The Common Good

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Talking Taboo: The Christian ‘Lean In’?

In recently released Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith, edited by Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro, 40  women under age 40 write essays in, what Femmevangelical’s blogger Rev. Jennifer Crumpton calls, “the Christian version of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.”
 
Crumpton, interviewed this fall by Fox News' Lauren Green, asks “How can we ‘lean in’ to our faith in a way that empowers us and makes us know that we have a voice, know that we have value and worth, know that we can do anything, even that we can be leaders in the church, even be reverends behind a pulpit?”
 
 
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'American Promise' Film Documents Two Black Families Navigating Education in America

American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, the documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class, and opportunity. American Promise is aOfficial Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

The filmmakers talked about the film's potential impact with Open Society Foundations:

We hope that the film's campaign will help the conversation on deconstructing stereotypes and assumptions about our young men. Being able to be part of a larger trend of work that is moving the pendulum forward on the role unconscious racism plays in the black male achievement gap is a true honor.

Check out the trailer below and look here to find a screening near you.

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WATCH: Boy Won't Leave Pope Francis' Side

At a speech in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis was joined on stage by an incredibly cute young boy.

As NPR reports:

Protocol is a concept that's often lost on young children and this boy – part of a group of children invited to sit near the pontiff during a speech — didn't see any reason why he shouldn't hang out for a bit with the guy in white.

The Telegraph provides a video and this quote:

The unidentified boy refused to leave the Pope's side, clinging to his legs while two Cardinals tried to encourage him to sit back down with sweets.

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

Infographic on Mass Incarceration

The Criminal Justice Degree Hub released an infographic on mass incarceration in the U.S. titled "Locked Up In America." According to the extensive graphic, the U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

Check out the graphic here.

 
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Women Senators Prove Collaboration Is Better than Conflict

A group of female senators came to the rescue in Washington last week, helping forge a bipartisan compromise that ended the budget crisis. How did they do it? “We like each other,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar told Time. “We work well together and we look for common ground."

This instance reaffirms women's leadership, and also helps illustrate how far we need to go: of 100 senators, only 20 are women.

Read more here.

Sign a thank-you note to the Senate's women for forging compromise.

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Air Pollution Shuts Down Entire City

Unprecedented levels of air pollution effectively closed the city of Harbin in northern China earlier this week. Smog limited visibility in some places up to 30 feet, and measurements of fine particulate pollution skyrocketed a record 40 times higher than the worse safe level set by the World Health Organization, according to the Washington Post.

In the city of 11 million, schools, public bus routes, and the airport were all forced to suspend activities given the unsafe conditions. Hospital admittances of patients with respiratory problems soared an additional 30 percent.

The cause, according to local Chinese news outlets, was the first day of the city’s heating being turned on before winter. China’s air quality has consistently been found to be harmful in the recent decades of the country’s rapid industrial development.

Read more.

+Leave a Comment | Creation Care

U.N. Women's Ad Series Shows Sexism Through Google Searches

Gender inequality is an international issue. Striving to empower women and call attention to the sexism of popular opinions worldwide, U.N. Women released a series of ads using text from Google real searches. The ads show women's face with their mouths obscured by the text of the searches, visually silencing their voices.

From unwomen.com:

 “When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them,” says Christopher Hunt, Art Director of the creative team. The idea developed places the text of the Google searches over the mouths of women portraits, as if to silence their voices. 

“The ads are shocking because they show just how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality. They are a wake up call, and we hope that the message will travel far,” adds Kareem Shuhaibar, copy writer.

U.N. Women is hoping to use the ads to start conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag: #womenshould

Image Credit: Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai/UN Women

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

House Passes Billions in Cuts to Food Stamps Program

The House of Representatives on Thursday evening narrowly passed a plan that cuts about $40 billion* from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps program. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the move will push nearly 4 million low-income people off of the program in 2014. USA Today reports

"The House voted 217-210 for the bill that cuts nearly twice as much from food stamps as a bill the House rejected in June. It is also far more than a Senate measure passed earlier this year that would trim about $4.5 billion in spending. The bill failed to draw the support of a single Democrat, many of whom have said the steep cuts would erode a key safety net depended upon by families with children, seniors, veterans and people looking for work."

Earlier on Thursday, Sojourners President Jim Wallis condemned the then-proposed cuts, saying, "These same politicians are not willing to go to where the real money is: the Pentagon budget, which everyone knows to be the most wasteful in government spending, or the myriad subsidies to corporations, including agribusiness subsides to members of Congress who will be voting to cut SNAP for the poor. ... They are going after cuts to the poor and hungry people because they think it is politically safe to do so. So let’s call that what it is: moral hypocrisy."

Check back with Sojourners for details on how your congressperson voted. 

Image: U.S. Capitol Building, Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com

*The early version of this story incorrectly stated $40 million in cuts.

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The Families of Colombia's 'False Positive' Victims Are Still Fighting For Justice

Sojourners editors Rose Berger, Elizabeth Palmberg, and photographer Ryan Rodrick Beiler have all covered stories in the Colombian drug wars.
 
We've visited the Christian base communities. We've traveled with Witness for Peace. We stood in the cash-yielding coca fields of subsistence farmers. We've met with the priests and Protestant pastors who spend more time burying their congregants than marrying them. We've prayed with the families.
 
Writing for VICE, Ellie Mae O'Hagan continues the story of dangerous peacemaking and the demand for justice in Colombia:
I was there with the NGO Justice for Colombia to hear about the country's 'false positives' scandal, which first broke five years ago and shows no sign of relenting any time soon. The scandal has its roots in the Colombian 50-year civil war between the government and the left-wing peasant insurgent group FARC. In the early 2000s, then-president Alvaro Uribe, out of an apparent concern for the army’s reputation, started putting pressure on soldiers to increase their kill figures.
 
According to media reports, soldiers were promised cash payments and more vacation time if they produced the bodies of dead FARC guerrillas—an accusation the government denies. In an effort to increase their quotas, soldiers allegedly started luring young, impoverished men away from their homes with the offer of work. Once away from their families, the soldiers executed the men, dressed them up in guerrilla uniforms, and presented them as combat kills. Many victims were dismembered and buried hundreds of miles away from their families.

Read more.

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Income Gap Between Rich and Poor is Largest in Hundred Years

The income gap in the U.S. is as wide as it has been in almost 100 years, according to a new study by UC Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics, and Oxford University. The study, based on Internal Revenue Service statistics, reports that although the Great Recession hit the top 1 percent hard, the wealthy recovered more quickly than other income groups. The L.A. Times reports

The 1929 stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression, followed by World War II, reduced an earlier national income gap for decades. But it began to grow again in the 1970s, and has widened since.

Saez attributes the trend not just to technology and job outsourcing, but to the reduced power of progressive tax policies and unions, along with "changing social norms regarding pay inequality."

Read more here.

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice