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Seven Elements of Just Peace

by The Editors 04-25-2018
So what exactly does "just peace" mean?
Ivonne Wierink / Shutterstock

Ivonne Wierink / Shutterstock

In April 2016, Roman Catholics from around the world gathered at the Vatican to discuss how the church might embrace the principles of nonviolence and just peace more deeply (see "Game Changer?" in the December 2016 issue of Sojourners.) 

And what does "just peace" include? Here are seven key principles:

Just cause: protecting, defending, and restoring the fundamental dignity of all human life and the common good

Right intention: aiming to create a positive peace

Participatory process: respecting human dignity by including societal stakeholders—state and nonstate actors as well as previous parties to the conflict

Right relationship: creating or restoring just social relationships both vertically and horizontally; strategic systemic change requires that horizontal and vertical relationships move in tandem on an equal basis

Reconciliation: a concept of justice that envisions a holistic healing of the wounds of war

Restoration: repair of the material, psychological, and spiritual human infrastructure

Sustainability: developing structures that can help peace endure over time

Adapted from “What Kind of Peace Do We Seek?” by Maryann Cusimano Love, associate professor of international relations at the Catholic University of America, in Peacebuilding (Orbis Books, 2010).

From Just War to Just Peace

by The Editors 04-25-2018
An Appeal to the Roman Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence
Lee Nanjoo / Shutterstock.com

Lee Nanjoo / Shutterstock.com

A statement titled “An Appeal to the Roman Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence” was released at the conclusion of the Rome conference in April. More than 1,300 individuals and 170 organizations have endorsed its direction, including all the Catholic bishops of Japan.
 
The statement calls on the Catholic Church to:
 

1. Continue developing Catholic social teaching on nonviolence. In particular, we call on Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and just peace.

2. Integrate gospel nonviolence explicitly into the life, including the sacramental life, and work of the church through dioceses, parishes, agencies, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders, voluntary associations, and others.

3. Promote nonviolent practices and strategies (e.g., nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding strategies).

4. Initiate a global conversation on nonviolence within the church, with people of other faiths, and with the larger world to respond to the monumental crises of our time with the vision and strategies of nonviolence and just peace.

5. No longer use or teach “just war theory”; continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons.

6. Lift up the prophetic voice of the church to challenge unjust world powers and to support and defend those nonviolent activists whose work for peace and justice puts their lives at risk.

The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative is a consortium of attendees from the Rome conference and others who are advocating for a papal encyclical on nonviolence. Read the full statement at nonviolencejustpeace.net.

Letters to the Editor

by The Editors 04-25-2018
Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers
A Red Flag?

Regarding the Episcopal church called “The Cathedral of the Confederacy” (“Robert E. Lee Worshipped Here,” by Betsy Shirley, April 2017): Token efforts of repentance such as the removal of the Confederate flag will not suffice; full biblical repentance requires massive restitution in order to repair the enormous oppression and damage done to African-American people over the centuries.

Lowell Noble
Riceville, Iowa

Spoiler Alert

It’s always great to read about an entrepreneur who shows that justice can be good business (“Grocery Store Inequity,” by Courtney Hall Lee, April 2017). I was interested to read of Jeff Brown’s effort to introduce quality, convenient shopping to low-income areas of Philadelphia because I lived in the southwest Germantown part of that city for two years back in the mid-1980s. I quickly noticed, when visiting the suburbs, that perishable food was much more plentiful and varied and lasted longer than food I bought at the “supermarket” a mile away from my apartment. One can only suppose that low-income folk did not find expensive, quickly spoiled food appealing and, since they didn’t buy it, healthy, fresh food was harder and harder to get. People are too often blamed for their own poor health habits. Please keep informing about the barriers faced in the name of “just business.”

Ann Larson
Essex, Vermont

Spivey’s Still Got It

Regarding “The Trump Presidency, One Year Later,” by Ed Spivey (April 2017): I laughed so many times that my wife wanted to read it! I think humor may be one of the best antidotes for the toxicity of our times. Spivey’s humor is also self-deprecating, which is more effective than the self-righteousness I feel and express so often. Thank you, Ed, for making us laugh while reminding us that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Charles R. Crawley
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Don’t Discount Adam Smith

Several points from your interview with Chuck Collins (“Wealth and the Common Good,” March 2017) illustrate the compatibility of his ideas with the economic system of capitalism proposed by Adam Smith. Smith sharply criticized stark economic inequalities. He advocated good wages for workers, writing that efficiencies in the division of labor made it possible to spread wealth even to the lowest ranks of the people. He advocated progressive taxation. And he argued that people were the same—no “myths of deservedness” for Smith. Finally, while Smith did not say anything about campaign finance reform, his excoriating comments on the political power of the wealthy are potent. The clear inference is that the wealthy should not have disproportionate electoral power.

