This Month's Cover

Sojourners Magazine: December 2014

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In our Advent and Christmas stories, angels are messengers of invitation and freedom, pointing us toward liberation and life and off the path of destruction.

In this issue, we look at the life of another powerful messenger, Vincent Harding. He and his wife Rosemarie first came to Sojourners in the 1980s, offering us wisdom drawn from their mentors Howard and Sue Bailey Thurman, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Martin Luther King Jr. In 1998, Vincent delivered Sojourners’ first Spirituality Lecture at Howard University’s Rankin Chapel where Howard Thurman once served as dean.

Vincent passed away in May, but he lived long enough to comment powerfully on the election of the first African-American president and to prophetically call him out when he strayed from the dream of “a more perfect union.” Joanna Shenk, a Mennonite pastor whom Vincent counted as a friend, writes on the Hardings’ life and witness.

Andrew Dunn-Bauman offers a transformative story from Oak Creek, Wisc., where Sikhs and a former racist skinhead have come together in a peacemaking project in the aftermath of the 2012 temple massacre. And former Sojourners Culture Watch editor Molly Marsh returns to our pages with analysis of the Ebola crisis in Liberia—and a review of a new book on smart giving.

Incarnation means that it’s on us now to be the hands and feet and voices of Christ, just as Vincent and Rosemarie were. “Surrounded as we are by a host of ancestors who have gone before us—including our ancestor Jesus,” Vincent wrote, “we will continue to sing. We will continue to build. ... For we believe with Langston [Hughes] that we were not meant to be broken-winged birds ... we were meant to rise up on wings like eagles. ... Let’s fly, children. Let’s fly!” 

Cover Story

Vincent Harding and the struggle to build a more democratic America 


How an act of hatred brought together two unlikely allies in the struggles for peace
The San Francisco Public Library reaches out to homeless patrons through an innovative social work program. 
Long-term unemployment can mean losing not only income, but your sense of purpose. Faith and advocacy groups can help—but will it be enough in a shifting economy? 
Suggestions and resources for networking job-hunters


The only way to defeat the epidemic is to strengthen health-care systems. 
Advent is a time to answer the question, "Which side are you on?" 
Across the country, police departments act more like an occupying army than keepers of the peace. 


We cannot undermine or defeat a group that we do not understand. 
The people have spoken, usually during dinnertime.  
Would his first taste of Islamaphobia come at the age of 5 during show-and-tell?

Culture Watch

"I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations With Truth and Love," IVP Books
"A Path Appears," Knopf Publishing
Our culture has managed to turn children's sports into an expensive "gated community" for the elite. 
"Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest," Cascade Books
Four December 2014 culture recommendations from our editors  
American artist Parker Millsap spreads his "Truck Stop Gospel."
They think that what they're doing is changing the world for the better, but that's doubtful. 

Web Extra

A video giving voice to the homeless of San Francisco
A video on the audience reaction of protesters at the St. Louis Symphony
Vincent Gordon Harding and Rosemarie Freeney Harding: A Biographical Timeline
A video performance by musical artist Parker Millsap
A video giving voice to the misunderstood in the Muslim community
A map depicting five quality aid groups nationally and abroad