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Sojourners Magazine: July 2013

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A YEAR AGO we began “Drone Watch” on the God’s Politics blog, reporting on various drone-related issues. It was a topic few were following at the time. This spring, drones finally broke into public awareness, with significant stories in the mainstream media. As we were going to press, President Obama delivered a major speech on counterterrorism, calling drone killings “effective” and “legal” while acknowledging the need for broader oversight.

In this issue, as the public debate continues, Steve Holt looks at the theological problems of drone warfare, David Swanson explains how Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University became a leader in training pilots for U.S. drone wars, and investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill puts drones in the context of a U.S. policy that is increasingly based on covert wars around the world.

Violence and instability continue to plague the Middle East. A Christian member of the Egyptian upper house of Parliament talks about pressure on Egypt’s Christian minority and the challenge of preventing the Arab Spring from descending into violence. Gregg Brekke, a U.S.-based journalist recently returned from Jordan, looks at the impact of refugees in that country and why Christian communities are declining throughout the region. And in Syria, an already devastating war threatens to become worse, with growing calls for U.S. military intervention.

As people of faith, all these situations underscore for us the necessity of spiritual grounding. Episcopal priest Linda Kaufman writes of rediscovering the importance and power of prayer and listening to the Spirit, a fundamental message for us all.

We also need signs of hope and encouragement. Lisa Sharon Harper tells of a ceremony in Birmingham, Ala., where leaders of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A.—50 years after Martin Luther King’s famous jail letter —confessed the church’s complicity with racism and committed to the pursuit of justice. King’s daughter, Bernice, accepted the response from the church leaders, ending with the blessing, “May these words become flesh and live among us.” May that be our calling as well.

Cover Story

How Jerry Falwell's Liberty U.—the world's largest Christian university—became an evangelist for drone warfare.  

Feature

Under Christian ethics, drone warfare is neither just nor moral.
A story about falling in love with Jesus all over again
An interview with Sen. Ehab El Kharrat, a Christian member of Egypt's Parliament, on why he sees the country as a "work in progress"
Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill shines a light on U.S. covert wars.
Arab Christians are vital to a thriving Middle East—and their numbers are dwindling.
More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes. Obama, technology, and the myth of redemptive violence.

Commentary

How the dominance of Christianity affects interfaith relations
Working with the U.N. for a negotiated settlement has a greater chance of success than military involvement.
Immigration reform must include protection of workers' rights.

Columns

Even at their best, toys like the American Girl Dolls send a mixed message.
If Bernice King had been born on time, her daddy's letter might never have been written.
No one wants to spend summer vacation in the clink, but that's where a lot us are going to find ourselves.
Elvis impersonators make lousy terrorists.
Religious extremism will not be defeated by a primarily military response.

Culture Watch

"Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christians Pilgrimage in Search of God in America," Harper
As the "Lean In" debate shows, striving for gender equality is still personal and political—and vital.
"Anonymity," Köhler Books
The History Channel's The Bible, like so much of so-callled "religious pop culture," seemed to be the product of good people trying to do a good thing, but at best putting the desire to convey a particular message ahead of making the best artwork for the medium.
According to Wendell Berry, all you need to have hope is one good example.
"The Sacredness of Human Life: Why an Ancient Biblical Vision Is Key to the World's Future," Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Four July 2013 culture recommendations from our editors

Departments

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C
Susan Burton, founder of A New Way of Life Reentry Project

Web Extra

In “Waiting on God,” from the July 2013 issue of Sojourners magazine, Episcopal priest Linda Kaufman shares how she fell in love with Jesus all over again.
Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.
Does mass incarceration serve the common good? Susan Burton speaks out.
A radio documentary with Susan Burton, Michelle Alexander, and five residents of A New Way of Life Reentry Project.