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New & Noteworthy: ‘Saint Omer,’ Christian Climate Care, and More

by The Editors 03-20-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
Kayije Kagame plays as Rama in the film ‘Saint Omer.’ She is a Black woman with box braids wearing a creased linen olive-green v-neck dress. She sits in the pews of a court with a crowd of people blurred in the background.

From Saint Omer

Humanizing the Harrowing

The French film Saint Omer follows the trial of a Senegalese woman accused of murdering her child. The docudrama is a condemnation of the criminal legal system, and a reminder that no one is the totality of the worst thing they’ve done.
Les Films du Losange

‘It May Not Look Like It, but Love's In Charge’

by The Editors 03-16-2023
Despite the seemingly insurmountable reality of racial injustice, we must remember that God is love.
An illustration of Rev. James M. Lawson Jr. with a quote above his head that reads, "We must earn to work and struggle, not for simply what we see in front of us. We must work that we might be citizens of a country that has not yet appeared."

James M. Lawson Jr., a proponent of Gandhian nonviolence and a leader of the civil rights movement, is a retired United Methodist minister in Los Angeles. / Illustration by Kayneisha Holloway

WHEN VILLANOVA PROFESSOR Vincent W. Lloyd reflects on the theology of the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” he begins with the “death-dealing forces of white supremacy” and the tragic “ vulnerability to premature death” experienced by Black people. But Lloyd doesn’t stop there. To affirm the value of Black lives, Lloyd writes, requires life that is rich, creative, and flourishing.

Lloyd doesn’t think such flourishing is possible without faith. Specifically, he argues that to hold on to “a hope against hope” in the face of these noxious, murderous systems and practices requires belief in the possibility of life after death: “For Black life to matter,” Lloyd writes, “we must believe in resurrection.” As Carmen Acevedo Butcher puts it in her interview with Betsy Shirley, “It may not look like it,” but “Love’s in charge.” That’s an important reminder for all of us, in this Easter season and always.

On a lighter note: We’re pleased to have a guest appearance by our former art director (and humor columnist) Ed Spivey Jr., who came out of retirement to offer his pearls of wisdom on artificial and other kinds of intelligence.

New & Noteworthy: God's Gender, ‘Women Talking,’ and More

by The Editors 02-24-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A group of Mennonite women are standing and sitting in a barn filled with crates and hay bales in the film 'Women Talking.'

From Women Talking

Do We Stay or Do We Go?

Women Talking centers on Mennonite women wrestling with how to respond to serial sexual assault by men from their colony. The film explores the complexity of forgiveness and touchingly reminds viewers that leaving one’s community can be an act of faith.
United Artists Releasing

On Earth as It Is in Heaven

by The Editors 02-16-2023
Scripture's view of a God-centered economy is at odds with the competitive system of acquisition and consumption known as capitalism.
An illustration of a woman named Sofika Zielyk. She has short blonde hair with sideswept bangs is wearing a white dress that has intricate red patterning and loose sleeves. A yellow circle is behind her with red flowers around the circumference.

Ethnographer and artist Sofika Zielyk curates “The Pysanka: A Symbol of Hope,” an evolving exhibit with more than 500 Easter eggs from people around the world. / Illustration by Angelina Grabil

IN THIS ISSUE, ethicist Larry Rasmussen explains that human economic activity has transformed not only our relationship to the world, but the world itself — we are now in an era where “everything turns upon humanity,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in a different context. While this new “totalizing” reality of what people are doing to the planet has become virtually undeniable, the human tendency toward unceasing growth, as Jim Rice points out in his column, is still defended by economists, headline writers, and the rest of the “more is more” crowd.

New & Noteworthy: Harriet Tubman's Mysticism, Riotsvilles, and More

by The Editors 12-27-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A son embraces his mother from behind, who lift up their hands together to clap.

From God's Creatures

Communal Sin

The psychological thriller God’s Creatures follows a mother who chooses to hide her son’s secret, a decision that has damaging ripple effects in her remote fishing village. The film explores how a community’s complacency in covering up sin can systematize and amplify evil.

The Balance of Power

by The Editors 12-26-2022
Abusive power is not new. But it also does not have the final word.
An illustration of Janes Evans and a German Shepherd over his shoulder, accompanied with a quote: "I want people to think of pet ownership as being as diverse and complex as pets themselves. There is a pet out there for everyone."

