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From the Editors: An Unholy Alliance of Money
“SOJOURNERS IS MY favorite Catholic magazine,” readers occasionally tell us. Even though we’re an ecumenical Christian magazine with evangelical-ish roots, the compliment always makes us blush with pride. As we see it, if these pages resonate with Catholics, mainline Protestants, and evangelicals alike (as well as folks from Pentecostal, Orthodox, and other traditions), we must be doing something right.
In this interdenominational spirit, we publish “The Rise of the Catholic Right,” by Tom Roberts, executive editor of National Catholic Reporter. Through careful investigative work, Roberts offers an in-depth look at how private—and wealthy—conservative Catholic organizations are using money to exert undue influence in achieving their right-wing political and theological agendas.
New & Noteworthy: March 2019
Let the Beat Drop
Hamildrops, a series of 12 singles inspired by Hamilton, includes a range of artists (Black Thought, The Regrettes, Sara Bareilles) singing or rapping on topics such as racism, domestic abuse, and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. The last released song features gospel legend BeBe Winans and Barack Obama. Hamildrops.com
Tackling Health Disparities
How Neighborhoods Make Us Sick: Restoring Health and Wellness to Our Communities offers an innovative, Christ-centered vision for approaching health disparities in inner cities. Drawing on professional experience in community development and public health, Veronica Squires and Breanna Lathrop outline achievable goals for promoting health equity. InterVarsity Press
Letters: March 2019
Our current technology is one of the most powerful and amazing gifts our civilization has. “Big Tech” enables deaf people to communicate via sign language over visual phones. “Big Tech” enables patients to remotely control electrostimulation implants, to control chronic pain without narcotics. For me, “Big Tech” has fulfilled a decades-long dream of sharing my awe at God’s majesty in nature via photos to viewers all over the world. How we use our technology equates to the level of spiritual maturity in our civilization. The abuses Gaymon Bennett appropriately cites in his article “Silicon Valley’s Original Sin” (January 2019) are symptoms of spiritual immaturity that are burdening our civilization. For our civilization to survive, we must begin to awaken awe, wonder, and spiritual awareness in our daily lives.
Stephen Eric Levine
Too Little, Too Late
I found Danny Duncan Collum’s castigation of Paul Simon in his article “Graceless in ‘Graceland’” (January 2019) to be somewhat self-righteous. For Collum to criticize Simon for working with native musical artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, contrary to a political boycott, seems to imply that Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo were supporters of apartheid. “Graceland” came out over 30 years ago, and Collum’s article is too little, too late.
David E. Dax
From the Editors: The Church’s Problem With Sensuality
“IT'S HARD TO imagine the average evangelical church embracing Mutesa’s colorful portraits of nude black joy,” writes Faith-Marie Zamblé in her profile of the young photographer whose work is rippled with laughter, face paint, and bare skin. Though the mood of Mimi Mutesa’s work is more exuberant than explicit, Zamblé is right: Blame it on the apple, Augustine, or purity culture, but many churches we know—evangelical or otherwise—blush when it comes to body parts, especially naked ones. Ever notice how crucifixes often have Jesus wearing a loincloth despite scripture’s insistence he was stripped?
We suspect Christian jitters around nudity are rooted in fear that naked bodies will arouse unholy sexual thoughts. But as Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber points out, the church’s tendency to couple sexuality and sin has led to a sense of shame that many Christians find hard to shake. “I wonder how we could begin to honor sexual pleasure as something that can connect us more deeply to ourselves and others and God, yet still speak the truth about the ways in which our behaviors around sex can also do the opposite,” she writes in “Honor Thy Sexual Pleasure?” an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation.
New & Noteworthy: February 2019
The expanded edition of Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders revisits a pivotal civil rights campaign. Filled with mugshots and recent interviews of several riders who were arrested in Jackson, Miss., Breach of Peace honors a historic act of protest. Vanderbilt University Press
One Body, Many Parts
Together at the Table: Diversity Without Division in the United Methodist Church, by Bishop Karen P. Oliveto, the UMC’s first openly LGBTQ bishop, is timely as the denomination nears a potential split over sexuality. Oliveto outlines how her denomination can remain whole. Westminster John Knox Press
Letters: February 2019
Molech and Herod
A profound thank-you for Rose Marie Berger’s powerful column, “No More Cover-Ups,” in the December 2018 issue. It is a heroic, necessary, and epiphanic piece: I must have read it a score of times. As a cradle Catholic who never left Holy Mother Church, I wish you would send it to USCCB.org for the bishops to read. I was particularly struck by your bringing in Molech and Herod. Kudos to you for saying Catholics helped elect Herod to the presidency. I am quoting you all over the place: God bless you for such a spirited and enlightened essay.
From the Editors: The Dark Side of Tech
"WE LIVE AS if the connections provided by digital technologies are vital,” writes Gaymon Bennett in the cover story, “and indeed we have made them so.”
Guilty as charged. Hang around the Sojourners office long enough and you’ll hear stories about how we used to keep a list of our subscribers in a shoebox and write articles on typewriters. But those days are done: Today our office hosts a congregation of laptops, tablets, screens, cameras, and smartphones that we need to access databases, send messages, and update our website. When a network upgrade happens to knock out the Wi-Fi, we all go home because, well, how could we work?
New & Noteworthy: January 2019
In the Key of Policy
Neneh Cherry's effortless vocals and impressionistic lyrics reverberate with honesty in her fifth album, the personal and provocative Broken Politics. Complex, multilayered instrumentals featuring harp, brass, and steel drum form an unexpected backdrop for songs about refugees, women's rights, and gun violence. Small Supersound/Awal Recordings
How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance explores the evolution of mass demonstrations in America since the 1963 March on Washington. Drawing on 30-plus years as a grassroots organizer, L.A. Kauffman sheds new light on how and why protests work. University of California Press
Letters: January 2019
Big Brother Bias
It is disappointing to read “Under Ortega, Nicaragua Explodes,” by Eric L. Olson (November 2018), because of its one-sided nature. To rely on “an expert on U.S. policy on Latin America ... [who] lives in Washington D.C.” rather than on the voices of fellow Nicaraguan Christians embroiled in the current situation is uncharacteristic of Sojourners. Is it “big brother’s” spin on events that we take at face value, or do we seek to hear from sisters and brothers from the underside? Given the history of multiple CIA-instigated coups in Latin America, doesn’t the claim by some Nicaraguans that the recent troubles are the result of a CIA-sponsored coup attempt—taking advantage of initially nonviolent protests of unpopular policy changes—deserve a fair hearing? One would hope that Sojourners would join with Nicaraguan Christians in prayer and accompaniment rather than side with U.S. policy.
Asheville, North Carolina
New & Noteworthy: December 2018
Power of the Word
Preaching as Resistance: Voices of Hope, Justice, and Solidarity , edited by Phil Snider, is a collection of 30 sermons that confront forces of injustice and authoritarianism and proclaim gospel hope. Contributors include Wil Gafney, Jeff Chu, José F. Morales Jr., and Sojourners’ own Layton E. Williams. Chalice Press
Love and Community
In Redeeming Dementia: Spirituality, Theology, and Science, Dorothy Linthicum and Janice Hicks offer insights on a theology of the human person to empower people of faith to better embrace and advocate for those with dementia. Includes stories of innovative programs in churches and care facilities. Church Publishing