marriage in our society. Some Christians blame the high rate of failed heterosexual marriages on the segment of our population who fight on behalf of more couples having the right to get married. Equal access to the rights and responsibilities of marriage are faulted for the failure of marriages for so many others. Increasingly, those messages are falling flat. After 10 of millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours spent in the passage of Proposition 8, it failed to save another California marriage.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 51 weeks ago
Too many people in our culture have bought the lie that human fulfillment is equivalent to market consumption.But, if Ryan is fighting back against "class envy" and his budget plan that takes two-thirds of its cuts from programs that serve lower-income people -- then I can't make any moral sense out of it.It's not "envy" for the 9.6 percent of the population that is unemployed each month to want jobs. It's not "envy" for parents to want to feed their kids when the 14.5 percent of American households aren't able to provide enough food for their families. It's not "envy" to want health care when you need it or to be able to pay your bills when you are working. It's not "envy" to want a quality education or to see your aging parents cared for.There is no doubt that we have an envy and greed problem in this country. I just don't think it's "envy" to fight for fully-funded nutrition programs or to let tax breaks for millionaires expire.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 51 weeks ago
What you don't know about poverty can hurt you, and the nation's poor. I'm guessing there are quite a few people who don't know that the poverty line for an individual is just 22,314 a year for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual. Or, that three out of four poor adults have jobs and half of them are working full time. They also might not know that one in four children under the age of 5 live in poverty. This morning, the Center for American Progress released their first annual report to track progress on the goal of cutting the poverty rate in our country in half over the next ten years
Posted by Tim King 2 years 51 weeks ago
When kids are sold for sex - there is no excuse.That is why Jim Wallis signed onto a full page ad in the New York Times calling for Village Voice Media to shut down the "Adult Services" section of their Backpage.com website.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 51 weeks ago
Our moral strength as a society comes from how we treat vulnerable populations. The rise of programs such as Medicaid and Head Start has allowed the independent living movement among those with disabilities to flourish and groups such as Heritage Christian Services do their life-changing work But here's the problem: Heritage Christian Services just saw their funding cut by the federal government and they are concerned that worst of the cuts are yet to come.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 1 day ago
Yesterday, was Spirit Day, a national movement to speak out against bullying of LGBT teens. Here are a few links as to what religious communities and leaders are saying and doing about bullying. ...
Posted by Tim King 3 years 2 days ago
Do Evangelicals hate smart people? No. But it is such a persistent rumor that it might take something as momentous as another Protestant Reformation to see it die. Why? Because there are folks out there that do hate smart people. More precisely, there are people of faith who draw a line between "God's Word" and "Man's Opinion." They set up human reason as a force fighting against God's truth. While I think most Christians would agree that human reason is imperfect and limited (as humanists and scientists would probably agree as well) that doesn't make it antithetical to "God's Word." Most Christian traditions acknowledge reason as a gift from God not an enemy of God.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 4 days ago
From Jim Wallis: My friend, Harry Jackson, said that my ideology isn't "Christian" but I suspect what he really means is that it isn't Republican and that's why he disagrees with the things I have said. It's important for Christians to understand those aren't the same thing. I think Bishop Jackson's economic ideology that is indistinguishable from Republican and Tea Party talking points, but I would rather have a civil discussion together as Christians about our differences; rather than his accusing Christians who don't share his conservative economic opinions as coming from "the councils of Hell." C'mon, Harry. I believe the Bible's teachings on wealth and poverty challenge both Republican and Democratic economic views which, sadly, are both often sold out to the interests of the wealthy and large corporations, when they should be focused on the ones Jesus calls "the least of these." Can we discuss that Harry?
