Posts By This Author

New and Noteworthy: ‘Heart and Soul,’ Queering Contemplation, and More

by The Editors 03-27-2024
Three culture recommendations from our editors. 
The image shows the cover of the BBC podcast "Heart and Soul" which shows a silhouette walking through a door


Dispatches of Devotion

The BBC weekly podcast Heart and Soul dissects religion’s ubiquitous and misunderstood presence in public life. Imbued with a refreshing human sensitivity, weekly episodes cover a range of faith topics — from Russian Orthodoxy in Kenya to a Sikh music revival. BBC

Transcendent Visions and Deep Healing

by The Editors 03-21-2024
How do we tell if a spiritual experience is real?
The illustration depicts Rev. Richard Joyner, who is a Black man wearing a blue shirt, holding vegetables with an abundant garden in the background. The quote reads "Gardens Teach Freedom"

Rev. Richard Joyner is pastor of Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in North Carolina and founder of the Conetoe Family Life Center, a 25-acre community garden and nonprofit. / Illustration by Hazel P. Mason 

ENGLISH MYSTIC JULIAN of Norwich had a busy 24 hours on May 13, 1373, during which she experienced a series of vivid and visceral visions. At a time when the church preached that suffering was God’s punishment on sinful people, Julian interrogated the crucified Christ: “Lord, how can all be well when great harm has come, by sin, to your creatures?” Jesus replies to her, “I am able to make all things well and I shall make all things well.” In this issue, reviewer Ezra Craker and columnist Sarah James draw on Julian’s wisdom for our own time.

Gratitude Amid Another U.S. Election Year

by The Editors 02-15-2024
Following Jesus in his joyful mission of liberation for all.
The image shows Elvira Arellano, a hispanic advocate for undocumented immigrants. There are monarch butterflies circling her head.

Elvira Arellano, a Mexican-born advocate for undocumented immigrants to the U.S., gained national recognition in 2006 when she took sanctuary in Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago. She requested asylum in 2014. Her case is still pending. / Illustration by Clarissa Martinez

WELCOME TO ANOTHER U.S. election year. The man atop the Republican elephant charges forward. The incumbent astride the Democrat's donkey stubbornly digs in his heels. We at Sojourners seek to follow Jesus in his joyful mission of liberation for all. We see this in Georgia, through the holy imperfect work of racial reparations, as reported by assistant editor Josina Guess. We see it in California, where former Sojourners fellow Laurel Mathewson finds unexpected intimacy with God through prayer and study of Teresa of Ávila. 

New and Noteworthy: ‘The Empty Promises of White Supremacy,’ Building Better Healthcare Systems, and More

by The Editors 02-12-2024
Three culture recommendations from our editors. 
The picture shows a book cover on a blue background. The book is called "Trash" and has a picture of a trailer on it.


Class Over Race

In Trash: A Poor White Journey, chaplain Cedar Monroe explores the complex dynamics of being poor and white in the U.S. Grounded in liberation theology, the author ultimately calls communities to embrace multiracial solidarity and reject “the empty promises of white supremacy.” Broadleaf

New and Noteworthy: A Primer on Activism, ‘Nice Churchy Patriarchy,’ and More

by The Editors 01-10-2024
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
The image shows the cover art for the podcast "Weight For It" which features a bald Black man with a beard and glasses smiling and laughing in a teal shirt.


Bodies of Thought

In the podcast Weight For It, host Ronald Young Jr. explores “the nuanced thoughts of fat folks, and of all folks who think about their weight all the time.” These vulnerable, reflective episodes carefully address how fatness intersects with topics such as gender and health care. Radiotopia

What Lent, Valentine's Day, and Activists in Sports Have in Common

by The Editors 01-09-2024
Standing up against abusive power on behalf of an ethos of love.
The illustration show Layshia Clarendon holding a basketball on their shoulder with the quote, "The more I learned about the gospel, the more I fell in love with Jesus and his radical love and nonconformity."

