Inside Story

From the Editors

Even while Occupy Wall Street and the worldwide movement it has helped ignite captured the public’s attention this fall, some observers claimed not to understand what the protests were all about. They wanted a clear list of demands, or a detailed plan for fixing what ails our economy and our society in general.

Many of the attacks on the Occupy protests seemed a bit disingenuous. After all, it’s pretty much impossible to deny the destructive role played by an under-regulated financial sector—that would be the “Wall Street” that’s being occupied—in sparking the Great Recession. But the transgressions of Wall Street itself are really only the tip of the filthy-lucre iceberg, as the gap between the super-wealthy and the rest has grown to titanic proportions. The statistics, which should serve as icons for our reflection and enlightenment—they’re that crucial—tell a heartbreaking story. What does it mean when the country’s top 1 percent has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent? It means that many, many people are suffering, while (and because) a very few thrive.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

From the Editors

Loving our neighbors is usually easier in the abstract. The members of Heartsong Church, just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, made that love very real last year in a concrete act of welcome. An Islamic faith community was moving in nearby, and their new center wasn’t going to be ready in time for Ramadan. So the members of Heartsong, in a simple act of Christian hospitality, invited their neighbors to use the church building during the Muslim holy month.

Unfortunately, such loving actions between Christians and Muslims seem to be the exception these days. In nearby Rutherford County, just southeast of Nashville, residents -- most of them Christian -- blocked a mosque planned by the Islamic community. "Why do they hate us?" a child asked the local imam, Ossama Bahloul, according to a reporter. "I said it's just a misunderstanding, miscommunication," Bahloul said. "I told him to love the people because one day they can love you, too."

When we asked Bob Smietana, an award-winning religion writer for The Tennessean, to visit Heartsong Church this summer and write about their interfaith bridge-building, Smietana responded, "A happy Muslim-Christian story? I'm in."

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

From the Editors

Mohandas Gandhi was keenly aware of the root causes of hunger, and he knew that the problem was not a lack of resources on God’s good earth. "There is enough for everyone's need," Gandhi said, "but not for everyone's greed."

ECHO, a broad-based Christian organization in Florida, understands that principle. The group aims not just to eradicate perpetual hunger, as Fred Bahnson explains in this issue, but to help people all over the world develop the tools to live abundantly. As an ECHO staff member put it, "Redemption doesn't just start after we die. We can begin to experience life in all its abundance right here on earth."

As Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann recently explained, faith in God’s bounty is the opposite of the myth that one can be self-sufficient. "Abundance narratives demand a firm grounding in a conviction about the reliability of God’s generous creation," Brueggemann told a conference in San Antonio this spring. "The earth is blessed. God intended the world to produce abundance."

Koinonia Farm in Georgia has been practicing a theology of abundance for almost 70 years. Koinonia has stood as a beacon of gritty love and audacious peacemaking since its founding in the 1940s by Florence and Clarence Jordan, author of the Cotton Patch version of the New Testament. As Melissa Aberle-Grasse explains in "Growing Together," over the last decade Koinonia has experienced a renaissance, agriculturally and spiritually, thanks to a renewed commitment not only to permaculture but to the prophetic, community-based vision of the Jordans. Turns out, for the folks at Koinonia, sustainable farming and life in community are rooted in the same thing: faith in God's abundant love.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

From the Editors

Using online and wireless communication to organize large, diverse groups of people has been a key component of the nonviolent Arab Spring uprisings. But these tools aren’t just for deposing dictators -- organizers are finding new ways to use them here in the U.S., from defending individuals under threat of deportation to spurring nationwide public rallies around key political issues. As Jeannie Choi writes in our cover feature, "A Web of Power," the best tech-savvy organizers are rooted in the same priorities that have shaped successful movements for decades -- listening to, learning from, and communicating with people to mobilize them to create change.

We’re finalizing this issue soon after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Some former Bush administration officials have claimed that without so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," bin Laden never would have been found. But CIA chief Leon Panetta explained that such techniques actually provided false leads in the search for bin Laden. Writing in The Washington Post, torture survivor Sen. John McCain countered the Bush officials’ claims and asserted the need for moral clarity when it comes to torture: "Ultimately, this is more than a utilitarian debate. This is a moral debate. It is about who we are."

