The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

The real Dunder Mifflin Paper Co., the goods and evils of the pepper-spraying cop, N.T. Wright's fiery predecessor, the belt of the Virgin Mary closes Russian tour, Parker J. Palmer, and more.

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O Come Ye, O Come Ye to Bethlehem

What one quickly learns when visiting Bethlehem is that the political climate today is quite similar to the one that was prevailing during the time of Jesus. One exception is that the Palestinian inhabitants of Bethlehem today are being occupied by those who consider themselves the offspring or cultural descendants of Jews who were under the yoke of Roman occupation in the first century.  Other reminders of the political similarities are the weekly demonstrations on the outskirts of Bethlehem by Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals to nonviolently protest the confiscation of Palestinian land to build new Jewish settlements. Unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators face heavily equipped Israeli troops who protect those who steal Palestinian lands in the West Bank and construct segregated settlements on them.  This reminds us of the brutality of the Roman occupation forces against Jewish freedom fighters.

But Bethlehem today is not all consumed with politics. Many of the folks in Bethlehem could not care less about politics. Repeated disappointments with the host of so-called peace brokers and failed peace plans have caused many Bethlehemites to abandon politics. They just want a decent standard of living to carry on with life in security with their children and grandchildren. These are the people who in spite of the same closures and repression by the forces of occupation, choose to be peaceful. They hope that freedom will come but they don't know when or how it will come. Like the folks who lived when Jesus was born, they continue to wait quietly for political liberation.

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The Afternoon News: Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

Attack On The Middle Class!!; Union Leader Declined To Endorse Romney Because He ‘Represents The One Percent’; And Now It's Time For The Occupy Obituaries; Pastor Fights HIV Stigma In Southern Town; Do Protestants Need Some Holy Humor?; A Preaching 'Genius' Faces His Toughest Convert; GOP Foreign Policy: Neoconservatives Looking For A Comeback In 2012.

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White House Honors National Adoption Awareness Month

As many of us head back to work or school and continue to recover from our post-Thanksgiving-turkey-induced food comas, let us remember that November is National Adoption Month.  While we can be thankful that over 1.5 million children have found permanent homes through adoption (according to 2000 census), there are still 107,000 young people awaiting adoption in the U.S. foster care system. 

National Adoption Month, which began in 1995 under President Clinton, seeks to celebrate and raise awareness about adoption around the country.  Today, the White House is sponsoring an event to honor National Adoption Month with “senior Administration officials, members of the President’s Cabinet, adoption and child welfare experts and advocates, and religious leaders,” according to the White House blog for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 

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The Morning News: Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

Policy-Making Billionaires, Poverty In The Midst Of Plenty: Hunger Persists In The United States; The Religion Of An Increasingly Godless America (OPINION); Evangelicals Flocking Toward Newt Gingrich; Rev. Jackson Calls For New War On Poverty; Improving Social Justice Indicators Will Create A Better U.S. (OPINION); Is The Black Church The Answer To Liberal Prayers?; Catholic Charities' Human Trafficking Program Loses Federal Funds; Air Force Academy Adapts to Pagans, Druids, Witches and Wiccans.

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Alaskan Students Join Hallelujah Chorus

In a fashion harkening back to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” our second installment of Hallelujah chorus videos focuses on a cute and lively group of 5th graders from Quinhagak, Alaska, who take sign-making in music videos to a new level – one where childish enthusiasm and winter scenery combine to make one special Christmas treat.

 

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The Top 10 Stories of November 28, 2011

Quote of the day.
"I hope that all members of the international community agree on a responsible and credible response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, taking into account the needs of the poorest and future generations." - Pope Benedict XVI’s Sunday message for delegates attending this week's U.N. climate change conference.
(Huffington Post)

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Black Friday: The Anti-Thanksgiving

Today is Black Friday, the unofficial holiday immediately following Thanksgiving. Today, businesses open very early, offering reduced prices on all manner of consumer items. Customers are encouraged to flood the aisles in search of a good deal on all kinds of things - from DVDs to appliances - but, above all, electronics.

Black Friday apparently got its start back in the late Sixties, but it came into increasing prominance in the last decade, as the economy deflated and retailers became ever more desperate to sell their wares. In the past, stores would open around 6:00am; in recent years, however, this has not been considered early enough. The retail industry has been involved in an arms race, vying to see who could open the earliest. This year, a number of big box stores opened at midnight. Walmart, not to be beaten, decided to start their sale prices at 10:00pm on Thanksgiving Day.
 
This new move to open at midnight or earlier on the evening of Thanksgiving has elicited a response from some quarters. Some folks, perceiving that Thanksgiving is under attack by out-of-control consumerism, have started campaigns to resist this trend. Many are aware of the burden that this pseudo-holiday places on low-level workers: If stores open their doors at midnight, workers have to show up much earlier than that, depriving them of sleep, and the chance to enjoy the evening of Thanksgiving with their families. Black Friday, and its recent escalation, is squeezing out one of the few annual sabbaths that the working class could once count on.
 
Yet, even if Black Friday were not so terrible for working families, and even if it did not threaten to steamroll Thanksgiving under the weight of Christmas-season merchandising, I would still be opposed to it. Black Friday is the Anti-Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving holiday is traditionally a time to gather with family and friends and practice gratitude for our blessings. It is a time to cultivate awareness of all the ways in which God provides for us, and to pay special attention to providing hospitality to others who are hurting. Black Friday, on the other hand, is a celebration of greed, unbridled consumerism and disregard for others.
 
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Thanksgiving at Occupy Wall Street

If you thought all of the occupiers would go indoors for Thanksgiving, think again. In spite of the recent police raid, hundreds of occupiers, activists, and community members are breaking bread together in Zuccotti Park. 

The OWS Kitchen working group estimates over 3,000 meals will be served with the support of local families, restaurants, and organizations who are opening their kitchens to the movement. 

When I got down to Zuccotti Park around 2:30pm there was a joyful calm in the area—friends and strangers eating together on the now bare marble benches, others walking around offering pecan pie, vegan meal plates, and other holiday snacks to anyone interested, and a small group of folksy looking people singing “This Land is Your Land” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” with guitars and cymbals. 

A nice reclamation of the Thanksgiving meal—less like the oppressive tale of pilgrims and native people we learned about in school; more like Jesus feeding the thousands, the beloved community, etc.

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Hallelujah Chorus from a Mall Court Flash Mob

Today we launch a new daily feature for the Christmas season: Video interpretations of "The Hallelujah Chorus" from Georg Friedrich Händel's Messiah. 

Our first installment comes from Canada where on Nov. 13, 2010, shoppers at the Welland Seaway Mall in Welland, Ontario got a big surprise when a flash mob — led by members of the Chorus Niagara — broke into a (seemingly spontaneous) rendition of "The Hallelujah Chorus."

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