The Common Good

Micah Challenge

Sojomail - September 25, 2008


It's extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion dollars to saved 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.

- Bono, rock star and anti-poverty activist. (Source: The American Prospect blog)

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A 'Micah Challenge' to U.S. Christians

This week, with the news of the U.S. financial crisis dominating the headlines, the United Nations General Assembly opened its annual meeting. The threat to the entire global economy has created alarm and fear that those in poverty, both in the U.S. and around the world, will be left behind and forgotten. World leaders, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, expressed deep concern that the crisis would threaten efforts to fight global poverty. On today’s U.N. agenda is a review of the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. This ambitious agenda includes cutting global poverty in half, reducing infant mortality, reducing the ratio of women dying in childbirth, ensuring primary education, promoting gender equality, combating HIV/AIDS and malaria, and a setting of benchmarks for environmental sustainability and development.

We already know that progress is mixed, and that the growing cost of food and fuel coupled with the economic crisis threatens that progress. The goal of developed countries spending 0.7 percent of their GNP on aid has not been met by most countries. The New York Times noted this week that

The aggregate aid budget of the most developed nations amounts to 0.28 percent of their gross national income ... The United States, shamefully, is at the bottom of the list, spending 0.16 percent of its income on development assistance.

Given that reality, Micah Challenge USA released a Letter to the Church in the United States from thirty senior evangelical leaders in four continents. The letter recognizes what U.S. Christians have contributed to the global South, but goes on to say:

Nevertheless, the political, social, and economic situation in the places where this hope has been announced is increasingly distressing. Millions of people in the global South are dying of hunger, violence, and injustice. These situations of poverty and pain are not simply the product of the internal functions of our countries; rather they are the results of the international policies of the governments that wield global power.

And, in a prophetic challenge to Christians in the U.S.:

Therefore, we have this against you, brothers and sisters, that along with this powerful announcing of the Gospel, the Church from the United States has not also raised its voice in protest against the injustices that powerful governments and institutions are inflicting on the global South - injustices that afflict the lives and ecosystems of millions of people who, centuries after the proclamation of the Gospel, still have not seen the sweat of their brow turned into bread.


And so we ask you as sisters and brothers, citizens of the wealthiest most powerful nation on earth, to publicly challenge your candidates and political leaders -- now and after the elections are over -- to lead the world in the struggle to cut global poverty in half by 2015.

With millions of people in the U.S. and billions in the global South facing poverty, Sojourners is pursuing its Vote Out Poverty campaign, with the goals of cutting domestic poverty in half over ten years and ending extreme global poverty by fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. I urge you to respond to the challenge from our brothers and sisters in the global South by joining the campaign. We must answer our brothers and sisters and demand that our political leaders make cutting poverty in half — both globally and in the U.S. — a priority even as they work to resolve the financial crisis.

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Loving Our Neighbors When Times are Hard (by Jimmy McCarty)

Times are hard. I work at a homeless shelter for single men with a resource center in the front offices for homeless individuals and families, and business has been booming lately. We have seen a dramatic increase in people coming through our doors seeking assistance. Some have seen their budgets tighten dramatically due to increases in gas and food prices and are simply frequenting food banks they used to donate to. In fact, our food banks in the area are running out of food because of the increased demand.

Standing on the Shoulders of Women Leaders (by Mimi Haddad)

Regardless of your political affiliation or inclinations, the presidential campaign this year has been one of “firsts” for women. For the first time, the Republicans have selected a female vice-presidential nominee. The Democrats nearly nominated a woman as their presidential candidate. This is a year in which women have risen to unprecedented heights in the presidential race. Both parties have made history. But for egalitarians, the political prominence women enjoy today is a direct extension of the gains earned for women by early evangelicals, upon whose shoulders we humbly stand.

Obama Hung in Effigy at Christian College (by Eugene Cho)

This is hard to read. Hard to swallow. Hard to understand ... especially when it happens at a Christian university such as George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon (20 miles southwest of Portland). From numerous respected accounts, I have only heard good things about the university, so I share this news not in any way to condemn the institution, the faculty, or the students.

Jubilee for Wall Street? (by Chuck Collins)

The Bush administration believes this should be a “time of Jubilee” for Wall Street speculators, a time of debt forgiveness. But the current proposal would only place additional debt shackles on the next generation. There is no confession of error or spirit of repentance here. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s three-page bailout proposal to Congress could have been written on a cocktail napkin: “Hand over $700 billion and don’t tie my hands.”

Peace in the Midst of Economic Turbulence (by Valerie Elverton Dixon)

When I was a girl, I heard preachers preach various iterations of the following story. An airplane hits dangerous and frightening turbulence. Everyone on the flight tightens their seat belts and feels extreme anxiety except for one little girl who continues calmly playing with her doll, unconcerned about the situation. A woman sitting next to her asks: “Aren’t you afraid?” The little girl answers: “No, my daddy is the pilot and he knows I am on board.”

