The Common Good

The Gentler Gamester is the Soonest Winner

Sojomail - December 4, 2008


I explained to the ambassador my situation, and that the people of Afghanistan wanted a ban. ... Today is a historic day.

- Afghani 17-year-old Soraj Ghulan Habib, who lost both legs in a cluster bomb explosion, explaining how he helped persuade his country to join nearly 100 nations in signing a treaty banning such weapons. The United States, Israel, and Russia refused to sign the treaty. Cluster bomblets scatter over vast areas, and can then lie dormant until they are disturbed, often by children attracted by their toy-like appearance and bright colors. The group Handicap International says 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians, and 27 percent are children. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" -- our daily quote and Bible verse e-mail

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

The Gentler Gamester is the Soonest Winner

Get a free trial issue of Sojourners Get a free issue of Sojourners
“The appeal of terrorism is waning,” said Mathew Burrows, head of long-range analysis in the office of the director of national intelligence. According to The New York Times, a new report from the National Intelligence Council, representing all 16 American intelligence agencies, predicts that “Al Qaeda could soon be on the decline, having alienated Muslim supporters with indiscriminate killing and inattention to the practical problems of poverty, unemployment and education.”

As American and Indian intelligence continue to point to the Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba as responsible for last week's attacks in Mumbai, I hope Pakistani and Indian officials have seen this report. It is not news that poverty, fear, and wide civilian casualties provide a breeding ground for terrorism. Economic stability, education, and infrastructure can be some of the most effective tools to undermining the terrorists’ credibility and deflating their claims.

Reading these stories brought back to my mind an op-ed piece Kofi Annan wrote as he was retiring, on the lessons he had learned during 10 years as secretary general of the United Nations. The first two of those lessons were:

First, in today's world we are all responsible for each other's security. Against such threats as nuclear proliferation, climate change, global pandemics or terrorists operating from safe havens in failed states, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. Only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves. This responsibility includes our shared responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity....

Second, we are also responsible for each other's welfare. Without a measure of solidarity, no society can be truly stable. It is not realistic to think that some people can go on deriving great benefits from globalization while billions of others are left in, or thrown into, abject poverty. We have to give all our fellow human beings at least a chance to share in our prosperity.

Last week I was in the U.K. and visited the Globe Theatre with my 10-year-old son, who was working on a school project. It reminded me of a scene from Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth, as English troops are marching through France. Henry forbids his men from attacking, harming, and harassing peasants, “For when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner.” Henry knew that the bravery of his men on St. Crispin’s Day would mean little if their cruelty to the French people undermined their victory.

With al Qaeda losing their support through ignoring the basic needs of the people they claim to fight for, my hope and prayer is that India, Pakistan, and our next administration capitalize on this weakness through a foreign policy that strikes to the roots of terrorism by addressing those needs.

+ Click to share to this article

+ Click to respond to this article on the God's Politics Blog


+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Your Photo Memos to Barack Obama
by Jeannie Choi

They say a picture is worth a thousand words ... what thousand words would you say if you had an audience with the president? See what Sojourners staffers had to say, and then send in your own by emailing your photo memo to We will post the photo memos here as they come.
+ Click to continue

My Advent Calendar: December 4
by Diana Butler Bass

The fourth window of my Advent calendar opened to reveal a deer in the snow, a nostalgic vision of winter. A frosty Christmas card scene. Just a few nights ago, my family was driving down a suburban street when a huge, dark figure dashed out of the woods onto the foggy road.
+ Click to continue

Christmas Presence
by Michaela Bruzzese

A few years ago, as I and the rest of the audience waited patiently for a passion play to begin, a homeless man burst into the church and began running up the aisle, screaming. He was unkempt and appeared to be psychologically disturbed. The actors also seemed alarmed, and we waited anxiously for someone to call the police. That is, until we heard what the man was screaming.
+ Click to continue

