I HAD JUST recently renewed my subscription to Sojourners when I picked up a copy of the January-February 1996 issue. I had quite a strong reaction upon reading the first thing on the cover that jumped out at me: The Alternative Christian Magazine. I was dismayed and wondered aloud at what it was to which I had just subscribed!
An alternative to what? What's an alternative Christian? Was I going to find anything in the magazine anymore that talked about making connections between one's faith and the world? Had Sojourners , the voice of reason, thoughtful challenge, and prayerful and prophetic commentary that I recalled, become a simplistic fundamentalist rag? Had the magazine about faith-politics-culture now become Highly Charged and Politicized, Forget-About-Culture, King of the Christian Mountain? I would think that your intention is not to send such a polarized message as I received. Words that came to mind were "arrogant" and "self-righteous" (and that has nothing to do with the word "the").
I think I know what you are trying to say, and I think I understand the principle behind your choice of phrase. But in my opinion this pushes too hard and appears narrow-minded and divisive, not unlike the reaction I imagine you have to the name "The Christian Coalition." I am turned off. Am I an alternative Christian or a Christian? Do only "alternative Christians" (whoever they are) read Sojourners? Or if this is an "alternative" Christian magazine, and THE alternative on top of that, what does that make all the other magazines of Christian faith, some of which I think you read and like?
Is this the final word-words-on the cover? Say it ain't so. Where's the voice of conscience? Faith, vision, and justice? A renewal of faith and politics in today's culture? Please don't lose sight of the spirit and soul I know is there.This letter represents the substantial response we've received from readers concerned about our attempt at a new cover line. For the time being, we're back to the original while we work on alternatives. As always, we welcome your suggestions.