Holy Insecurity (by Diana Butler Bass)

As an Episcopalian, I attend a church where the weekly Sunday texts are assigned through a lectionary, readings arranged in a three-year cycle through either the Book of Common Prayer or an interdenominational resource. For Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Orthodox Christians, this is the standard way in which we hear the Bible in Sunday worship and the texts upon which our ministers reflect in their sermons.

In Money We Trust (by Mary Nelson)

The Wall Street debacle reminds me of the fall of Babylon ? of the excesses of greed over the common good and the little folks (like the ones in my low-income community) getting the short stick both before, during, and after. A recent article talked about how, in the last few years, the fear of the risks of getting discovered and regulated were overcome by sheer greed. Greed over fear. Clearly, this is a time for sackcloth and ashes for some.

Lakeview Terrace: Somewhat Thoughtful Thriller (by Gareth Higgins)

The number one film at the U.S. box office this past weekend was Lakeview Terrace, Neil La Bute's somewhat thoughtful thriller in which an LAPD officer harasses his new neighbors; the cop is black, the neighbors are an inter-racial couple. If the ethnic identities were switched, the film might never have been made.

Sackcloth and Ashes on Wall Street (by Jim Wallis)

Yesterday I heard Cokie Roberts on ABC’s This Week say: “I’d like to see the CEOs of these companies marched down Wall Street in sackcloth and ashes.” In all the words that were written and spoken this weekend, those were perhaps the most appropriate and even prophetic.

Seeking a More Just Economy (by Seth Naicker)

I have had the opportunity to consider and write about the economic disparities and realities in South Africa. In seeking to connect South Africa with the global discussion concerning struggling economies, here are some thoughts and reflections. South Africa has a booming economy, but we must consider the fact that our seemingly successful economy is only benefiting certain parts of South African society — the middle to upper class.

The Last Story of Summer (by Phyllis Tickle)

Looking back over the last four months, I have come to realize that “Summer Sundays” has been as much about storytelling as it has anything else. I constantly say that I am basically a storyteller; but I don’t think I ever really understood the accuracy of that self-definition until I looked back over what has happened here. If this last summer is any indicator, I am in very fact a storyteller; and so, I asked myself, if that be true, why not one more story? Why not one last hurrah before summer’s end?

Family Values: Ministry or 'Just Life' (by Leroy Barber)

I believe that every dedicated family following Jesus is a great instrument for the kingdom of God. A family serving together is a picture of God’s love and grace. My family has been the greatest part of my life; Donna, Jessica, Josh and Joel have been an incredible blessing to me. They have also been my most committed partners in ministry. They have been through all the ups and downs that come with the life we have chosen to live, a life where we have said we would answer God’s call first witho

Fomenting a Fair Trade Chocolate Revolution (by Becky Garrison)

During a recent trip to Seattle, I took a tour of Theo Chocolate, the first and only organic and fair trade chocolate factory in the United States. During the tour, I learned that their founder, Joseph Whinney, pioneered the supply of organic cocoa beans into the United States in 1994 prior to opening Theo in March 2006. I was intrigued by his story, so I decided to correspond with him via e-mail.

Zimbabwe's Leaders Sign Compromise Agreement (by Nontando Hadebe)

It was a tough call – a choice between dragging the talks on for an indefinite period while ordinary Zimbabweans continue to suffer, or striking a compromise far from ideal that will allow them to implement a democratic agenda. The latter was chosen “in faith” despite difficulties and problems that seem insurmountable.

My Struggle with New Monasticism (by Chanequa Walker-Barnes)

I am grateful to Jason and Vonetta Storbakken for sparking this conversation and for all those who have responded. For about four years now, my husband and I have continually struggled with an ever-strengthening call to New Monastic life. Perhaps, then, the best way for me to participate in this conversation is to identify how New Monastics might help people like me discern and follow the call into the movement.


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Top Stories:

An Economy of Greed
Some people believe that the free market will work itself out on its own, but Jim Wallis writes on the God’s Politics blog, “left to its own devices and human weakness (let’s call it sin), the market too often disintegrates into greed and corruption, as the Wall Street financial collapse painfully reveals.” The government, according to Wallis, must figure out a way to encourage innovation, but reign in the greed. It’s up to the American people to push elected officials in that direction, toward good regulation and away from unbridled greed. +read more

Evangelical leader talks about metro roots
Born and raised in metro Detroit, the Rev. Jim Wallis is now a noted evangelical leader who spoke at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions last month. He's been pushing the evangelical community to embrace social causes such as poverty, the environment, and health care. +read more

Closing the God gap

Jim Wallis calls it what it is ... sin
The Lucifer Effect Theology Blog

Church Silence on the Economy
On Faith

Economy tops agenda for religious voters
The Columbus Dispatch

Hot-button issues can blur lines between politics, 'love thy neighbor'
The Janesville Gazette

Red-letter Christians can transcend partisan politics, Campolo insists
The Baptist Standard

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way -- whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.


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