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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.”

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 12-01-2017
Four January cultural recommendations from our editors.
Faith in the Dark

Indie rock singer and Memphis native Julien Baker examines sexual identity, Christianity, and mental health in her latest album, Turn Out the Lights. Influenced by the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, Baker’s album is a meditation on empathy and unity. Matador Records

Memoir of Survival

Nadia Murad was just 21 years old when she was forced into the ISIS slave trade in northern Iraq. Now a human rights activist, Murad details her narrow escape in The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State. Tim Duggan Books

Letters

by The Editors 11-30-2017
Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers

Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 10-30-2017
Four December cultural recommendations from our editors.

Heartland Heroes

Best-selling author Miriam Horn of the Environmental Defense Fund brings her timely book Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman to life in a new documentary. Narrated by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw, the film highlights five surprising “conservation heroes” working to protect the land they love. rancherfarmerfisherman.com

A Daily Gift

In Gift and Task: A Year of Daily Readings and Reflections, renowned Old Testament scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann provides daily reflection on scripture. Beginning with Advent, Brueggemann invites readers to critically consider the “cost and joy of discipleship.” Westminster John Knox Press

Letters

by The Editors 10-30-2017
Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers
Do No Harm

No Place Like Home

by The Editors 10-30-2017

DURING THE HOLIDAYS, many of us go home. But home can be a tricky place these days. Pass the coffee and the pumpkin pie, but could we please skip the conversations with relatives who disagree with us about immigration, racism, climate change, and, well, pretty much everything?

Nope, says Katharine M. Preston in “An Experiment in Neighborly Love.” In a time of intense polarization, “talking exclusively with those with whom we agree simply hardens our positions and makes us angrier,” she writes in this issue. Instead, she challenges us to an “experiment”: gathering people with a wide range of ideological views to listen to one another. Some may see this practice as “hopelessly passive, naïve, and a waste of time,” she admits, but building empathy across the partisan divide could go a long way toward ending the cycle of alienation and frustration that makes people susceptible to fear-based rhetoric.

Our cover story offers another kind of homegoing. 

What Can Churches Do to Respond to the Opioid Crisis?

by The Editors 10-24-2017
A Catholic bishop weighs in.

In June, Bishop Ed Malesic of Greensburg, Pa., released “A Pastoral Letter on the Drug Abuse Crisis: From Death and Despair to Life and Hope.” In it he outlined several “first steps” that parishes could take in response to the region’s opioid epidemic.

Within Reach

by The Editors 09-25-2017
As people of faith, what is our responsibility to girls and young women who suffer abuse, lash out, and wind up in prison?

IT'S NOT ONE of the Bible stories people often talk about. The tragedy of Tamar, a young woman who was raped by her half-brother and told to “be quiet” while those in authority refused to seek justice on her behalf, is recounted in 2 Samuel 13. We learn in scripture that Tamar became “a desolate woman.”

Letters

by The Editors 09-21-2017
Letters to the editor from Sojourners readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Letters to the Editor