Cindy Brandt 07-22-2014
Photo courtesy of Unvirtuous Abbey

Photo courtesy of Unvirtuous Abbey

Faith: dealing with the meaning of life, the matter of eternal salvation — the bedrock upon which we build our families and society. This is serious stuff. Irreverence, by definition, is a lack of respect for that which is serious. It would seem that finding faith in the irreverent is impossible, like searching for the sun in the dark of the night. 

Irreverence permeates pop culture. From HBO shows filled with crude nudity and violence, to musicals such as The Book of Mormon (where explicit ratings are applied to almost every song), to late night comedies featuring popular hosts like Jon Stewart and Colbert, who play-act a persona speaking exclusively in snark.

The Church, by and large, keeps irreverence at arm’s length. Sure, some pastors like to open sermons with a couple of clean jokes, but that’s about the extent to which humor interacts with the Faithful. While I agree there’s a social maturity required in expressing irreverence through appropriate channels, the Church is missing out on a deep authenticity of the human experience if we continue to fear irreverence instead of finding beauty in it. 

Emily A. Dause is a public school teacher and a freelance writer. She writes in the tensions between despair and hope, doubt and faith, and isolation and relationship–with as much grace and audacity as she can muster. She contributes to Evangelicals for Social Action, Converge Magazine and Sojourners, among others. You can connect with her on facebook ( or twitter (@EmilyADause). She blogs regularly at her website,
Jim Wallis "In my life, I’ve gained the most wisdom from being in places where I wasn’t supposed to be and being with people I was never supposed to be with. Meeting and befriending people who Jesus would probably call “the least of these” has changed my life over and over again. I’ve learned more from so-called “outsiders” than I ever did from the insiders."
Excerpted from Jim Wallis, The Uncommon Good (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2014). Used by permission.
I think we all know that the issues we’re facing cannot be solved by Gamaliel alone. They cannot be solved by Catholic Charities alone. If they could have been solved by one institution—Sojourners, the National Council of La Raza, the NAACP—they would’ve been solved.
In a recent article for TIME, Jim Wallis asks: Whatever Happened to the Common Good? Wallis notes: The common good has origins in the beginnings of Christianity. An early church father, John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), once wrote: “This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good . . . for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors.
As Christian Piatt, a feature writer for Sojourners, points out, “Jesus is always throwing us curveballs.” He writes that our behavior reminds him of an old saying. “God created us in God’s image, and ever since then, we’ve gone to great lengths to return that favor.”
CHURCHPEOPLE have been urged by the General Synod to challenge political parties to "promote the common good" in the next General Election. The Church is also being encouraged to develop further its own efforts in this area.
“Jesus did not come just to save our souls,” wrote New York Times best-selling author Jim Wallis in his new book, “On God’s Side.” “Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom is much more than the ‘atonement-only gospel,’ a message that was mostly about how I could get to heaven and not about a new order that had come to change the world and me with it,” says Wallis.
Sara Johnson 07-16-2014
Brandon Hook/Sojourners

The Summit participants gather for the opening session. Brandon Hook/Sojourners

Editor’s Note: We at Sojourners thought it would be nice to share first-hand reflections on our inaugural annual conference, The Summit: World Change Through Faith & Justice, from participants. Our first post comes from Sara Johnson, who hails from Ennis, Mont. and is the founder of the Million Girl Army, a brand new non-profit launching this year focused on engaging middle school girls in the U.S. on gender justice advocacy. Sara is an emerging leader who was able to attend The Summit because of a sponsorship from one of our Change Maker donors. The donor covered all of Sara’s costs, from registration to travel and had a tremendous impact on Sara’s work, as she shares below. 

Although nervous to be a founder of a non-profit that hasn’t officially launched yet attending a conference with heavy hitters in the non-profit world, within seconds of walking into the initial Summit gathering I was glad I came.

Tom Ehrich 07-15-2014
iluistrator and Visual Idiot/

iluistrator and Visual Idiot/

If Christians stopped bickering about church, presenting sex as a first-order concern, telling other people how to lead their lives, and lending our name to minor-league politicians, what would we have to say?

We need to figure that out, because we are wearing out our welcome as tax-avoiding, sex-obsessed moral scolds and amateur politicians.

In fact, I think we are getting tired of ourselves. Who wants to devote life and loyalty to a religion that debates trifles and bullies the outsider?

So what would we say and do? No one thing, of course, because we are an extraordinarily diverse assembly of believers. But I think there are a few common words we would say.

Lisa Sharon Harper 07-14-2014
Irish countryside, Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH /

Irish countryside, Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH /

“If, as Christians, we believe that peace is rooted in Christ, then how we build that peace within us, in one way, is through the disciplines of solitude and silence; through spending time with God. Solitude is not necessarily extremely easy process, because it will bring to the fore all sorts of things that are within us. We will get to know ourselves in a fuller way. In solitude, where you know that God is with you, you can just be with God, and there is no need for a mask. Also, your humility might grow because you will see yourself as you really are — in a way that needs to be healed and transformed.”

Julie Polter 07-10-2014

The Disposable Project by Raul Guerrero / Jesus Was a Migrant by Deirdre Cornell / The New Black by Yoruba Richen / How to Be a Christian Without Going to Church by Kelly Bean

Lisa Sharon Harper 07-09-2014

Do you have faith the size of a mustard seed? That's all we need.

Andrew Wilkes 07-09-2014

Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World. IVP Books.

RNS photo courtesy Joshua Zajdman, Random House

Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived from 1906 to 1945. RNS photo courtesy Joshua Zajdman, Random House

A new biography is raising questions about the life and relationships of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an anti-Nazi dissident whose theological writings remain widely influential among Christians.

Both left-leaning and right-leaning Christians herald the life and writings of Bonhoeffer, who was hanged for his involvement in the unsuccessful plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Bonhoeffer was engaged to a woman at the time of his execution, observing that he had lived a full life even though he would die a virgin.

The new biography, Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from University of Virginia religious studies professor Charles Marsh, implies that Bonhoeffer may have had a same-sex attraction to his student, friend and later biographer Eberhard Bethge.

“There will be blood among American evangelicals over Mr. Marsh’s claim,” Christian Wiman, who teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, wrote in a review for The Wall Street Journal. But there’s been no bloodbath yet, at least considering a few initial reviews.

The good news is that this is a fictional scenario. Most pastors these days are at least a bit wiser both theologically and practically in how they deal with someone facing domestic violence. That’s one result from a groundbreaking survey released last week by Sojourners, a national Christian social justice organization.
On a brighter side, 80% of faith leaders state that they would take the right steps in trying to reduce the violence if they were given the right training and resources to properly serve their congregations. “This is a conversation the church needs to be having but isn’t,” said Jim Wallis, president and founder of faith and social justice advocacy group Sojourners. “We cannot remain silent when our sisters and brothers live under the threat of violence in their homes and communities.”
Those are among the findings of a new telephone survey of 1,000 senior pastors of Protestant churches from LifeWay Research. The survey was co-sponsored by two Christian nonprofits: Washington, D.C.-based Sojourners and Maryland-based IMA World Health.
The research co-sponsored by the seat of Sojourners, a national Christian organization in Washington, DC, points out that 29% of pastors do not address the issue, believe that domestic violence is not a problem concerning the church.