Posted by Tim King 3 years 1 week ago
I had seen people my age start successful businesses, become pop-stars and even play a key role in partisan political campaigns, but I had never seen them develop and sustain a social movement. Sure there have been more focused shifts around issues like educational equity, LGBT rights or global poverty that my generation has had a hand in shaping, but nothing that quite had the look or the feel of what I imagined the anti-War or Civil Rights movements of the 1960s to have been. I assumed we -- my contemporaries ( I'm 27) -- simply didn't possess the interest or the will-power to accomplish something that big. I was wrong.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 2 weeks ago
Throughout the day here at the #OccupyWallStreet mass demonstrations in New York's financial district, you can find small and often somber groups meeting. They have agendas, a facilitator, a time keeper, and someone to keep track of the "stack" -- the list of people waiting to make a point or ask a question. And they also have a system of hand gestures -- a sort of gonzo sign-language adaptation of Roberts Rules of Order -- designed to keep the discussion and decision-making process both democratic and efficient. When someone agrees with a point the speaker is making, the crowd raises two hands in agreement. When the crowd disagrees, hands quickly go up, making a downward pointing motion. To call a "point of process" crowd members shape their hands into a triangle to stop discussion. Speakers who wander off topic are quickly redirected and reminded of the point being discussed in the agenda. These working groups bring their recommendations to the #OccupyWallStreet General Assembly, which takes place once a day. A vote is taken to determine consensus before a recommendation is passed along to the G.A. Anyone participating in the General Assembly can block a proposal by forming an X with their arms. Participants make their case and then a revised proposal is put forth. The revised proposal can then be passed with a 90/10 consensus.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 2 weeks ago
Jonathan, 19, who works at a fast food restaurant, said: "There isn't really room for religion here. We are trying to focus on the big problems we face that we all have in common. Religion gets people focused on too many specifics and divides." His friend Chris chimed in, "How could anything that caused so many wars be any good?" I asked a group that was serving food what they would think if more religious people joined. "Awesome! Some Muslim guys came down and offered to do all the food one day," one young woman said. "No way!" responded a middle-aged man who had been pointing other protestors to vegetarian sandwiches. "We just got a bunch of food donated by some church in North Carolina." Many protesters here have had some bad experiences with religion, but it's clear that they are genuinely open to seeing religion done differently.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 2 weeks ago
For whatever stereotype you might have in your mind about who the so-called Occupiers might be, there are some people who fit it, and whole lot more who don't. I traveled from Washington, D.C., to Wall Street late Wednesday because I believe it's often easier to find God on the streets than in a sanctuary. We serve a God who shows up for those in need, and for those who stand with them.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 2 weeks ago
Scripture constantly should be challenging our assumptions about our lives and in every aspect of society. Transformation is needed on a personal and also a political level. Scriptural priorities shouldn't be glossed over in order to protect political ideologies and comfort zones.If we believe that what Jesus taught remains just as relevant today as it did when he physically walked among us, then it should still be a comfort to those on the margins of society and offensive to the wealthy and powerful. That doesn't mean that the wealthy and powerful can't be good and faithful followers of Christ, but Jesus did warn them that their walk will be a hard one. Wealth and power bring unique and difficult temptations ... If you never feel uncomfortable when you read the Gospels then you aren't paying attention.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 3 weeks ago
I must admit, I was skeptical. Justin Bieber and Jesus -- at least not together -- weren't exactly on my radar.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 4 weeks ago
Not every Christian who shares my concern for the poor has the same view on policy or politics. But, here is a prejudice I am not going to back away from. To be a follower of Christ is to be biased for the poor. In life, we all have our biases. Some of them are natural tendencies or inclinations and others are habituated. Our culture tells us to be biased -- in a deferential sense -- towards those who can pay us back or who can look out for us in return. Society tells us to get in with the strong and the powerful because they will give us strength and power in return. Jesus teaches something very different.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 5 weeks ago
A new study says that might just be how it works, as long as the taxes are progressive. The study was conducted in 54 nations with over 59,000 respondents. The polling tracked the expressed well being of respondents and then checked for correlations in taxation systems. The end result? On average, those who lived in a country with a highly progressive tax system reported a higher level of quality of life, more positive daily experiences, and fewer negative ones. Overall, people are happier the more progressive their tax system is. It's an academic paper and the authors don't jump to any political conclusions, but they do provide at least one plausible explanation. The study notes that simply increasing government spending does not increase overall happiness. But people are happier in countries with higher levels of progressive taxation because they are more satisfied with basic government services, such as quality of education and health care.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 8 weeks ago
It was over in less than a minute. Three miles below the surface of the earth near a town in Virginia called Mineral, a fault line shifted. As a result, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake was felt from Georgia to New England and as far west as Detroit. The National Cathedral lost several stone spires, the Washington Monument cracked, and Sojourners' office was closed for the afternoon, as our building was checked for structural damage. Tectonic plates move beneath our feet in the part of the globe that scientists refer to as the lithosphere. Over the course of a year, an average plate will move as little as 3 to 6 centimeters. The speed of their movement is 10,000 times slower than the hour hand on a clock and even slower than the rate of growth of human hair. For decades, sometimes centuries or millennia, a plate's movement might go almost entirely unnoticed. Then, in less than a minute, the world shakes and everything changes.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 9 weeks ago
