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Sojourners Magazine: January 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

Some churches calling themselves Christian continue to act as if women are second-class citizens in the kingdom of God—despite what the Bible says.

Feature

As the country marks Martin Luther King Jr.'s 85th birthday, a veteran activist explains why it would be a mistake to remember King as only a great civil rights leader.
Her pastor told her it was 'against scripture' for females to preach.
A school garden project helps kids learn about plants—and Catholic social teaching about caring for the environment.
Joshua Casteel was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison and later staffed open-air burn pits in Iraq. The experience changed his life—even as it cut it short.

Commentary

Christians step up for modern-day "orphans in their distress."
The long war has made clear the fantasy of firepower "solutions" to complex political problems.
How liberation theology can inform public health

Columns

When racism is tolerated, the reconciling work of Christ on the cross is contradicted.
For years, Charlene's face haunted me and compelled me to action.
Don't make promises you can't keep.
Just like that, the pope had gotten to the heart of Islam, my religion.

Culture Watch

"Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together," Herald Press
Will corporations and the courts turn our free and untidy marketplace of ideas into yet another exclusive gated community?
"No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State," New York Review Books
Fifty years ago, a kind of innocence was taken, and a kind of brokenness remains unrepaired.
The universal vision of Hasidic poet Yehoshua November
"Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East," North Atlantic Books
Four January 2014 culture recommendations from our editors

Departments

Sr. Jean Lait, an Anglican Franciscan sister based in San Francisco, protests drones and their effects on children
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A
Letter to the Editors
Letter to the Editors
Letter to the Editors

Web Extra

Resources that help address the modern-day "orphans in distress" in our midst
Learn more about the Sojourners Women and Girls (SWAG) work.
Hasidic poet, Yehoshua November, on the mystery of God.
Joshua Casteel served as an interrogator in Iraq. Then an encounter with a Jihadist challenged him to truly live out his faith.