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Sojourners Magazine: December 2010

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Giving birth is perhaps the most singular, unique, remarkable, and miraculous event in a mother's life -- and at the same time one of the most universal of human experiences, with more than 6 billion occurrences in our lifetime alone.

In the United States, the process of childbirth has become more and more "medicalized" over the past half century. As our authors explain, birthing a child has come to be seen by the medical establishment as a process to be managed—almost as if pregnancy were an illness or a medical condition to cure -- rather than an act of human participation in God's creativity. This trend is perhaps best exemplified by the alarming growth in C-sections, which now constitute almost a third of U.S. births -- for women under 25, the rate of C-sections has increased 57 percent from 2000 to 2007. (The World Health Organization warns that C-section rates above 15 percent tend to result in more harm than good.)

While medical attention is obviously needed in some cases, many feel the pendulum has swung too far. The process of childbirth for many has been wrenched away from the woman at the center and the community surrounding her, and into the hands of institutions and establishments whose approach often seems to favor an almost industrial efficiency over what is best for mother and child.

But that is changing, as women across the country are building a movement of mothers, midwives, and doulas, home births, birth centers, and birthing rooms -- a spiritual movement for justice that recognizes the intrinsic sacredness of childbirth.

Cover Story

How a resurgent movement is taking birth back from the medical establishment.
A reluctant uncle witnesses the home birth of his nephew.
Why is it such a fight to have a 'natural' childbirth?
Discovering the call to 'mother the mothers.'

Feature

What's it like to be almost human? Reflections on Jeremiah 18.
An interview with Walter Wink and June Keener Wink.

Commentary

The season's real message isn't pretty, but it is powerful.
Why tax cuts for the super-rich are costly and immoral.
A growing movement of veterans promotes selective conscientious objection.

Columns

This fall we saw a disturbing rise in religious intolerance in the U.S.
In February 2009, I attended a conference in Egypt taught by Arab Christians from throughout the Middle East.
Having successfully survived a mid-life crisis -- mainly by living past mid-life -- I felt it was finally time to sell my Harley, the vehicle I procured a few years back to counter the feelings of insecurity that come with aging.
When the forces of intolerance rear their ugly heads, the forces of inclusion go into action.

Culture Watch

In an age of 'eco-awakenings,' the vision of 'more with less' abides.
The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John L. Allen Jr. Doubleday.
Film director Julia Bacha talks about the making of Budrus
The most significant DVD release of 2010 is America Lost and Found, packaging seven films produced between 1968 and 1972, including Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show.
Bio: Youth pastor and organizer with Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix, Arizona Website: www.nmaz.net
Say God: Songs and Poems of Daniel Higgs. Thrill Jockey.
For a while it looked like the battle for "Net neutrality" was won when President Obama appointed his own chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Departments

Bach wrote his solo cello suites as études, not for performance./ Imagine, the arpeggios of the first prelude, forever private, /
I was surprised and disappointed when I saw the cover and read "Why Glenn Beck Hates Community Organizers" (by Danny Duncan Collum, September-October 2010).
"We have to listen and observe," notes Jennifer Hope Kottler, when writing about energy issues ("Two Ears, Two Eyes, One Voice," August 2010).
Advent and Christmas are seasons for mismatches.
I read with relish Walter Brueggemann ("'Come, Rejoice with Me,'" September-October 2010) on new life and healing.

Web Extra

Books and Articles Published in Sojourners
There are civilian peacemakers in Israel and Palestine that the international media never covers.
Listen and Download 'Hoofprints on the Ceiling of Your Mind'