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Sojourners Magazine: November 2012

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ELECTIONS ARE A blessing and a temptation. It’s a blessing that ordinary citizens can pick candidates—and also get a hearing, in between elections, from officials who know that their two- or four-year citizen audit is coming again soon. But elections are also a temptation: a temptation to the mistaken belief that partisan, electoral politics is the only or best way to effect social change; a temptation to candidates’ campaign machinery to spew divisive, reality-challenged rhetoric; and a temptation to everyone to become cynical or passive, disillusioned not only by campaign vitriol but also by the broken campaign-finance system.

Followers of Jesus know that we are called to be as innocent as doves and as wise as the highest-paid political consultant. Disrupting the prepackaged narrative presented by both political parties, the gospel of Christ reminds us what it means to be human and tells us about the profligate generosity of God. This issue’s cover story and voter-guide foldout offer seeds to help you prayerfully consider your vote—and contribute to a national conversation about the values of human dignity, the warp and woof of our social fabric, and the most effective ways to advance a vision of democracy where the poor aren’t cast by the wayside.

We also invite you to counter cynicism by turning your mind to other parts of the real, big picture: the quiet Boston priest, Deborah Little, who helped start a worldwide movement of churches-without-walls where the homeless worship. The faith communities standing on street corners in Philadelphia and other cities, inviting gun shops to stop selling to “straw buyers” who pass weapons on to criminals. The wise church elder, Eugene Peterson, who doesn’t let a gift for storytelling get in the way of his charism for listening. The Good News cycle, unlike that of media talking heads, comes to us as an ever-new story.

Cover Story

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
The faith agenda in an election year? Start with "the least of these."

Feature

What would our faith look like if we really put it on the line?
Author Eugene Peterson has a lot to say about being and doing. And about facing life in our forties and beyond.
Faith communities work to stem the flow of guns to criminals.

Commentary

We'll never reach reconciliation between Christians and Muslims until we address root causes—and take on the haters.
Gangs in El Salvador call a truce from behind prison walls.
Our food system is a cause as well as a victim of climate change.

Columns

Is it global warming or an alien invasion?
It is contrary to Christian values to use attacks on welfare to win white votes.
You can have a healthy fossil-fuel industry or a healthy planet, but you can't have both.
The constraints on political engagement by nonprofits can be frustrating for those committed to social change.

Culture Watch

What in heaven's name does "biblical womanhood" mean? Rachel Held Evans embarked on a yearlong journey to find out.
Looking for a powerful read? Check these out.
Books for traveling the hard and worthy path of nonviolence
Books are removed from classrooms to avoid discussion of race, ethnicity, or Mexican American history.
As Arizona seeks to ban Mexican American Studies, a group of Latino artists and friends promises it won't be that easy.
Average Americans, the supposed winners of the global rat race, are overworked and overstressed—and still falling behind economically.

Departments

Reflections on the Common Lectionary, Cycle B
Leila Sansour, Catholic Palestinian film director and founder of the nonprofit Open Bethlehem

Web Extra

Vote your conscience with Sojourners’ 2012 election guide
An extended interview on biblical womanhood with Rachel Held Evans. 
An opportunity for gang peace in El Salvador