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Sojourners Magazine: April 2013

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EASTER IS A time to be inspired by Christ's example of shedding death's binding shroud—and by his followers' example of listening, as long as it takes to finally understand, to God's message that everything is different now and that we are invited to be part of the change.

Those examples have given strength to many followers of Christ, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as, 50 years ago this April, he penned the "Letter from Birmingham Jail." But his eloquent argument that justice delayed is justice denied has too often been given only lip service. In this issue, we excerpt a thoughtful response to King's letter by Christian Churches Together, a coalition of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches representing more than 100 million people in the U.S. The joint statement repents of, and calls for an active response to, key areas of racial inequity today, including starkly unequal schools, a criminal justice system that sweeps up a quarter of all African-American men, and the church's frequent choice to "avoid the fiscal, emotional, and spiritual costs of changing our beloved institutions."

What King called our "inescapable network of mutuality" is also known by another name: the Christian commitment to the common good. That millennia-old theme, relevant now more than ever, is reflected in our cover article, adapted from Sojourners editor-in-chief Jim Wallis' new book, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good.

The common good stretches to our neighbors far and wide—whether a businessman helping North Koreans struggling against economic and religious oppression, as Sylvia Yu describes in "A Relentless Faith," a Haitian and international team helping Port-au-Prince pursue rebuilding its earthquake-shattered cathedral, as novelist Edwidge Danticat recounts, or a growing realization, as Brooklyn native and former Sojourners summer intern Onleilove Alston writes in the wake of last year's Hurricane Sandy, that climate change is a poverty and immigration issue too. Wherever you are and wherever you serve, we wish you a lively Easter season!

Cover Story

Christianity is a call to a relationship that changes all our other relationships.

Feature

Church leaders respond, 50 years later, to King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
It's time to reframe the church's conversation around same-sex relationships.
Farm labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez on making it real in the here and now.
Steven Kim won't let anything—not even imprisonment—stop him from his mission to care for the people of North Korea.
"Bible, Gender, Sexuality" calls us to a more honest dialogue about scripture's meaning for us today.
In today's environment, there's little difference between farm labor organizing and immigration reform.
King's "living letter" from Birmingham jail still speaks to us all.

Commentary

Austerity budgets in hard economic times are bad economics—and questionable theology.
A prayer for the new pope to fulfill, in fresh ways, the promise of Vatican II.
Hurricane Sandy vividly demonstrated the relationship between climate change, poverty, and immigration.

Columns

Baptism means we are imprinted on Christ.
"My concern is not whether God is on our side...but to be on God's side."
The need for the common good has never seemed so timely.
An inaugural prayer should connect the particularities of one's own faith tradition with the pluralism of the nation.
I felt the same way. When I was 9.
We're seeing a slow but sustainable transformation of cultural attitudes toward gender and sex.

Culture Watch

There is an overwhelming need for publicly compelling conversation about violence, guns, and the role of entertainment media.
"Making Friends Among the Taliban: A Peacemaker's Journey in Afghanistan," Herald Press
"The Economy for Desire: Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World," Baker Academic
Four April 2013 culture recommendations from our editors
Haiti's once and future cathedral is a place of healing and memory.
"From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart: Rekindling My Love for Catholicism," Ave Maria Press
Not everything that's fun is a constitutionally protected right.

Departments

Letter to the Editors
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C
Letter to the Editors

Web Extra

As Onleilove Alston reveals in “Connecting the Dots,” in the April 2013 issue of Sojourners magazine, Hurricane Sandy vividly demonstrated the relationship between climate change, poverty, and immigration.
Three years after the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, the impoverished island nation is still struggling to rebuild. The ruins include Notre Dame de l’Assomption, Port-au-Prince’s renowned cathedral.
Be a part of the movement to redefine the public's perception of North Korea.
A half a century after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. penned “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King’s prophetic words continue to reverberate.
On Good Friday 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. led a nonviolent march through the streets of Birmingham, Ala., to draw attention to the injustices of segregation.