Sherlock's Best Sermon: What Our Editors Are Reading | Sojourners

Sherlock's Best Sermon: What Our Editors Are Reading

A statue of Sherlock Holmes in London on Oct. 18, 2012. Photo: sergomezlo /

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One of the best things I ever found at Goodwill was a complete set of all Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories — a major coup for middle-school, mystery-loving me. Unfortunately, the books smelled as if they had spent a few decades in the smoke-infused den of Holmes’ Baker Street lodgings. I sandwiched dryer sheets between the pages and read them all cover-to-cover.

I’m not sure I would read Sherlock Holmes stories with such enthusiasm today; they’re a startling display of early 20th century racism, misogyny, and attitudes toward addiction. Plus, Holmes has the annoying habit of swooping in at the end of each story to reveal essential clues — previously withheld from readers — that allow him to crack the case.

But I still think of one passage from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes quite often: “My dear fellow,” Holmes tells Watson, his long-suffering sidekick, “life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.” He explains that if they could just “hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in” at all the “coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generation, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Or as Joy Ladin writes in the latest issue of Sojourners: “God’s conception of humanity is vaster and more varied than we can comprehend.”

Admittedly, this kind of “peeping in” would also violate criminal voyeurism statutes. So if you’re craving the kind of truth that’s stranger than fiction, a safer approach is to peer into the stories below.

1. RuPaul and Joshua Harris Have More in Common Than You Think
Which voices are being prioritized in the drag community and the spiritual trauma community? By Indhira Udofia via

2. Why a Literary Magazine at the Nation’s Oldest Public Hospital Matters More Than Ever
One of the world’s most famous hospitals also houses a respected literary magazine focused on health and healing. By Neda Ulaby via NPR.

3. The Great American Potluck
Melting pot metaphors treat minorities like seasoning meant to be assimilated in a soup of whiteness. By Amar Peterman via

4. The Shadow Penal System for Struggling Kids
The Christian organization Teen Challenge, made up of more than a thousand centers, claims to reform troubled teens. But is its discipline more like abuse? By Rachel Aviv via The New Yorker.

5. Destroyed for Our Lack of Knowledge
We can improve our society’s quality of life; we just have to pay attention. By Adam Russell Taylor via

6. You’ve Never Heard John Coltrane Like This Before
A rare live performance of John Coltrane’s masterpiece, “A Love Supreme,” was thought to be lost to history. But it wasn’t. By David A. Graham via

7. When Their Son Killed Your Son, Is Forgiveness Possible?
In the film Mass, two couples meet in a church basement to reckon with a school shooting that made one of their sons a murderer and the other son a victim. By Juliet Vedral via

8. Megan Rice, Who Crusaded Against Nuclear Weapons, Dies at 91
The Catholic sister, in an act of protest, broke into a weapons facility at age 82. By Dan Zak via

9. Meeting God Beyond the Gender Binary
How the Bible affirms transgender and nonbinary people. By Joy Ladin via Sojourners.

10. I Am Finally Ready To Call Myself Chronically Ill
The truth is there’s no straight line from diagnosis to acceptance when it comes to chronic illness. By Fortesa Latifi via Buzzfeed.