Betsy Shirley

Assistant Editor

I took a lot of poetry classes in college and read some pretty good poems, but the only poem I ever loved in a serious, gushing way was T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. I loved it so much that I wanted to hear someone read it out loud, but none of my friends wanted to read a 64 page poem to me and the only audio copy at the library was on cassette tapes, which were quaint, but inconvenient. In the end, I got the tapes anyway and listened to T.S. Eliot read his greatest work on the plastic Fisher-Price tape player I had as a kid, the kind where all the buttons are primary-colored and the size of hotel soaps.

The poem is full of really beautiful parts, but I especially liked the first few lines of the very last stanza where it says, "We shall not cease from exploration; And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time."

A professor told me these lines were probably referring to heaven, and how all we're really trying to do in life is get back to the Garden of Eden, where we started. And to me that seems very wise and probably true, but I think it's also true in a more ordinary way. The best things in life always seem to be coming full-circle, like when you reread The Chronicles of Narnia noticing things you never saw as a kid and love the same stories all over again, but in a deeper way.

That's the best I can do to explain why I wanted to spend a year as an intern with Sojourners: it's not about learning a new story, but about learning to read a well-loved story with new eyes, taking account for all that's happened since I first read it. It's about learning to see the gospel of Jesus through the lens of social justice, noticing things I missed as a kid, ending up a little closer to where I first set out, but somehow changed because of all that's happened in between.

Posts By This Author

We Cannot Be Silent

by Betsy Shirley 08-10-2015
Faith, #Ferguson, and what comes next

Image via /Shutterstock

In honor of the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., Sojourners asked a variety of faith leaders — Catholics, Baptists, Muslims, agnostics, evangelicals, and humanists — to reflect: How has your faith been challenged, affirmed, or deepened by the Black Lives Matter movement? Has your theology changed? And, most importantly, what are we being called to do? 

Here’s what they said.

10 Things We've Learned about Nukes Since Hiroshima

by Betsy Shirley 08-04-2015
A primer for those who were in diapers during the Cold War
natrot / Shutterstock

natrot / Shutterstock

Like many of my millennial peers, I was barely in diapers when the Cold War ended, never practiced fallout drills in school, and only recently learned what those yellow-and-black signs on old buildings meant. As a kid, if I thought about nukes at all, it was in a passive tense, World War II-history sort of way. In other words: not my problem.

But as we mark the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — when U.S. aircrafts dropped bombs on two Japanese cities, killing 135,000 people, by conservative estimates — I spent some time in the Sojourners archives trying to fill the gaps in my nuclear education. Here’s what I found.

Christian Leaders in U.S. Voice Support for #SCOTUSmarriage

by Betsy Shirley 06-26-2015
rainbowflagchurch

Brian Talbot/Flickr

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling today that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States,” many wondered how Christian leaders in the U.S. would react.  

But despite lingering stereotypes, many religious folk in the U.S. are now supportive of same-sex marriage. In fact, a recent survey found that “among religiously affiliated Americans, supporters today actually outnumber opponents.”   

Below, read some of the responses from Christian leaders — including evangelicals, Catholics, and Protestants — who have expressed their joy and support for today’s Supreme Court ruling, as well as the work left to be done towards full LGBTQ inclusion in our nation and churches.  

How One Conservative Evangelical Pastor Changed His Mind About Gun Rights

by Betsy Shirley 06-23-2015
As Rev. Rob Schenck discovered, it turns out being "pro-guns" poses a challenge for those with pro-life commitments.
Screenshot from "Armor of Light"

Screenshot from "Armor of Light"

A lifelong anti-abortion activist, Schenck has impeccable evangelical credentials. Consequently, after the 2013 D.C. Navy Yard shooting left 13 people dead in his own neighborhood, Schenck risked losing those credentials — and possibly his career — as he publicly began to question the unholy alliance between God and guns that exists among many conservative evangelicals.

Though Schenck has already made a few public statements about his support for stricter gun control as part of his pro-life stance, he expects that The Armor of Light, released earlier this year, will cause him to lose "significant" financial support. 

Not that he minds.

A New Wave

by Betsy Shirley 07-01-2013

The Evangelicals You Don't Know: Introducing the Next Generation of Christians. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Vehicles for Grace

by Betsy Shirley, by Francisco X. Stork 11-27-2012

Francisco X. Stork

Betsy Shirley talks to author Francisco X. Stork about helping young adults ask the hard questions.

Being Like Deborah

by Betsy Shirley 10-03-2012

What in heaven's name does "biblical womanhood" mean? Rachel Held Evans embarked on a yearlong journey to find out.

Doing it the Hard Way

by Betsy Shirley 05-01-2012

Gamaliel's Ana Garcia-Ashley is the first woman of color to lead a national community organizing network, faith-based or otherwise. And she's pulling no punches.

Six Questions for Jose Penate Aceves

by Betsy Shirley 11-01-2011

1. What led you to start an intentional community ministering to gang members? Gangs have a really strong sense of community: They fight and die for their homies and they support each other. Other programs offer job skills or anger management, but don’t offer community. We offer a community like the community they have. After many years working with them, we realized that was attractive to them—they feel at home.

Practice, Practice, Practice

by Betsy Shirley 11-01-2011

How to deepen our spirituality, one step at a time.

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