Senior Associate Culture Editor

Jenna Barnett (@jennacbarnettis the senior associate culture editor at Sojourners and the host of the audio limited series 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, Texas Monthly, 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.

Some Sojourners articles by Jenna Barnett:


Brandi Carlile’s Radical Gospel of Gentleness
“What I'm talking about is radical, filthy, trembling, scary, life-changing, beautiful forgiveness,” the Grammy-winner told Sojourners in an interview.

Snorting Nutmeg at Vacation Bible School with Lucy Dacus
Her album Home Video could have just as easily been named “Youth Group” or maybe “Adventures in Suburbia.”


How Do We Recover When Our Leaders Betray Us?
Charismatic leaders like Jean Vanier can inspire our faith — or make it fall apart.

Let There Be Light
When sexual abuse occurred in their church, Rev. Heidi Hankel and her congregation refused to let it stay hidden.


Footprints in the Sand (Unedited)
Lord, when I needed you most, why were you snacking on Flamin' Hot Cheetos?

John the Baptist’s Recipe for Honey-Crisped Locusts
Once the locusts are as hot as a wealthy hypocrite burning in hell (about 200 degrees), add the honey.

Posts By This Author

‘Beloved Community’ Sounds Nice. But What Does it Mean?

by Jenna Barnett 09-15-2021

Adam Russell Taylor. Original photo by Candace Sanders, illustration by Mitchell Atencio.

Interestingly, when I revisited a lot of Dr. King’s speeches and civil rights history, [I noticed that he] would often mention Beloved Community, but there wasn't like a singular speech where he completely unpacked what the Beloved Community means. And so in one sense, it was almost like it was assumed that a lot of people understood what the concept meant, or maybe he was hoping that people would kind of fill in [the gaps] with their own values and priorities. And so I feel there is a need to recast the vision for the Beloved Community in more contemporary terms.

Take, Eat; This Is My Waffle: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 08-13-2021

Christianity leaves a lot to interpretation — both biblically and apparently, culinarily.

Zillow-ing in the Dark: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 08-06-2021

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

The absurd hope found in Zillow-ing during the pandemic.

Snorting Nutmeg at Vacation Bible School with Lucy Dacus

by Jenna Barnett 07-27-2021

Photo via Facebook, Lucy Dacus

Home Video is not a Christian album, but I didn’t really want it to be. There are songs for VBS, but these are songs about VBS. We need both.

Before Blasting Off, Bezos Checks in With Wendell Berry

by Jenna Barnett 07-19-2021
A work of humorous fiction.
An illustration of a bumble bee flying in the sky next to an Amazon drone carrying a package.

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

AMAZON FOUNDER JEFF BEZOS arrived at writer Wendell Berry’s home in Kentucky the same way he arrives anywhere on earth: by drone, covered in cardboard. When he stepped out of the large box, the two men shook hands and exchanged gifts. Bezos gave Berry a single octopus tentacle wrapped in burlap. Berry offered Bezos a gooseberry coated in local honey. Both quietly hoped the exchange was a step forward for modern masculinity. It wasn’t.

Bezos: This is a fabulous berry, Wendell. Do you live off the food you farm? Or book sales?

Berry: Well, tax-evading corporate conglomerates have made it harder for authors to earn a sustainable living, but I’m happy with my lifestyle.

Bezos: So, you have other investments?

Berry: I invest in sequoias and in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.

Bezos: I LOVE hummus. But I’m not familiar with Sequoia. Has their stock gone public?

Berry: They are trees. Very old trees.

Bezos: Oh.

When God Is Groovy

by Jenna Barnett 07-16-2021

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Theology isn’t the only place we overlook the feminine.

So a Diver, Krill, and God Walk Into a Whale: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 06-24-2021

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Sometimes religion is funny.

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.