Layshia Clarendon is a 10-year WNBA veteran, a Christian advocate for social justice, and the league's first trans and nonbinary player. / Illustration by Keith Vlahakis 

AT FIRST GLANCE, the congruence of Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent seems, well, incongruent. The first is culturally associated with hearts and chocolates, the latter with fasting and spiritual examination. But it turns out that the two have some deep overlays. The Feast of St. Valentine honors a third-century bishop who defied the Roman emperor and married young couples in secret, for which he was imprisoned and later executed, and for which he is remembered as the patron saint of love.

New and Noteworthy: Black Feminism, ‘That Tooth Nibbling at Your Soul,’ and Jamila Woods’ New Album

by The Editors 12-01-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
The image shows the album cover of Jamila Woods' album "Water Made Us," in which she is starring at her reflection in the water.


Poured Out

Singer-songwriter Jamila Woods draws on themes of spirituality and racial justice to create music at once urgent and transcendent. In her new album, Water Made Us, she sings, “Here comes the flood, I’ll save a place for you. / And when it’s all said and done / I hope you send a dove.” Jagjaguwar

Nonviolence Amid the Carnage of War

by The Editors 11-28-2023
The message of Palestinian peacemaker Ali Abu Awwad is more crucial than ever.
The illustration shows Sharon Lavigne over a background of clouds, with the quote "To love a community is to find ways to heal a community"

Sharon Lavigne, founder of the Louisiana environmental justice group Rise St. James, is a 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize winner and recipient of the 2022 Laeare Medal for service to the U.S. Catholic Church and society. / Illustration by Raz Latif 

WE BEGIN PLANNING each issue of the magazine months in advance, and this edition was no exception. Our conversations about Christian nonviolence last summer were rooted in our long history of wrestling with questions of how to put our biblical faith into practice in the face of challenging, real-world problems. Our goal, as always, is to offer a word that is both “timeless and timely,” and the combination of John Dear’s biblical reflection on Mary’s role as a “teacher of nonviolence” and our interview with Palestinian peacemaker Ali Abu Awwad seemed exactly that.

New & Noteworthy: Artificial Wombs, ‘Authentic Unity,’ and More

by The Editors 10-31-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
The image shows a couple sitting dow, wearing headphones, looking at a large, electronic egg. There is a woman standing behind them, watching.

Scope Pictures

Futuristic Dilemmas

In the film The Pod Generation, parents-to-be pay top dollar to gestate a fetus in an artificial womb outside the body, a commodification that more equally distributes the responsibility of pregnancy between males and females. But every technological advancement brings new moral quandaries. Scope Pictures

The Power of Rest in a Time of Violence

by The Editors 10-26-2023
For many around the world, especially those being forced from their homes, there is little opportunity for rest this Advent season.
The illustration depicts a middle aged white man wearing a suit, with images of wheat and flying birds in the background. The quote reads "The Sermon on the Mount will be called practical when Christians make up their mind to practice it." -- Peter Maurin

Peter Maurin was co-founder with Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement. / Illustration by Bailey Watro 

As we go to press, violence again erupts in the Holy Land. In the season of Advent, we prepare for the birth of the Prince of Peace in a rough shelter in a Palestinian village and hear again God’s ancient promises first given to the Hebrew people. But all is not calm in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Gaza, or Ashkelon. The agitations of injustice and fear have turned a season of dreams into one of nightmares.

New & Noteworthy: Horror in the Bible, ‘They Cloned Tyrone,’ and More

by The Editors 09-27-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors. 
The picture shows three black youth, dressed in colorful outfits and pointing handguns at something off screen.

From Netflix

A Sci-Fi Dark Comedy

They Cloned Tyrone is both hilarious and harrowing in its depiction of a drug dealer, sex worker, and pimp who suspect the U.S. government is experimenting on their community. The film shows how, too often, Black people must choose between assimilation or annihilation. Netflix

Echoing God's Economy of Generosity

by The Editors 09-26-2023
Economic sharing in community can be liberating, empowering, and biblically faithful.
The illustration shows a white woman with a buzzcut holding a microphone stand. She is wearing a black tank top. Over head are the lyrics "Welcome, O' woman who was afflicted"

Sinéad O'Conner (1966-2023), an Irish songwriter, singer, and activist, was ordained as a priest and later converted to Islam. The quote is from her rendition of "Oró sé Do Bheatha 'Bhaile" on the album Global Sounds 3. Illustration by Hazel P. Mason 

For a decade or so, beginning in the 1970s, members of the intentional Christian community that founded Sojourners magazine practiced a form of economic sharing we called the “common pot” — all our income was pooled for the good of the whole community. In doing so, we sought to model ourselves after the practices of the early Christian church, the first followers of Jesus, as described in Acts 2 and 4 — “All who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44); “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common” (Acts 4:32).

