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Sojourners Magazine: September-October 2013

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THE ELECTION OF a new pope has brought a spirit of change to the Catholic Church. And while that change will primarily impact Catholics, what the church and the pope say and do can impact all Christians. In a world that desperately needs authentic moral leadership for peace and economic justice, Pope Francis has already continued the prophetic voice of his predecessors. In this issue, we read some tea leaves from the first months of his papacy.

John Carr, who for two decades worked on peace and justice concerns for the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, talks about the themes at the heart of Catholic social teaching and their importance for all Christians. Stephen F. Schneck of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies grounds Francis in his “radical hope” to make a church for the poor. Sister Carol Keehan, CEO of the Catholic Health Association, shares her belief that lay and religious women have nothing to fear and much to look forward to in his papacy.

Protestant churches, of course, grapple with similar topics, and we tell some of those stories this month. We look at polling data on pastors’ evolving views on social justice ministries, and a seminary curriculum that integrates intellectual and experiential learning in the city of Indianapolis.

As austerity budgets are leading to deep cuts in social programs, churches are responding by acting for justice. In North Carolina, “Moral Mondays” rallies, with hundreds of clergy in the lead, are protesting in the state capital every week with the message “forward together.”

Following the Zimmerman verdict, a long-overdue conversation on racial injustice is beginning. We offer Ewuare X. Osayande’s powerful poem to the mix. From the Vatican to the streets, the church is speaking. Thanks be to God. 

Cover Story

In John Carr's view, Pope Francis is already shaking up the Catholic Church—and the best is yet to come.
MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com
Francis—refreshingly candid and seemingly repelled by the perks of the papacy—offers new hope for the Catholic Church and beyond.
Pope Francis is clearly on a mission to alter the status quo, but will that extend to greater freedom for women's leadership in the church?

Feature

How taking it to the streets is changing theological education
Regardless of where we end up on immigration reform, Matthew 22 reminds us that no law can make us love our neighbor.
New data shows that Protestant churches, including evangelicals, are increasingly involved in social action ministries.
Gaza, a land at once ugly and impoverished—and beautiful and rich.
'Not to share one's goods with the poor is to rob them.'

Commentary

A grassroots resistance movement emerges in North Carolina.
Dreams of a better life—and political corruption—spark rising protests around the world.
Korean sex slaves—so-called "comfort women"—stand up for respect and justice.

Columns

If you have something to hide, hide it better.
We should always be open to what God is speaking to a new generation of Christians.
You can't hide this kind of debacle forever—people are finding out.
GOP attempts to circumvent the health-care law range from the inane to downright bullying.
More than 80 bills to restrict voter access were introduced in 2013.

Culture Watch

"Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation," Fortress Press
"Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint" by Nadia Bolz-Weber
"We're all bastards," Will Campbell wrote, 'but God loves us anyway."
Four September and October 2013 culture recommendations from our editors
When we experience movies like memories, we meditate rather than consume, and do what Pascal suggested was the antidote to all the problems in the world: sitting still for 10 minutes and thinking.
Comic book creator Gene Luen Yang on his latest work, "Boxers & Saints"
Has the uptick in Christians eager to adopt overseas done more harm than good?

Departments

Excerpt from "Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander"
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C
Letter to the Editors
Khaipi, a peace studies professor in Thailand and a Chin religious freedom activist
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C
Letter to the Editors
Letter to the Editors

Web Extra

In the September-October 2013 issue of Sojourners magazine, senior associate editor Julie Polter interviewed award-winning comic book author and artist Gene Luen Yang about his new
When most people think of Gaza, surfing is not the first thing that comes to mind. But photo journalist Ryan Rodrick Beiler has an eye for capturing the resilience and richness of life in this occupied land.