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New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 09-21-2017
Four November cultural recommendations from our editors.
Our Streets

Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis use their backgrounds as activists and artists to create Whose Streets?, a gripping documentary about the Ferguson uprising. Through scenes of hope and resistance, Whose Streets? reclaims Mike Brown’s story and shows Ferguson through the eyes of those who experienced it.

Humility and Justice in the City

by The Editors 05-30-2017
Notes from the editors on the July 2017 issue of Sojourners

“SEEK THE WELFARE of the city.” In recent years, Jeremiah 29:7 has been the mantra of urban church planters. Yet, as D.L. Mayfield points out in our cover story, these mostly white, missional-minded Christians “talk a lot about moving in and contributing to the flourishing of a city, but say little on the negative disruption that these moves can make in the existing community.” Ask a church planter to share their theology of gentrification, says Mayfield, and you’ll likely get blank stares.

It’s a personal story for Mayfield. Despite her missionary training and experience living among the urban poor, Mayfield felt helpless when gentrification hit her low-income neighborhood. “I can love my neighbors with my entire heart and soul, but what does that mean when every month more are driven away by increasing rents?” she writes. “How is our gospel good news for anyone but the gentrifiers themselves?”

And it’s a personal story for us, too. In 1975, the Sojourners community moved from Chicago to Columbia Heights, then one of the poorer neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. For the next three decades, we loved the neighborhood as best we could: We opened a daycare center, engaged in tenant organizing, and ran “freedom schools” with our low-income neighbors. And we tried to learn from those who’d been there long before we showed up.

But when developers began eyeing the neighborhood in the early 2000s, we realized our good intentions couldn’t protect our most vulnerable neighbors. Our mere presence—a couple dozen mainly white, middle-class people—gave the appearance of a neighborhood already “safe” for those with higher incomes. Property values rose, Starbucks moved in, and long-term residents were pushed out.

Mayfield’s article is a challenge to Christians making new church homes in urban areas. As we know well, trying to walk humbly and do justice in the city is a long, often-difficult journey.

From the Editors

by The Editors 05-08-2017
Notes on making the June 2017 issue of Sojourners.

Sojourners, June 2017

“My hope for the future is that the church will be an authentic witness to the gospel despite the cost,” Filipino Bishop Francisco F. Claver, SJ, told Sojourners in 1979, “even if it means being crushed.” In the decades that followed, Sojourners reported the involvement of Filipino Christians in the People Power movements against repressive regimes that were often aligned with U.S. military power. Christians who spoke out were branded as communists. Many were tortured and killed by the military or vigilante groups.

But the Filipino church, though pressed, was never crushed. “I’ve been very encouraged by what I have seen in our people,” Karl Gaspar said in a 1988 issue of Sojourners. Gaspar—a Filipino poet, Redemptorist brother, and longtime friend of Sojourners—spent two years in prison in the early ’80s under the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Yet he remained hopeful, “convinced that God is present despite all that which would negate God’s presence in this village.”

In this issue, Eric Stoner reports on faith-based opposition to Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ president who positioned himself as a “tough on crime” political outsider and declared himself “happy to slaughter” the nation’s 3 million drug users—and seems to be making good on his promise.

New and Noteworthy

by The Editors 08-03-2016
Four September culture recommendations from our editors
At the Core

Director Josh Fox traveled to 12 countries on six continents to explore what humanity holds close in the face of climate change. The result is the sobering and inspiring documentary How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.

Do Justice

Soong-Chan Rah and Gary VanderPol explore post-World War II motivators to social concern in Return to Justice: Six Movements That Reignited Our Contemporary Evangelical Conscience. From John Perkins’ life story to the power of globalized Christianity, history that empowers. Brazos Press

Letters to the Editor

by The Editors 07-26-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock


New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 07-05-2016
Four August culture recommendations from our editors.
José Anzaldo in East of Salinas

José Anzaldo in East of Salinas

Holding on to Hope

The documentary film East of Salinas follows José Anzaldo, a smart child with an encouraging teacher, as he both dreams of the future and becomes more aware of the implications of being an undocumented child of migrant farm laborers. Produced and directed by Laura Pacheco and Jackie Mow.

Answering the Call

Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis provides the biblical, technical, and contextual information and personal stories to help Christians new to refugee issues offer compassionate care. Written by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Issam Smeir from the humanitarian organization World Relief. Moody Publishers

Letters to the Editor

by The Editors 06-29-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Turkish Delight

I read with interest Catherine Woodiwiss’ column about her recent visit to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (“Making Room for Delight”). We also recently visited this magnificent edifice on a trip to Istanbul in March. On the day we arrived, a terrorist bomb had been exploded and we were greeted with a bit of apprehension by our guide, hoping we would not let this latest assault stop us from enjoying the Turkish culture and history.

