Senior Associate Culture Editor

Jenna Barnett is the senior associate culture editor at Sojourners and the host of the audio miniseries Lead Us Not. She was born in San Antonio and lives in San Diego. She has a B.A. in sociology and religion from Furman University and an M.F.A in Literary Reportage from New York University.

Before joining the Sojo team, Jenna managed the International Rescue Committee’s urban gardens in San Diego, and worked as a writer for the Women PeaceMakers Program at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

She has written for McSweeney’s, the Belladonna, and New York Magazine’s Grub Street. You’re likely to find her playing basketball, watching women’s soccer, eating homemade flour tortillas, or taking her time in Scrabble.

Follow her on Twitter @jennacbarnett and see what she’s creating at

Posts By This Author

God Is Like a Blanket Fort

by Jenna Barnett 06-22-2021

The God presentented in the new children’s book What Is God Like? is a shapeshifter. Matthew Paul Turner and the late Rachel Held Evans, with the help of Ying Hui Tan’s vibrant illustrations, depict God as a woman, a shepherd, a gardener, and even as a blanket fort.

Skimming News With James Baldwin: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 06-17-2021

Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I read a lot of news this week, and Baldwin had something to say about all of it.

Pass Me Anything But the Peace

by Jenna Barnett 05-25-2021
From our guest humor columnist.
An illustration of a computer with a zoom church service going on, with a candle lit and a bag of chips on the sides of the laptop.

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

ON A RECENT Sunday, my pastors asked the congregation to show up for Zoom church with “something to consume during communion.” And let me tell you, if you’ve never had a tortilla chip as the bread and chipotle salsa as the wine then you might be experiencing a lower tier of consecration. Even my dog—who not only considers the lilies, but also pees upon them—ate from the crumbs of my Tostitos and knew something beautiful and mysterious had transpired.

In other words, Zoom church, even with its lag time and pixilation, has had its perks—but one perk, specifically, above all other perks: While the absence of commutes and underwire bras has been noteworthy, the absence of churchy small talk has been paramount.

My trifles with the Passing of the Peace predate and rival my newer fears of the Passing of the Germs. At the age of 8, I had what my therapist called “separation anxiety” and what my older sister called “OHMYGOD Loosen Your Grip on My Forearm, JENNA.” I did not know what to say if the kind, adult Presbyterians asked me, “How’s school?” or the even more terrifyingly open-ended: “How’ve you been?”

Our Father in the Skies: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 04-30-2021

Photo by Jared Verdi on Unsplash

Waiting for the "baptizer to appear in the wasteland."

Inconsistent Miracles: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 04-23-2021

Reimagining policing alongside poetry.

The Math of Grief: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 02-26-2021

Numbers like 500,000, hard as they are to grasp, are necessary for grieving.

Homesick For a Frozen State: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 02-19-2021

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

It’s hard to be far away when tragedy hits close to home. (Well, maybe not for Ted Cruz.)

Questions Worth Cursing About: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 01-29-2021

For instance: "What does it mean to look at oneself through the gaze of one's own history?"

The Elusive Soul of America: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 01-22-2021

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

We’ve heard an awful lot of talk about the soul during this inauguration week. Which is not all that surprising, given that President Joe Biden described the 2020 campaign season as a “battle for the soul of America.”

9 Books Our Editors Loved This Year

by Jenna Barnett 12-18-2020

Reading was the safest way to travel this year — sometimes to another decade and another brand of violence, sometimes to a different continent or a different galaxy altogether. Below are Sojourners' editors' favorite books of the year. Most of these books came out years ago, but by reading them through the lens of 2020, we found new wisdom, escape, resonance, and hope.

A Word Cloud for 2020: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 12-04-2020

2020, which allegedly ends later this month, has made us mourn, and within that and despite that, it’s made us creative. Below are 10 articles about how we survived, how we didn’t, and how we still could.

Begrudgingly Thankful: What Our Editors Are Reading This Week

by Jenna Barnett 11-24-2020

De-politicizing refugee resettlement, virtual Thanksgiving, and other stories our editors are reading.

No Unity Without Justice: Sermons from the Sunday After the Election

by Jenna Barnett 11-09-2020

In president-elect Joe Biden’s acceptance speech on Saturday he “pledge[d] to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States.”

Yet over the weekend, some social media users used their platforms to warn pastors not to conflate peace-building and unity with forced reconciliation.

Counting Votes and Blessings: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 11-06-2020

Activists dressed as the White House, Philadelphia City Hall, and the United States Postal Service mailboxes in Philadelphia. November 5, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

It’s been a week of record highs: 143,855,830 people voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump, and counting; 121,888 new daily cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and counting.

The Vote Will Go On: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 10-30-2020

Conspiracy theories, pizza, and voting where Celine Dion once sang.

Most Americans Fear Post-Election Violence, New Study Finds

by Jenna Barnett 10-29-2020
And They Want Clergy to Promote Peaceful Protest

A man wearing a protective mask holds a sign outside Madison Square Garden, a polling station, on the first day of early voting in Manhattan. October 24, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

According to new polling data from PRRI, 86 percent of Americans are concerned that there will be widespread violent protests in the aftermath of the upcoming election, revealing that both Republicans and Democrats share this fear.

For the Love of Faith, Justice, and Broccoli: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 10-16-2020

Praise-band superspreaders, the Supreme Court, and God as Gardener.

5 Bible Verses About Flies

by Jenna Barnett 10-08-2020

Chris Curry / Unsplash

Last night’s vice presidential debate left viewers with many questions: Would Mike Pence aid in a peaceful transition of power should Donald Trump lose the election? Why do Kamala Harris and Joe Biden like fracking so much? Why was Susan Page denied a mute button? And why was that fly so drawn to Pence, plexiglass be damned? Perhaps it was the vice president’s hairspray, or his chilling stillness, or his pinkish eye. We may never know for sure. But in my search for answers, I turned to the Bible.

Thoughts, Prayers, Mixed Feelings

by Jenna Barnett 10-02-2020
People of faith react to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis

As news spread that Donald and Melania Trump have contracted COVID-19, thoughts, prayers, and tweets have started pouring in from across the U.S.

Hope in Dissent: What Our Editors Are Reading This Week

by Jenna Barnett 09-25-2020

Tributes to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg outside the U.S. Supreme Court. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

It was hard to remain hopeful this week — this year, really. We’re living in an age of dissent.