The Common Good

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post Press Items
Earlier this month, Oxfam joined with Sojourners, World Vision and Bread for the World to launch the documentary film, "The Line", to highlight the story of hard working American families doing everything right but still struggling in poverty. We could never have imagined the response: over 2,000 screenings in churches, community centers and homes in every state in the union, attended by tens of thousands of people since the film premiered Oct 2. People have gathered to talk about growing poverty in our communities and start a conversation they do not see their leaders having. You can still sign up at to host a screening and join the conversation.
Are we "New Evangelicals" open to the hard lessons? There are hopeful signs. One leader, Lisa Sharon Harper, has seen that the answer to the "evangelical right" is not a revived evangelical left. She wants more nuance: "I am a Kingdom Christian, not a leftist Christian, a conservative Christian, nor any other political brand of Christian ... I am called to be a prophetic Christian. The axis of my political engagement is scripture and the biblical theology of shalom: It sets the standards of my political engagement."
I will miss George McGovern. The former senator from South Dakota and Democratic presidential candidate in 1972 died in a hospice on Sunday, at 90, surrounded by family and friends who loved him.
Tomorrow night is the first presidential debate. It will undoubtedly be an important moment in the campaign for the highest office in the land. But whose lives will it be important to? Certainly, there will be a lot for pundits to discuss and dissect. They will analyze phrases and statements and will compare them to polling data and focus groups in swing states. Super PACs will record gaffes by either candidate, ready to turn them into multi-million dollar commercial buys.
The most recent discussions of U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East once again say more about politics during an election year than they do about the fundamental issues we must confront if we want to see substantial change. So let's look at the basic issues and fundamental choices we need to make.
Millions tuned in to watch the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Both were merely parties for a political party funded by wealthy interests seeking to appeal to middle class voters in an election year.
The recently revealed video of Governor Mitt Romney at a fundraising event last May is changing the election conversation. I hope it does, but at an even deeper level than the responses so far. There is certainly politics here, some necessary factual corrections, and some very deep ironies. But underneath it all is a fundamental question of what our spiritual obligations to one another and, for me, what Jesus' ethic of how to treat our neighbors means for the common good.
"Across the political and theological spectrum, the faith community is putting aside differences and taking up the biblical vocation of protecting the poor and bringing their stories and struggles to light," said Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, a progressive Christian group based in Washington.
We live in a globalized world. Our neighbors are no longer only the people who live next door but include all of those whose lives are connected to our own. It's almost impossible to go a day without using or eating something that doesn't have parts or labor from a country or a person halfway across the world.
Someone asked me recently what I thought of something "as a member of the Christian Left." My insides tightened and screeched into a ball. It was as if Freddy Krueger had run his sharpened fingernails across the black board in history class. Christian Left? Left of what? When did I sign that membership card?