The Common Good

God's Politics

When Soldiers Become Saints

“I wore chains just like these for over six years, a burden too great to bear for many like me, who stood ready to do violence in the name of the American people and way of life. In Genesis, Cain was the first person to have killed another human being, and we’ve been doing it ever since. As punishment, Cain was sentenced to a life of wandering, a burden he claimed was too great to bear. 

"After the towers fell a decade ago, I reenlisted and was deployed overseas with an infantry platoon for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. Wandering the Mesopotamian wilderness like Cain before me, I saw things nobody should ever have to see. My heart hardened in the desert heat like the mud bricks I watched cure in the Iraqi sun.

"After coming home, I found war had infected my mind. Images and memories from Iraq would haunt my dreams and invade my thoughts. Not too different from the suffering endured by American and Iraqi families who have lost someone to war, I too lost someone on the field of battle – myself. I had sacrificed more than I bargained for, a lifetime of mental health and well-being forever crushed by the heavy yolk I bore as a combat soldier."

+Continue Reading

Students: Get Educated on Election Law Changes in Your District

See video
up, students! 

Under the guise of taking steps to protect against “voter fraud,” some lawmakers may be making it more difficult for you to vote.

If you’re a young person with a transient living situation, and especially if you’re an out-of-state college student who wishes to vote in the state where you attend school, it’s time to start paying close attention to your state’s election requirements and laws.

Efforts are already underway across the country to make it more difficult to vote, and if you’re not prepared, you may find yourself without an electoral voice come next November.

Approximately 37 states either have or are in the process of changing eligibility requirements for the 2012 election, and a recent report from the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center predicts that they could affect up to 5 million voters from traditionally Democratic districts, affecting as many as 171 electoral votes.

+Continue Reading

Say It Ain't So, David

Abuse of physical strength and power hasn’t been limited to the locker rooms at Penn State. Nor is it limited to middle-aged men. It's in every culture, every city and state, and in every generation. And, I might add, it is both wicked and foolish.

I think we’ve been given enough examples of such abuse being handled incorrectly—to be swept under the rug instead of dealt with directly. The silence of witnesses only allows the abuse to continue. When I spoke with Daniel Walker, author of the new book God in a Brothel, about child slavery and prostitution, he noted that the men who oppress women and children don’t need to be ministered to as much as they need to be held accountable.

Joe Pa, 84, who had coached at Penn State for more than 45 years, has been fired, and the university’s president has resigned over the abuse scandal. Both actions were reactive responses to a problem that really needed proactive intervention.

+Continue Reading

Colombia's "People of the Land" Call Out for Justice ... And Some of Us Are Listening

Colombia's campesinos ("people of the land") — peasants, farmers and artisanal miners, the indigenous — are calling out for an end to the exploitation and environmental destruction of their lifelong territories and homes.

They call out for a restoration of their livelihoods. Greed and violence punishing their land is also visited upon the campesinos themselves, leaving them dead, disappeared or disenfranchised as one of the world's largest internally displaced people groups.

The campesinos of Colombia have come together and called out.

Will we listen?

Will we locate our own story in theirs?

Will justice be done? Are we willing to work for it?

+Continue Reading

Armistice Day/Veteran's Day: 11/11/11

Before Veteran’s Day was Veteran’s Day, it was Armistice Day.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the cessation of hostilities of World War I took effect.

It was supposed to be the end of the "war to end all wars."

In 1926, Congress passed a resolution to commemorate the day “with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding.”  

In 1938 the day became known as “Armistice Day” with the intent that it would be a day dedicated to the world peace.

In 1954, after World War II, when the world stood in horror at the sight of the Nazi genocide machine and ghastly bombings of civilian populations culminating in the first ever deployment of nuclear bombs, the day became known as Veteran’s Day — a day to honor military service.

I say if we are to truly honor veterans, we ought to remember and honor Armistice Day with the hope that we can bring an end to violent conflict within and between nations.

+Continue Reading

A Confession to the Occupy Movement

As I have read about the Occupy Movement, I have noticed many individual Christians expressing support, but little public support for the movement from the Christian community as a whole.

I have had mixed feelings about this.

Certainly support of the poor, standing up for social justice, most of what the Occupy Movement is about, coincide with what we are called to as Christian people. Yet I think it would be inappropriate for Christians to try to jump into leadership roles when the Occupy Movement is so diverse and when we have so often failed to take a stand on such issues ourselves.

It seems to me that public confession and repentance might be the best way to communicate our support with appropriate humility. 

With this in mind I make the following confession as a person of Christian faith. I hope others will join me in this or similar confessions.

+Continue Reading

A New Matthew 25 Hymn: "O God, We Yearn For Safety"

The Sunday, Nov. 13 lectionary gospel is Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). 

Kari Jo Verhulst, in Sojourners, reflected on Jesus’ challenging teaching: “The point is not to perfect our particular gifts, or ourselves, but to quit hoarding ourselves from others, and instead step out in faith that we have been given all we need.” 

The following new hymn affirms that Jesus’ parable calls us to faithfulness even when it involves risk and challenge today.

O God, we yearn for safety; We long to be secure.

Yet faithful, loving service Is what you value more.

You give us what is needed; You love, forgive and save.

Then, sending us to serve you, You call us to be brave.

You give to some ten talents—to others, two or three;

To some you give one blessing To manage faithfully. ...

+Continue Reading

Rick Perry's "Oops": The Brain Freeze Heard 'Round the World

See video

I’m sure you’ve seen the clip that has now gone all over the world.

And Perry is taking a pounding from the pundits.

CNN's Jack Cafferty told Perry it was time for him to "just go away," saying: "This 'aw shucks,' grade-school stuff may play in Texas -— but I, sir, don't want you anywhere near the nuclear launch codes."

Hardball’s Chris Mathews labeled it a “brain freeze” on his show.

The Washington Post called it a "senior moment."

And the U.K.'s Globe and Mail eloquently dubbed it a "brain fart."

I call it “ideological idiocy.”

+Continue Reading

When the White House Calls to Say, "OK, You Win."

It didn’t take long — after news broke this afternoon that President Obama had indefinitely kyboshed the climate-killer Keystone XL pipeline — for my phone to ring.

“Hi Rose, I’m calling from White House on behalf of President Obama," the voice on the other end of the line said. "We wanted to makes sure you’d seen the president’s executive order postponing the permitting of the pipeline until another environmental impact report can be done, especially focusing on sensitive environmental issues in Nebraska.

"And we want to thank you for your good work on this issue. We’re just reaching out to let you know that the President hears you and we hope you’ll continue to help us focus on the really critical issues that are facing us right now.”

This afternoon President Obama made an official announcement on the Keystone XL Pipeline that so many of you have been working on these last several months.

+Continue Reading

Obama's Delay in Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is a Victory for God's Earth

President’s Obama’s delay in approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is a victory for the movement to stop it, for God’s earth, for the possibility of reversing climate change, and for saving the integrity of this administration. 

A “No” to pipeline approval wasn’t really politically likely, with the likelihood of attacks on Obama by the Republicans and the labor movement of sacrificing jobs during an election year — even though the pipeline offers temporary and bad jobs.

The environmental movement is part of the Democratic President’s base, but so is labor and they are both more numerous and more effectively organized to help in presidential races.

So this delay is a victory for the possible future of a clean energy economy, which would produce many more and better jobs, while making a cleaner and more sustainable economy possible. 

+Continue Reading