James Evans is founder and CEO of Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE), which strives to make animal welfare and rescue more equitable. / Illustration by Tiarra Lucas

ALL THREE FEATURE articles in this issue revolve around issues of power. Jenna Barnett looks at the power wielded by charismatic leaders such as Jean Vanier, one of the founders of the L’Arche communities, and how his power — and a lack of accountability — became a fountainhead of abuse. Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace, explores the May 2022 killing of Palestinian Christian Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli military, a consequence of the massive power imbalance between the State of Israel and the Occupied Territories of Palestine. And Sojourners’ Moya Harris, an itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, looks at the spiritual power of Lauryn Hill and other female rappers who address questions of “sexual power, sexism, embodiment, racism, and economic issues” in their lives and music.

As Christians enter the season of Lent, we reflect on human brokenness and who we are before the cross. Abusive power is not new. But it also does not have the final word, as the people in these stories show.

New & Noteworthy: Black Psalms, Spiritual Timekeeping, and More

by The Editors 11-21-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A Comanche woman stands in a combat-ready pose with a tomahawk against an assailant in the film 'Prey.'

From Prey (2022)

Divine Justice

A Comanche woman eschews gender norms to protect her tribe from fur trappers and alien warriors in the sci-fi horror film Prey. The movie honors Indigenous culture and offers a compelling, brutal picture of divine justice against colonial powers.

Seeking Justice, Not Theocracy

by The Editors 11-21-2022
Public policy has been detrimentally affected — and people harmed — by inhumane, unbiblical interpretations of Christian theology. 
An illustration of Nicole Hockley holding a picture of her deceased son as she stands among orange flowers. A quote from her about taking action in the wake of loss is beside her.

Nicole Hockley’s son Dylan was one of 26 killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Hockley is co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, which seeks to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. / Illustration by Louisa Cannell

ONE DOESN'T NEED Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fiction to see the frightening potential of theocracy. In this issue, writer René Ostberg tells a chilling story of a malign collusion of church and state — in this case, the Irish Catholic Church and the newly formed Irish state of the 1920s. Together, the two institutions acted as morality police, imprisoning women and girls for the “crime” of becoming pregnant out of wedlock — as Ostberg puts it, “for transgressing Catholic Ireland’s moral and class codes.” More than 10,000 Irish women and girls were incarcerated in so-called Magdalene laundries run by Catholic religious orders with state funding, the last of which wasn’t closed until 1996.

New & Noteworthy: Vigilante Justice, the ‘Unruly Saint,’ and More

by The Editors 10-31-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
Faye Yager holds a child in her arms as she looks off into the distance.

From Children of the Underground

Children of the Underground

After seeing the courts return many children to allegedly abusive fathers, Faye Yager created an underground network that hid hundreds of mothers and children. The five-part docuseries Children of the Underground shows the moral complexity of Yager’s vigilante justiceHulu/FX

Incarnating the Cotton Patch Gospel

by The Editors 10-28-2022
Clarence Jordan lived out the gospel through radical activism in the South during the civil rights movement. His life is a testament to practicing what you preach.
An illustration of teenage Pakistani climate activist Manal Shad, a female with dark hair speaking to an unseen crowd with a fire posed above her right hand. The background reads, "Do not wait for revolution to come; do what you must and light the spark."

Manal Shad is a 14-year-old climate activist from Dir, Pakistan. / Illustration by Samya Arif

“BRINGING HOME THE incarnation was the motivation for Clarence’s writing, his preaching, and his living. He believed that the incarnation was the only method of evangelization, that ‘we haven’t gotten anywhere until we see the word become flesh.’” So wrote associate editor Joyce Hollyday in our December 1979 cover feature on the Southern activist/farmer/writer Clarence Jordan. Our December issue, for many years, was our “incarnation” issue, focused on a contemporary or historical figure who lived out the way of Jesus.

New & Noteworthy: Climate Leaders, "The Viral Underclass," and More

by The Editors 09-29-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
Foreground of image shows Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hiking in a green forest. She wears a geometric sweater and a blue backpack; her boyfriend is pictured hiking behind her, slightly out of focus

From To the End

The Green New Dealings

To the End follows women of color as they advocate for the Green New Deal and face opposition within their political party. The documentary spotlights Sunrise Movement’s Varshini Prakash, Justice Democrats’ Alexandra Rojas, the Roosevelt Institute’s Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Jubilee Films

Passing the Torch

by The Editors 09-26-2022
Longtime Sojourner Julie Polter becomes the third editor of the magazine in its 51-year history.
Surreal illustration of an Indigenous woman with dark hair and a purple dress. The bottom and sides of the image are covered by cartoon water in shades of green, blue, and purple, and the top of the image features raised fists in orange, yellow, and red.