For too long, American political discourse has featured a false dichotomy between capitalism and socialism. This dichotomy has been based on a gross distortion of Smith’s system. It is time to change the conversation to what kind of capitalism would be best for the country and the world: the savage capitalism of recent decades, or the capitalism with justice and equal opportunity that Smith advocated.

John E. Hill
Quincy, Massachusetts

“But what about ...?” Write to letters@sojo.net or Letters, Sojourners, 408 C Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Include your name, city, and state. Letters may be edited.

Letters to the Editor

by The Editors 04-25-2018
Letters to the editors from Sojourners readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Gimme Shelter

I was glad to see “Convicted of the Gospel” by Darlene Nicgorski included in the September/October issue. The “ministry of sanctuary” that she mentioned is an important and timely way to show the world we are Christians through our love. I have been lobbying my members of Congress and letting them know why my faith motivates my advocacy. The faith voice is crucial to immigration reform’s success and is necessary if we want any reforms to reflect our beliefs in human dignity, equality, and justice. I hope that the church around the country will join in the sanctuary movement, whether it is through advocacy, charity, or sheltering those who face the immediate threat of deportation.

Thomas Cassidy
Norman, Oklahoma

Base Values

You cannot reform the police state or our culture of incarceration (“Black and Blue,” by Ryan Hammill, September/October 2016) without a critique of our country’s values that proliferate fear and aggression. It’s how we were built and how we’ve sustained our way of life. Until then, taxpayers need to demand transparency from law enforcement, stop the flow of tax dollars to militarize them, and advocate for laws to protect citizens—especially citizens of color.

Tamara Cedre
via Facebook

Prophets On the Loose

I read about the Tennessee weapons plant protest (“An 82-Year-Old Nun Did What?” by Rosalie Riegle, September/October 2016) in the news when it happened. I appreciate the update. I did not know that the “prophets of Oak Ridge” were released. Few realize the danger we all face; nuclear war cannot be allowed to happen. Pray for peace and the destruction of these weapons.

Jim Halliday
Lafayette, Georgia

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 04-25-2018
Four December culture recommendations from our editors.
Meaghan O'Malley / Creative Commons

Meaghan O'Malley / Creative Commons

Refusing Silence

The documentary film The Uncondemned tells how a group of international lawyers and activists, all under 35 when they began, fought to get the first conviction of rape as a war crime—and how Rwandan women defied death threats to testify and win justice. theuncondemned.com

Welcoming the Light

In The Light of the World: Daily Meditations for Advent and Christmas, Phyllis Zagano, writer and scholar of Catholic spirituality and women’s leadership in the church, offers incisive reflections and prayers to help readers “become quieter, slower even, pointing to the Christ who is to come.” Twenty-Third Publications

Power-Pop Prophets

The Shondes, a queer, feminist pop-punk band from Brooklyn, weave activist fervor with progressive Jewish prophetic imagination and spirituality: “Hope can anchor any strategy,” is a telling lyric. The melodious songs on their new album, Brighton, soar with violin and Louisa Rachel Solomon’s clear, strong voice. Exotic Fever Records

Home in a Strange Land

Words in Transit: Stories of Immigrants is a book of oral histories from nearly 30 immigrants and refugees who have settled in western New England. Edited by Ilan Stavans, with photographs by Beth Reynolds, it presents snapshots of the courage and gifts that flow to our country. New England Public Radio

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 04-25-2018
Four July cultural recommendations from our editors.
Silver Soul

Memphis-born Don Bryant, who is 74 but sounds decades younger, has made a throwback-yet-fresh soul album, Don’t Give Up On Love. Along with the standout, gospel-fired “How Do I Get There?” are exuberant grooves and smooth ballads on more earthly themes. Fat Possum Records

Mutual Respect

Evangelical-rooted professors Marion H. Larson and Sara L.H. Shady believe interfaith dialogue is vital—and doesn’t demand watered-down faith. In From Bubble to Bridge: Educating Christians for a Multifaith World , they offer Christians the perspective and tools to build bridges. IVP Academic

Every Day Holy

Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home , by Traci Smith, offers 50 do-it-yourself ideas to incorporate spiritual practice into the bustle and hum of families with children. Includes activities suitable for different age levels (including the child at heart). Chalice Press

Write Me a Letter

Shortly after the 2016 U.S. election, novelist Carolina De Robertis invited writers and activists to explore themes of hope in epistolary essays. The result is Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times, with Junot Diaz, Alicia Garza, Jane Smiley, Jeff Chang, Celeste Ng, Hari Kunzru, and others. Vintage

Letters

by The Editors 04-24-2018
Letters to the editors from Sojourners readers.
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Letters to the editors from Sojourners readers.

