As with most of our articles, the words in this issue developed out of relationships - connections that are decades-long as well as some more recently established. Ched Myers' deep friendship with Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann, also beloved sister to many of us at Sojourners, led to his challenging reflection on baptism. Adam Taylor's analysis of the difficulties facing the South African church came from his conversations with friends, old and new, during a recent trip to Cape Town. Julie Polter's commentary on child marriage rose from her experiences in Ethiopia, where she met with girls and women about the customs, policies, and religious beliefs that often produce painful results in their lives.
Relationships, of course, help bring the world into focus. Take immigration. It's a complicated subject and there is no shortage of opinions about how to "fix" it. But when we move beyond the statistics (and bullhorns) to hear from those who live as "undocumented" persons, we have a better chance of understanding what's at stake - and then moving toward solutions.
We also touch on the curious relationship between celebrities and their fans, particularly when it comes to social issues. An increasing number of celebrities have gotten involved in humanitarian aid projects, helping to raise awareness by redirecting those ever-present cameras toward the crisis in Darfur, for example, or to sex trafficking in Southeast Asia. But do they help or hurt? Kate Bowman Johnston, a former Sojourners intern, looks at whether the increased attention actually brings relief, or if it's just the latest way for celebrities to increase their star power.