An Ode to the God Beat | Sojourners

An Ode to the God Beat

A note to our Weekly Wrap readers and fans: This week's issue of the Weekly Wrap newsletter will be our last one. We're taking the time we spend writing it to reinvest in more great stories for sojo.net and Sojourners magazine in the second half of this year. We're sad to say goodbye here, but if you miss us already and want to stay connected, there are two great ways to do so: Sign up for our weekly newsletter, SojoMail, and our daily devotional, Verse & Voice, at this link, and subscribe to our magazine here.

For years now, we’ve tried to make Weekly Wrap a place where our readers can find the best religion and social justice storytelling on the internet. And while I’m excited to see what our editors will write with this new vacancy in our work schedules, I’m going to miss this newsletter. Compiling Weekly Wrap is sort of like going on a literary scavenger hunt for meaningful faith angles. And folks, there’s always a faith angle. So, as we call it a wrap on Weekly Wrap, here’s a little ode to what I love most about the God Beat:

Religion reporting allows you to get really intimate really fast. I might not get to ask a person I’m dating about their thoughts on the divine until maybe the third date. But if I’m interviewing someone for a Sojo story, I get to ask, “And how has your faith informed that decision?” straight out of the gate.

Religion stories get to place the ancient next to the modern. And what a wild juxtaposition that can be. I’ll never forget the week two of our authors coincidentally riffed on the obscure story of Jephthah from the book of Judges. See: ‘The Batman' in One Hand, the Book of Judges in the Other and What Can Horror Teach Us About the Bible? I’m assuming the author of Judges never suspected their verses would be compared to the storyline of an angsty, millionaire with a grappling hook, but here we are!

Religion is a hot, beautiful mess. Stories of hypocrisy? White evangelicals leave you in no short supply! Tales of generosity and self-sacrifice? The God Beat’s got you covered. If religion journos are doing our job right, readers will see a faith landscape that is both devastating and awe-inspiring; infuriating and hopeful. Here are 10 examples:

1. My Church Was Right: Harry Potter Was a Threat to My Faith
As I read more books from the world of Harry Potter and beyond, I began thinking critically about what happens when communities accept and even celebrate differences, especially the differences that often mark someone as an outsider. By Heather Brady via sojo.net.

2. Krista Tippett Wants You to See All the Hope That’s Being Hidden
During her 20-plus years as host of public radio’s “On Being” show — which aired on some 400 stations across the country — Krista Tippett and her beautifully varied slate of guests explored profound and inexhaustible questions about theology, ethics, science, the soul and what it means to be a human. By David Marchese via The New York Times Magazine.

3. A Pastoral Letter to the Exhausted Majority
The exhausted majority isn’t being heard or represented in our current system, which is so often dominated by the most extreme voices. By Adam Russell Taylor via sojo.net.

4. The Mountain Goats Are Choosing a More Radical World
“Darnielle thinks a lot about the things we owe to each other and how we can resist the pull towards selfishness and egocentrism.” By Tyler Huckabee via Relevant.

5. Why Watching ‘Elvis’ Made Me Think of Megachurch Pastors
Rockstars — and pastors — fall victim to celebrity without the support and accountability of community. By Zachary Lee via sojo.net.

6. Atlanta’s Ralph Reed Is Trying to Make White Evangelical Politics Less White
“At a recent gathering of thousands of religious conservative activists held by the Georgia-based Faith and Freedom Coalition, one thing immediately stood out: the crowd isn’t as white as it used to be.” By Susan Davis via WABE.org.

7. Will California Churches Build Affordable Housing ‘In God’s Backyard’?
A new bill could make it easier for churches and other nonprofits to build affordable housing on their property. By Julia Oller via sojo.net.

8. Laughter Is the Ultimate Unifier. Can It Work for Climate Action?
Research shows that humor can help get climate messaging across. Activists and comedians alike are starting to take notice. By Claire Elise Thompson via Grist.

9. To End Gun Violence, We Need More Than Legislation
Christians should follow the lead of transformative justice practitioners by seeking nonviolent solutions beyond what the law can offer. By Hannah Bowman via sojo.net.

10. In Rubio’s Plan, Your Estate Must Repay Your Parental Leave Benefits If You Die Early
Watch out orphan children — SSA may soon be coming for your inheritance. By Matt Bruenig via the People’s Policy Project.