We Cannot Rest; We Must Rest

by The Editors 04-24-2018
We cannot afford to abandon the rites and rhythms that sustain us.

HERE'S A PARADOX: If justice delayed is justice denied, we cannot rest while anyone suffers; at the same time, we can’t work tirelessly for justice without rest. It’s the kind of pesky conundrum we face just as we’re settling in for a night of sweatpants and Netflix: The prophets in the Bible decried those who sit on fine couches while their neighbors go hungry ... but does that mean it’s wrong to re-watch the entire season of Queer Eye when we could be doing something more productive?

In this issue, Baptist minister J. Dana Trent uses the fourth commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”) to reframe our quandary. Through this commandment to practice “ritual rest from our labor,” writes Trent, “we opt out of tyranny and opt into care for one another.” At its heart, Sabbath rest isn’t a pause from justice work; it’s a way of disrupting a culture of what Walter Brueggemann describes as “endless desire, endless productivity, and endless restlessness.”

New & Noteworthy: May 2018

by The Editors 03-28-2018
Four May recommendations from our culture editors.

Anna Deavere Smith in Notes from the Field

From Stage to Screen

Pulitzer Prize finalist Anna Deavere Smith brings her critically acclaimed play Notes from the Field to the screen. Based on hundreds of interviews with students, teachers, parents, and administrators, the production brilliantly highlights the disturbing U.S. school-to-prison pipeline. HBO

Love for Creation

Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World presents practical, faithful responses to environmental issues. With scientific data and comprehensive biblical theology, Douglas J. Moo and Jonathan A. Moo invite readers to explore their relationship with creation and the Creator. Zondervan

Letters

by The Editors 03-26-2018
Letters to the editors from Sojourners readers.

Susan Thomas
Tucson, Arizona

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 02-28-2018
Four April culture recommendations from our editors.
Yes, She Can

Dolores Huerta changed the course of history when she formed what became the United Farm Workers union with César Chávez. Often overshadowed by her co-founder, Huerta’s defiant resistance, struggle, and sacrifice take center stage in Peter Bratt’s captivating documentary, Dolores. Premieres March 27 on PBS. doloresthemovie.com

An Emerging Voice

Folk singer Azniv Korkejian was born in Aleppo, Syria, to an Armenian family. Relocated to Saudi Arabia and then to the U.S., Korkejian’s moniker, “Bedouine,” is drawn from the name of a nomadic group. With gentle guitar and smooth vocals, her self-titled debut album affirms her identity as a wanderer. Spacebomb

Letters

by The Editors 02-26-2018
Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers.
The Present Political Quagmire

The February 2018 issue raises big questions for our country and the evangelical church. The authors of “Is This a Bonhoeffer Moment?” (Lori Brandt Hale and Reggie L. Williams) and “When Seminary Becomes a Threat” (Wesley Granberg-Michaelson) rightly point out the risks of making parallels between two different historical contexts (Germany in the 1930s and 21st century America). Yet there are striking similarities, particularly the ease with which evangelical Christians, in America today and in Germany then, accepted populist movements and their nationalistic programs. In both cases, the populist forces were able to exploit societal anxieties and make a sentimental appeal to a cultural form of Christianity that served its purposes.

The slogan of the Nazified German Christians was “Germany our goal, Christ our power!” Based on a distorted interpretation of Lutheran theology, a group of theologians at the time issued a document, known as the Ansbacher Ratschlag, opposing the Barmen Declaration. It was addressed to the National Socialist Evangelical Union of Pastors and included this statement: “... we as believing Christians thank the Lord God that in this hour of need he has given our people the Fuhrer as a ‘good and faithful sovereign,’ and that in the Nationalistic Socialist state he is endeavoring to provide us with disciplined and honorable ‘good government.’” This distant mirror of attitudes—and even words—that are with us today should give Christians great concern. The vulnerability of the American church did not come about in the presidential election of November 2016. The present political quagmire has only exposed it.

Dave Shelman
Corbett, Oregon

Acknowledging Assault

I have just read “‘A Terrorist War Against Women,’” by Serene Jones (February 2018). Reading stories of sexual violence against women gives me hope that something can be done about that evil. But there is one voice that is not heard too often. It is that of sexual violence against men by male authority figures. I suspect there are many men out there who trusted a male authority figure and were assaulted. We are hurting.

Anonymous

On Rage and Apathy

by The Editors 02-21-2018
If our beliefs paralyze us from participating in the systems, what good are they?