We were staying near the Hagia Sophia and the Great Blue Mosque, so our first visit was to these two beautiful buildings. We were filled with awe, wonder, and delight. But even more, we were comforted by the message of comfort and love that was so clearly and strongly delivered by both “wombs” of faith. Fear is a feeling that closes a door, but the refusal to fear is even more powerful at keeping doors open.

From the Hagia Sophia to the many beautiful mosques, from the crowded bazaars to the busy streets and ferries, we enjoyed an assortment of “Turkish delight.” Thank you, Catherine, for associating “delight” with such a wonderful symbol of God’s enduring presence in the world.

Bill Turney
Houston, Texas

New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 06-07-2016
Four July culture recommendations from our editors.
Smooth Truths

Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter sings love, faith, and even a grooving tribute to nonviolent protest on Take Me to the Alley. The title track is a parable of a visiting king who spurns “shiny things” prepared for him and asks to be taken to “the afflicted ones.” Blue Note

Brothers, in Christ

The Berrigan Letters contains copious personal correspondence between Father Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip across seven decades of activism. The collection is a glimpse into the hopes, dreams, and daily lives of two of the greatest peacemakers of the 20th century. Orbis

Letters to the Editor

by The Editors 06-02-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Letters to the Editor from Sojourners readers

New and Noteworthy

by The Editors 05-04-2016
Four June culture recommendations from our editors.
Author Shusaku Endo

Author Shusaku Endo

When God Seems Hidden

Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel Silence tells of the persecution of Christians in 17th century Japan. Japanese-American artist Makoto Fujimura uses this novel as a springboard for an exploration of faith, art, trauma, and cultural heritage in the book Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering. IVP Books

Cambridge Chorale

The undergraduate choir of Trinity College Cambridge, directed by Stephen Layton, released a new live recording of Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale. Recorded in Coventry Cathedral, it is a beautifully dynamic and spiritual rendition of an Anglican masterpiece. Hyperion

Beating the Green Blues

For Inspired Sustainability: Planting Seeds for Action, theologian and former Earth Institute Fellow Erin Lothes Biviano spoke with members of diverse faith communities to uncover the moral, spiritual, and practical motivations (and barriers) to transforming ecological concern into inspired, sustained action. Orbis

Letters to the Editor

by The Editors 04-28-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners Readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Wrestling with Jesus

“Who Is This ‘Jesus’?” (Belden C. Lane, April 2016) is a beautiful and challenging reflection by one of the most authentic and honest voices of faith writing today. I keep wrestling with this same Jesus, whoever he is, because the struggle itself places me on a path that’s increasingly merciful and just. Thank you for this!

Terry Minchow-Proffitt
Kirkwood, Missouri

Don’t Leave Out Native Americans

Anne Courtright made a very important point about the treatment of Native Americans in her letter (“The Original ‘Original Sin’”) published on page 5 of your April issue. Sadly, on page 7 Jim Wallis omitted them when he speaks of “powerful voices.”

Are they simply not powerful because there are not so many of them? Ought we to be asking why they are not so numerous? Because we exterminated so many of them or isolated them on reservations.

I’ve lived and worked in rural Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming most of my life among different tribes. I care deeply about black lives mattering, but I grieve at the omission of the profoundly powerful voices of Native Americans. Don’t leave Native Americans out of the conversation when it comes to multiracial truth-telling.

New and Noteworthy

by The Editors 03-28-2016
Four May culture recommendations from our editors.
Hélène Grimaud

Hélène Grimaud


Classical pianist Hélène Grimaud’s live album Water is a musical and spiritual reflection on the life-sustaining, yet too-often limited, resource. It is a beautiful compilation of compositions that celebrate the power, beauty, and rhythm of water, with a hope that it encourages ecological awareness. Deutsche Grammophon

For All Ages

Ronald J. Sider and Ben Lowe dialogue in The Future of Our Faith: An Intergenerational Conversation on Critical Issues Facing the Church. Each chapter has sidebar reflections from other leaders, including Christena Cleveland, Gabriel Salguero, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and Jenny Yang. Brazos Press


by The Editors 03-22-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock


New & Noteworthy

by The Editors 03-01-2016
Four April culture recommendations from our editors.

