Editorial Assistant

Joey Chin, a former Sojourners fellow, is an elementary school teacher in Redmond, Wash.

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The Collective Bargaining Agreement on Noah's Ark

by Joey Chin 06-07-2022
The following terms end after 40 days and 40 nights ... unless it rains the whole time.
Illustration of pairs of animals carrying suitcases

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

LEST YOU THINK labor organizing started with the most recent Amazon or Starbucks unionization, let’s look at this ancient document found submerged near the island of Patmos. The document appears to be from another group of mammals negotiating what is believed to be the first collective bargaining agreement.

Letter of Demands
From: The International Animals Union
To: Noah
Subject: Excessive Rainfall

Whereas the earth has become corrupt and filled with violence and
Whereas God has decided to destroy all living creatures and
Whereas Noah is required to build an ark and bring a pair of every kind of animal on the ark, therefore

Noah and the International Animals Union agree that the previous agreement has been terminated and replaced by the following agreement beginning on the 17th day of the second month and ending after 40 days and 40 nights, unless it rains the whole time.

I. Breaks
All animals shall be given 15-minute breaks for naps, whenever they feel like it. (We’re assuming any human over 600 years old on the ark will likewise be taking multiple naps per day.) Breaks can be used for whatever animals want, including but not limited to gathering around the water trough to talk about the change in rain patterns for the day.

II. Schedule Assignments
All animals shall be given their work assignments a week in advance via pigeon post delivered on papyrus. On holidays, work assignments shall be delivered on parchment. Ravens and doves are available for special work at the end of the cruise.

III. 40-Hour Work Week

We Don't Sing About Bruno

by Joey Chin 03-28-2022
If you have any questions, please address those to your parents on the car ride home. 
Illustration of a pink-haired person singing inside a bubble around their head

Date: Sunday, May 17, 2122
To: allchurch @gracechurch.metaverse
From: staff @gracechurch.metaverse
Subject: Children singing in church

RECENTLY OUR STAFF has received many questions about why we do not permit children to sing during services. We understand that this is a contentious issue, and we want to do our best to respond to these concerns. Before we begin, it must be made clear that on all matters of doctrine, we look to the sacred All-Church PDF sent out by our founding elders in the year 2022, almost 100 years ago, which clearly defined our church policy.

To begin, let us look at section 4.A of the holy PDF. It states: “Please do not allow your children to sing during the sermon, especially if it’s a shouted rendition of ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno.’” Given this language from the foundational All-Church PDF, the prescribed ban on singing seems clear (although we’re not quite sure who Bruno was or why people weren’t supposed to talk about him). Some of you have noted that this directive may have been a response to disruptions during services. While it is true that we have found several cellphone videos from 2022 of children standing up to loudly sing in the middle of the Eucharist, there is simply no way to know if section 4.A of the PDF was written in response to that.

The Three Rules to (Spiritual) Wealth

by Joey Chin 11-17-2021
How to align your spiritual stocks with the BIBL.
Illustration of a bar graph with the gates of heaven sitting above the tallest bar

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

AS WE APPROACH the new year, the more fortunate among us will be taking time to organize their lives by rebalancing their financial portfolios and considering new investments. While taking care of your cash, it’s important to remember that a wise teacher once said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy.” I still don’t know what vermin is (it’s probably bad because it’s in the same sentence as moths), but I think the teacher might have been telling us that in additionto tending to our finances, we should also tend to our spiritual portfolios.

If you’re wondering about how exactly to do this, here are three rules to spiritual wealth that I think will prove helpful.

Flailing of Arms and Stomping of Feet

by Joey Chin 09-23-2021
When stepping out on the dance floor feels like a theological risk.
Illustration of feet dancing on a multicolored dance floor

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

EVERY ONCE IN a while, while brushing my teeth or driving to work, my mind will wander to what I call “future regrets”—things that I’m pretty sure I’ll rue later in life but about which I do nothing to resolve in the present. Those include obvious ones like not flossing or watching PBS NewsHour enough. But there’s one thing in that category that’s a little more unexpected: dancing.

