Activism

That's Deep!

Members of Reef Relief in Key West, Florida, dove down to the Sand Key reef to join in the national day of climate action held April 14 in the U.S. In all 50 states—and under the seas—Americans called on Congress to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine July 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Justice at Work

What do you think would happen if you tried to organize a union in your workplace? If you are like most Americans, you suspect that you would be fired, harassed, or penalized in some fashion for wanting a union. You're probably right.

Anti-union bullying or attacks occur in more than 80 percent of the workplaces in which workers seek to organize a union. If workers arrange to vote for a union, employers threaten to close plants, fire the union leaders (which obviously chills organizing efforts), harangue workers on paid time about how bad unions are, and occasionally beg workers to give them another chance. By the time workers finally get around to a vote, usually after months of anti-union barrages, many decide it's not worth trying to get a union.

In response to this routine bullying in the workplace, union leaders have proposed a set of simple improvements outlined in the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill passed the House March 1 and has been introduced in the Senate. Supporters believe it could win a majority vote in the Senate, but President Bush would likely veto it.

Nonetheless, as the first significant piece of labor law reform to come close to passing in decades, the Employee Free Choice Act is a bellwether for national changes likely in labor-management relations. The growing engagement of the religious community in supporting the Employee Free Choice Act reflects its recent experience in supporting janitors in Indianapolis, hotel workers in San Francisco, laundry workers in Chicago, security guards in Boston, and nursing home workers in the Twin Cities whose efforts to organize a union and get a contract were consistently thwarted by employers.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine July 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

One House at a Time

I had just returned from a mission trip organized by the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana's Office of Disaster Response when I read Jim Wallis' column for the April 2007 issue, "All Hands on Deck."

Our group of 19 deacons gutted houses and distributed relief items. We got to talk to quite a number of people who expressed deep appreciation for our assistance with the rebuilding as well as our emotional support and expressions of solidarity. However, set against a backdrop of such total devastation, our efforts seemed almost futile. Upon my return home, I found myself (and still do) uncertain as to how to follow up. One cannot help but wonder what difference it could possibly make to restore one house when it sits amid blocks and blocks of wreckage—disheveled, mold-ridden, and abandoned.

At this point, the relief/rebuilding effort needs to be bigger. Wallis' words calling for a new mobilization, a new strategy, a new collection of resources, and a new accountability articulated my thoughts. New Orleans and its people captured my heart. By no means do I intend to abandon them. But I want to participate in work that will enable a true and life-generating rebuilding.

Joanne C. O'Neill
Hackensack, New Jersey

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine July 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Baghdad

There were dozens of people in a bleak group. It's a very specific look, one you will find only outside the Baghdad morgue. It's a look that tells you they are walking into the morgue, where the bodies lay in rows, and that they pray they do not find what they are looking for.

One frenzied woman in a black abaya was struggling to make her way inside, two relatives holding her back. "See that woman—they found her son," someone said. The woman continued to struggle, her legs buckling under her, her wails filling the afternoon.

These words of an unnamed Iraqi woman in Baghdad, March 28, 2006, were read at the National Cathedral service by Sister Luma Khudher, an Iraqi Dominican.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine June 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

To Redeem the Soul of America

Whenever there are billions of dollars and then billions more available to bomb Baghdad, but never enough to rebuild New Orleans, an American city, parts of which still look like a Third World country a year and a half after Katrina, our soul is in danger. How can you bomb and then rebuild Baghdad and neglect New Orleans, that great city that taught our souls how to sing even when you have the blues?

New Orleans bears mention tonight because it is a tragic symbol of America's misplaced priorities and its unfinished business with poverty. ... It took Congress 10 years to have a serious debate about raising the minimum wage. It raised its own wages every year during the same 10-year period. And this week, Congress dared to tie an overdue raise in the minimum wage for the poor to the funding of the war. Triplet evils: Racism, poverty, war. Souls in danger!

And so we must tap into the best of our respective faith traditions in order to redeem the soul of America. I remember my own crucified people who endured the cross of slavery and segregation. They identified with Jesus because existentially they knew what crucifixion was all about. In the spiritual, they asked, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" And during the era of Jim Crow segregation, they identified with this Jesus hung on a tree because they knew what lynching was all about. Billie Holiday used to sing about it. "Southern trees bear strange fruit. Blood on the leaves, blood at the root. Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze. Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees." His own ruthless brutality notwithstanding, I could not help but hear that haunting song as I watched Sadaam Hussein hang at our behest. I thought to myself, "Surely, we're better than that!" And before that the violent carnival and absurd human cruelty of Abu Ghraib. Surely, we're better than that! And then to witness the neglect of our own soldiers at Walter Reed! Surely, we're better than that!

