Elizabeth Palmberg is the daughter of one science fiction fan and one Presbyterian elder who is federally licensed to dispense medicinal marijuana (although she would like to point out that he, a glaucoma specialist, only prescribes it in the less than .1% of cases in which it works better than eyedrops). She grew up in St. Louis, MO and Miami, FL, with an older and younger sister, both of whom have waist-length hair.
Her long history of meddling with other people's writing began in her first weeks of college; she escalated from editing the papers of hapless friends to editing (as a tutor) the papers of people she didn't even know. Eventually, she went on to doctoral work in English at Cornell University, where the unsuspecting administration allowed her to teach a first-year writing seminar on "Scary Stories of the Nineteenth Century." While at Cornell, she dwelt in Flapdragon House, whose denizens enticed her into the shadowy underworld that is Lindy Hop. After seven years of "gradual school," she gained three letters to add to her name, and went off to teach for a year each at Kenyon College and Scripps College.
Although Victorian British literature is interesting, it turns out that social justice (particularly relating to economic globalization) is even more interesting. Ways in which people imagine economics kept winding their way into all her courses, including "Love Stories of the Nineteenth Century" and "The Clichés From Space: Gender and Science Fiction." In 2002, the Lord smote her upside of the head and instructed her to go seek a career working for a progressive Christian nonprofit.
She's found a home at Sojourners, first as an intern ("editorial assistant"), and now as an assistant editor. She's enthusiastic about (in descending order) Jesus, Sojourners' switch to monthly publication, and bittersweet chocolate.
Elizabeth Palmberg died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Washington, D.C., on the morning of June 23, 2014. Per her wishes, memorial donations in her name may be made to any of the following: Christ House (1717 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009); St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church (1525 Newton Street NW, Washington, DC 20010); Sojourners Internship Program (PO Box 70730, Washington, DC 20024-0730) .
Articles By This Author
Works of Economic Fiction
The Fatherless series (book one and two). FaithWords.
And Now for Something Different
The Woman Who Died A Lot. Viking Adult
Take This Cup — For Real, TAKE It
So you’ve heard the flu shot is somewhat ineffective this year, and, though you have a normal immune system, you don't want to take the Eucharist from a common chalice.
Part of me kind of wants to slap you.
Obviously, that's not what Jesus would do. We know what Jesus did — he offered you his lifeblood, saying "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." Ever after, Christians have taken wine and bread, a sacrament which binds us together in communion with other Christ-followers around the globe and through two millennia.
For the last few months, because my cancer treatment had decimated my immune system, I haven't been able to drink from the common chalice (or to eat most raw food, go to the movies, or get on the bus without a face mask). I really miss it. So I want to share two key insights I’ve had about the common Eucharistic cup.
Mind and Body
An extended interview with addiction-recovery worker Jim Balmer.
Six Questions for Frank Mugisha
Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda
Across the Board, Peace
Jim Balmer is an antiwar activist whose commitment to nonviolence has made him an advocate for a consistent ethic of life. Interview by Elizabeth Palmberg.
The Marrow Road
I've been thinking, as Advent goes on, what it meant for God to lay aside infinity and put on a body that was not just tiny, inarticulate, and helpless, but also already marked, to the marrow of its little bones, with the seeds of death.
He must have felt in his own flesh this dramatic comedown — from omnipotence and omnipresence to a being that had about threescore and 10, max, even if it hadn’t going to be cut off halfway by self-sacrifice and Roman capital punishment. And that must have given Jesus infinite tenderness and patience towards the waves and waves of people who, during his short ministry, were always coming up to him and asking, directly or just by their presence, for him to heal their bodies. In Luke, the Gospel focus of the new liturgical year, there are more than 20 healings by my count, compared to two times when someone asks Christ how to get eternal life (and only one of them actually wanted to know).
Those healings of all those bodies matter, millennia later. One big reason they matter is because healing matters. Another is because, by showing God's power over death as well as by going through death ahead of us, Christ teaches us not to be dominated by fear of it.
Effective Sweat-Equity Rural Housing at Risk
A low-cost, highly successful rural housing self-help program is at risk from both sides of the aisle. A year ago, the Sojourners article Seven Ways Home described:
the “mutual self-help” model, where families in rural America first qualify for a mortgage, then partner with seven to 11 other families who will all build their homes together.
The model first gained prominence in the Central Valley of California in the 1960s through the work of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The Quaker group had listened to the housing dreams of migrant farm workers, many of whom lived in squalid conditions—30 families might share one rusty faucet. In response, AFSC offered the mutual self-help model: Families would work together to build their homes, with no one moving in until all the homes were completed. This built community as well as housing. The success of this model inspired the formation of Self-Help Enterprises, based in Visalia, California, which has helped more than 5,000 families build homes. The model has been so successful that today some self-help housing is sponsored by the USDA’s Rural Development program.
Now, the Daily Yonder reports that the program is under threat:
Self-Help Housing is unique among the panoply of federal programs. Under it, nonprofit housing developers provide training, technical assistance and close supervision to small teams of future owners who build their own homes. Each family invests roughly 1,200 hours, creating what's known as "sweat equity." Construction professionals do the rest. 502 direct loans finance the debt.
The average annual income of participant families is $27,000. Most are minorities. Their repayment record is better than higher income families.
The key to this success story is the assistance provided to participant families by nonprofits. But instead of increasing funding — or at least holding funding level — the Obama administration’s FY 2013 budget reduces funding for these groups by two thirds..
The House version cuts this program by half.
This classic, highly effective pairing of citizen initiative with governement aid shouldn't be undermined by short-sighted cuts.
Elizabeth Palmberg is an associate editor of Sojourners magazine.
Red-Tape Bill Threatens Financial Reform
OMB Watch reports that the lame-duck Senate may move forward on a bill that could hamstring the SEC as it works to fight fraud and implement financial regulatory reform, tying up the agency in needless red tape and lawsuits:
A pending anti-regulatory bill that targets independent regulatory agencies would significantly curtail the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) ability to protect investors from financial fraud and other economic hazards. The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012 (S. 3468) would require independent agencies to conduct formal cost-benefit analyses for all significant rules and would allow the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review those analyses. This would cause lengthy delays in implementing the financial oversight contained in the Dodd-Frank law. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC), chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), may mark up this bill during Congress’ upcoming lame-duck session, even though no hearings have been held on the bill.
The bill would also hamper the essential work of the FDIC, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and other government watchdog agencies.
Elizabeth Palmberg is an associate editor of Sojourners and tweets @ZabPalmberg.
Spirituality from Plant to Plate
For World Food Day, here’s a roundup of recent Sojourners magazine articles about food, a subject with tendrils throughout our lives and world—from field to farmworker to plate to body!
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