This Month's Cover

Sojourners Magazine: January 2012

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Authors offer many reasons why they’re late on a deadline, but this issue we heard what may be the most impressive one yet from writer Denali DeGraf.

DeGraf has long and deep connections to Sojourners. His father, Scot, was our circulation director for many years, his mother, Linda, worked in our art department, and the family was part of our extended community when Denali was born. (Denali has written for us once before: As a high school freshman in 1995, he reviewed the card game Magic: The Gathering.) When Denali was a student at Stanford, he traveled to Santiago, Chile, as part of the university’s overseas studies program. While there he visited the Patagonia region of Argentina, fell in love with the place, and has lived there for most of the years since.

This summer, as he was approaching a deadline on his article on indigenous efforts to resist open-pit mining in the region, Denali was required to travel back to Chile to take care of some immigration paperwork. His usual passage across the Andes was blocked by the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in June, extending his trip and making it difficult to get his article done by the assigned time. We’re pretty sure this is the first time we’ve heard the “volcano ate my homework” excuse. (We would have been less impressed with his originality if he had waited until this fall and used the arrival of his newborn daughter, Anjali, as a rationale for delay—that one we’ve heard before!)

We’re glad Denali was able to overcome obstacles, natural and otherwise, to tell the important story of a community rising up to meet grave threats to their environment, and the role that people of faith are playing in those efforts. Such stories give us a glimpse of the often-latent strength inherent in seemingly outmatched communities and help us understand the power waiting to be unleashed by people coming together in common cause

Cover Story

What kind of nation are we called to be: arrogantly superior or humbly exemplary?


Paul shows us how to wrestle with violent passages in the Hebrew Bible.
Multigenerational households are becoming more common, by choice or by necessity -- and these expanded family circles have both benefits and perils.
Indigenous communities -- and local church leaders -- stand against open-pit mining that threatens to despoil Patagonia.
Despite the enormous success of lay involvement and Catholic outreach to the world, several trends indicate serious challenges for the Catholic Church in the United States.
Fifty years after Vatican II, will a new generation of lay Catholics lead prophetic change in the church and in the world?


All of us owe Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth a heavy debt of gratitude for his willingness to give all he had to help build a more just society.
Populism sprouts again among many family farmers.
A conference at Cedarville University shows new political boundary-crossing in the Christian college world.
What does individualism have to do with Christianity? Not much.


At first, I thought I had the flu because I didn't get a flu shot this year and naturally had to be punished by the medical community.
The war in Iraq was fundamentally a war of choice, and it was the wrong choice.
It was not the stones thrown by his tormentors that made him suffer most, he said; it was the silence of his friends.
I'm grateful to the men who use their power, money, and influence on behalf of women.

Culture Watch

Activist pastor Gardener C. Taylor on lessons learned in a long life of faithfully taking the side of the oppressed.
Consensus decision-making can make an old-style Senate filibuster seem purposeful and engaging.
"I think it is a spiritual task to struggle with questions such as what and who we place at the center of our economy"
Roland Emmerich is known for making the kind of disaster movies that fans of quality filmmaking love to hate.
War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity, by Stanley Hauerwas.
Contrition seems more popular than ever.
Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art, and the Architecture of Silence. And, Fasting For Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice.
Free South Africa, To Love More Deeply, When Disaster Strikes, Wrestling with Tradition.


I found Tom Getman’s article “Holy Land Farce” (November 2011) to be very one-sided in its perception of Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Courage in August. I am a Jewish person, almost 62 years old, who became a Christian when I was 50.
There were two sets of stairs: the front ones curving and formal while the backstairs rose steep as a canyon wall. As a girl, I used to fly from their heights when I wasn’t falling.
I found Tom Getman’s article “Holy Land Farce” (November 2011) to be very one-sided in its perception of Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Courage in August. I am a Jewish person, almost 62 years old, who became a Christian when I was 50.
Reflections on the Common Lectionary.
Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s “Harry and the Principalities” (November 2011) gave voice to my family’s deep disappointment with the final Harry Potter movie. We had looked forward to the movie for months, but emerged in shock at how the ending completely missed the point!