Managing Editor

Julie has been a member of the Sojourners magazine editorial staff since 1990. For the last several years she has edited the award-winning Culture Watch section of the magazine. In her time at Sojourners she has written about a wide variety of political and cultural topics, from the abortion debate to the working class blues. She has coordinated in-depth coverage of Flannery O’Connor, campaign finance reform, Howard Thurman, the labor movement, and much more.

She studied English literature at Ohio State University and has an M.T.S. (focused on language and narrative theology) from Boston University and an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from George Mason University.

Julie grew up on a farm in the northwest corner of Ohio. She has been fascinated by the power of religious expression in and through culture since she can remember. Obsessively listening to her older sister’s copy of the Jesus Christ Superstar cast recording when she was 10 was an especially crystallizing experience. In addition, Julie’s mother often argued about doctrine and the Bible and took her at least weekly to the public library, both of which were useful background for Julie’s current work.

She lives in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and is a member of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (where she had an unlikely four-year reign as rummage sale czarina). Her personal interests overlap nicely with her professional ones: Music, books, reading entertainment, culture, and religion writing, art, architecture, TV, films, and knowing more celebrity gossip than is probably wise or healthy. To make up for all that screen time, she tries to grow things, hike occasionally, and wonder often at the night sky.

Some Sojourners articles by Julie Polter:

Replacing Songs with Silence
Censorship, banning, blacklists: What’s lost when governments stifle musical expression?

It’s the Sprawl, Y’all
Why suburbs-on-steroids are wearing out their welcome. 

Extreme Community
A glimpse of grace and abundance from - of all things - reality TV.

The Politics of Fear

The Cold Reaches of Heaven
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Bill Phillips talks about his faith.

Just Stop It
Daring to believe in a life without logos. An interview with journalist Naomi Klein.

Called to Stand with Workers

Women and Children First
Developing a common agenda to make abortion rare.

Obliged to See God (on Flannery O’Connor)

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Posts By This Author

Extreme Community

by Julie Polter 01-01-2005
A glimpse of grace and abundance from - of all things - reality TV.

The Power of the Word

by Julie Polter 12-01-2004
Reading passionately isn't about escaping reality, but about plunging further into it.

The Politics of Fear

by Julie Polter 10-01-2004
Especially in a contentious election year,

Especially in a contentious election year, I find it difficult not to be skeptical when the Department of Homeland Security issues terror alerts. When the alert level was raised just after the Democratic Convention, for example, the specific details

End-of-Life Ethics

by Julie Polter 08-01-2004
What is 'artificial means' and what is nonnegotiable humane care?

A Companion to the Spiritual Life

by Julie Polter 11-01-2003

Flannery O'Connor was a master short-story writer, dark humorist, and astute cultural observer.

Lament, Dissent, and Dancing

by Julie Polter 05-01-2003
The movement needs a good mix tape.

The Shipping News

by Julie Polter 03-01-2003
Where oh where can we put the homeless?

The Cold Reaches of Heaven

by Julie Polter 01-01-2003

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Bill Phillips talks about his faith

Martha Stewartship

by Julie Polter 05-01-2002
How to tell the difference between the good and a Good Thing OR What I learned from a domestic dominatrix.

A Few of My Favorite Things

by Julie Polter 03-01-2002

A few blocks away, a sidewalk mailbox is covered with a magic-marker tribute to a young man downed in a shooting—"RIP Boo"

A New Old Glory?

by Julie Polter 01-01-2002
Does it stand for nationalistic militarism or grief-humbled unity?

Just Stop It

by Julie Polter, by Naomi Klein 03-01-2001

Daring to believe in a life without logos.

That Sucking Sound

by Julie Polter 03-01-2001
You can't go home again—there aren't any jobs there anymore.

Doers Profile: Roger Rath

by Julie Polter 01-01-2001

NAME: Roger Rath

It's a Wrap

by Julie Polter 01-01-2001

You think ads are everywhere? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Catalog Jesus

by Julie Polter 11-01-2000

I confess: I was a catalog girl who grew up to be a catalog woman.

Living a Good Death

by Julie Polter 09-01-2000

Bill Moyers on dying in America.

A Revelation in Black and White

by Julie Polter 07-01-2000

Artist Barry Moser's new illustrated Bible shows that the people of scripture---and books themselves---are very much alive.

Clowns and Poets and Artists -- Oh, My!

by Julie Polter 07-01-2000
Saying no to the Disneyfication of America.

We all have to die. But does it have to cost so much!?

by Julie Polter 05-01-2000
What can churches do about funeral industry rip-offs?

Cheryl Grossman and her husband used to laugh together about all the "rigmarole" that most funeral services involved. So when he died suddenly in October 1997, Cheryl knew that he would want the arrangements to be simple. Grossman, with a friend to support her, went to a funeral home to arrange a direct cremation. The funeral director kept "upselling"—pressing her to consider more expensive alternatives.

"Had I not had a friend who went with me, and had I not had a firm resolve, I probably would have signed anything," she says. "To be manipulated in that way at that time was one of the most obscene things I’d ever experienced."

Cheryl Grossman’s funeral home encounter is a common one. Not so common is how she took her experience to church—and how her church embraced it. Cheryl’s Catholic parish, St. Catherine of Siena in Austin, Texas, has offered a diverse array of practical and pastoral supports to the grieving for some time. Last year Grossman and two other parishioners helped create a death and funeral resource booklet that gathers information on all applicable parish ministries and other area resources in a convenient portable form. It includes specific information on affordable funeral options, planning sheets, and step-by-step advice for those dealing with a death in the family (see "Reclaiming Our Rites," p. 33).

Such a booklet is a simple, straightforward thing, but not every church would know how to welcome it. Most American Christians, including clergy, are almost as comfortable talking about the practical, concrete details of funerals as they are talking about the practical, concrete details of sex. In other words, the topic doesn’t come up much. And unlike sex, funeral planning isn’t a hot topic outside of church either.