The Next Chapter
Sojomail - January 10, 2008
... [A]ll the settlements - in all the territories - continue to grow. There is a certain contradiction in this between what we're actually seeing and what we ourselves promised. We always complain about the [breached] promises of the other side. Obligations are not only to be demanded of others, but they must also be honored by ourselves.
- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, admitting that continued construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank territories are an obstacle to the peace process. (Source: The Jerusalem Post)
I had the chance to read the manuscript a few months ago, and I feel real excitement about what this book can mean to our personal lives as sojourners, to our faith communities seeking justice and peace, and to our nation and world that stand at a real crossroads.
Three years ago, when God's Politics first came out, it took everyone by surprise. God's Politics struck a nerve – it diagnosed a nation that was polarized and a faith that had been hijacked. No one expected it to make the bestsellers lists. But because so many of us read the book with enthusiasm and encouraged others to do so, a new national conversation about faith and politics opened up. Sojourners' message and visibility reached a new level as many of us said, "At last someone is speaking up for the kind of faith I actually believe in. At last there's a Christian leader articulating a message that isn't an embarrassment to me." God's Politics proclaimed a faith that can and should change the big things – like poverty and war. As Jim was featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The O'Reilly Factor, Meet the Press, CNN, NPR, and other high-profile places, we saw a new kind of Christianity become part of the national dialogue. As Jim often says, the monologue of a polarizing, combative, and narrow version of Christian faith was over, and a new dialogue had begun.
Now it's time for the next chapter. When The Great Awakening arrives in bookstores on Jan. 22, the conversation will get more practical as Jim explains how we can turn this new dialogue into action. Thousands of us will be reading stories of how spiritually-driven movements have led the charge for change in the past and why we're on the cusp of another such awakening right now. It's a book meant to equip everyday Christians with ways to talk about our deepest values and highest hopes for a better world, and then to translate our values and hopes into action.
We'll need your help, again. Our hope is that, like God's Politics, this book will inspire another wave of commitment, and the tide of justice will continue to rise. We'll soon be inviting you to check out the book and to tell others about it, too. As an author and an avid reader, I have a feeling for how important a book release can be. On behalf of the whole Sojourners board and staff, I want to thank you for your support, prayers, and involvement around the release of The Great Awakening.
Brian McLaren (brianmclaren.net) is board chair of Sojourners, and his most recent book is Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope.
But even as he expresses support for a two-state solution, President Bush is hearing a lot from extremists in the religious right who oppose a just peace between Israel and the Palestinian people – and who'd like the White House to believe that their misguided fundamentalist theology and reckless militarism represent the views of all U.S. Christians.
On Jan. 3, Focus on the Family's CitizenLink sent an e-mail by associate editor Stephen Adams called, "Evangelical Leaders Pledge Common Cause with Islam." Their target once again was the National Association of Evangelicals, echoing an attempt last year to oust Richard Cizik for having common cause with the birds of the air and flowers of the field against global warming. This time NAE President Leith Anderson and Vice President Rich Cizik are in trouble for signing a cordial reply to a request by 138 Muslim scholars for civil dialogue and increased understanding between Christians and Muslims. I too signed the document, and thought I would reply to the criticism, just as I did to the Muslim's request for dialogue.
Enduring Works of Beauty (by Gareth Higgins)
The Irish writer, priest, and environmental activist, and my beloved friend - John O'Donohue - died unexpectedly and peacefully in the early hours of Friday, Jan. 4, 2008. His witness to peace, his work on the human heart, and his actions for justice make him someone that I want to introduce to readers of this blog who may not already know him.
The Power of Change (by Jim Wallis)
Sometimes, politics becomes so broken that the hunger for change becomes overwhelming. That's what is happening this year. And it's not just about one or two candidates now. Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee changed the political narrative with dramatic wins in Iowa, making the call for a change in politics into the 2008 paradigm. John Edwards has been a fundamental "change candidate" since the beginning of his campaign. And since Iowa, even political veterans like Hillary Clinton and John McCain, who both won last night in New Hampshire, did so by also claiming the mantle of change - with her saying that she has the experience to actually make change and not just "hope" for it, and with him saying that he has always been a thorn in the side of official Washington. Mitt Romney, who lost again in New Hampshire, started calling himself a change candidate, and Rudy Giuliani has been quick to make a claim to being a Washington outsider.