The church ought to be a source for such moral clarity -- but in fact many American Christians are in favor of the use of torture. In "The Body in Pain," Robin Kirk, executive director of the Duke Human Rights Center, writes about efforts by church activists, ethicists, and leaders to educate Christians on why torture is anathema to our faith and to spur more of us to lift up a voice of conscience in the public debate.

Read the Full Article

July 2011 Sojourners
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

From the Editors

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed ..." Decades ago, President Eisenhower issued his famous warning about the excesses of what he called the "military-industrial complex." Since then, military spending has spiraled out of control, with dire consequences for our national budget, our ailing economy, and for "those who hunger," at home and abroad.

The military currently consumes around 58 percent of the discretionary budget -- and yet it continues to be the elephant in the budget-cutting room. Any effort to address our soaring deficit that does not start with the enormous Pentagon budget is doomed to fail.

For Ben Cohen, this wasn't too hard to comprehend. As co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream company, he understood a thing or two about running a balance sheet, and thanks to Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and the rest, grew the company until it was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But, as Cohen explains to Sojourners' Jim Wallis in this month’s interview, he still couldn't fathom the concept of spending hundreds of billions on the military. He has spent much of the last decade helping people get a handle on the sheer enormity of the military budget -- and why such exorbitant overspending not only undermines our security but also is paving the way to financial ruin. It is simply unsustainable.

Many people of faith have long decried the militarism that drives such spending. But two factors have made it starkly clear that we must finally rein in this beast, and soon: the national deficit and the budget-related efforts to drastically slash programs for the poor and vulnerable, while spending billions more on the military. What would Jesus cut? He'd probably start with the Pentagon.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Inside Story

The economic crisis presents particular challenges and questions for people of faith: What is the appropriate Christian response? What theological, biblical, and spiritual issues are raised by the crisis, and what are the appropriate pastoral responses? As Jim Wallis ex­plains, the community of believers has a particular responsibility to reach out—to one another and to our neighbors in need—in such difficult times.

But these times also carry an opportunity for reflection, particularly in this season of Advent. Advent is sometimes called the “little Lent,” associate editor Rose Marie Berger writes in her column. “It is a time of joyful penitence when we cleanse ourselves from our many human endeavors and make ourselves holy and presentable for the Incarnate One’s entrance into our humble lives.” We can recognize Christ, not our financial investments, as the true source of our value.

In this month’s “Living the Word,” Michaela Bruzzese (whom we joyfully welcome back to our pages) urges us to look for ways to give presence rather than presents this season. As she writes, God’s gift of Jesus emphasizes relationship and solidarity over things. Let us look for those whose needs are greater than our own and offer our presence—emotionally and practically.

A short story by Demetria Martínez, titled “La Anunciación,” reminds us that this is also a season of anticipation, of new life. Christ came to us in the most unexpected way and with a most unexpected gift: a promise of eternal presence. Now that’s something we can bank on.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine December 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Inside Story

God is always on the side of the marginalized, the people who are the weakest and poorest. That includes the unborn and their mothers, but it also includes people who lack health insurance and folks who can’t find jobs in a global economy,” says Rich Nathan, pastor of Vineyard Church of Columbus, in Ohio.

Sojourners editor Jim Rice and assistant editor Jeannie Choi heard echoes of this sentiment as they spoke with evangelicals from Seattle to Boston about the issues they’re focused on this election season. What they found is that evangelicals, especially those in their 20s and 30s, are applying their faith in deeper ways to a wider set of issues. In particular, many are coming to understand the term “pro-life” more broadly—as having to do with the war in Iraq, for example, and the creation of just economic policies and adequate health care. In “The Meaning of ‘Life’” Rice and Choi go beyond the polls to bring you the voices of people who, like all of us, are grappling with how to vote their values in the upcoming election.

