Inside Story

Inside Story

SOME THINGS come through planning. We planned to excerpt Ron Sider's forthcoming book Just Generosity, and for Jim Wallis to interview Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson. Other things just show up, not planned on at all, such as both Ched Myers and Richard Parker sending us transcripts of talks they had presented. When plans and providence conspire, it's time to pay attention. This is how we found ourselves with a package of articles on the dirty nonsecret of our prosperous times, the increasing social and economic inequality in both the United States and the world as a whole. We feel they will give you (as they did us) both inspiration and practical help in analyzing the current state of things and seeking positive change with a biblical undergirding. This issue's cover photo on campus activism is a reminder that self-employed photographers rarely go completely off-duty. Washington, D.C.-based photographer Rick Reinhard took this photo while attending his daughter Rachel's graduation from Barnard College. Sojourners does not have a staff photographer, unless you count whoever is taking the action shots of the feverish croquet competition at the annual staff picnic. But it's a rare issue that doesn't include one or several shots from Rick. He started taking photos while in Honduras in the late '60s and has been a full-time working photographer for more than 25 years. We know we can always rely on him for capturing fresh, provocative images, from protests to people we're profiling.

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Inside Story

Technology, of course, is a mixed blessing. But especially for those working in difficult and far-flung situations, e-mail can be vital for much more than relaying the latest office humor. When David Hartsough ("Creative Courage," page 22) was briefly jailed by the Serbian police in March 1998, our director of outreach, Duane Shank, followed the story on several peace and nonviolence e-mail lists. As the NATO bombing of Kosovo began this March, e-mail put us in touch with news from religious workers in the region, including firsthand, deeply personal perspectives on the events there. A sampling of those messages is found in "Faith on the Front Lines". After a springtime that brought war, school shootings, and-closer to home-illness and death in the family for several Sojourners staff members, we do not turn away from even the smallest encouraging word. The deepest sustenance may come, for example, from the profound assurances of Romans 8; but we'll take anything positive we can get. So, in the category of "perhaps it's shallow to care, but it encourages us just the same," we are honored to have received 10 awards from the Associated Church Press this spring. We received first place for in-depth coverage for our September-October 1998 issue ("Good Works: Why the Church Needs the Labor Movement (and Vice Versa),"); for theological reflection of less than 1,500 words ("Waiting and Hope: Advent, Incarnation, and the Daily News," by Julie Polter, November-December 1998); and for critical review ("The Children Shall Lead," by Will Campbell, May-June 1998). Second place awards include "Exorcising an American Demon," by Sojourners contributing editor and letter-writer Bill Wylie-Kellermann (March-April 1998), and the Sojourners Online Web site.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1999
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Inside Story

Our lead CultureWatch piece is a profile of writer Anne Lamott, who some would consider, at least on sight, to be an unlikely evangelist. (Then again, when have appearances ever been a reliable guide to people or matters of faith?) This white woman with dreadlocks is passionate about her faith and eager to spread the word, with quirky irreverence, about all that becoming a Christian has meant to her. Coming from a secular background, she doesn't take traditional symbols for granted as she eagerly seeks out other Christians. As she told writer Kimberly Burge, "I notice crosses. I notice you're wearing one, and I always wear one. It's kind of a secret code, not a fashion statement." Also in this issue, we're introducing a new columnist, Chris Rice. Chris lived and worked in Antioch, an interracial Christian community in Jackson, Mississippi, and was co-founder (with Spencer Perkins) of Reconcilers Fellowship. This long-term commitment to racial reconciliation was part of the inspiration for the new column's name, "Grace Matters." It is both a play on the title of Cornel West's book Race Matters and a reminder of the role of grace, whether in the work for justice, the everyday ups and downs of family life, or the healing of broken relationships on both the personal and societal levels. While it will usually be prose, Chris' first column takes the form of a poem dedicated to long-time friend and ministry partner Spencer Perkins, who died on January 27, 1998.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1999
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Inside Story

