The Common Good

God's Politics

A Real Tribute for Veterans? Increase Their Benefits.

Today’s veterans are suffering through the current recession. They have a higher unemployment rate are are more likely to be or become homeless than the rest of the U.S. population.

Thankfully, the Senate yesterday unanimously passed jobs for veterans legislation that should begin to help.

But other problems remain. As many as 25 percent have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicides are rising. Forty-six-thousdand have suffered devastating physical injuries, and as many as 360,000 may have brain injuries. 

With this set of problems, the Veterans Administration doesn’t have the necessary resources to meet the profound need.

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Be A Good Neighbor to a Veteran

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.

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The Afternoon News: Friday Nov. 11, 2011

One year of prison costs more than one year at Princeton. Capitalism and social justice. OpEd: The values discussion we're not having. 'One Day's Wages' fights poverty two years on. Government aid helped cut U.S. poverty nearly in half. Religion-friendly democracy and democracy-friendly religion. And Newt Gingrich says God forgave him.

 

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Corporate Greed, Meet Coconut Theology

It's a clear sign something's wrong when talks on "free trade" turn an island paradise into an armed camp.

Hawaii is on lockdown this week while the U.S. tries to hammer out a regional trade agreement that's being called "NAFTA for the Pacific." While some mean this as a compliment, Hawaii's faith and labor leaders are lifting their voices against an agreement they believe will put profits for banks and corporations above workers' rights, indigenous culture, and local communities. Those leaders are drawing on the Pacific region's indigenous "Coconut Theology" to provide an alternative vision of the common good.

"Coconut Theology came out of our contextual understanding of the Gospel in the Pacific," said Rev. Piula Alailima, pastor of Wesley Methodist Church in Honolulu and a core leader in the community organizing group Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE). "When we break the body of the coconut and partake of the juice, it's a symbol of the body and blood of Christ, of sacrifice, of community and the common good."

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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."

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Students: Get Educated on Election Law Changes in Your District

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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