Culture Watch

I’m inspired and troubled by the stories I have heard.
In the blue light of evening all boundaries get blurred.
And I believe in something better, and that love’s the final word,
And that there’s still something whole and sacred in the world.
               —“Help in Hard Times,” by Carrie Newcomer

CARRIE NEWCOMER IS a Quaker singer-songwriter whose music is inspired by hope and the great human potential for peaceful coexistence. The Beautiful Not Yet is the title of both her newest album (Available Light Records) and an accompanying book of poems, essays, and lyrics. She is also working on a spoken word and music collaboration with Parker J. Palmer (author of Let Your Life Speak and Healing the Heart of Democracy) called “What We Need Is Here: Hope, Hard Times, and Human Possibility,” which is scheduled to premiere in spring 2017.

Newcomer lives in southern Indiana when she’s not traveling the world singing her folk and gospel-infused tunes and engaging social and environmental justice issues.

She was interviewed for Sojourners by John Malkin, a musician, journalist, and radio host in Santa Cruz, Calif., whose books include Sounds of Freedom: Musicians on Spirituality and Social Change and The Only Alternative: Christian Nonviolent Peacemakers in America.

John Malkin: When did you start making music?

Carrie Newcomer: I picked up a guitar when I was in my early teens and learned my first three chords and started writing songs. I’ve always loved the combination of language and music.

In the liner notes of The Beautiful Not Yet, you mention that many of these songs were written on trains and planes. How has travel been a part of your life and music?

Abby Olcese 07-09-2015
Screenshot via 'Moonrise Kingdom' trailer/YouTube

Screenshot via 'Moonrise Kingdom' trailer/YouTube

Actor and writer Dylan Marron is the creator of Every Single Word, a popular tumblr and video series dedicated to exposing the lack of racial diversity in mainstream Hollywood films.

For the series, Marron, a biracial native of Venezuela best known for his work on the cult-favorite podcast Welcome to Night Vale, chooses a well-known, recent film and edits it down to only the lines spoken by people of color. The results are damning. None of the videos in Marron’s series last over a minute. Some, like Noahand Into the Woods, which feature no actors of color at all, simply cut directly to black.

Marron spoke with Sojourners about the origins of the project, the long-term effects of poor diversity representation onscreen, and systemic struggles facing people of color in the entertainment industry.

Jeannie Choi 05-11-2010
Sojourners magazine was recently recognized as the best general interest magazine by two leading religious press organizations for the second str
Matt Hildreth 12-02-2008

As we reflect on the history, meaning, and mythologies surrounding the season of Thanksgiving, indigenous theologians Richard Twiss, Raymond Aldred, and Terry LeBlanc offer their perspectives on the interaction between Christian faith and Native American identity, and how religions, culture, and the Gospel interact.

Mimi Haddad 11-19-2008
Do you often find comfort and insight, even direction for your life, through a careful study of scripture? Do you believe that God's truth is found in the pages of the Bible?
Nadia Bolz-Weber 10-03-2008

[Continued from part 1] I began to wonder what the TBN folks would think of me, a heavily tattooed Christian progressive from a liturgical denomination. How would people in their theological camp respond to my preaching? Would they think, as I do of them, that I misuse scripture?

Nadia Bolz-Weber 10-02-2008

To say that Christian television is "not my thing" doesn't even get close.

Gareth Higgins 09-23-2008

The number one film at the U.S. box office this past weekend was Lakeview Terrace, Neil La Bute's somewhat thoughtful thriller in which an LAPD officer harasses his new neighbors; the cop is black, the neighbors are an inter-racial couple. If the ethnic identities were switched, the film might never have been made; and if it had, it would have been a far less interesting film -

Becky Garrison 08-28-2008

On Sept. 4, I'm going to Philadelphia to attend the premiere of The Ordinary Radicals, a documentary directed and produced by Jamie Moffett, co-founder of The Simple Way. The trailer gives a sense of this project.

While I can't speak for the others who were interviewed for this film, I felt my role was to serve as a cheerleader [...]

Phyllis Tickle 08-10-2008

Summer Sundays with Phyllis Tickle

BeerOne of the great recent joys of my life has been a thing called "Beer and Bible," which happens every other Tuesday night at a small neighborhood pub in Memphis called, appropriately enough, Kudzu's. Kudzu, our bar's namesake, is the South's most [...]

Duane Shank 08-04-2008

Jarrod McKenna's post on the 1968 Olympics witness/protest brought back memories of that event, and the impression it made on me. And there is a sequel to the story.

On October 3, 2006,

Duane Shank 08-04-2008

Jarrod McKenna's post on the 1968 Olympics witness/protest brought back memories of that event, and the impression it made on me. And there is a sequel to the story.

On October 3, 2006,

Jarrod McKenna 08-01-2008

"God Is Love," inscribed on the tracksuit of the athlete who would become the second-fastest man alive, is what first caught the attention of Australian Olympic official Ray Weinberg in the early '60s.

Administrator 07-23-2008

[... continued from part one]

Rene MarieAnd that is my back door into discussing the recent exploits of Rene Marie, an artist based in Denver, Colorado. (I wanted you to understand my presuppositions and how I define my terms.) Rene Marie was [...]

Administrator 07-22-2008

I've been on a real art binge of late. Reading, watching, listening to, experiencing, and creating as much as I can. Good art isn't just creative, it's generative -- that is, it inspires creative acts in others. It gives us hands to shape the world in new and living ways. And I've been thinking a lot about how much this world we share needs more of it.

Like any other act of love, I believe art is fundamentally contributive, not transactional. It's not an if-you-do-this-I'll-do-that [...]

Tony Jones 07-10-2008

Tony Jones Great GrandfatherThis summer, two friends and I are doing something that seems a bit outlandish (especially for 40-year-old guys). We've borrowed a friend's RV, and we're touring the country to talk about our books. Doug Pagitt (A Christianity Worth Believing), Mark Scandrette (

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