Hurricane Mitch already spurred us to publish one commentary ("A Mature Compassion," by Marvin Rees, January-February 1999). Reports from friends and acquaintances who have worked for many years to improve the lives of the poorest people in those places led us to ask Jennifer Casolo, a pastoral and development worker in Tocoa Colon, Honduras, to write from her eyewitness perspective. At one point she contacted managing editor Jim Rice via e-mail to apologize for being behind on her deadline. "No excuse," she said, "just that battle fatigue takes away from inspiration." Then we had word that more rain and mudslides had cut off power for another five days. Delayed (but not stopped) by high water, Jennifer's article did come in. After all that, it is a remarkable word of hope and efforts towards right relationship in the face of massive hardship. Coincidentally, Jennifer was once a member of Assisi Community here in Washington, D.C., a group that is the subject of this issue's "Life in Community" column by Joe Nangle, OFM. This is the final "Life in Community," but we will strive to find other ways to get Joe to come by (his bimonthly delivery of the column was always a high point around here). In his parting words as a columnist, Joe pays tribute to the people (and one shaggy dog) who inspire him. Finally, several people from Sojourners were proud to be among the 7,000 who gathered at Ft. Benning, Georgia, for last November's protest against the School of the Americas (thanks to Pax Christi Metro D.C., which organized a bus for the trip). Learn more about how this movement has grown in our interview with SOA Watch organizers (and mother-daughter team) Carol Richardson and Heather Dean.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1999
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Inside Story

Nuclear abolition on the cover of Sojourners? Isn't that awfully retro, a flashback to the same-old same-old? A high-ranking military officer in full uniform on the cover of Sojourners? Isn't that sort of odd? The editorial staff was asking ourselves such questions (echoed by friends who heard of our plans) as we put this issue together. Organizing against and reporting on the nuclear weapons threat was a key part of our mission in the late '70s and early '80s. Now the nuclear threat is far from gone-but almost nothing else in the global context is the same. One way we've illustrated all that has changed is through interviewing and putting on our cover a former head of the Strategic Air Command, retired Air Force Gen. Lee Butler. He is now a leading proponent of nuclear abolition. Another difference, of course, is in the articles themselves. As Jonathan Schell describes in his article, in the past anti-nuclear movements were often fueled by fear. The newly emerging abolition movement is propelled instead by hope. We think Butler's story, and accompanying essays by Schell and David Cortright, indeed give a sense of fresh opportunity and a way forward. One critique of the anti-nuclear movement of years past was that the nuclear problem seemed to be a "white" question, dealing with long-range, big-picture issues that could be seen as far removed from the day-to-day struggles for survival that marked the lives of the poorest of the poor. But as Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us in Vincent Harding's "A Dangerous Spirituality," the connections are all too clear: "Any nation that chooses to spend more on armaments than on social reform is a nation in trouble." It is this bottom line-financial, moral, and spiritual-that can spur us all on to make the vital connections that strive for hope, not fear.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1999
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Inside Story

The terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the subsequent U.S. missile strikes on sites in Afghanistan and the Sudan brought to renewed focus the virulent anti-Muslim sentiment that exists in our society. At the urging of friends such as Charles Kimball, we changed our original cover plans for this issue and put together a package on Islam and the prospects for Christian-Muslim dialogue. Charles, drawing on his many years of study and work related to religion and the Middle East, wrote the lead article and helped us formulate this package. As we finished production on this issue, we were several weeks into the nation's immersion in wall-to-wall media coverage, ranging from the merely salacious to the truly constitutional, regarding President Clinton. We have not ignored the moral issues raised by the Clinton situation (see "Hearts and Minds" and "Commentary"), but we are clear in noting that there is a lot going on in the world besides presidential scandal. In that vein, it's especially worth noting our profile of and tribute to Spencer Perkins, a racial reconciliation activist who died suddenly last spring. For every person who draws massive media attention (positive or negative), there are untold others such as Spencer who work to embody and call others to God's love and justice. And they do it whether or not anyone with a camera or satellite dish notices. Our special thanks to Spencer's family and friends for sharing photos and remembrances of him with us and with you.

