This Month's Cover

Sojourners Magazine: February 2014

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ON JAN. 15, had his life not been tragically cut short, Martin Luther King Jr. would be turning 85. In this issue, political economist Gar Alperovitz tantalizes us with what might have been. In the last few years of his life, King was coming to a more radical understanding of the nation’s economic system—both its role in creating inequality and the possibility of a more democratic economy. As inequality has increased in recent years to unprecedented levels, the economic issues King was grappling with have become only more important for all of us.

Most sectors of society have seen real progress in advancing women’s leadership. Yet too much of the church is still run by an obsolete framework of patriarchy, rooted in a flawed understanding of scripture, which denies women ordination and other leading roles. Michelle A. Gonzalez explains why we need a theology of women that recognizes and embodies the incontrovertible insight that both men and women are made in the image of God—and that such recognition has profound implications for how we do church.

As the U.S. military prepares to begin the exit from Afghanistan, Lisa Schirch writes of military leaders learning the limitations of firepower as the “solution” to political problems. Mia Alvarado tells the story of her friend, Iraq veteran Joshua Casteel, and his death from lung cancer, likely caused by the toxic smoke from “burn pits” in Iraq. There are 2.5 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; their struggles will continue to be a challenge and an opportunity for churches dealing with consequences of war.

Dr. Paul Farmer—called the “man who would cure the world” in the bestseller Mountains Beyond Mountains for his work in Haiti, Peru, and elsewhere—discusses Pope Francis’ recent meeting with Gustavo Gutiérrez and describes how the principles of liberation theology can shape a more moral, and more effective, approach to public health.

All these stories, filled as they are with examples of love in the face of tragedy, help us to follow more closely the one who came to make us whole and to make the world “as it is in heaven.”

Cover Story

Jesus' teaching about hell flipped popular imagery of the afterlife upside down—and offered a radical, transformative vision of God.


Where do our ideas about hell come from?
Why some of us love Jesus and don't like Paul
Cynthia Bourgeault explains how we can both seek social justice and do justice to our souls.
An Israeli-American resister on the spiritual links between violence and nonviolence


Just because racism is "tradition" doesn't make it right.
What does it take to reintegrate combatants into society?
"Stop and frisk" is unconstitutional race-based harassment—and it must end.


"When someone is faced with a gun and chooses to respond with respect and love, that's hope."
No animals were tested in the study. Just me.
We give thanks for how he turned righteous anger into the power of reconciliation.
The president has sought to placate the rich, powerful fossil fuel industry.
We didn't eat for 22 days, but we did feast.

Culture Watch

"Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace," Cascade Books
The 10 best U.S. films of 2013
Four April 2014 culture recommendations from our editors
"Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith," White Cloud Press
A hopeful encounter with real-life "God's Gardeners"
"Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community," by Leah Kostamo
At peak usage, Netflix alone now accounts for one-third of all internet traffic in the U.S.


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

Web Extra

Indigenous American leaders speak out against the Washington NFL team’s mascot.
These magazine articles and blog posts published by Sojourners through the years pay tribute to the great South African leader.
Yousef Bashir's remarkable story of reconciliation.
People go to great lengths for those they love, especially when it comes to immigration reform.