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New & Noteworthy
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
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.
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.
On Rage and Apathy
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
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
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.
Political Drama, Then and Now
““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
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 to the editor from Sojourners readers.
Beyond a Caricatured Hero
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
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.”
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