This Month's Cover

Sojourners Magazine: September/October 2011

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Loving our neighbors is usually easier in the abstract. The members of Heartsong Church, just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, made that love very real last year in a concrete act of welcome. An Islamic faith community was moving in nearby, and their new center wasn’t going to be ready in time for Ramadan. So the members of Heartsong, in a simple act of Christian hospitality, invited their neighbors to use the church building during the Muslim holy month.

Unfortunately, such loving actions between Christians and Muslims seem to be the exception these days. In nearby Rutherford County, just southeast of Nashville, residents -- most of them Christian -- blocked a mosque planned by the Islamic community. "Why do they hate us?" a child asked the local imam, Ossama Bahloul, according to a reporter. "I said it's just a misunderstanding, miscommunication," Bahloul said. "I told him to love the people because one day they can love you, too."

When we asked Bob Smietana, an award-winning religion writer for The Tennessean, to visit Heartsong Church this summer and write about their interfaith bridge-building, Smietana responded, "A happy Muslim-Christian story? I'm in."

Cover Story

A Tennessee church welcomes its Muslim neighbors.


Christians and Muslims in the post-9/11 world.
A conservative Republican member of Congress talks about his journey of repentance for supporting the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Seminary graduates share what they learned about God's call to social justice.
Good presidents and administrators influence not just schools, but the broader church.


'Silent' raids that drive workers into the underground economy are worse than useless.
ROTC is back on campuses -- but military thinking still conflicts with the life of the mind.
Will we control high U.S. health-care costs, or just shift them to seniors?


Starting in 2013, every pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S. will include graphic images portraying the physical effects of smoking, although looking really cool when you're a teenager won’t be one of them.
This may be the largest use of civil disobedience yet around global warming.
America should be a safe place for people of all faiths.

Culture Watch

Springsteen has always understood that the rock-and-roll story is about freedom.
The round-up on late-summer cinema, including: Solaris, The Tree of Life, and Super 8. 
Why, despite mutual suspicions, Christianity and comics go together like paper and ink.
The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick. Fox Searchlight Pictures.
The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith, by Sarah Azaransky.


Loving our neighbors is usually easier in the abstract. The members of Heartsong Church, just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, made that love very real last year in a concrete act of welcome.
Please continue to address the importance of promoting and building peace ("The Things that Make for Peace," by Jim Wallis, July 2011), whether in Afghanistan, Palestine-Israel, Libya, or right here at home, rather than simply opposing our nation's current wars.
Eschewing perfection, they knotted in a flaw, the human signature and kink that made the carpet whole -- not less perfect, but more for the fraying edge, the bleeding dyes that cloak their treasure in disguise, an act of indirection modeled from on high:
Re: Elizabeth Palmberg's "The Safety Net Frays" (July 2011): I don't believe that we, as citizens, have any voice in these issues any more.
Reflections on the Common Lectionary.
"The Safety Net Frays" is a nice piece, but we've seen this movie before. The American chattering classes chatter marvelously, but stopped believing in anything of value some 40 years ago.
Reflections on the Common Lectionary.

Web Extra

Graduates reflect on how their seminary education impacts their work of social justice today.