New & Noteworthy: Ancestral History, ‘The Secrets of Hillsong,’ and More

by The Editors 08-02-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A painting in the style of a saint depicting former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz with an aura of light behind his head. He's crossing the fingers of his raised right hand and wearing a black leather jacket and gold necklace.

From The Secrets of Hillsong

Beyond the Scandal

The Secrets of Hillsong draws on the reporting that exposed misconduct at the Hillsong megachurch. The docuseries goes beyond the headline scandals to explore patterns of abuse engrained in Hillsong’s history and asks what rebuilding looks like in the aftermath of scandal.

Can Churches Be Healers of Church-Rooted Trauma?

by The Editors 07-26-2023
Religious communities have a role to play — and a responsibility — in the journey of healing.
An illustration of Vietnamese climate activist Hoang Thi Minh Hong. She has blue and purple-dyed hair. In the background, a small earth and grassy field at sunrise is to the left, a forest river and waterfall above her, and fish in the sea to the right.

Hoang Hong, a Vietnamese climate activist, was arrested June 1, 2023, the fifth high-profile climate activist in two years to be charged with tax evasion in Vietnam. She remains in jail as of this writing. / Illustration by Hoan Phan

FOR MATTHIAS ROBERTS, and many others, growing up in the church was a traumatic experience. His childhood churches, he writes in our cover feature, were “filled with people who weren’t afraid to tell me I needed to become straight for God to save me from hell.” The effect of such “adverse religious experiences,” as Roberts explains, goes far beyond the immediate harm done to individuals in these settings and can linger deep into their adult lives. That trauma can be triggered by any church experience, even in a supposedly safe and affirming context — another reminder that what happens in any branch of the body of Christ affects the integrity and witness of the whole of the church.

Journalist Gabriel Pietrorazio writes about another kind of church-related trauma, that stemming from what Pope Francis called the “cultural destruction and forced assimilation” of residential schools, often church-run, that many Indigenous people in the U.S. and Canada were made to attend. While there isn’t a clear or easy map to healing for the survivors of religious trauma, one necessary component is the presence of a loving, compassionate community — it’s not a journey to be undertaken alone.

New & Noteworthy: ‘BlackBerry,’ Overlooked Christians, and More

by The Editors 07-10-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A photo from the docufilm ‘Blackberry.’ Actor Jay Baruchel is Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of Blackberry. He has short gray hair, glasses, and wears a white dress shirt. He glares down at a phone with wires plugged into it. People behind him are cheering.

From BlackBerry

Capitalist Cautionary Tale

BlackBerry highlights the role of greed in capitalism through the story of the rise of the BlackBerry smartphone. The film, which transports us to a time when smartphones weren’t omnipresent fixtures in our lives, shows the danger of valuing innovation more than ethics.
Elevation Pictures

Taking On the Money Changers

by The Editors 07-10-2023
Christian discipleship is inherently about choosing sides.
A vibrant illustration of pinks, blues, and oranges of soccer player Midge Purce leaping in the air, poised to kick the ball in front of her. Colored lines and curves surround her to emphasis her dynamic movement with a quote from her on the lower left.

Midge Purce plays forward for NJ/NY Gotham FC and the U.S. Women’s National Team and co-founded the Black Women’s Player Collective. Her soccer career has roots at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic High School in Maryland. / Illustration by Arūnas Kačinskas

CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP is inherently about choosing sides. Yes, some might harbor a temptation to take the supposedly safer path of remaining “neutral,” but that's a delusion: Such alleged neutrality always favors the status quo. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, if good people don't choose sides, the “side” with power and wealth will always win. Or as Lutheran pastor Korla Masters puts it in this issue, “Jesus invites ... us to whole lives of asking ourselves which side we are on and whole lives of answering that our entire selves belong to the kingdom of heaven.”