The sheer act of dancing—with its flailing of the arms and stomping of the feet (including, inevitably, stomping on other people’s feet)—doesn’t exactly lend itself to those inclined toward modesty and reserve. And unless you’re doing that flailing and stomping while walking over hot coals at the direction of human resources as part of your new employee training icebreaker, people will probably turn their attention to you, and not in a good way. But for those of us who grew up in churches where dancing was frowned upon, stepping out on the dance floor feels like a theological risk as well. (Old joke: “Why do Baptists prohibit sex while standing up? It might lead to dancing.”)

Bob and Larry Are Ready To Save the Planet

by Joey Chin 06-23-2021
Our guest humor columnist reimagines ‘VeggieTales.’
An illustration of a pig, a tomato, and a cucumber with smiles on their faces all hugging each other.

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

IN LATE APRIL 2021, the food website Epicurious made the decision to stop publishing recipes with beef to “encourage more sustainable cooking.” The move sparked an immediate backlash. But I must admit that I would hardly care if every beef entrée were wiped from the internet, so long as the recipes that remained included a “jump to recipe” button so that I did not have to spend 20 minutes scrolling through a 50,000-word memoir about how a particular dish made its way through 17 generations of your family. But alas, it seems that for the time being we are stuck with far too many food platforms doubling up as literary agencies.

Along with facing criticism, Epicurious also won a fair amount of praise. Supporters noted that meat production is one of the most significant contributors to climate change and an ever-warming planet. As a result, over the past few years a number of people have begun to identify as “flexitarians.”

Contrary to my initial belief, these are not people who like to tell others about their bench press record. They are actually folks who generally do not eat meat but might make a few rare exceptions. If most Americans became flexitarian or even just cut cow out of their diet, this could make a significant impact. I do recognize that it is incredibly difficult to get most Americans to do anything for the common good unless it involves the words “listen,” “to,” “Dolly,” and “Parton,” but I actually believe that with a charismatic spokesperson at the forefront of a flexitarian campaign, this could get off the ground.

Making Your Next Ballot Count ... And Count Again

by Joey Chin 04-29-2021
From our guest humor columnist.
An illustration of a girl placing a ballot into a #1 box, with boxes #2 and #3 to the sides.

Illustration by Yann Bastard

ACROSS THE COUNTRY a number of places are using or are considering adopting ranked choice voting for state, local, or federal elections. If you’re unfamiliar with ranked choice voting (RCV), that’s too bad, because other than the most recent here’s-how-to-make-the-perfect-garlic-bread TikTok video, this is just about the biggest news there is right now. But let me take a moment to explain.

Ranked choice voting is a process in which voters rank their candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the voters who chose that last place candidate as their first choice have their vote shifted to their second choice, and so on, until there is a winner. If you’re with me so far and like the idea, feel free to stop reading and go sign a petition for RCV. If you’re still confused, let me offer an example.

Earlier this year, the children’s ministry team at my church needed to decide which book our K-5 kids should read for the upcoming quarter. Each of the 21 teachers submitted the name of a book we felt would be appropriate. We then ranked the submitted books in order of preference. Of the 21 books, my top three picks were The Mueller Report by Robert S. Mueller III, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Progressive Asian American Christians Group Co-Founder on Her Faith Journey

by Joey Chin 02-13-2020

When we started questing the bible, everything falls apart. What can we even trust or believe in? But I think the second fear is that it will drive a wedge between us and this community that is really important to us especially as Asian Americans because we’re a super community oriented culture. So I think that a lot of Asian American Christians are afraid to do that and I think for legitimate reasons. Those fears are not unwarranted.

'1917': A Rare, Intimate War Film

by Joey Chin 12-17-2019

Image via 1917 movie trailer 

That damage of war has been put on full display in films before, leaving many audiences wondering about the purpose of war films. Many films often placed strictly into the categories of being anti-war or glorifying war but 1917 evades easily falling into either category. When addressing this categorization, screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Caines made sure to note that she had no desire to glorify war.