This Month's Cover

Sojourners Magazine: April 2011

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At Sojourners, we have always been advocates of principled nonviolence. (Our founder called it "loving your enemy.") But all too often, conventional wisdom has seen nonviolence as passivity, even in the face of injustice.

The events in Egypt and elsewhere in the region this year were vivid reminders of the power of civil resistance -- and demonstrate once again that nonviolent action is anything but passive or quiescent. That's why Gandhi referred to it as "satyagraha," or truth force. And why the heroes of the civil rights movement are often called freedom fighters. History has shown that justice rarely happens naturally or on its own; it is usually the fruit of long, hard, determined struggle by those directly affected and their allies.

Erica Chenoweth has studied a century of civil resistance, and she has identified elements that make for a successful campaign. Among her most important findings: Nonviolent actions are actually more likely to work than those that use violence. But one essential aspect of such actions is that proper preparation and training take place before people take it to the streets. And that's exactly what happened in the months and years before the Jan. 25 uprising in Egypt. Such training was also key to the success of the U.S. civil rights movement, as Bernard Lafayette explains in our interview this month -- one way we mark the 50th anniversary of the first freedom rides.

Finally, it is with deep appreciation that we say farewell (for now) to biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, who for the past 18 months has brought his always-provocative wisdom and insight to our Living the Word commentaries -- and helped us see that the deepest roots for social action are firmly planted in God's Word.

Cover Story

10 myths about global warming, and what the science really says.
To effectively communicate the truth about this contentious issue, we have to start by understanding others' perspectives.
Whether Christians do right by the environment depends on whether we can see the Earth as a megastore where we can 'shop' for whatever we want -- or as a garden that needs careful tending.


Peace in Israel/Palestine will, more and more, revolve around struggles to control water, God's unownable gift.
It's time to reform our tax system-- to quit rewarding obscene wealth, Wall Street gambling, and corporate polluters.
Benedictine women in Wisconsin are practicing new (and ancient) ways to save the earth, starting with the home front.
Too often we try to make scripture fit our own agenda, rather than the other way around.


The "people's revolutions" in North America and the Middle East raise stark questions about the U.S. role in the region.
WikiLeaks takes away the excuse of ignorance about military abuses abroad.
New software may help the public have a greater voice in the crucial redrawing of voting districts.


As the United States prepares for its inevitable takeover by special interests, Sojourners recently sat down with the godfather of them all, the National Rifle Association.
The fossil fuel industry is the main impediment to real change. Why? Because they are making money. Exxon made more money in 2009 than any company in the history of money.
The leadership of both our countries has preferred stability to democracy for a long time.
The whole idea of democracy is that the setiments of our fellow citizens have power; we put ourselves in each other's hands.
Addiction is not an individual disease; it's a family sickness.

Culture Watch

Filmaker David Barnhart helps disaster survivors tell their ongoing stories of healing and recovery.
Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant, by Paul Clemens
Latina/o Social Ethics: Moving Beyond Eurocentric Moral Thinking, by Miguel A. De La Torre.
THE EGYPTIAN revolution started on Facebook. True. The Iranians who took to the streets last year to try to overturn a fraudulent election used Twitter to coordinate their actions and to communicate with the outside world. Also true.
A Time to Plant: Life Lessons in Work, Prayer, and Dirt by Kyle T. Kramer.


I very much appreciate Brian McLaren’s article “Is God Violent?” (December 2010). As a member of the Church of the Brethren, a church based in seeking peace and forming community, I have always struggled to find how God could be the caring and loving being I hear about.
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A.
Re: “Cruel and Unequal,” a large number of persons who are incarcerated in jails and prisons across our country are seriously mentally ill, and have not received appropriate treatment because our commitment to treatment laws and our mental health systems are inhumane, inadequate, and seriously in
Touched your hem / A thousand times / A face just / Beyond my sight / Space between / Grace, grief
The article on how blacks are targeted and their lives destroyed for possession of drugs (“Cruel and Unequal”) touched me deeply. I have written to my senators, asking them to introduce legislation to reduce the penalties for drug use. But that’s not enough.
In your December 1979 issue, there was an article paying tribute to Clarence Jordan, founder of Koinonia Farm Community (“Clarence Jordan and Koinonia,” by Joyce Hollyday).
I am so glad you discovered Michelle Alexander (“Cruel and Unequal,” February 2011; see also “‘Colorblind’ Racism” by Liane Rozzell, June 2010). The U.S. may finally recover from Nixon’s war on drugs, which began when H.R.

Web Extra

The reasons for raising doubts about the human causes of global warming, explains Skeptical Science's John Cook, are often political rather than scientific.