It's Spooky Season: What Our Editors Are Reading | Sojourners

It's Spooky Season: What Our Editors Are Reading

Things I fear: Catching an embarrassing email typo the moment after I hit “send;” techno-authoritarianism; infecting someone I know with COVID-19; infecting someone I don’t know with COVID-19; the casual Christian nationalism that seems to be deepening in the U.S.; umbrellas poking me in the eye; and, like 57 percent of the U.S., the fairness of the upcoming elections.

Things I no longer fear: horror movies. Until recently, my strategy for picking movies was essentially to avoid anything with screaming faces and drippy red font on the cover. But somewhere in the past few years — probably after watching Get Out — I realized I liked feeling a little scared when it involves no actual danger to me, my neighbors, or U.S. democracy. I don’t do the gory, slasher stuff, but will I watch Midsommar alone in my apartment? Sure. And according to one recent study, I may have stumbled on to something: People who watched horror films “exhibited greater psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic than non-horror fans,” writes Abby Olcese, because horror “helps them build up effective emotional coping strategies.”

There’s something satisfying about getting past your fears. The city of Olympia, Wash., made a similar discovery when they started sending crisis responders — not armed police — to emergency calls related to folks experiencing mental illness, addiction, or homelessness. Though police were initially worried about responders’ safety, “the cops are becoming more aware,” crisis responder Aana Sundling told reporter Christie Thompson. “We’ve been out here for over a year and none of us have been assaulted.” And that's what you'll find in this week's picks from our editors: stories about things we fear and stories to help us all get through safely.

1. See Something Weird at Polling Places? Here’s What to Do
Tips for recognizing — and reporting — voter intimidation. By Stephanie Russell-Kraft via

2. The Rise of a Quiet Uighur Counter-Surveillance State
Members of diaspora are fighting back against China’s techno-authoritarianism to locate relatives who have been disappeared. By Peter Guest via Rest of World.

3. How One Worship Leader Made Racial Justice Protests About Christian Persecution
Sean Feucht’s worship events run counter to the revolutionary spirit of Jesus. By Deirdre Jonese Austin via

4. New Study Suggests Horror Fans Might Be Better Mentally Prepped to Cope With Our New Reality
When you ask Greg Dedrick if a horror movie has ever helped him through a difficult time, he’ll give you a very specific answer. By Abby Olcese via The Pitch.

5. New Survey Shows the ‘Only Topic That Most Americans Agree On’
Fifty-seven percent of Americans ranked fairness of presidential elections as the top critical issue in the country when asked to choose from 14 issues ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial inequality. By Gina Ciliberto via

6. This City Stopped Sending Police to Every 911 Call
Instead of sending armed officers to respond, Olympia, Wash., dispatches “crisis responders” to diffuse the situation and connect the individual with services — a model now being considered by a growing number of cities across the U.S. By Christine Thompson via The Marshall Project.

7. Christian Nationalism Is Alive and Well in America
On Tuesday, televangelist Pat Robertson said God told him Trump would win re-election, and it would set off a series of events ushering in the End Times. By Stephen Mattson via

8. Kao Kalia Yang Started Out Writing Her Family’s Refugee Memoir. Now She’s Sharing the Journeys of Others
From the moment of her birth, Yang was groomed to become the happy ending her parents dreamed of. By Elizabeth Foy Larson via MPRnews.

9. Religion Made Me an Immigration Hardliner. Jesus Softened My Heart
My kids are the great-granddaughters of Chinese immigrants, but until recently, I hadn’t shared much about our immigration story. By Sabina Wong via

10. Voters of Faith Largely Support Action on Climate Change, New Survey Shows
Addressing climate change is a faith-based obligation to “protect God’s creation,” say 81 percent of American religious voters surveyed. By Lexi Menamin via