Amy Cardinal Christianson, a Métis woman and scientist, co-hosts the Good Fire podcast, which looks at Indigenous fire use around the world. / Illustration by Elyse Martin

JULIE POLTER arrived at Sojourners in 1990 to serve a year as an intern on our editorial staff. Three decades later, Polter steps into the role of editor of Sojourners magazine, the third person to fill that position in our 51-year history. Polter’s predecessor, Jim Rice, who succeeded our founding editor in 2006 and has been on Sojourners’ staff since 1981, will continue as a senior editor. During Rice’s tenure as editor, Sojourners has been consistently honored as “best in class” among its peer religious publications.

New & Noteworthy: Ben Crump, Faithful Innovation, and More

by The Editors 08-02-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
Ben Crump, dressed in a suit, looks up and away from the camera. The U.S. Capitol is in the background.

From Civil: Ben Crump

Legal Action

The documentary Civil: Ben Crump follows the civil rights attorney as he represents the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Andre Hill. While Crump’s work sheds light on police brutality, he also takes legal action to protect Black farmers and bank customers. Netflix

New & Noteworthy: Youth v Gov, Celebrity Worship, and More

by The Editors 06-29-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.

From Youth v Gov

The Future Fight

Youth v Gov, currently streaming on Netflix, follows the 21 American young people suing the U.S. government for creating the climate crisis and failing to act to protect their constitutional right to life, liberty, personal safety, and property. Barrelmaker Productions

New & Noteworthy: "Subversive Habits," Unjust Incarceration, and More

by The Editors 06-06-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A husband and wife stand close to each other and enjoy falling snow

From Three Songs for Benzair

A Love Song

Elizabeth and Gulistan Mirzaei’s short documentary Three Songs for Benazir follows the life of a young newlywed couple, Shaista and Benazir, living in a Kabul camp for displaced persons. The Oscar-nominated documentary focuses on their burgeoning love as Shaista struggles with whether to join the Afghan National Army. Mirzaei Films.

New & Noteworthy: “Essential Labor,” Indigenous Resistance, and More

by The Editors 05-09-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A confederate monument stands before a lightening storm

From The Neutral Ground

Biased History

Wanting to understand the enduring power of the myth of the Confederate “Lost Cause,” comedian CJ Hunt expanded what was originally a satirical internet video into an insightful documentary. Set against the New Orleans City Council’s 2015 vote to take down four Confederate monuments, The Neutral Ground explores hard truths of our nation’s past. ITVS.

New & Noteworthy: Fannie Lou Hamer, 'Fight Like Hell,' and More

by The Editors 03-28-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors. 
A group of people wearing white stand on the edge of the land where it meets the sea

Still from Landfall / Blackscrackle Films

Creative Action

Capturing the vibrant 2019 protests that pushed Puerto Rico’s governor to resign, the documentary Landfall examines life after Hurricane María and the debt and environmental crises that devastated the U.S. colony long before, prompting local resistance and creative action. Blackscrackle Films.

New & Noteworthy: April 2022

by The Editors 02-28-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
The actress playing Mamie Till-Mobley embraces her son, Emmett Till

From Women of the Movement

Moved by Love

The limited ABC series Women of the Movement follows Mamie Till-Mobley as she grieves the murder of her son Emmett Till and fights for justice. Directed by four Black women, the show tells the true story of the woman who helped fuel the civil rights movement. Two Drifters

New & Noteworthy: “This Here Flesh,” Exposing Injustice, and More

by The Editors 01-31-2022
Three culture recommendations from our editors.

This Here Flesh by Cole Arthur Riley / The Facility from Seth Freed Wessler and Field of Vision

Exposing Injustice

Reporter Seth Freed Wessler utilizes video call footage to expose the horrific conditions of a detention center used by ICE to detain immigrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His documentary, The Facility, follows those inside as they protest for better protections and for their release. Field of Vision.

New & Noteworthy: America's Broken Medical System, Feminism, and More

by The Editors 12-29-2021
Three culture recommendations from our editors.

Homeroom and Abolition. Feminism. Now.

Classroom Changemakers

Homeroom, the final documentary film chapter of the Oakland trilogy, features Oakland (Calif.) High School’s class of 2020 as they organize to remove police officers from their school and navigate remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Concordia Studio/Open’hood.