Odetta Has Gone Home
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

Odetta has gone home. Artists that touch our hearts help us to see, and they speak for us our own mute truth. A spiritual breath of courage and grace breathes through them and upon us. Our base selves, slouching away from our humanity, stand up straight and recognize that our human being is found in righteous relationships, and we are translated into our more noble selves.
+ Click to continue

My Advent Calendar: December 3
by Diana Butler Bass

Of all the things we do to prepare for Christmas, I love the Advent calendar most. Although I am two days late starting, I want to share my Advent calendar in community this year. Each day, after I open the little window, I'll write a short meditation on the picture for the Sojourners family.
+ Click to continue

Who Moved My Cheese?
by Nadia Bolz-Weber

"The cheese is gone, someone came in and stole the cheese." I looked at Sheralee unsure what this sentence might actually mean as it was not the one I anticipated coming out of this woman's mouth.
+ Click to continue

Support Israeli Conscientious Objectors -- Free the Shministim
by Howard Zinn

I've been thinking a lot about courage. See that fresh-faced, bold young woman on the right? Her name is Raz Bar-David Varon. She's an 18-year-old Israeli who just graduated from 12th grade. And as I write this, she's sitting in jail in Tel Aviv because she refuses to join the Israeli army.
+ Click to continue

Questioning the 'Survivor' Mentality of Some Christians
by Julie Clawson

First a confession – I watch Survivor. I know it's the symbol of the downward spiral of television into endless reality programming, but there is something strangely fascinating about it. So this past weekend when I was invited to attend a Women's Holiday Tea with featured speaker "Leslie from Survivor: China," I knew this was something I had to hear.
+ Click to continue

India's 9/11
by Jim Wallis

Many in India and across the world saw last week's hostage situation as India's 9/11. Already this comparison is being debated, but it seems increasingly clear that the terrorist actions of last week could help define the way this rapidly growing country interacts with the world.
+ Click to continue

'Elders' Refused Entry to Zimbabwe as Cholera Claims Lives
by Nontando Hadebe

Gracia Machel was part of a delegation of "the elders" consisting of Kofi Annan (former secretary general of United Nations) and Jimmy Carter (former U.S. president) on a humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe. They were all denied entry visas to Zimbabwe.
+ Click to continue

Continuing the Abortion Conversation
by Eugene Cho

I believe emphatically that abortion is wrong and as Christians, we should graciously hold and believe in everything that upholds the sanctity of life -- which includes protecting the lives of the unborn. But how? The government should be involved, but how does a government legislate and enforce such a value?
+ Click to continue

World AIDS Day: Mourning, Celebration, and Rededication
by Adam Taylor

Like in past years, the day was marked by candlelight vigils, services of this remembrance, and awareness raising events. In addition to remembering and honoring loved ones lost to this preventable and treatable disease, we can now begin to celebrate many of the hard fought gains that have been made in the fight against AIDS around the world.
+ Click to continue

Obama's Ethic of Responsibility
by Brian McLaren

The whole Bible affirms this correlation between advantage and accountability to God for how the advantage is used: wealth or power or special talent or privilege or extraordinary success do not exempt their recipients from responsibility, but increase their responsibility.
+ Click to continue

Video: Indigenous Theologians Discuss Christianity and Culture
by Matt Hildreth

As we reflect on the history, meaning, and mythologies surrounding the season of Thanksgiving, indigenous theologians Richard Twiss, Raymond Aldred, and Terry LeBlanc offer their perspectives on the interaction between Christian faith and Native American identity, and the relationships between religion, culture, and the gospel.
+ Click to watch

Buy Nothing Day as Advent Activism Against the Demon Mammon
by Shane Claiborne

As per usual, on Friday, we had all sorts of Buy Nothing Day festivities. But that's not what I want to talk about. I read recent posts on consumerism and Buy Nothing Day by Eugene Cho and Rachel Anderson here on God's Politics, and I admire the optimism and nuanced critiques. But this past weekend folks around the world stared in embarrassment, pity, and horror as people killed each other for bargains – literally. It seems to warrant a little more reflection.
+ Click to continue