Telling the stories behind the headlines is also the theme of our special section on faith and fiction. In “Through the Laughter and the Tears,” Kimberly Burge profiles a Nigerian writer and Jesuit priest, Uwem Akpan, whose rich—and sometimes harrowing—stories you won’t soon forget. You’ll also find an interview with novelist and science-fiction writer Mary Doria Russell about how she approaches her work. That, plus our two compilations of intriguing books, should keep you busy—long after you’ve returned from the voting booth. —The Editors

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine November 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Inside Story

You may recall that the cover of our August issue featured Elizabeth Edwards, spouse of John Edwards, one of the subjects of this month’s cover. We’ve never done back-to-back husband-and-wife covers before, but we wanted to highlight the important work each of them is doing—both independently and together. In August, Elizabeth Edwards wrote about the urgent need for health-care reform. In this issue, John Edwards—along with Mike Huckabee—addresses the pressing challenge of overcoming poverty.

As the presidential election campaign heads into the homestretch, it’s crucial that the factors that contribute to poverty are acknowledged and addressed at the national level. With that in mind, we asked Edwards and Huckabee, two former presidential candidates themselves, for their views and strategies on combating poverty. Do they think overcoming poverty is even possible? If so, how? What is the role of government and of faith-based organizations? What will it take to get more politicians and citizens truly engaged in this fight? While the two don’t agree on every solution, they do see caring for the most vulnerable in our society as a collective responsibility.

Making serious progress against poverty also requires that we look honestly at the wealth gap among Americans. As Sojourners board member Chuck Collins writes here, most of the wealth and income gains of the last 30 years have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of households. Our growing economic divide certainly doesn’t bode well for those with fewer financial resources, but it also undermines our life as a democracy. And that isn’t good for any of us.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine September/October 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Inside Story

With the party conventions approaching, the presidential campaign officially heads toward the homestretch, and many of us are evaluating the proposals that the candidates and their parties believe will solve some of our most pressing problems. Health issues are certainly at the top of the list—perhaps most important, the 47 million Americans who don’t have health insurance and thus access to adequate health care.

It’s an issue Elizabeth Edwards has been working on for years—and her breast cancer diagnosis has given her a front-row seat in the debate. In “Heal Thyself?” this lawyer and advocate takes apart some of the claims made by those who favor “market-based” approaches to the crisis. These “individual ownership” plans cost less, and offer more freedom and choice, proponents say. But peel away those liberating-sounding words and what you find is that they cost less because they’re worth less—they simply don’t cover much. Plus, Edwards writes, these individual plans would leave us negotiating with insurance and drug companies on our own.

Health care is something everyone should have, regardless of age, race, or employment status. How we make that happen involves carefully evaluating the proposals out there, as well as taking a look at models that exist in other countries. Aaron McCarroll Gallegos, a former Sojourners staffer who lives in Canada, debunks some of the misconceptions about that country’s single-payer system. If we are to create a more just and equitable system, we need to better understand the facts behind this life-and-death issue. —The Editors

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Inside Story

News and images of the world food crisis have been hard to bear these last few months—skyrocketing food prices have provoked desperate rioting in many countries, including Haiti, Kenya, Mexico, and Pakistan. Millions of people are in trouble, and it’s hard to know what to do.

Yet this catastrophe was almost entirely preventable. As Sojourners assistant editor Elizabeth Palmberg points out in her article "A Human-Made Disaster," this crisis isn’t hard to understand when we untangle the factors that produced it. Some of those elements include our overreliance on fossil fuels in farming, trade policies that benefit rich countries over poor, the use of biofuels, and the ways in which corporate deregulation has enabled a few agribusiness giants to reap enormous profits. In short, these and other factors add up to a system that actually creates hunger—all this in a year of record grain harvests.

A global food system that’s been designed by multinational corporations results in a system that is neither ethical nor democratic, writes Frances Moore Lappé in "The Shortage Isn’t Food, It’s Democracy." It also just doesn’t make any sense. How can citizens regain some control over their food security? Lappé outlines seven actions we can take to begin to restore balance to our local, national, and international food systems. It’s a good reminder that we have the power to create change—not just for ourselves, but for millions of people around the globe.

—The Editors

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine July 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe