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