This Month's Cover

Sojourners Magazine: November 2013

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TURN ON THE tap and water comes out, right? But what happens when public water sources become privately owned, when this essential element is bought and sold on the market, rather than held in the public trust for public use?

Renowned water activist Maude Barlow and Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Watch bring to life the story of water privatization in America. As climate change leads to water shortages, and as local governments struggle with shrinking budgets, corporations are seizing the opportunity to privatize water by buying up control. While this has been common in poorer countries for years, it’s now happening in our own backyards.

But churches and community groups are organizing to keep water public and available. Some churches are even “adopting” their watersheds. The Bible is rich with images of water that symbolize new life and the fulfillment of God’s promises. Reta Halteman Finger’s Bible study traces water in the New Testament from Jesus’ baptism to Revelation’s vision of “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God.”

There are times, of course, when God’s gifts flow beneath the surface. Mennonite pastor Ryan Ahlgrim tells the story of his own intellectual and spiritual struggles with belief—and the trust that’s necessary to fully live a life of hope.

The ongoing crisis in Syria reminds us that the irresponsible export of arms too often leads to wars, atrocities, and human rights abuses. Anglican Bishop Peter Price explains the status of the Arms Trade Treaty, overwhelmingly approved in April by the U.N. General Assembly. Why have only four countries ratified it?

Finally, as we close out the liturgical year, we offer our thanks to Martin L. Smith for his discerning lectionary reflections over the past year and a half, helping us all on the journey to more closely live the Word in our daily lives. 

Cover Story

Corporations are trying to buy up our water supply—and sell it back to us at a premium. Why it matters, and how consumer groups and faith communities are fighting back.


A pastor's journey of trust in the face of doubt
One minister's effort to keep the Anacostia River "baptizable"
Worldwide confrontation of water crises


Is the NRA preventing the U.S. from regulating the international arms trade?
John Howard Yoder's history as an abuser clouds his legacy.
These manufactured crises show how much our politics could use a dose of moral sanity.


How did a skinny, shy, middle-class Indian come to lead one of history's great liberation struggles?
I watched the police toss Steve, age 70, into the crowd behind me.
Domestic space flight is an idea whose time has come.
"The alternative—not having negotiations—is guaranteed to fail."
The words of Jesus are either authoritative for us or they are not.

Culture Watch

JFK's assassination provides us with lessons about the dangers of secret wars and unaccountable power.
"Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith," Simon & Schuster
The makers of "The Butler" have told a kind of truth about the struggle for "beloved community" that has rarely been seen so clearly on multiplex screens.
"Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and its Relevance Today," Strategic Book Publishing
"Baseball as a Road to God," Gotham Books
Four November 2013 culture recommendations from our Editors
Why are blockbuster movies so bad at imagining life after the end of the world?

Web Extra

"Not all who wander are lost."—J.R.R. Tolkien
Dottie Yunger puts her faith into action as the Anacostia Riverkeeper.
God's word is rich with images of water. Drink up.
An interview with "Rev. Riverkeeper" Dottie Yunger