Faith in Progress

Faith in Progress

Al Sharp, Executive Director of PCG, shares his perspective on key issues of the day.

According to author Edna Ferber, “Some people make the world, the rest just come along and live in it.” It is clear to which group the Gospel calls us. Please join the Advocacy Network now.

Increasingly the distance between the “rich man” (Dives) and Lazarus represents the state of Illinois in microcosm.

Topping my list was the _Collected Sermons of William Sloane Coffin: The Riverside Years,_ now published in a two-volume set by Westminster John Knox Press. The writings of this preacher and social activist belong in the study of anyone who takes the Christian faith seriously.

Just when you think the state budget crisis can’t get any worse, it does. By failing to pay for services rendered, we are about to force the closing of the Philip J. Rock School and Center, which is the only year-around residential program for children in Illinois who are both deaf and blind. Does our public immorality know no bounds?

By all standards, our theater event at Victory Gardens last Thursday was a resounding success. Despite the mid-summer date, and one of the largest midtown traffic jams in recent memory due to the filming of Terminator 3, over fifty friends of PCG were able to join us. The play, “A Guide for the Perplexed” was superb. Make sure to see it. We had two speakers at the pre-play reception, both of whom have been in jail for drug offenses.

Let me tell a little about what happens to an ex-offender just released from prison in “A Guide for the Perplexed,” now showing at Victory Gardens Theater. While serving a four-year sentence, the protagonist, Doug, receives a body blow in the form of a letter: “Son, We are sorry you are in prison. Maybe it will help you. Although it makes us feel bad, you are not welcome here anymore. We wish you a good life, though. Mother.” Better yet, you can experience the story first-hand by attending PCG’s theater event next week.

I have just traveled over 3,500 miles to learn something I already knew. When it comes to gauging state budget disasters, Illinois may not be as bad as California -- arguably the worst in the nation -- but we are getting closer all the time.

Back in the days when progressive Republicans were still part of our political landscape, Nelson Rockefeller, as Governor of New York and the 41st Vice President, served our country well. It is ironic, therefore, that perhaps the most socially damaging legislation in the last 50 years bears his name.

In Matthew 15:21–28, a Canaanite woman seeks the healing of Jesus for her daughter, only to be rebuffed at her first request. She beseeches Jesus again. He reconsiders her request, heals the daughter, and she is made well.

This Biblical narrative teaches us the need for persistence in seeking what we value – and what we think God values – most.

_Until last Friday, it appeared that -- even in the midst of Illinois' financial disaster -- our state legislators would adjourn early. But despite their best efforts to "get out of town" and start campaigning for re-election, the Illinois House was unable to pass even an interim budget. This may have something to do with the 300,000 emails and over 5,000 calls they received, urging them not to vote for an irresponsible budget. In any case, we now have two more weeks on the legislative calendar to insist that they act responsibly. Laura Dean Friedrich and Courtney Eccles of the PCG staff have been in Springfield almost every week for the past five months. The Common Good Network (CGN) asked them to describe the crisis, and what we must do in these next two weeks._

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