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine June 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

A Surge for Peace

On March 16, approximately 3,500 people braved a nasty late-winter storm to participate in the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq in Washington, D.C., while more than 200 local events were held across the country, all marking the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. After a day of trainings and workshops, worship was held in the Washington National Cathedral, followed by a three-and-a-half mile candlelight procession to the White House. In a civil disobedience action that went late into the night, 222 people were arrested for praying in front of the White House.

The event, organized by 39 different Christian groups, had participants registered from 48 states. They represented the full spectrum of the Christian church, from heads of Catholic orders to members of the historic peace churches, and from evangelical Christian college students to peace groups running the gamut from Episcopalian to Baptist. Here are some of their voices.

—The Editors

[The last of the 222 people arrested at the Christian Peace Witness were released from U.S. Park Police custody at 5 a.m. on March 17. They were given the option of paying a fine or returning for trial. Thirty-three have chosen a trial date. Click here for more photos.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine June 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Sacred Ordinariness

"Ordinary time" in this season after Pentecost isn't only about "everydayness." Ordinary is the adjectival form of ordinal, which refers to a numerical sequence. It's a fitting description for a season that doesn't lead to Christmas or Easter; rather this is a season of noticing the days and weeks as they go by. Liturgically speaking, ordinary time gives us the space to kick back and consider the lilies of the field—literally. As writer Annie Dillard observed, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." It makes sense to get on with the ordinary—believing that if God is in the details, surely God also is in the broad strokes.

Mujerista theologian Ada María Isasi-Díaz describes an understanding of the sacred that is imbued with ordinariness as "lo cotidiano." In From the Heart of Our People, Latina feminist theologian María Pilar Aquino builds on this concept by describing lo cotidiano as those "daily struggles for humanization, for a better quality of life, and for greater social justice" that give Christian faith meaning for so many of us.

Living in the ordinary through ordinary time makes social justice a spiritual discipline that can bring us to a new awareness of how God is above us, beneath us, and beside us.

Malinda Elizabeth Berry is a dissertation fellow at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.


June 3
Organic Theology
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

I teach an undergraduate theology course in which we talk about God and the Christian life in "organic" vs. "conventional" terms. Organic theology grows from the good earth God created, the good earth Wisdom sings about in Proverbs 8.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine June 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Trusting Only the Cross

The depth of my sorrow for the loss of life on all sides seems beyond expression. The depth of my anger with my government for failing us so miserably and allowing this killing to happen in my name brings me more shame than I can bear.

Which is why the theme "United by the Cross to End the War" held such meaning for me. I know that Jesus is bearing all of the sorrow, anger, and shame. God's path was to be so loving, so vulnerable, so unwilling to use violence that Jesus died on a criminal's cross ... and it is from the cross of Christ that hope, love, and redemption flow.

This is the only source of my hope. I have no hope that our government is going to act anytime soon. I have no hope that violence and terror are going to end because of the policies of my government or anybody else's. But I do have hope and faith in Christ.

Rev. Amy Yarnall is a United Methodist pastor serving in Chesapeake City, Md.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine June 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Willing to Risk

As a Jewish person in this Christian peace witness, I felt affirmed and welcomed by the other participants. As a nurse, I gladly was the health resource person for the event and was moved by the dedication of participants with serious medical conditions that might have kept others away.

For example, a middle-age woman suffering from cancer told me that she was considering doing the civil disobedience. She had brought her chemotherapy medications, which she had to take on a regular schedule.

I explained that police often will confiscate any meds that people carry; I expected that she would decide regretfully not to participate in the civil disobedience. However she continued to struggle with her decision. She spoke of her deep opposition to the war, her empathy with Iraqis and American soldiers who are being killed and wounded, and her feeling of being called to "divine obedience," no matter what the cost. So far as I know, she was arrested a few hours later. I had a similar conversation with a man who had his nitroglycerine tablets on his belt in case he had cardiac problems.

Sometimes it's said that those of us opposing the war need to be as dedicated and willing to take risks as the soldiers who are battling in Iraq. Meeting this dedicated man and woman gave me hope that this faith-inspired peace movement is producing just such people.

Phyllis Taylor is a correctional chaplain, hospice nurse, and bereavement counselor in Philadelphia.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine June 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Counting the Cost

From my seat in the balcony in the National Cathedral, I realized that the crowd I saw numbered nearly the same as the number of American soldiers who had fallen in the last four years. For the first time I could visualize and internalize just how far the true costs of war extend, not to mention the many thousands of Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives.

Larisa Friesen is director of advertising sales at Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine June 2007
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe