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Sojourners Magazine: December 2013

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ON DEC. 14, 2012, 20 children and six staff members were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. In the aftermath of that massacre, our nation mobilized in a broad-based movement for meaningful gun regulation. Organizations against gun violence and parents of victims went all-out—rallying, writing letters, meeting with members of Congress, all to no avail. Even a bill to expand background checks was defeated. There have been at least 16 more mass shootings in the past year.

In the face of intractable evil, Christians have a moral obligation to keep moving forward. But it’s very hard. So we asked theologians, pastors, and advocates to help us reflect on grief, despair, and determined hope one year after Newtown.

Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in our society, yet too often it stays hidden in our churches. Michelle  D. Bernard gives an insider look at how churches can provide safety and support for those who are abused, and Tony Lapp looks at what churches need to know about those who abuse. And as a racialized society continues to divide us, Marty Troyer offers a reminder that the church has an important mission in proclaiming God’s justice, which can bind us together as the body of Christ.

It is into this violent, beautiful world that God enters. The Advent scriptures remind us that God’s coming “is like a refiner’s fire.” There is a divine cleansing power that can and will sweep through the world, pushing us toward life. Do not look away. God is with us.


A movement is underway to free people of faith from the yoke of Christmas consumerism.
Zwiebackesser / Shutterstock
Are churches helping to stop domestic violence—or enabling it?
What your church can do to address abusive behaviors
A pastor's experiment in unmasking white privilege
In India, a church initiative helps promote sustainability and connect farmers with the dignity of their vocation.


Diplomatic talks with Iran could end the nuclear standoff—and more.
More and more African-American women are called to ministry—yet still excluded from the pulpit.
Decades ago, Christians and Muslims mingled at Youth for Christ events in Peshawar. What happened?


This kind of neutrality is like defending the right of poor and rich alike to sleep beneath bridges.
Sorry, kids, but Santa has some bad news.
To feel the pain of the world is to participate in the very heart of God.
The people of a land are given spiritual authority and responsibility to steward the land.

Culture Watch

"Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic," Knopf
The Post's credible voice for corporate centrism is a large part of what Bezos wants for his $250 million.
"About Time" is funny, beguiling, and even profound.
Books that can be interesting, grounding, and inspiring companions for a complicated time of year.
"Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty," Liturgical Press
"Bury the Dead: Stories of Death and Dying, Resistance and Discipleship," edited by Laurel Dykstra
"The Fatherless series" (book one and two), FaithWords
Four December 2013 culture recommendations from the editors


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

Web Extra

Check out these resources to help you and your faith community address the sin of domestic violence.
Racism continues to plague our nation. It doesn't have to be this way.
A choral piece dedicated to “all who grieve and in memory of the children and adults of Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
Father Michael Doyle's poetry captures a city of despair and hope.
Invest in the transformation of lives by trying some of these fair trade, eco-friendly gift ideas or charities.
An interview with Mike Martin, founder of RAWTools.