The first few nights weren't so bad. It was on the fourth night, the night it rained, that it got to me. I had just spent the past week sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the Illinois state Capitol building in Springfield. Throughout the week, young people of faith, college students, as well as homeless and formerly homeless youth traveled from Chicago to Springfield. Some slept on the sidewalks at night, and others came solely to lobby their legislators. We were all there for the same reason -- because each year nearly 25,000 youth experience homelessness in the state of Illinois. Not only were there not the resources to help these youth, but most legislators and most of the general public didn't even realize the problem existed. In the past few weeks, I've written about a lot of full-page ads. This full-page ad is different. Too often, homeless youth have been invisible. The Ali Forney Center, a service provider for LGBT homeless youth, has a full-page ad in this month's issue of Sojourners magazine. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Association Against Defamation, connected the Ali Forney Center to Sojourners, as a part of an advertising campaign the Ali Forney Center is running. The ad highlights that up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. I have talked with many teens who became homeless because they were kicked out of their homes or ran away from abuse by their parents because of their sexual identity. After their homes became dangerous, they went to the streets, where many were attacked and some were trafficked or forced into prostitution.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 11 weeks ago
Today, "Values and Capitalism," a project of the American Enterprise Institute, sponsored a full-page ad in Politico (see page 13) in response to the Circle of Protection. While it is encouraging to see another full-page ad urging our nation's legislators to be concerned about the poor, it is unfortunate that the critique of the Circle of Protection and Sojourners work is based on an error.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 11 weeks ago
Late last night it was announced that the president and congressional leadership reached a deal that should ensure that our country does not default on its debts. Now Congress is in the midst of making their decision on the plan. Already the media is trying to hash out who won and who lost, who is up and who is down, and what kind of effect the events of July 2011 will have on how the country votes in November 2012.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 12 weeks ago
In response to Sojourners' radio ads about the budget debates, the Family Research Council's political action committee has launched radio ads in Kentucky and Ohio arguing that deficit reduction should cut programs that serve poor and vulnerable people. The ads assert that it is the private individual, not government, who has a responsibility to the poor. The ads say, "Jesus didn't instruct the government of his day to take the rich young ruler's property and redistribute it to the poor. He asked the ruler to sell his possessions and help the poor. Charity is an individual choice, not a government mandate." This could put the speaker of the House, a Catholic, in a difficult position. Catholic social teaching instructs that the government does have a direct responsibility to the poor and that private charity is only one of the ways that Christians express concern for "the least of these." This ad sets itself in direct opposition to that teaching and the values that it comes from. The speaker was already in a tough spot when the Catholic bishops came out with a strong critique of the House plan, but now he has a powerful political organization calling for him to ignore Catholic social teaching all together.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 12 weeks ago
"God is Watching," reads the headline for a full page ad Sojourners ran in this morning's Politico. It is the latest in a series of radio, print, and online ads we have put out on the budget debate and default crisis. On Tuesday, we launched radio ads in Kentucky, Nevada, and Ohio that were recorded by local pastors who lifted up the moral issues at stake in the debate. Furthermore, our work in the past few weeks and the Circle of Protection meeting with the president has been covered by the Washington Post (and here), CNN (and here), MSNBC, Politico, Roll Call, and many local outlets from across the country. Behind all the ads and the press is the muscle -- and that muscle is you.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 12 weeks ago
If you live in Kentucky, Nevada, or Ohio and listen to Christian or country radio, you'll be hearing some of Sojourners' new radio ads calling for legislators to remember the least of these during this default crisis. For those of you who haven't completed your migration over to Google+, you might also start to see some ads popping up on your Facebook page in the next few days asking you to speak out on behalf of those in need. The reason we are running these ads is simple: The rich have lobbyists while those in need don't, and that's why Christians need to speak out and form a "Circle of Protection." If you don't live in one of these areas (or aren't listening to Christian or country radio) you can listen to the ads here.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 14 weeks ago
As the federal debt ceiling standoff threatens to cause an economic catastrophe for our nation, more than 4,000 pastors across the country are opposing proposed immoral budget cuts that harm the most vulnerable people in their congregations and communities. An open letter to Congress and the president ran today as a full page ad in Politico. (You can view the ad and full list of signers here.) We were amazed by the huge response this letter generated. We hoped to find 1,000 pastors willing to speak out with us, and in just 2 weeks more than 4,000 clergy joined our campaign.
Posted by Tim King 3 years 23 weeks ago
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Posted by Tim King 3 years 47 weeks ago
I am ready to give thanks. Last year, I joined my family for Thanksgiving but when the food was served, I could only watch. Early in November of 2009, I had an attack of pancreatitis. Later, I learned it was probably due to a gallstone, but at the time it was a mystery. My diet throughout November was mostly liquids, then I progressed to soft bland food in December. But due to complications from a medical procedure, things got worse. From mid-December 2009 to the end of June 2010, I received most of my nutrition through a bag. It was pumped directly into my blood stream from 12 to 24 hours every day.
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