New & Noteworthy: Sinéad O’Connor, ‘Tell Her Story,’ and More

by The Editors 06-02-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
A black-and-white photograph of Sinéad O’Connor in ‘Nothing Compares.' Her head is shaved and she is wearing a long-sleeve shirt. She is resting her head in both of her palms with her fingers clasped over both cheeks.

From Nothing Compares

The Sinéad Effect

Nothing Compares documents the tumultuous career of Irish musician Sinéad O’Connor. On live TV in 1992, O’Connor protested child abuse in the Catholic Church, nearly a decade before papal acknowledgment. Her actions jeopardized her career, but she clung to music as a form of healing.

Real Progress Requires a Prophetic Perception

by The Editors 05-30-2023
Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them as the only way to perceive the path ahead.
An illustration of Renee N. Salas, a professor and physician at Harvard Medical School. She is wearing light blue scrubs and has long brown hair and blue eyes. An iceberg enveloped in a hot pink flame is behind her.

Renee N. Salas is a professor and physician at Harvard Medical School and a senior author of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Policy Brief for the U.S. / Illustration by Adriana Bellet

MANY SCRIPTURAL METAPHORS for transformation involve variations on the “open my eyes that I may see” plea of Psalm 119; the writer of Ephesians 1, for instance, prays for the enlightenment of the “eyes of your heart” so that “you may know the hope to which he has called you.” Various authors in this issue wrestle with similar images. For example, our Prelude, which draws on the writings of French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, refers to the “worst failing of our minds” as the inability “to see the really big problems” that “are right under our eyes.”

Much of our culture, Zachary Lee explains in his cover feature on Hollywood “spectacle,” serves to distract us from those “really big problems” and makes it difficult for us to see in different, more hopeful ways. Bible savant Walter Brueggemann, who knows a thing or two about alternative ways of perceiving, said that prophets “are able to imagine the world other than the way that is in front of them.” But that task, that “prophetic imagination” of seeing with enlightened eyes, isn’t reserved just for prophets: It’s really an invitation to all of us who seek a better world.

New & Noteworthy: Superhero Theology, ‘Extrapolations,’ and More

by The Editors 04-26-2023
Three culture recommendations from our editors.
Rebecca Shearer (actress Sienna Miller) wears a red shirt and brown shorts with a bandana around her neck while leaning against a tree in a forest and looking up to the sky in the 'Extrapolations' Apple TV series.

From Extrapolations

New Earth?

The TV show Extrapolations, featuring Meryl Streep and Forest Whitaker, offers eight terrifying visions of how climate-changed humanity’s unchecked consumption will harm Earth. The interwoven stories aim to inspire climate action, even as they disturb.
Apple TV+

Pop Culture Can Shape Our Reality

by The Editors 04-21-2023
Our stories can profoundly influence how we see the world — and make it a more just place.
Illustration of Pamela R. Lightsey, a black lesbian Methodist elder. She has a shaved head and is smiling with red lipstick. She wears a black shirt, red earrings, and red bangles with black stripes. She is framed by a rainbow circle and yellow lilies.

Pamela R. Lightsey, the first out Black lesbian elder ordained in the United Methodist Church, is a scholar, speaker, and author of Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology. / Illustration by Kim Thompson

POPULAR CULTURE PLAYS an important role in shaping our view of the possible. Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me, for years wrote Marvel’s Black Panther and Captain America comics. “I think we don’t always realize the extent to which the culture actually interacts with politics,” Coates said on Ezra Klein’s podcast. “I could advocate for all of the policies in the world ... but it really, really occurred to me that there’s a generation that is being formed right now that’s deciding what they will allow to be possible, what they will be capable of imagining. And the root of that isn’t necessarily the kind of journalism that I love that I was doing, the root of that is the stories we tell.”

In this issue, associate news editor Mitchell Atencio looks at some of those stories — in particular, superhero comics — and explores what is not being told, and how pop culture often avoids grappling with the way our country approaches issues such as policing and incarceration. That failure has consequences far beyond the DC and Marvel universes.