The Other Journal welcomes the submission of critical essays, reviews, creative writing, and visual or performance art that encounter life through the lens of theology and culture; we seek pieces that consider the interaction of faith with contemporary life, art, politics, sexuality, technology, economics, and social justice. We are particularly interested in works which present creative, alternative views that may otherwise fall outside the margins of mainstream narratives. And although we primarily focus on perspectives within the Christian tradition, we invite dialogue with all who are interested in exploring the ongoing role of faith and spirituality in the world.
If you are interested in contributing, please check out our issue-specific themes below and browse our archives for a better sense of the content that we accept. And when you’re ready to submit, click the button below.
Call for Papers
Issue 37: Church
Closing Date: November 30, 2023
It is no secret that church attendance and membership is declining in America. According to Gallup’s data, church membership—broadly defined—has dropped by 30% over the course of the last thirty years. The religious landscape is a fractured, pluralistic space, and American churches are no exception. Mainline churches (Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian) have no idea what to make of their evangelical counterparts, and Evangelicals continue defining themselves over-against what they see occurring in both mainline denominations and society more broadly. And the future of the church seems to be in the global south which is witnessing unprecedented growth and presenting new theological challenges to the northern hemisphere. Churches of all stripes continue reckoning with abuse crises and scandals of astounding scales, and we have yet to see how deep the wormhole goes.
And while that is all definitely true, those showing up in churches across America on a weekly basis also believe there is something more to the narrative (though certainly nothing less). But that something “more” is itself contested. What exactly do we mean when we say “Church?” And how do we discern what it means to be the church that brings good news to the world in this particular moment in history?
According to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the Episcopal Church uses the term to refer to that group of people that has been fully initiated into the Church in and through baptism. Similarly, the Dominican Herbert McCabe argues that the church is the community—in and through its use of the sacraments—that foreshadows the life we have been called to in Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued that the redeemed people of God are capable, by way of grace, of existing for others. And in that mode of sociality, the church takes on the form of Christ, who exists in the world as such community. Sallie McFague, on the other hand, thinks the church has the potential to function as a sign of the new creation. Operating out of solidarity with the oppressed, the church should work to bring about this new reality. Relatedly, when defining the church as the community participating in Jesus’s liberating work, James Cone articulates the function of the church under the black Christ in a three-fold manner: (1) proclaim the reality of divine liberation, (2) share in the liberating struggle, and (3) manifest the reality of liberation.
In the next issue of The Other Journal, we seek theologically-infused contributions on these themes of church. The following are some—but certainly not all—of the questions authors might wish to consider: What is the church? How can it be identified in the world? What are the most important and pressing roles and tasks of the church? What are we to make of the church’s harms, failures, and abuses? What is the role of the church in society today, and how ought we think of the broader church’s declining numbers? What in our ecclesiologies needs to be rethought and reimagined to facilitate flourishing in this next chapter of its existence? What are the relations between the church as an institution with administrative responsibilities and the community of believers? In what ways is Christ present—or not—in and as the church by way of the Spirit’s working? How ought we think about the work and responsibilities of the church in a pluralistic society? What holds together the various strands of Christian expression across diverse religious communities? How should we understand the difference between political participation and the church? Why are certain parts of the church—namely Evangelical megachurches—witnessing the most growth while other churches are seeing rapid decline in attendance?
We seek essays, creative writing, art, and reviews that uniquely engage this complex conversation. As always, we are particularly interested in contributions that tackle these themes with verve and slant, contributions that open our ears to the peacefully contrarian Christ by way of their distinctive style, ideas, and progressive consideration of the other.
Details for Authors:
- Essays should aim to be 2,000–4,000 words in length. Maximum length is 5,000 words.
- The Other Journal uses the Chicago Manual of Style.
 Herbert McCabe, The New Creation, xii.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio.
 Sallie McFague, V., 206.
 James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation 138–9.