Kishi Bashi

Strings with Wings

Performing as Kishi Bashi, violinist Kaoru Ishibashi’s pop songs swirl together indie, classical, and prog rock. It’s not religious music (though lyrics sometimes hint at a church upbringing) but can transcend through pure exuberance. On String Quartet Live! he performs backed by a chamber ensemble. Joyful Noise

People Power

If Your Back’s Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement is civil rights leader Dorothy F. Cotton’s story of a key, but unsung, grassroots advocacy training program for disenfranchised people throughout South. Insights for then and now, newly released in paperback. Atria Books


by The Editors 02-24-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners Readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

A Way Forward

Thank you for publishing Jim Wallis’ excerpt “Crossing the Bridge to a New America” in the February 2016 issue. It has injected in me some much-needed optimism and energy. The idea that racism is, indeed, America’s original sin is a powerful one that imbues in our fight against it a new hope. That we can and need to repent from this awful and systemic plague is both challenging and encouraging. With the murders of so many people of color—including Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, among too many others—it becomes easy to slip into resigned indifference. But Wallis reminds us that we, as both a nation and as a church, need to accept and act on the truth, for it is the only way forward.

Charlene Cruz-Cerdas
Manchester, New Hampshire

The Original ‘Original Sin’

Regarding the excerpt of Jim Wallis’ America’s Original Sin in the February issue, it seems to me that our treatment of Native Americans is just as much our “original sin” as our treatment of slaves.

Anne Courtright
Pueblo, Colorado

New and Noteworthy

by The Editors 02-01-2016
Four March culture recommendations from our editors.
Garment District

Take an informative and engaging trip in the documentary film The Secret Life of Your Clothes. Presenter Ade Adepitan follows the trail of garments donated to charity to the biggest importer of secondhand clothes, Ghana, revealing the intersections of consumption culture, Ghanaian fashion, and globalization.

The People’s Work

How can intercultural music and liturgy prepare us for the work of reconciliation and justice? Experienced worship leader and trainer Sandra Maria Van Opstal explores the pragmatic and profound challenges and blessings of multiethnic worship in her book The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World. IVP Books


by The Editors 01-28-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners Readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Letters to the Editor from Sojourners Readers

Opening a Sacred Text

by The Editors, by Seyyed Hossein Nasr 01-05-2016
From The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, copyright 2015 by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, editor-in-chief. Published by HarperOne.

HARPERONE'S RECENTLY released The Study Quran (following The Study Bible and Commentary on the Torah) promises to be a needed resource in a time of religious turmoil: A new English translation, it is also the first to provide extensive, line-by-line commentary by scholars on meaning and context drawn from hundreds of years of Islamic tradition. Included are several essays on specific themes—including war and peace, science, and human rights.

The process used to shape this work was unique as well. The team of editors led by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., strove to include perspectives and interpretations from the broadest range of Muslim communities—Sunni, Shia, and others—without lifting one above the others. The team’s goal was to create an in-depth, accurate, and accessible translation for use by Muslims, scholars, students of religion, and anyone else wanting to rise above today’s media chatter and explore this sacred text. 

—The Editors

From the introduction:

The Quran is the constant companion of Muslims in the journey of life. Its verses are the first sounds recited into the ear of the newborn child. It is recited during the marriage ceremony, and its verses are usually the last words that a Muslim hears upon the approach of death. In traditional Islamic society, the sound of the recitation of the Quran was ubiquitous, and it determined the space in which men and women lived their daily lives; this is still true to a large extent in many places even today. As for the Quran as a book, it is found in nearly every Muslim home and is carried or worn in various forms and sizes by men and women for protection as they go about their daily activities. ... The Quran is an ever present source of blessing or grace ( barakah) deeply experienced by Muslims as permeating all of life.

New and Noteworthy

by The Editors 01-05-2016
Four February culture recommendations from our editors.
What We Need

My Little Book of Big Freedoms: The Human Rights Act in Pictures , illustrated by British writer-illustrator Chris Riddell, is a pocket-sized booklet with winsome illustrations of 16 freedoms and protections we might take for granted, including life, freedom, justice, belief, thought, togetherness, love, and mercy. Amnesty International U.K.

Life Together

How can families of all shapes and sizes nurture human dignity, service, and the common good in the home and society? In Schools of Solidarity: Families and Catholic Social Teaching, Mary M. Doyle Roche offers practical, joyful guidance, with questions and activities for discussion and reflection. Liturgical Press


by The Editors 01-04-2016
Letters to the Editor from Sojourners readers
Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

Letters to the Editor from Sojourners readers