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Sojourners Magazine: May 2014

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CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM tensions fill the news these days, with conflicts from Malaysia to the Central African Republic. Some of the disputes involve conflict over economic resources or political power; some are theological.

In this issue, we look at one of the controversial questions: Is it appropriate for Christians to use the word “Allah” to refer to God? Last year, the Malaysian government prohibited non-Muslims from using Allah, and a court ruling upholding that decision is now pending in the country’s Supreme Court. Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz suggest that linguistically, historically, and theologically, the differences between Christianity and Islam are about God, not between gods.

Jim Wallis looks at the Central African Republic, where disputes over political power have led to a moral crisis, with a violent Christian-based militia attacking Muslims and raising fears of ethnic cleansing. About 650,000 people—many of them Muslim—have so far been displaced; nearly 300,000 have left the country. But religious leaders are also playing a positive role, coming together to call for an end to the violence.

In the U.S., Eboo Patel writes, a growing number of colleges now offers courses in  interfaith leadership. In our religiously diverse country and world, the skills needed to work positively with those of different faiths are increasingly needed.

In the final analysis, love of God and love of neighbor are fundamental tenets of both faiths. And the willingness to work together for the common good, sometimes courageously in the face of great risk, is something for which we can all give thanks. 

Cover Story

Several nations have recently banned non-Muslims from using Arabic words, including "Allah" for God. Does it matter?


In the face of ecocide, the choice before us is stark: discipleship or denial.
In a death-denying culture, how do we learn to accompany the dying and the grieving?
It's important for me to think about water as belonging to God.
I got on a bus to help someone else's justice movement—and discovered it was my own.
If we seek to follow Jesus in context, nothing is more contextual than a watershed.
The Moral Mondays model seems to be spreading.
We have a responsibility to use the Earth's wealth relationally, not exploitatively.


The Trans-Pacific Partnership would grant new powers to multinational corporations.
How an agreement on nuclear weapons can build a bridge to peace
A growing number of conservative Christians have joined the movement to abolish capital punishment.


These desperately poor children are sacrificed to the sex trade's insatiable hunger.
As a Christian, I grieve over the unspeakable violence wrongly done in the name of faith.
Another test of biblical authority by unscrupulous scientists
There are thousands of ways for a church to serve its watershed and all life within it.
This may be a field whose time has come.

Culture Watch

The glory of the FAME studio had its roots in the deep shame of rural Southern poverty.
"Denise Levertov: A Poet's Life;" "A Poet's Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov"
Public memorials, both ad hoc and formal, speak to what divides us—and what brings us together.
James Patterson has pioneered something beautiful in the world of books and will be remembered for it.
Four May 2014 culture recommendations from our editors
"Pacifists in Chains: The Persecution of Hutterites During the Great War," Johns Hopkins University Press
Tyrone Parker works with urban youth and families in the nation's capital.
"The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls," by Elizabeth Gerhardt

Web Extra

Create your own memorial prayer altar in remembrance of those you love and will never forget.
Vincent Harding, a steadfast activist and ally in the struggle for freedom.
What is a watershed? And why does it matter?
Resources for living well in the midst of death and grief
On a cold day this past February, seminary student Sara Wolcott boarded a bus in New York to attend the Moral March in North Carolina.
Ched Myers, Sara Stratton, Chris Grataski, and Sasha Adkins describe how they are connected to their local watersheds.
The SOLD Project's hopeful vision to end human trafficking