Josiah R. Daniels (he/him) is the associate opinion editor at sojo.net. He is a native of the southwest suburbs of Chicago, but currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife.
The first thing Josiah ever wrote was a sermon for his youth group when he was 14. And while the sermon has since been lost (this is for the best), Josiah has not lost his love for writing. His writing centers around race, politics, and religion. His other interests, such as hard bop and avant-garde jazz, sci-fi, cults, and the Hebrew Bible, also influence his writing. Josiah has written for Geez magazine, The Bias Magazine, Religion Dispatches, and Sojourners, which has been Josiah’s favorite magazine since his college days. His favorite fiction book is Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.
Josiah lived on Chicago’s West Side for three years. There, his neighbors taught him the importance of integrating faith with direct action, a lesson that continues to influence him today.
When not reading, writing, or collaborating with authors, he is watching the Chicago Bulls, playing basketball, or taking full advantage of his PBS Passport membership. An atonal Twitter user, he can be found @josiah_Rdaniels.
Posts By This Author
What ‘He Gets Us' Ads Get Wrong About Jesus
When I first noticed the ads on TV last March, I was cautiously optimistic. Each ad features an array of black-and-white photos with people in contemporary settings followed by a simple, relatable slogan on a plain black screen: “Jesus was wrongly judged,” “Jesus suffered anxiety, too,” “Jesus struggled to make ends meet, too;” each ad ends with the campaign’s tagline, “He get us. All of us.”
Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò Reconsiders ‘Centering the Marginalized’
“Centering the marginalized” is common parlance among both Christian and secular social justice advocates. This especially makes sense for Christians, as it was Jesus who said, “the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). So when it comes to seeking justice, it makes sense that we’d try to prioritize the experiences and perspectives of those our society discriminates against because of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or other identities. But two examples from this past year have made me doubt the viability of an identity-based approach for pursuing social justice.
How My Conservative Christian College Made Me a Leftist
My school tried to purge any evidence of liberation theologies, Christian critiques of the economy, or radical solidarity with the poor, hoping to indoctrinate students with a conservative ideology. But there was an underground community at my school that helped me make a pivotal realization: By Christian college standards, Jesus would be labeled “an extreme leftist” because he embodied class solidarity with the poor, damned the rich, and imagined an alternative community. That gospel appealed to me in college; it still appeals to me today.
Julian Davis Reid Teaches Us to Rest in Jazz
Core to Christianity is this notion of hospitality and trying hard to hear your neighbor, hear what they’re trying to say, and even giving voice to what they’re trying to say. And you may not always agree with the melody. But part of what we see Jesus do is pay attention to the fact that every person in front of him has a melody that God’s given them.
The Apocalypse Isn’t All Doom and Gloom
For those who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19, racist violence, or gun violence, Jesus’ apocalyptic hope that “the world as such” comes to an end is, perhaps, relatable. Here in the United States, we are expected to numb ourselves to the death-for-profit economy that’s been established; we are expected to go on with business as usual, never once pausing to cry out in judgment, “Woe to the world.”
Fewer Kitschy Creeds, More Good Reads
My shtick on Twitter is taking pictures of myself with kitschy signs that I find wherever I go. You know the signs I’m talking about. They are the signs that embody the motto of “Live. Laugh. Love.” If you go to your local Hobby Lobby, there is an aisle dedicated to this, um, décor.
Shrieking Toward the Sky for the Kids Who Have Died
It has been hard to read any of what has been written about the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. At some point, you start to wonder if we have convinced ourselves that words speak louder than actions.
Hey IRS, Jesus Is My ‘Third Party Designee'
On the IRS Form 1040, there is a section titled “Third Party Designee” which asks, “Do you want to allow another person to discuss this return with the IRS?” When filling out my 1040 for 2021, I simply wrote, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.” This is what people mean when they say, “let go and let God,” right?
Win Some, Lose Some
Do you ever just need a win? Have you ever just had the blues of the world hit you, causing you to stop and think to yourself, “I need something good right now or I’m gonna lose it”? Where do you normally turn? Perhaps you go outside, maybe you talk with some friends, or maybe you find comfort in literature and movies. These are better attempts to find some modicum of happiness than to look where I normally look: The world of sports.