A Different Economic Measure: Quality of Life and an Economic Bill of Rights
by Mary Nelson

I'm tired of all the frantic talk about how much or little consumers are spending over this Holiday time. Something's wrong with an economy based on consumer spending, with kids thinking the measure of parents' love is the gifts they get. We need to figure out a new kind of gauge of well-being, of quality of life, not only for individuals in families, but for communities as well.
+ Click to continue

Oppression of Women: The Oldest Injustice in Human History
by Eugene Cho

As a young Korean man, I learned through the Confucian culture and worldview that women were born to serve their fathers as young girls, their husbands when they got married, and their grown sons when they were older mothers.
+ Click to continue

A Pre-Consumption Prayer
by Rachel Anderson

"Consumption" isn't a bad word. Even as we watch the excesses of the consumer economy crumble and collapse around us, we should remember that the word "consume" also means "to eat."
+ Click to continue

A Texas Procession for Life
by Jennifer Svetlik

700 Catholics demonstrated their commitment to promoting the sacredness of all human life in a Pilgrimage of Life in Huntsville, Texas. The pilgrimage included Mass and a mile-long rosary procession. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and more than 10 other clergy led the procession, which began at an abortion referral center, marched through Sam Houston State University, and ended at Texas' correctional facility, where the state carries out executions.
+ Click to continue

Protesting Injustice and Celebrating Memories at the Gates of the SOA
by Kaitlin Barker

There comes a point in life when the pretty façade of history and so-called reality breaks down -- when the underbelly of a country's foreign policy is unveiled and found, at times, to place national economic and political gain above basic human rights.
+ Click to continue


Breathing new life into the Bluegrass

Watch a video of the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, an effort to maintain the bluegrass music of the Appalachian Mountains.

+ Click here to watch

+ Click here to read about more about Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, from the December issue of Sojourners magazine.


+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" e-mail -- the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:

With the Obama election, evangelicals seek a role as faith in politics enters historic era
The Anniston Star
But as the dust settles, those on the left aspire to do away with labels in favor of a community of faith, says Adam Taylor, senior political director for Sojouners. "We hope Obama realizes that the faith community is not monolithic," Taylor says. "It continues to invite a range of perspectives, including those that disagree with his policy positions. And we hope that he respects and invites the prophetic role of the church in helping create new possibilities -- a moral will that can eventually give way to a political will." +Click to continue

Politics, poverty and ‘Joe the Plumber’
Florida Baptist Witness

The Bible on money woes
The Daily Breeze

One-week 'challenge' is justa a taste of hunger reality
The Toledo Blade

The Pope, the Consistent Ethic of Life, and the Common Good

"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.


Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

First Congregational Church, a progressive Christian congregation of the United Church of Christ in Redwood City, CA, is looking for a pastor to start a new UCC church in our community of 75,000 on the San Francisco Peninsula. We are providing start-up training, coaching, and two rounds of funding. Please see our Church Start Pastor Profile on the Resources page of our Web site for complete details on how to apply. Click here for more information.

Women around the world are accepting the call to become missioners in the Maryknoll Sisters tradition. You, too, can live this life of service to translate the gospel of love worldwide. Click here for more information.

What Would Jesus Buy? Find out in this feature length DVD from Morgan Spurlock of SuperSize Me. Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping discover the meaning of the Shopocalyse -- the end of mankind from consumerism, over-consumption, and the fires of eternal debt. Click here for more information.

Advent is here! Be prepared with Preaching the Word -- online sermon prep and study resources based on the Revised Common Lectionary. From the editors of Sojourners. Click here for more information.

Two for the price of one Sojourners subscriptions! Buy one gift subscription for $39.95 and get the second one for free. Shopping with no hassles (just a mouse click away), lasts all year, and supports peace and justice. Click here.

Common good and economic justice? What can we learn from the Bible about the proper role of government? Explore these ideals with Sojourners’ four-part study guide, Christians and the Role of Government. Now available for download. Learn more.

God's Politics Blog facebook
MySpace YouTube

Click Here!

GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: | Advertising: | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.