Christian Magazine… for Doubters April 28, 2008

Christian Magazine… for Doubters

I’m not sure how many readers would submit an article to this magazine, but unlike other Christian publications, it’s willing to be honest about faith and God — in the sense that they’ll publish stories about doubt and struggles with Christianity.

You don’t see very much of that in other Christian magazines unless it comes with a happy ending (i.e. The person gets “saved” at the end).

That doesn’t have to happen here.

What type of submissions will Relief accept?

In terms of scope, the door is wide open, but still has some boundary. A decent yardstick is the Bible. Not the churchized version, but the real, gritty scripture: Noah drank too much; Moses committed murder; David committed adultery, then tried to put his life back together; David’s daughter was horribly raped; poets expressed real doubt and exhilarating praise in the Psalms; Solomon spoke beautifully and unapologetically about sex; Jesus made fun of religious leaders, faced betrayal by a friend but still spoke highly of friendship, stared death down; Paul and Peter argued about race…

Christian authors need not only write expressly about God, faith, and church. When Christ says “I send you out as a sheep among wolves,” he doesn’t say that we should shut our eyes and pretend they do not exist. Relief is not opposed to stories about Christ or faith, and it is also not opposed to stories about raw, gritty, beautiful life. We are looking for pieces that push the envelope; however, work that is gratuitously obscene or that has a message in clear contradiction with scripture will not be considered.

Don’t get too thrown off by that last line.

One atheist has already been published:

… Chet, and his lovely wife Heather, who is also an editor for the magazine, convinced us to at least submit. They told us that they were not that kind of Christian magazine. That they were a Christian magazine that was interested in doubt and blasphemy and loss of faith. I looked them square in the eyes and said, but are you interested in publishing atheists? Absolutely, they both agreed.

I have to applaud Chet and Heather and the other people working on Relief. They are not like me: they are believers, and their belief is not something simple they keep in their pockets and pull out on Sundays — it’s essential to their lives. And while I do not believe in that, I respect that. But even more, I respect the artistic, intellectual, and spiritual openness with with they are running their magazine. I think it is very easy to fall into a closed system, dig the echoes in the chamber, and snuggle up in the warmth of that smugness. There are a lot of Christians in this world who give Christians a bad name — who are making “Christian” the “new C word.” But Chet and Heather and the people of Relief are not among them.

It might be of interest to a few of you with Christian backgrounds 🙂

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Aaron

    Reminds me of Geez Magazine here in Canada (disclaimer: I work for them). The motto is “experiment with truth”. I’d really recommend checking it out.

    I’ve never spammed about Geez before in a blog comment, I’m only writing this because it seems relevant 🙂

  • Thanks for the recommendation Hemant. I’m glad to have heard about them.

  • I’d be a happier person if more churches, magazines, and religions operated this way. Seems this publication is more open minded than some of the congregations I’m used to.

    They seem to be open to new ideas without betraying their core beliefs. BRAVO!

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Amy

    I’m honored to be linked by the friendly atheist, one of my favorite blogs!

    It is a strange feeling, knowing oneself as an atheist yet being published in a Christian magazine, but if it is possible to be Christian without being closed-minded and dogmatic, the people at Relief are pulling it off. No one becomes atheist without first struggling with these “questions of faith” — which is no doubt why most atheists tend to know more scripture than most theists — and if you’re an artist or a writer, you tend to write what you know. So it seems to me that atheists have a lot to say about religion… I was just surprised that religious people would be interested in hearing it. And that’s what made me conclude I was drawing religious people with too broad and clumsy a brush. If nothing else, they opened my eyes to that — and taught me that I was being a little closed-minded too.

    (Not that I’m not still aware that the world is full of people who would just as soon burn me at the stake as look at me…) 🙂

  • Mormons have the same sort of magazine, called sunstone.

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