IN THIS ISSUE, Victoria Newton Ford writes about Ava DuVernay’s forthcoming movie adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s bestselling fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time. As in the book, Meg Murry travels through time to find her missing father. But DuVernay, who also directed Selma (2014) and 13th (2016), adds a twist. In the film, Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace, are black. For Ford, this delivers something the novel cannot: “a hero of the universe who, in our current political space and time, is afforded the least agency.” In other words, writes Ford, “Meg is an angry black girl.”

A film that depicts a black protagonist—in all her fury, pain, and love—is especially radical, Ford explains, because America has continually “sought to conscript ... black [women] into a toolbox for the country’s deliverance.” She points to the political heroization of Oprah, Michelle Obama, and the black women voters in Alabama who defeated Roy Moore’s senatorial bid.

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 01-31-2018
Four March culture recommendations from our editors.
A Returning Voice

Songwriter Audrey Assad, daughter of a Syrian refugee, releases her first album of original material in four years. Evergreen features songs about “rebirth, the rebuilding of trust, and the discovery of joy and love.” PledgeMusic

Respect for Refugees

Artist and activist Ai Weiwei brings the global refugee crisis to the big screen through his captivating documentary Human Flow. Filmed in 23 countries, the documentary features stories of desperation, courage, and resilience and speaks to our shared humanity. humanflow.com

Letters

by The Editors 01-24-2018
Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers.
A Prophetic Exchange

How God Intervenes” (January 2018), with Kenyatta Gilbert and Walter Brueggemann, is a wonderful interview. How blessed we are to have these two wise and articulate prophets among us. There is so much insight in their challenging and inspiring exchange.

Joan O’Brien
Wethersfield, Connecticut

Political Drama, Then and Now

by The Editors 01-23-2018
We are not the first to grapple with a leader whose only regard is for himself.

““DRAMATIC, POLITICAL, incendiary.” They seem like words you’d see splashed across the dust jacket of Fire and Fury, the controversial account of the Trump White House that generated a firestorm of presidential tweets when it was released earlier this year. But in this issue, Bible scholar Reta Halteman Finger uses those words to describe an older form of political drama: the book of Revelation.

Despite Revelation’s reputation as a harbinger of doom, Finger explains that the final book in the New Testament needs to be understood as an example of apocalyptic resistance literature, a genre of writing originally “intended to bring hope during times of political uncertainty or persecution.” This hope isn’t rooted in imperial acts of violence; it’s rooted in the victory of the Lamb, slaughtered but resurrected.

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 01-08-2018
Four February culture recommendations from our editors.

image via pbs.org

A Voice of Compassion

Artist and activist Mavis Staples speaks to the increasing social divide in her latest album, If All I Was Was Black. In this interracial and multigenerational project, Staples doesn’t shy away from anger but, as always, her ultimate message is the promise of positive change. Anti- Records

Peacemaking with Purpose

Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart, co-founders of The Global Immersion Project, believe peacemaking practices should be grounded in Jesus’ teachings. Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World is full of stories, insights, and questions for discussion and shows what it means to live as a true global citizen. InterVarsity Press

Letters

by The Editors 01-02-2018
Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers

Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers.

Beyond a Caricatured Hero

by The Editors 01-02-2018
Revisiting Bonhoeffer's faith in a time of nationalism.

THE PAGES OF this magazine rarely feature scathing reviews, but in 2011 we made an exception.

That year, in our February issue, we published Nancy Lukens’ critique of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy, by Eric Metaxas. Lukens, a German professor who translated many of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s works into English, described the book as “stunningly flawed,” and lambasted Metaxas for trying to sculpt the 20th-century German pastor into an evangelical warrior on a crusade against liberal Christianity. Metaxas “does both Bonhoeffer and contemporary readers a gross disservice in implying that evangelicals are immune from the tragic error of merging nationalistic fervor with Christian piety,” wrote Lukens.

Fast forward seven years: Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer biography boasts a bestseller sticker, and a resurgence of nationalistic fervor helped win Donald Trump the White House—and the explicit support of many white evangelical leaders, including Metaxas.

Dreaming of A New World

by The Editors 12-06-2017
The core of the prophetic vocation isn’t merely to rebuke unjust systems.

IN WALTER BRUEGGEMANN'S first article for Sojourners, published in November 1983, he described the “radical break” we prepare for in Advent as “the Bible’s effort to break our imagination.”

In the decades that followed, Brueggemann’s keen analysis of scripture has called out some of the darkest practices of American empire, including consumerism, gun violence, financial corruption, environmental exploitation, and sexual assault. But while he’s never shied from speaking truth to power, Brueggemann has repeatedly emphasized that the core of the prophetic vocation isn’t merely to rebuke unjust systems, but rather, as he wrote in 1983, “to think a genuinely new thought, to dream of a genuinely new world that will displace the old failed one.”