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 1998
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Inside Story

A basic principle of organizing is that a group of people with a common purpose can accomplish more than a single individual. Every issue of Sojourners is the fruit of that principle in action-editors, writers, the people we cover-all contribute to the whole. So while assistant editor Julie Polter was charged (actually, she volunteered-a decision she occasionally had doubts about) with coordinating this special issue on the church and labor, it was the work of many good hands and minds. Special recognition should go to staff people Kristin Brennan and Bob Hulteen. Kristin, editorial assistant intern, was a stellar writer and researcher for this issue, and-always the bigger challenge-she kept Julie sane at many a stressful moment. Bob, associate editor, was a vital adviser from the planning stage through deadline-his knowledge of populist history, his on-the-ground participation in church and labor work in the Twin Cities, and his openness to late-night work calls were especially helpful. We also appreciate the many organizers, pastors, and labor folks, too numerous to mention here, who gave suggestions, sent materials, shared their knowledge and experience, and pointed us toward sources, church-labor projects, and writers. Finally, we extend our thanks and gratitude to the Arca Foundation, whose support made this special issue possible.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1998
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Inside Story

This issue has the final "Signs & Wonders" column from contributing editor Joyce Hollyday. She has been an important part of who we are; from the late '70s until the early '90s, Joyce was a Sojourners community member and served Sojourners magazine as an editor, writer, and speaker. We greet Joyce's decision to end her column with some sadness, but mainly with deep gratitude for all she has brought to us, and best wishes for her continuing ministry of word and service. We look forward to seeing her work in our pages in the future. Everyone working at Sojourners is, of course, only here for the money (and the free office coffee). But we also are cheered when we receive recognition from our professional associations. This spring we were honored to receive 10 awards from the Associated Church Press (ACP), including first place for four-color cover (May-June 1997); biblical interpretation ("Abuse of Command," by Walter Brueggemann, July-August 1997-which also won a first-place award from the Evangelical Press Association); poetry ("What Van Gogh Saw," by Raphaelle Kosek, July-August 1997); and Web site. Better than any award is when you let us know that we've touched a nerve (see this issue's three-page "Letters"), provided a healing word, or otherwise served to bring you energy and ideas. For that, you too have been recognized-our "Letters" section received a second-place award of merit from ACP this year, the fourth year in a row that the section has placed first or second. As this year's judge commented, Sojourners readers "are independent and original and write that way." All we can add is a hearty "Amen." And thank you!

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1998
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Inside Story

WE SEEK OUT most of our articles-solicit them from authors or write them ourselves. Once in a while an article is sent in that fits both our plans and our limited space. But in general, we find the writer and words, not the other way around. So it was not business as usual when managing editor Karen Lattea found a message on her voice mail: "My name is Will Campbell, calling from Tennessee. I've just read the galleys of David Halberstam's new book, which the publisher sent with the idea that I'd write something about it. Are you interested?" When a respected preacher, activist, and author calls up of his own accord, editors get real happy. The result is in our feature section-Will's firsthand reflections on early civil rights work as reflected in Halberstam's book The Children. Also in our feature section are two instances of our weekends getting into our work (instead of the other way around). The articles by Ched Myers and Marie Dennis on Jubilee economics first came up in discussions and presentations at a peacemakers gathering at Kirkridge Retreat Center in Pennsylvania. And we were inspired to ask Richard Rohr for his piece on male rites of initiation after several men hereabouts participated in a powerful weekend retreat led by Richard last year. We realized in our own reading of the magazine that Carol Welch's "Commentary" on the Asia financial bail-outs works with the Jubilee articles to give another helpful window into global economics. And Danny Duncan Collum's "Eyes & Ears" column on Medgar Evers relates in history and spirit to Will Campbell's article. We hope you find your own spontaneous connections as you read through!

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1998
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Inside Story

Some say chaos brings creativity. But after recent renovations and office shuffling in our rental building, most here at Sojourners would say that chaos mainly serves to bring plaster dust into our coffee maker. Oh, and it does deepen our appreciation for regular days, when our receptionist's desk isn't standing on end in a side office, waiting for the new carpet to be installed. We almost were settled into a normal routine when our art director, Ed Spivey, wandered into the filming of a new Will Smith movie while on a lunchtime errand. It took some time to calm him down enough to have our cover planning conversation. Not that we weren't thrilled to hear (over and over) about the really cool helicopter stunts he saw ("From this close!"). But despite it all, we did produce a March-April issue (else you wouldn't be reading this). We're especially proud to include several excerpts of articles that will appear in our forthcoming resource, Crossing the Racial Divide: America's Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation, available later this spring. We're also pleased to announce that Vincent Harding, a longtime friend and eminent civil rights historian, will explore the spirituality of Howard Thurman and Martin Luther King Jr. in Sojourners' first annual Spirituality Lecture. Please join us March 10, 7 p.m., at Washington, D.C.'s Howard University for an evening of music, renewal, and inspiration.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1998
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