This Month's Cover

Sojourners Magazine: May 2012

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“I’m gonna sit at the welcome table,” goes the old spiritual—but any time we sit down to eat, there are far more guests at the table than the ones we see.

There are the farm workers, many of them immigrants, who did the hard work of harvesting the food before us. As Sojourners’ immigration fellow Ivone Guillen writes, even as the U.S. literally feeds off immigrants’ cheap labor, it denies far too many of them legal status to do the work in which they take pride, or to live united with their families. Also at the table with us, as Mississippian Danny Duncan Collum explores, are the social heritage and health of our communities. The American South’s generations-long history of manual labor and rich-poor division produced a culinary culture which, in today’s sedentary world, has turned into a disaster writ very large on people’s bodies. Collum explores how many people—for example, Rev. Michael O. Minor, the Mississippi Baptist pastor who banned fried chicken from his church’s picnics—are finding that eating isn’t just an individual activity: It takes both a community and a moral vision to move toward a healthier table. Ellen Davis paints an even bigger picture in her rich reading of God as a farmer in Psalm 65, which means we are called not just to thank God for our daily bread but also to imitate God’s work of caring for creation.

In this issue we’re also delighted to welcome Sojourners writers past and present. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, managing editor from 1976 to 1980, shares insights from his recent visit to Cuba, while cover feature author Duncan Collum is a former associate editor and longtime writer of our “Eyes & Ears” column. Former interns Richard Vernon and Betsy Shirley return to our pages with, respectively, an interview with novelist Nick Harkaway and a profile of Gamaliel director Ana Garcia-Ashley, the first woman of color to head a national community organizing network. We’re glad to invite you to pull up a seat to the community meal!

Cover Story

Sidebar to "God the Farmer"
Psalm 65 gives us a unique portrait of a deity who tends the soil, waters its furrows, and crowns the year with a rich harvest.
From Mississippi to Kentucky coal-mining country, churches are taking on the public health crisis of obesity.
Sidebar to "Work of Many Hands"
When you pick an apple in the store, think of those who held it first. A day in the life of a farm worker.


A U.S. church delegation this winter discovered a Cuba at the crossroads of change.
Gamaliel's Ana Garcia-Ashley is the first woman of color to lead a national community organizing network, faith-based or otherwise. And she's pulling no punches.


Low-wage work and racial inequity are rife in jobs that move food to your table.
Many in Central America say it's time to consider decriminalizing drugs.
Internet sales of lottery tickets are shortsighted and wrong.


Gathering people from different faiths to serve others is one way of living out the command of Jesus to offer comfort to the afflicted.
A new definition of malnutrition is emerging, as formerly developing countries are globalized into “fast-food nation” lifestyles.
Subsidizing coal is like finding that beer-drinking college student and paying him to sit in a bar all day and night—it’s not just unnecessary, it’s ludicrous.
As the human soul matures, we are confronted with moments that force us to let go of yet another thin veil of self-delusion. The "right road," the moral high ground, sinks into a thicket of gray.
Becoming a dictator is a great way to get out of homework.

Culture Watch

Four novels with nothing in common except storytelling done well.
Four books that encourage people of faith to bring more light and less heat to the public square—and to our pews.
There is no vaccine against selfishness.
Nick Harkaway, writer of novels that brim with humor and meaning, talks about legacy, not-so-silly writing, and the moral to our stories.
Sidebar to "Bearing Witness in Contentious Times"