Letters

Bought Government?

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. According to an article published last October, "more than half of the [Senate's] membership, 54 lawmakers, reported a minimum net worth of more than $1 million." I don't think a millionaire has any inkling of what happens on Main Street and those who live on it. With the Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to contribute to political parties without limit, it became apparent that they are setting the agenda. Even though I have 45 years of paycheck stubs that said I paid into Medicare (and Social Security), that does not seem to matter. I am entitled to those benefits because I paid for them.

Russ Records
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Where to Move Your Money

While moving money from megabanks (“Time to Move Your Money?” by Jim Wallis, March 2010) is worth doing, where the money is moved to is critical; the “move your money” Web site noted in the editorial is not discriminating enough. One suggested bank in my hometown provided loans to payday lenders until a government agency strongly encouraged them to stop. The bank then teamed with a major tax preparation company to make refund anticipation loans, which are documented to be predatory upon poor tax payers.

Banks, credit unions, and community development corporations designated as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) by the U.S. Treasury focus their loans and outreach efforts in poor communities. And then there are a special group of community development credit unions (CDCUs) that serve very poor but resourceful communities. A Web search for these terms, or a visit to www.communityinvest.org, is a great place to start.
Andy R. Loving
Louisville, Kentucky

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Sojourners Magazine July 2010
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Move Your Money

I very much appreciate Jim Wallis’ commentary (“Time to Move Your Money?” March 2010). There are, however, better reasons for moving money than anger (much as it’s warranted) at the traditional big bank crowd.

Though their work is still woefully underreported, quite a few people have pioneered the work of community funding and microfinance investing. In my previous work with the Baptist Peace Fellowship, we initiated an effort called the Gleaners’ Project to encourage individuals and congregations to place at least part of their savings in institutions that provide working capital in poorer communities here in the U.S. and abroad. We set a goal for the initial year of redirecting $100,000 to alternative economic institutions. Imagine our shock (not to mention joy) when the total exceeded $1 million. It is a relatively simple, safe, and productive way to allow gospel values to guide decisions about money.

Ken Sehested
Asheville, North Carolina

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Sojourners Magazine June 2010
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Carry On

I’m profoundly grateful to Dr. Vincent Harding for such a heart-rending, prophetic letter (“Our Children are Waiting for the Music,” January 2010). It helps me, as an anti-war activist and an Obama supporter, to carry on through the confusion. Christians, Jews, and Muslims need to recognize we’re all talking about the same God; it’s critical we learn how to live and work together, for global survival.

Joy Nelson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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Covering Palestine

[Regarding Robert Hirschfield’s “Peering Through the Wall” (November 2009)]: Nothing could illustrate more plainly the bias of U.S. reporting of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Over many years, I have been dismayed at the way the interests of Israel dominate reporting in the U.S. press. No people would accept without protest losing the lands that were held by their families for centuries. The suffering of the Palestinian people should receive the attention it deserves in commentary regarding any possible resolution of this conflict.

Barbara Diefes, Lilburn, Georgia

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Sojourners Magazine December 2009
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Levels of Intimacy

“Sex Without Shame” (by Keith Graber Miller, September-October 2009) was brief, concise, and covered some of the major things that need to be tackled as people of faith really embrace issues regarding sex and sexuality.

More churches need to address the various types and levels of intimacy rather than only addressing intimacy when the conversation is about sex and sexuality. It is always assumed (in my limited experience) that the “soul ties” doctrine only relates to sex, which is not true. There are intimacy wounds that have me “tied” to women I’ve never touched, kissed, or even hugged, let alone had sex with! Intimacy is the issue, but it goes way beyond sex. Our churches and children need to know that. Guarding one’s innermost self is important and must happen way beyond the bedroom.

Marcus McCullough, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Sojourners Magazine December 2009
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Yearning for Connection

I applaud Keith Graber Miller’s call for a balanced sexual counterculture that exults sex-positivism in light of God’s gift of sexuality and exposes sexual irresponsibility and exploitation. It’s refreshing to see a reasoned view on masturbation, homosexuality, and youth sexuality coming from a serious biblicist. While the church has a long way to go to shed its sex negativism, popular culture often promotes free love without responsible limits.

Graber Miller hits on two important distinctives the church and society need to hear: 1) God is more concerned that people demonstrate genuine unselfish love, respect, and care in relationships than in what bodily interactions they pursue, and 2) good sex that is life-affirming comes after we get what we really need—a powerful, intimate connection that is protected against hurt, jealousy, and brokenness.

Michael Camp, Poulsbo, Washington

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Sojourners Magazine December 2009
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Off-Focus?

I was slightly disappointed by the cover and headline article for the September-October issue (“6 Rules for Shameless Sex,” by Keith Graber Miller). For a magazine and organization focused on “faith in action for social justice,” I fail to see how talking about the beauty of sexuality is about social justice.

We often complain about how sex is used in marketing. Sex sells. Yes, let’s speak out against that. Yet is it just me, or has Sojourners fallen into that very trap and used it as an attempt to grab attention in the bookstore—and hence to sell more copies?

Alice Hague, Chicago, Illinois

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Sojourners Magazine December 2009
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‘Redemptive’ Sex?

I found “Sex Without Shame” very disturbing. I agree with most of what Graber Miller says on the beauty of sex and the need for it to be more openly talked about in a positive light, and that it should come from a committed, intimate relationship. I agree that the church has throughout history often condemned what God has given as a beautiful gift. But what disturbs me is that I see no clear mention of marriage being the God-intended relationship for sex. If the biblical understanding of marriage is not the reference we base our values of sexual relationship on, then we have nothing solid to offer a world messed up by media images of sex and self-centered relationships.

God created us and gave us sex as a gift to enjoy within the “safety” of a good marriage. If Graber Miller’s “redemptive sexual counterculture” defines the “rules” for shameless sex by “human” definition, leaving out God’s definition of marriage as being the committed relationship where sex is safe, I fail to see how this is redemptive.        

Karol Svoboda, San Francisco, California

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Sojourners Magazine November 2009
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Living Wages for Instructors

I read with interest Elizabeth Palmberg’s “How to … Find a Social Justice College” in the September-October 2009 issue. I noted especially the question she encourages prospective students to raise: “Does a school pay janitors a living wage?” Let me suggest that this question be added: “Does a school pay instructors a living wage?”

The percentage of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members teaching at the nation’s colleges and universities has been declining precipitously in recent years. These faculty members are being replaced by a growing corps of instructors who teach classes part-time or on limited-term contracts, without permanent appointments, adequate compensation, or appropriate professional support. Despite high qualifications, most are paid only a fraction of what they would make as a full-time professor (or even as a janitor) and have no benefits.

I recommend that students and their parents concerned about social justice ask first about the number of contingent faculty relative to that of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty at the schools they are considering. Social justice colleges need to be sure their own house is in order if they want to be taken seriously as such.

Christopher Dorn, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Sojourners Magazine November 2009
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