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Sojourners Magazine: March 2015

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One of the barriers to a just peace in the Middle East has been the one-sided stance of some evangelical Christians in the United States. Many conservative Christians have been uncritical of even the most repressive Israeli policies and political opponents of a responsible two-state solution. But this seems to be changing.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for more than a decade—including a four-year assignment in Palestine with a humanitarian organization—and has discovered seven reasons why many U.S. evangelicals are having a change of heart. For one, they’ve started to listen to the voices of Palestinian Christians and are rethinking the flawed theological underpinnings of a mindset that links the “chosen people” of God exclusively with the modern nation-state of Israel. Young evangelicals in particular are becoming more aware of the injustices that pervade Israel’s relationship with Palestinians.

A traditional evangelical rationalization for conflict in Palestine has been that there will never be peace in the Middle East until Jesus comes again. Now some are saying that instead of waiting for divine intervention, the faithful response is to get active in the pursuit of a just peace for all God’s children in the region.

Also in this issue, Erin Tocknell writes that when pastors and seminary students worked for civil rights in 1964 Nashville, their harshest critics were often their own church congregations. Gail Taylor’s long-term commitment to Washington, D.C.’s inner city took on an unexpected twist after volunteering at a farm in Maryland. She planted what has turned into a two-acre farm in the middle of the nation’s capital, a place much in need of fertilization. And finally, we introduce a man who we imagine will be the “new kid on the block” for many readers: 102-year-old Arturo Paoli, a Catholic priest and the most important economist you’ve never heard of. 

Cover Story

Evangelicals are no longer automatically taking a one-sided approach to conflict in the Middle East—and with that change comes hope for a troubled region. 

Feature

When Nashville pastors and seminary students took a stand during the civil rights era, their own congregations were often their harshest critics.
A prominent Jewish scholar of the New Testament argues that Christian criticism of the Pharisees is anti-Semitic. 
Gail Taylor hopes that Three Part Harmony Farm in D.C. Brookland neighborhood becomes the city's first commercial farm since the 1930s. 
102-year-old priest Arturo Paoli is perhaps the most important economist you've never heard of. 

Commentary

A priest in Jordan opens his church's doors to Iraqis fleeing ISIS. 
The Vatican wraps up its three-year investigation of U.S. nuns. What's next for women in the church? 
Ben & Jerry's cofounder on how to fight back against big money in politics

Columns

According to the Vatican, “The very possession of nuclear weapons, even for purposes of deterrence, is morally problematic.”
Another great idea from our patriotic defense contractors
There is no "symmetry" in the violence of the Middle East today. 
Churches are profiting from desecration like this—and every time they look into the account books they should tremble. 
Many are calling today's protesters "violent" because they yell, they look angry, and they don't play by the rules. 

Culture Watch

"Lila: A Novel. Farrar," Straus and Giroux 
Four March 2015 culture recommendations from our editors
Cyberwar stories were uninteresting until one involved a threat to our inalienable right to laugh at fart jokes. 
"Francis of Rome and Francis of Assisi: A New Springtime for the Church," Orbis Book
These films create new benchmarks for the mainstream depiction of black history, black struggle, and wider perceptions. 
"Doing Good Without Giving Up: Sustaining Social Action in a World That's Hard to Change," IVP Books 
How art can help us wrestle with race and brokenness

Web Extra

Photos depicting Gail Taylor's urban farming project at Three Part Harmony Farm
A video depicting the social responses to boycotts during the civil rights