I’m probably going to head to Israel next week.”

When my friend and colleague Mike Cosper said this to me barely a month after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli civilians, I feared for his life. I prayed every day for his protection. But I’m glad he made the trip.

Cosper’s journey resulted in our cover story. He paints a vivid picture of the aftermath in the war-torn kibbutz of Kfar Aza. He goes beyond the physical evidence of destruction and addresses the question many of us might be asking: How did we even get here?

“Ideology is a story that offers a key to history,” he writes. “It frames a present crisis such that it points to an inevitable future. It also creates the overwhelming sense that the future is certain, and that its followers are agents of the progress of history. That sense of inevitability has a powerful—and terrible—effect on its subjects; they become capable of immeasurable cruelty.”

Cosper’s fervor for understanding and communicating truths about ideologies took root two decades ago during his academic work in social and political philosophy. A deep dive into the history of Nazi rule steeped in antisemitism captured his imagination and catalyzed his sense of alarm at how ideologies can affect interpersonal connections. He has traveled to Israel multiple times and has linked arms with Jewish-Christian relation groups.

He went on to write a book on Esther—one of the Bible’s most direct depictions of ideology and antisemitism—and produce CT’s podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, which asks questions about Christian witness in the face of suffering and marginalized image bearers. This March cover story, along with Michael Winters’s photo essay, accompanies Cosper’s limited podcast series on The Bulletin, “Promised Land,” largely recorded in Israel and Gaza weeks after the breakout of the war. There, Cosper captured conversations about the conditions of Kfar Aza, the darkness of violence, a search for moral clarity, and a quest for signs of redemption and hope.

We are, after all, in the Easter season—when we remember the ultimate act of violence on the cross but rejoice that all will be made well through the Resurrection and that the ultimate agent of moral clarity sits at the right hand of God. My hope is that fellow image bearers of the Most High will catch a glimpse of his compassion for those who suffer and will be reminded that even though there is deep darkness, the light shines in that darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.

Joy Allmond is executive editor at Christianity Today.

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