Monday, June 11, 2007

More action for poverty as an issue in '08

One week after Sojourners gave a well-noted push to getting poverty on the radar screen for the 2008 elections, another group with a lot more money weighed in to push the issue. The rock singer Bono and his ONE campaign, with financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and with bi-partisan support from two former Senate majority leaders - Democrat Tom Daschle and Republican Bill Frist -- announced a huge push in the coming year to get candidates to address issues of poverty. You can find more about that campaign here.

Two other useful resources from the last few days.

The New York Times Sunday magazine was a special issue all about income inequality in this country. If you don't have access to a paper copy, you can get to it online. (You may have to register, but it is free.)
One of the articles is this issue focuses on Ruby Payne, the author of the book recommended by Steve Fine at our discussion. It is at this link.

Also in the New York Times, religion columnist Peter Steinfels had one of the most sophisticated assessments of the Sojourners event. You can read the whole column, b
ut here is a wonderful set of questions that Steinfels posed:
On Monday, Ms. O’Brien kept describing the forum as one about “faith and politics,” and Ms. Zahn was backed by a logo with the same phrase.

But there was no “and” there. These conversations were about faith. They were about politics. They just weren’t conversations about faith and politics.

Think of questions that could have explored that “and.”

What does the Bible or any other religious source tell you about fighting poverty — and what doesn’t it tell you? Likewise for writing tax legislation or extending health care.

Does your faith dictate any absolute principles, ones you would never compromise, for using military force? For interrogating prisoners? For making peace in the Middle East? For legal provision of abortion? For recognizing gay marriage?

What is your reaction to the claim that religion is “a conversation stopper” that should be kept out of political debates because it appeals to emotionally powerful convictions beyond rational examination?

Do you agree with the large proportion of voters — perhaps half or more — who say they wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president, even one generally qualified for the office?

do you say to those who fear that even conversations like this one constitute a religious test for the presidency?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Some books about poverty

On Monday night, Sojourners co-sponsored a discussion with three presidential candidates -- Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama -- about faith, politics and poverty. About 30 people gathered at Fitchburg Memorial UCC to watch it together and this discuss the ideas that came out of it. Here is a reading list that I put together coming out of that discussion:

Steve Fine recommended this book during our discussion:
A Framework for Understanding Poverty
By Ruby K.Payne
199 pp., $22, 2005
aha Process Inc.

A good new book for linking faith to hunger:
Take This Bread: A Radical Conversation
By Sara Miles
283 pp. $24.95, 2007
Ballantine Books

For a evangelical warning about getting too caught up in politics:
The Myth of a Christian Nation:
How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church
By Gregory A. Boyd
219 pp., $14.95, 2007

For a look at folks engaged in living with global poverty:
The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World's Poor
By Scott Bessenecker (he's from Madison)
199 pp., $15, 2006
IVP Books

And for folks living with poverty in this country:
The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
By Shane Clairborne
368 pp., $12.99, 2006

A woman writing about her own experience of being poor:
My Name is Child of God, Not "Those People"
By Julia K. Dinsmore
176 pp., $13.99, 2007
Augsburg Books

And don't forget the basic book for Sojourners -
God's Politics
By Jim Wallis
432 pp., $14.95, 2006

And in the beginning ...

... I created a blog. I'll use this to post reflections on life in our world, post sources of material that others might find interesting, provide links to places you might find useful. I hope you will write back, so this can become a place for conversation rather than a one-way rumination.

Let the fun begin.