We Asked Kids To Review Banned Books
We are currently in the midst of what the American Library Association condemned in November as “a dramatic uptick” in efforts to challenge or remove certain books from libraries and schools. Many of these censorship efforts have been led by conservative Christians and conservative politicians who are concerned these books will dissuade their kids from embracing what they call “Judeo-Christian values.” But as Ryan Duncan explained, Christians are deluding themselves if they believe banning stories about gender, race, or sex will halt their kids’ curiosity. Ban ’em or burn ’em, these books will not disappear and kids will continue to seek out resources on these topics — to some parents’ chagrin.
Obery Hendricks Thinks Marxist Analysis Can Help Christians
With scholarly precision and an ability to engage beyond the tired critiques of right-wing Christianity, Hendricks imagines a version of Christianity that is politically committed to social justice. Whether it is through his experience growing up in the Black church, his commitment to the revolutionary nature of Jesus’ teachings, or his insistence that leftist politics and Christianity can inform one another, Hendricks demonstrates the beauty of the Christian faith.
What ‘The X-Files’ Taught Me About Belief
I began to watch the show due to my love of sci-fi but the reason I finished all 218 episodes and remained faithful even throughout the 2016 reboot is because of Dana Scully. There’s not a more complex TV character than Scully: She is a medical doctor who knows karate and although she openly antagonizes her partner, Mulder, for placing stock in supernatural explanations instead of logical ones, she openly identifies as Catholic. Scully’s complexity gets to the heart of what the show is all about: the desire to believe.
Consider the Weeble: What Our Editors Are Reading
It’s certainly ironic, but as much as the news can get me down it can also lift me up. Yes, legislators are attempting to censor books that teach about racial (in)justice and human sexuality — Weeble down. But these lawmakers’ attempts to censor theories are only resulting in increased interest and open-mindedness among their constituents — Weeble up!
Have a Mary, Mary Christmas: What Our Editors Are Reading
During this Advent season, Sojourners has featured a heavy dose of Mary-oriented stories. As a Protestant, I was taught, similar to Amar Peterman, that we should “be wary of those who spoke of Mary ‘too much.’” But what’s so scary about Mary? Some evangelical Protestants say the reason we should be leery of revering Mary is because if we honor her too much, our faith becomes a cult.
Coltrane and Other Misbehaving Saints: What Our Editors Are Reading
Did you know jazz musician John Coltrane was canonized by the African Orthodox Church in 1982? Coltrane was canonized at the behest of a religious community in San Francisco which founded a church in his name, and St. John Coltrane Church is still alive and well today.
A Life of Their Own: What Our Editors Are Reading
Have you ever noticed how certain things seem to have a life of their own? Let me explain: From time to time, a piece of art, a song, a book, or even a face unexpectedly receives universal approval and then there seems to be no end to how it can be referenced, advertised, TikToked, or memed.
Monster or Human? It's a Fine Line: What Our Editors Are Reading
I’ve never been a fan of Halloween. I’ve always been more of an All Saints’ Day kinda guy. Just joking; truth is I try to resist the impulse to constantly make distinctions between “the world” and “the church.” The lines between sacred and profane, monster and human, are not easily distinguishable.
Danté Stewart Is Rekindling Black Theological Imagination
Danté Stewart is a product of two of the most powerful traditions in the United States: the Black Christian tradition and the Black literary tradition. In his new book, Shoutin’ in the Fire: An American Epistle, Stewart traces how these traditions have touched his life and why he believes they can heal the Christian church and the United States.
Valarie Kaur Wants the U.S. to Recognize the Second Ground Zero
On Sept. 15, 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man, was killed while he was planting flowers at the gas station he owned in Mesa, Ariz., becoming the first victim of post-9/11 hate crimes. For then-college student Valarie Kaur, the murder of “Balbir Uncle”— as he is known to Kaur and others in the Sikh community — was a pivotal moment.
Silently Singing Amid the Noise: What Our Editors Are Reading
The only solution to this noisy world is good noise from people who are attuned to the world’s hurt.