Letters

‘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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Grace and Gratitude

Thanks for the timely and encouraging article by Keith Graber Miller, “Sex Without Shame” (September-October 2009). I have been planning a course on human sexuality for students at a Jesuit college preparatory school for boys in New Jersey. They tell me each year that they prize readings and other resources on sexuality that possess intellectual, spiritual, and moral integrity.

Graber Miller’s article speaks with the wisdom of one who has listened with respect to students and who has gleaned from the Christian tradition and sound social scientific studies worthwhile insights on sexuality and intimacy. A spirit of gratitude for God’s gifts of sexuality and intimacy pervades his work, thus placing human sexuality within a refreshing third way—an expression of grace and gratitude. When our students read the article next semester, they will encounter sex as an occasion for grace rather than sin.

Dominic P. Scibilia, Jersey City, New Jersey

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Sojourners Magazine November 2009
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Detroit's Rebirth

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2009
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Beautiful Words

Thank you for Rose Marie Berger’s excellent column, “Stammering Through Dreams” (The Hungry Spirit, July 2009). I appreciate what she said about “Stammering is an outward sign of humility before the mystery of God.” I continue to be surprised by the number of Christian writers (including the late John Updike) who are stammerers. Would you consider writing an article on stammering in the voice of God?

Al Stewart, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2009
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Death Penalty Injustices

I applaud the commentary “When Governments Kill” (by Richard Viguerie, July 2009), as an American who used to support the death penalty. I did so until I heard the case of Tommy Zeigler, a Florida Christian on death row for the past 33 years for a crime he did not commit.

How can American Christians sleep when such appalling miscarriages of justice occur to our fellow citizens? Tommy’s case is, sadly, not unique. How is it that the majority of executions occur in the Bible Belt states? What does this say of our fellow Christians’ compassion, to say nothing of their knowledge of Christ’s words: “It was said ‘An eye for an eye ....’ But I say to you ....”

We forget that we join China, Pakistan, and Iran as the countries with the highest numbers of executions of their own citizens. May God help us!

Vicki Harley Holland, Bowdon, Cheshire, England

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2009
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Aw, Shucks

I read the entire July 2009 issue of Sojourners in one sitting. I haven’t been so deeply engaged in any magazine for years, and I know I read this Sojourners so thoroughly because of the new design. Sojourners literally pulled me in with its clean lines, san serifs, stunning photography, and white space. Beautiful.

The design, however, would be nothing if the text didn’t stack up, and every single column or article appealed to me, making me reflect and think. This issue won’t find its way to the recycling bin, friends. I’ll be rereading portions of it again and again as I work out how to take these many ideas and turn them into action in my community.

My favorite articles were Brian McLaren’s piece on ancient faith practices (“Everything Old is New Again”) and “What Sustains Me.” Please consider adding more articles focused on spiritual discipline—I am thirsty for guidance from progressive, intelligent tongues.

In sum, I so appreciated that this one magazine addressed my love for good writing, art, politics, sociology, and sustaining theology.

Deidre Farrington Schoolcraft, Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2009
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Those Who Already Suffer

Regarding “What Actually Works” (by Glen Stassen, June 2009): As I began reading this article, I noticed that it was all in the past tense. My worst fear was true: Funding for his special Teenage Parent Program (TAPP), helping young pregnant girls, had been reduced. The reason was lack of political will.

Why is it in our wealthy society we just don’t have the will to provide money for programs such as TAPP? In the news just yesterday, California—due to budget problems—cut programs for poor children and their families. The first to suffer in these situations are the ones who are suffering the most already.

My favorite—yet most challenging to follow—verse is Matthew 25:31-46. I expect to be called to task for what I—we—did not do for the least of our brethren.

Gerard Burford, Indianapolis, Indiana

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Sojourners Magazine August 2009
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Career Changes?

Thank you for the wonderful issue on “The Green Economy” (May 2009). Reading about Majora Carter’s work was so energizing (“Making Places and People Bloom,” by Jeannie Choi), as well as the article “Resurrection,” by Bill Wylie-Kellermann. What he is describing is what I have been fantasizing for Detroit: organic gardens, green building, and sustainable living.

I suggest hiring “volunteer workers” with ankle monitors—those people from our financial institutions who have been creating the “new economy” we are experiencing, and perhaps some of those who think torture is the “American way.” I suggest they stay in substandard housing with heat and hot water now and then, sharing a bath and doing their own cooking, laundry, and cleaning. Classes in biblical economics would be required, with neighborhood folks sharing their stories. Think of the money we would save on prison costs—and the added bonus of “job training” for their new careers.

Betty Neville Michelozzi, Aptos, California

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Sojourners Magazine August 2009
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Truly Sustainable Practices

Regarding “Are Books Obsolete?” by Molly Marsh (May 2009): As a LEED accredited professional, I appreciate the necessity of sustainable practices to promote better health and well-being for our world. I suggest that you pick up a copy of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Not only is the information on building a sustainable world invaluable, it takes our current level of recycling to a higher level.

Thank you, Molly, for your insights into the changes in the publishing industry. It is one of many we will see and should understand.

Peter Leoschke, Mount Prospect, Illinois

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Sojourners Magazine August 2009
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