Online Editorial Assistant

Joshua enjoys a good story. From the Inklings, to the Beat Poets, to This American Life, the power of narrative connects humanity. Like a good story, Joshua’s years of adventure, struggle, reflection, and questioning have led him to Sojourners. After spending four years at Greenville College (greater St. Louis area) studying English and religion, and serving as Editor-in-Chief of his college newspaper, he comes to DC seeking to be read anew into God’s story of love, justice, and redemption for the entire created order. He is excited to participate in communal life and work towards goals that are continually broadening and making a profound impact on individuals and the larger society. 

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'Relevance' Is Not Enough

Many young adults are leaving the church these days. Two 20-somethings reflect on what keeps them in the pews.

LAST FALL, I (Anne Marie) decided to take a break from the church I had been attending to check out a nearby Episcopal service with one of my housemates, Joshua. I had no idea at the time that this might turn into a permanent switch. My Baptist, Anabaptist, and evangelical roots don’t quite explain what drew me to St. Stephen’s Church that Sunday, but I remember the thought that kept going through my head: I need to take Communion.

For a number of reasons, I had been feeling apathetic toward Christian faith. I needed something official and visceral to cleanse me of the growing indifference I felt. The thought entered my mind: I need some bread and wine, because if my own prayers can’t kindle the spirit of Jesus within me, then I’ll get him in there by force. I hoped that partaking in the real-deal-flesh-and-blood would allow me to return to my own church in peace.

I can’t say that the Episcopal service that day cured me of all my doubts and frustrations about Christianity, but I did find meaning in the liturgy, rituals, and traditions that continued to sustain me in my first year in a new city. As Joshua and I continued to attend St. Stephen’s, we each reflected on what we, as young adults, are looking for in church and Christian community.

Church advertisements often focus on how to keep young people “engaged,” and there are countless new books about why young people are leaving the church. Statistics show decreased church attendance among those in our generation, and while this may be cause for concern, I’m not too worried about it. I’m glad that churches and denominations are interested in engaging young people, but so often this well-meaning desire is rooted in fear and anxiety about the future of the church. Is Christianity becoming obsolete? Will the church die away?

News flash: Christianity isn’t going anywhere. But churches and denominations may have to adapt—and not necessarily the way they’re doing so now—if they are to survive.

As 20-somethings who’ve left the cocoons of family and college for our first forays into the “real world,” we have two basic conclusions about what we are looking for in church communities.

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Best of Jan. 2012 - Aug 2012 (Part II)

by Joshua Witchger 08-17-2012

Today is my last run of "Links of Awesomeness." And rather than ending with a mediocre list of new links, I went through the archives to compile some of my favorites from this year. Enjoy the links and expect a fresh new batch from the next intern in early September.

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Best of Jan. 2012 - Aug 2012 (Part I)

by Joshua Witchger 08-17-2012
Maddie the Coonhound is featured in out "Best of Links"

Maddie the Coonhound is featured in out "Best of Links"

Today is my last run of "Links of Awesomeness." And rather than ending with a mediocre list of new links, I went through the archives to compile some of my favorites from this year. Enjoy the links and expect a fresh new batch from the next intern in early September.

QUIRK: Who’s the Biggest Bro in the Presidential Race?

by Joshua Witchger 08-17-2012

Today, Gawker answers that question by extensively evaluating the candidates in sports, fashion, education, bro-pinions, and, most importantly, beer. Which one’s got the best bro traits? Our current beer-loving commander-in-chief? Right-hand man and University of Delaware graduate, Bro Biden? Or might the title go to the skinny-jean wearing, M.B.A. Mitt Romney? Or the young, newly chosen running-mate who loves Rage Against the Machine?


Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: August 16, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-16-2012

Neighborhood Film Company reaches out to homeless people in Philadelphia --- interview with The Book's founder Nick Zammuto --- This American Life's "The Convert" --- Pixar's new short film "Partysaurus Rex" --- musicians Silversun Pickups vs. the Romney campaign --- Stride gum parodies Apple --- Over the Rhine documentary from Nowhere Farm in Ohio. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: August 15, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-15-2012

National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest selects 11 winners out of 12,000+ entries --- Kirby Ferguson's TED talk on originality, creativity, and remixing --- billboards play on Shell's slogan, stick it to the corporate oil giant --- world's first all-female Street Art conference kicks off --- pickin' tunes from the Milk Carton Kids. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Sojo Celebrates Shark Week 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-14-2012

This week the Discovery Channel celebrates its 25th Shark Week, its most popular week of television. It has been gaining steam each year as one of the biggest weeks in all of television, and numerous parodies and odd bits have appeared since its inception. Today we're presenting some favorite ocean/shark-related bits of pop culture for you to enjoy.


Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: August 10, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-10-2012

U.S. gymnast McKyala Moroney is not impressed with much in this new Tumblr page --- four sisters recreate childhood photos --- designer public toilets in New Zealand --- remembering author and journalist David Rakoff --- vintage photos of bulldogs wearing human clothing in the early 1900s. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Links of Awesomeness: August 9, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-09-2012

Usain Bolt vs. a cheetah --- Beck plans to release new album entirely in sheet music --- Longform launches debut podcast --- Shark Week finds rival with "animals that act like sharks week" --- fascinating infographics on Olympic bodies. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: August 8, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-08-2012

Album covers recreated with socks --- internet-themed child onesies --- first look at New Yorker rejected story by F. Scott Fitzgerald --- lulling an ill pet to sleep in Lake Superior --- green screen cooking show with David Cross. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: August 7, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-07-2012

Peter Jackson releases a second trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey --- feminist Ryan Gosling to become coffee table book --- animals forming their own bands --- Conan O'Brien's "Clueless Gamer" --- Sesame Street minimalist art --- Stephen Colbert's music performance festival Setphest Colbchella. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Links of Awesomeness: August 1, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 08-01-2012

A 14-year-old kid meets John Lennon and interviews him in I Met the Walrus --- creative ways to re-purpose labyrinths and skeeball machines --- P is for Pixar --- indie rock music's Trade Deadline Day. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

The Lower Lights — "A Hymn Revival Vol. II"

by Joshua Witchger 07-31-2012

Break out the tambourines and rise up singing! A hymn revival is happening … again.

