Michelle Shocked—musician and activist extraordinaire—was in Washington, D.C., this winter to take part in Sojourners' roundtable on faith, art, and social activism and to participate in a CodePink peace rally on International Women's Day. She spent a day with fellow believers, musing about how faith, activism, and art can work toward the renewal of this world. She spent the next day putting her art, activism, and faith to work—a practice to which she is no stranger—in Malcolm X Park with thousands of other activists, yearning and speaking for peace and justice.
After the rally, Shocked—a tallish woman with straight, shoulder-length brown hair—walked into the lobby of her hotel dressed all in black, wearing a bright pink "Women for Peace" button attached to her T-shirt. Shocked carried what looked like an American flag under her right arm. In fact, it was the flag she wore as a burka during her performance at the rally. She settled at a table in the hotel's pub, taking the sunward side for the photographer's sake. A reporter set out to discover how the different aspects of Shocked's life—professional, spiritual, and political—build off of and nourish one another. Do her political beliefs feed her spiritual journey? Does her faith nourish her activism?
"I can go anywhere in the world and speak from what's in my head," she said, cutting a line just under her chin with her hands and then motioning upwards. "There are very few places where I can speak my heart and be heard."
Her hands floated in front of her chest. Shocked is clearly more interested in sharing her experience—how Jesus has changed her life—than in waxing philosophical about anything. And, judging from what she has to say—as well as last fall's gospel-infused double album, Deep Natural/Dub Natural—Shocked's life has changed profoundly.