Online Editorial Assistant

Zachary Lee (he/him) is from Chicago’s North Side (he feels the need to clarify he’s actually from the city). In 2020, he graduated from Cornell University where he studied English, specifically focusing on creative writing and science fiction, and minored in Spanish. His senior thesis focused on how Asian American science fiction is inherently a genre of reconciliation, one where authors can prototype better worlds that are not solely rooted or constrained by present hardships.

An avid writer, Zachary served as editor-in-chief, editor, and writer for Claritas, Cornell’s journal of Christian thought, and contributed to his school’s newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun. While he studied abroad at Oxford, he co-founded Through a Glass Darkly, Oxford's very first student journal in Christian thought and art. He loves to write about the intersection of faith and media, slyly finding ways to use writing projects as an excuse to stay up to date on pop culture by writing for sites like Think Christian. For two years after graduation, Zachary served as the content and communications fellow at Chesterton House, a Christian study center which, like the Sojourners Fellowship Program, had an emphasis on intentional residential Christian community.

Zachary credits his participation in Rooted & Radical Youth Poetry Festival (he knew it then as Louder than a Bomb), Chicago’s annual slam poetry festival, as first sparking his interest in justice work, specifically the way authors use writing to imagine better worlds while decrying present injustices. He’s excited to continue to press further into the way words can be tools for justice as online editorial assistant at Sojourners.

With his spare time, Zachary happily evangelizes about and logs films on Letterboxd, collects and poses action figures, and often writes down the funny and/or profound quotations the people around him say (that they’ve probably forgotten about). While hope characterizes much of his writing and vocational interests, the one place where he’s given up hope is catching up on his ever-expanding book list (he’s currently on book nine of 92+). That doesn’t mean he won’t try, though.

Posts By This Author

8 Christian Women Shaping the Church in 2023

by Zachary Lee 03-09-2023

For the past seven years, Sojourners has celebrated Women’s History Month by highlighting women whose work who has inspired us with their visions for a more just world — and church. The women in this year’s list include authors and reporters; activists and advocates; professors and pastors, but they’re all united by their commitment to tell radical, inclusive stories and their belief that shaping the church and world starts in one’s own community.

How Three Recent Films Inadvertently Point Us to Jesus' Table

by Zachary Lee 12-27-2022
These movies ‘shish-kebab’ the rich — and whet our appetites for a more inclusive and righteous banquet.
A woman is pictured holding up a fork full of noodles to her smiling mouth while posing for a photo

From 'Triangle of Sadness'

IT WOULD HAVE been tough to be both a disciple of Jesus and a foodie. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus certainly valued food — his earthly ministry was filled with meals: The gospel of Matthew describes Jesus as one who “came eating and drinking” (11:19). As Robert J. Karris wrote in Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was “either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.” But what the Chosen One had in meal frequency, he lacked in meal diversity.

A “foodie” is someone who eats food as a hobby — a passion, even. The more exotic the better. If you pull up to your local boba shop, why settle for regular milk tea when you can order one infused with butterfly pea flower that turns it bright blue?

However, for Jesus’ meals, at least the ones recorded in scripture, the fish is served broiled (Luke 24:42), not creatively deconstructed. And if you’re rolling with Jesus, you better like eating bread.

Though his plate may have lacked the splendor of the centurions’ or high priests’ spreads, Jesus viewed the table as a radical place of inclusion. For many powerful religious leaders of the time, dining was yet another way to shun the outcasts. In contrast, Jesus intentionally invited those very same “unclean” people to dine with him, breaking bread (because of course it was bread) with tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes.

In the past year, several films have articulated a hunger for the type of table Jesus championed. Flux Gourmet, Triangle of Sadness, and The Menu critique class inequality through stories revolving around fine dining. In each movie, wealthy people have rich flavors but a dearth of meaningful relationships. The exclusivity of the table seems more important than the actual food served on the plates. Jesus’ table, on the other hand, lacked variety but overflowed in inclusivity — a true palate cleanser to meals that symbolized selfish consumption.

Sojourners’ 2022 Film and TV Roundup to Inspire Faith and Justice

by Zachary Lee 12-09-2022
Images of TV and movie posters are tiled against a green background.

The list below reflects my own preference for films and shows that help me leverage my own viewership to sustain a lifestyle of equity and inclusion. I’ve included 10 films and shows that gave the spotlight to communities, issues, and stories that we usually don’t see — and how richer the world is because of them.

10 Films To Experience the Holy Disruption of Horror

by Zachary Lee 10-18-2022
A back-lit woman stands at the top of basement stairs, looking down.

In Barbarian, Tess (Georgina Campbell) finds that a house she rents has been accidentally double-booked by someone else. (20th Century Films).

I’ve watched the recent horror films below with one (sometimes both) eye(s) closed, but also with a posture of curiosity and hope: What might my disturbed feelings reveal? May watching these films lead to, as author Brandon Grafius writes, “an openness to what the experience of horror might be able to teach us.”

Why Watching ‘Elvis’ Made Me Think of Megachurch Pastors

by Zachary Lee 07-07-2022

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in 'Elvis.' Warner Bros. Pictures

Above all else, Luhrmann displays Elvis as a man-turned-god who was exhausted trying to make peace with his paradoxes.

In ‘Fear,’ the Hosts — Not the Refugees — Are the Real Threat

by Zachary Lee 03-30-2022

Svetlana Yancheva and Michael Fleming in 'Fear'

The Bulgarian town where director Ivaylo Hristov’s latest film takes place is never named, but the movie’s title offers a suitable stand-in: Fear. This coastal village on Turkey’s border reeks of terror, but not the kind one might expect.

The Truth Will Set You Free. Are We Ready for That?

by Zachary Lee 03-01-2022
'The Green Knight' puts a magnifying glass to our natural responses to truth, while 'The Power of the Dog' articulates our tendencies to flee from the truths that will expose us.
A robed figure stairs through a bright opening in the trees of a dark forest

From The Green Knight

WHEN I FIRST read Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “truth” early last year, I did a double take to make sure it wasn’t written in 2021. The 1987 poem personifies its titular subject as a living being that can knock its “firm knuckles / Hard on the door,” whose arrival brings an equal mix of anticipation and apprehension. Brooks describes multiple responses one can have to the arrival of truth. For those who have made peace with lies, the truth can be threatening: “Shall we not dread him, / Shall we not fear him / After so lengthy a / Session with shade?” Even for those who have longed for truth’s arrival, blissful or willful ignorance seems to be a better alternative than the terror of having to engage truth head on: “Shall we not shudder?— / Shall we not flee / Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter / Of the familiar / Propitious haze?” Regardless, Brooks makes one thing clear: The question is not a matter of if truth will come, but when. The most important question of our lives then becomes, how are we to greet it?

In the poem, Brooks doesn’t name the truth that haunts her—although since she first published it in 1949, as the stage for the civil rights movement was being set, one possibility might be the systemic mistreatment of Black people and white people’s willful obliviousness to it. I found the poem to be a peculiar comfort in this time as we try to adjust to an ever-shifting landscape of new realities and reckon with truths about ourselves we might otherwise prefer remain hidden.

Similarly, several films offer insight into how people receive truth’s advent.