This month, The Lower Lights continue to shine as they release a second stand-out collection of hymns, aptly titled, “A Hymn Revival II.” And this time around, the group of 20+ musicians expands their repertoire outside of the “American Protestant” catalog, and into the wider collection of folk music, including country classics like Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light” and “Calling You,” the African-American spiritual “Go Down Moses,” and the familiar Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”  

Each of the 16 tracks on “A Hymn Revival Vol. II,” glow with intention. Whether it’s the soft but steady pulse of the song “Nearer My God to Thee,” or the call-and-response elicited from snappy chorus of “In the Sweet By and By,” The Lower Lights’ sophomore album presents another authentic look at the joy of the Christian life found in community and comradery, all propelled by the sacred art of making music.

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: July 31, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 07-31-2012

A monkey finds hidden camera at the zoo, photographs self --- big slumber party hits IKEA --- Peter jackson confirms The Hobbit will be three films --- and check out some of the funniest faces in the Olympics. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...Figure Skating


QUIRK: Johan's Ark, a Museum That Follows Biblical Proportions

by Joshua Witchger 07-31-2012
Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images

Johan Huibers' stand in front of his 70-metre-long Noah's Ark replica.Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images

A wealthy Dutchman builds a replica of Noah’s Ark, following the measurements outlined in the book of Genesis.

Johan Huibers, who lives in the Dutch town Dordrecht recently opened a public “Bible museum,” inside his 300-cubit wooden vessel. The massive boat, known as “Johan’s Ark,” not only includes life-size plastic animals, but also a theater, restaurant, sleeping quarters, and conference facilities large enough to seat 1,500 guests.

He tells CNN that inspiration for the project came in 1992, after the low-lying Netherlands were flooded by the North Sea. "The next day I bought a book about Noah's Ark. That night while sitting on the couch with my kids, I looked at it and said: 'It's what we're going to do,'" reports CNN.

GODSPEED: Female Swimmer Accused of Doping, Found Not Guilty

by Joshua Witchger 07-31-2012

Big Olympic news today from Reutuers:

China has vehemently rejected suggestions of doping as a growing row over the astonishing performance of a Chinese swimmer threatens to overshadow Michael Phelps’s bid to become the most decorated Olympian of all time on Tuesday.

For those of you who don’t speak in sports lingo or Britishisms, that translates to “Chinese coaches reject claims that their star swimmer, Ye Shiwen, has been taking illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.”

Here’s the context. Yesterday, Ye Shiwen, a 16-year-old Chinese woman swam the 400 meter medley faster than all-star swimmer Ryan Lochte, a man from the U.S.A.

WHAT??!! Throw up the red flag! Women can’t be better than men at sports! Call in the drug dogs and blood tests. (The Twitterverse and other social media quickly echoed similar sentiments, rolling their collective eyes at outrage that a woman could break a man's speed.)

According to the report, Ye Shiwen went through "extremely thorough" tests from the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the British Chairman of the Olympic Association said she’s clean. 

"That's the end of the story. Ye Shiwen deserves recognition for her talent."


Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: July 30, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 07-30-2012

Arrested Development filming continues --- recap July entirely in charts --- the wonders of a felt-tipped pen --- hairchitecture. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: July 27, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 07-27-2012

Olympic enthusiasts beware: here's a video of slow motion, French music, and men throwing rocks with their non-dominant hand --- 2012 Newport Folk Festival --- the wisdom of Ralph Wiggum --- Arrested Development script revealed --- what's happening to all the watermelon seeds --- Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, and Jon Hamm stop by The Daily Show. See the complete list of today's Links of Awesomeness...

QUIRK: Justin Buber and Other Philosophical Pop Stars

by Joshua Witchger 07-27-2012
"Justin Buber" from his twitter account @Justin_Buber

"Justin Buber" from his twitter account @Justin_Buber

Step aside Reinhod Bieber — there’s a new 20th century philosopher/pop star in town: Justin Buber. That’s right, the Bieb’s popular songs and tweets and Martin Buber’s existential Jewish thought combine in a way that would have the renowned thinker pulling the hairs out of his mountain-man beard.

One of Buber’s notable contributions to modern Jewish thought centers around the distinction of I-Thou (a holistic, infinite relation shared between people or God) and the I-It (a disconnected objectified relation). But if you’re Justin Buber , it might look something like this:

“Tonight I’ma be with u, shawty with u. For the space between two beings is where God may occur.” -  October 26, 2011

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: July 26, 2012

by Joshua Witchger 07-26-2012

Highlights of the 2012 Euro tournament are reenacted with string --- Tim Heidecker beats Bob Dylan in releasing a song about the Titanic --- Philadelphia to open world's first Pizza restaurant and museum -- Wilco delivers a powerful performance on Late Night. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...