A Cry for Kenya (by Adam Taylor)
What should active Christian solidarity look like in the response to this crisis? Many of our churches have direct missionary and church-to-church relationships with Kenyans. We must keep them in our prayers and let them know that they are not alone as they pursue the courageous path toward reconciliation. We can give to humanitarian relief efforts that are increasingly needed across the country. Finally, we can escalate political pressure on the Bush Administration to play an even greater role in getting both sides to break the current political stalemate, whether through the promise of holding a new election, conducting a re-count and independent investigation, or a proposed power-sharing arrangement. Averting further bloodshed is inextricably linked to solving the political crisis in Kenya. My prayer is that our celebration of the birth of one that we call the prince of peace will lead a deeper commitment to sowing seeds of peace and reconciliation in Kenya and across the world.
The Times They Are A-Changin (by Diana Butler Bass)
The new political buzzword is change. Every candidate claims to be the change candidate—and every pundit is contrasting "change" with "establishment." In the midst of the change-din, I would like to suggest that there is an important question to ask the candidates: "How will you lead change?" ... Leaders who change through technical fixes believe that problems can be solved "with knowledge and procedures already in hand." Technical leaders emphasize expertise, education, and experience as key to resolving difficult issues. They also think that solutions to problems already exist. Leaders must employ solid techniques or processes to make things right. In this model, a technical-fix politician would try to convince voters of his or her competence, management skill, and problem-solving track record.
This past Friday Bill Maher crossed the WGA picket line to offer this witticism on Late Night with Conan O'Brien: "You can't be a rational person six days a week ... and on one day of the week, go to a building, and think you're drinking the blood of a two-thousand-year-old space god." If you polled the audience, my hunch is the majority would normally prefer Maher over Mass. But not this time. Even Catholic Conan was at a loss for words. Looks like Maher might have been on a mission to eradicate religion but he ended up shooting unbiblical blanks.
"How do the followers of the Prince of Peace respond to this surge of global violence?" I think that one of the contemporary challenges of the followers of Jesus is to hear the beatitude anew: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God." While I recognize that many may disagree on how peace should be attained, few would disagree that genocide, gang violence, terrorism, and endless wars are not what Jesus expects from his disciples. Certainly, Jesus knew that humanity has a propensity to destroy those with whom they disagree. Still, the Jesus message is a call to a higher standard. Jesus in his life and ministry took the road less traveled.
Political Earthquakes (by Jim Wallis)
With the pivotal event of the Iowa Caucuses, news analyses have said that Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are now the defining candidates of this campaign—even if they don't win their respective nominations. It appears Obama has a better chance to do that than Huckabee does, but there is no telling how far he can go and, win or not, he could help redefine the Republican Party. In Sunday's New York Times, Frank Rich acknowledged the clear policy differences between the two but described them as "flip sides of the same coin." They have made "change" and "hope" the defining words and themes of this presidential election year.
I'm volunteering for a presidential candidate, mostly making phone calls to people in various states at volunteer headquarters. It is encouraging to work with people of all ages, walks of life, and races - people who, like me, were sideliners who are now enthusiastically involved with a sense of possibilities, believing that our efforts make a difference and things can change.
Before joining Sojourners, my wife, Amy, and I spent the last five years doing urban ministry in Boston. We were invited to start a church in an abandoned chop shop by the matriarch and saint of the neighborhood, Ma Siss. The Boston Globe and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Paulson spent the last three years closely following the birth of the church. I just can't believe how many resources The Globe put into this - a full-time reporter for three years, then a photographer and videographer who visited countless times. I hope you will take some time out of your day to read this four-part series, see the slideshows, and watch the videos of how God's grace is made perfect in our weakness.
When you watch the news, are you frustrated that progressive viewpoints are often left out? Have you ever been a part of a rally or vigil--and been ignored by your local paper? On Jan. 17, you can attend a training in your community to learn the fundamental tools you need to work with the media, hosted by the Progressive Leadership Action Network and co-sponsored by Sojourners. House party trainings will be happening all over the country, through an innovative combination of a video training, live conference call with a national expert, and small group interactive sessions.
My Top 5 Books on Social Justice
Melting pot at boiling point?
Faith Focus in Debates Viewed as ‘Breakthrough’
Explaining Iowa: The God Strategy at Work
A Dialogue in Bad Faith
"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.
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