Defending the Common Good

August/September 2017


10 “Swamps” Where Christians Must Take Action
(Defending the Common Good, Part 1)
Chris Iosso

How does the mission of the Church line up with the defense of the common good? In this opening editorial, Chris introduces both the theme of the issue and a series of policy statements that PC (USA) has released relating to critical issues in modern political discourse.

On Prophetic Vision: Letter from a New Managing Editor,
Henry Koenig Stone

Is there room for doubt, along with faith?  In his self-introduction as Managing Editor, Henry argues that faith and doubt work hand in hand, challenging us to re-evaluate our assumptions—as individuals and as a society—in search of an open-minded, more complete truth.  As part of this journey, Henry calls on all people to join the dialogue of Unbound, “no matter your background, beliefs, or self-identity.”

Faith for a World in Crisis
(Defending the Common Good, Part 2)
Henry Koenig Stone

In a world of “Fake News”, how do we find it in us to trust?  Continuing the theme of Defending the Common Good, Henry writes that faith has a crucial role to play in enabling “radical love”.  Radical love can help us reject societal indifference and move toward mutual care.

Sanctuary, for the Word and for the People
Donna Schaper

How can the state ask religious institutions to violate the principle of forgiveness?  Donna defends the word “Sanctuary” by placing it in its religious context, arguing that the act of providing sanctuary lies at the heart of church identity.

In Defense of Truth
Mark Levine

“[Today’s media] might well allow one scientist who agrees with climate change to debate one who does not. But that debate is actually not a fair representation of the truth.” Mark, a long-time radio host, discusses the role of the media and of active citizens in maintaining truth in a democracy.

Who Would Be Great
Ray Anderson

The word “great”:  what does it mean in the context of a nation? Ray reflects on the “great reversal” in which Jesus defined a new sort of greatness for his followers:  service to others.

In Praise of Summer Camp
Kimberly Alexander

For each of us, our moral and faith experiences need places to root. Writing as a teacher and as a camp counselor, Kimberly tells of her own experience of faith grown through summer camp, and speaks to the broader principles of self-teaching and safe spaces for inquiry that help so many youth develop their faith and their minds.

Casting Out Our Pride
Robert Trawick

In response to the violence in Charlottesville, Robert speaks to the difficult truth that it is easy to self-congratulate and distance oneself from societal conflict. He argues that active acknowledgement of racism & opposition to white supremacy is a necessary component of real Christian life.

Keeping Our Lamps Burning
Shantha Ready Alonso, Scott Hardin-Nieri, Brooks Berndt

In a time where some deny the existence of climate change or the human role in exacerbating it, ecumenical faith leaders are keeping the light of truth lit, building a movement to “protect, restore, and more rightly share God’s creation”.

Playing with “Fire and Fury”: Praying with the Korean People
Interview with Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger

So far, efforts for a peace treaty in Korea have failed.  But PC(USA) Korea Mission Co-Workers, Hyeyoung and Kurt, remain hopeful.

A Call to Rescue the Trafficked in our Midst
Constance McIntosh

Slavery still exists in the world in the form of what we now call “human trafficking.”  Constance speaks to the enduring problem as well as to the work of SWLA Abolitionists in fighting against trafficking in the United States.

Not a Savior, But a Partner
Amy Greene

In order to better care for people at the population level, health providers need to find new ways of relating to communities on their own terms. The Health + Faith Cooperative is one such effort, a collaboration between faith leaders and the Cleveland Clinic as they together attempt “To be a force to transform the wellbeing of our communities through education, resources, trust, and mutual support.”

Labor Day’s Inequality Flood and the Roots of Authoritarianism
Chuck Rawlings

A longtime Labor activist, Chuck speaks to the inequality unveiled in Houston, to the history of religion and racism in the roots of America’s founding elitists, and for the need for people of faith to move beyond insular congregational lives to join together with others in movements for justice.

Good Soil: The Truth About Reconciliation
Christine Hong

At Big Tent, Christine reminded us that Reconciliation is “fruit that must first be sown”.  Here is a written version of her Sermon preaching confession, repentance, and active engagement in dismantling the structures of oppression built into our society.

Health and Harmony in Ecological Economics: Pathways to Sustainability
Carol Johnston

Carol writes, “the world needs to shift from working against nature’s creativity to working with the creativity that God has woven into nature”.

For a House United to Stand: Notes For One Pillar Community
Chris Iosso

In his closing editorial, Chris invokes the parable of the empty house, describing the demons which infect society wherever room is left by the absence of community and love.  In being one of many “pillar communities”, Chris writes, “we should contrast with and complement those who do not share all our beliefs, but do share some of our values and sense of rights.”

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