Call for Pitches: Geez 63 Jubilee

Credit: Geez staff

Deadline for pitches: August 12, 2021

“Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you.” – Leviticus 25:10

Does a small fringe-y Christian print magazine have the authority to declare a Jubilee year? This biblical tradition occurred every 49 years, declaring all debts be forgiven, slaves and prisoners freed, and land laid to rest. First laid out in the book of Leviticus (and later referenced in the New Testament), Jubilee was the “Year of Release” that signaled the end of seven cycles of Sabbath years. Quaker minister Kristina Keefe-Perry called it a “cosmic reset button” – and we sure feel like we’re a couple thousand years overdue. In this moment of massive debt overload, mass incarceration, and rampant land destruction, we ask: What would this practice look like today?

Questions for Pondering

- If everyone in your family/community had their debts forgiven, what would change in your lives? How would you spend your time or money? What would be possible?

- Ched Myers writes that Jubilee was “the concrete practice of restoring to the poor what is theirs by rights of community justice.” Where is this restoration happening today? Have you been a part of a radical effort for loan forgiveness or wealth redistribution?

- Every 49 years was really only once a generation. Is that often enough? How is debt (or wealth) passed on intergenerationally?

- What are other religious/spiritual/cultural traditions that hold practices similar to Jubilee?

- How could the idea of Jubilee be applied to movements for prison abolition? What would it look like to take seriously the call to release all captives?

- Organizations like The Nap Ministry are calling for rest as a form of resistance, naming sleep deprivation as a racial and social justice issue. Who is allowed rest in this society? How does rest (or lack of it) change our ability to show up in our lives and communities?

- Have you ever been given the opportunity to rest for a few weeks, months, or even a full year? What did you learn from the experience? What was challenging about it?

- Since the pandemic began, what lessons did we learn from forced shut down and different life rhythms? How could we have experienced that time differently if we visioned it as a year of jubilee? Could there have been better rest, alternative education models for kids, more joy?

- Are you a farmer? Have you ever let your land lay fallow for a year? What were the effects of that time, for you and your land?

- The original Jubilee text writes about land being returned to its original owners. How do you interpret concepts of land “ownership?” Does it serve to reinforce capitalist notions of private property, or can it be liberatory? How could the Jubilee tradition relate to decolonization and #LandBack work?

- Leviticus can be a scary text to engage with, particularly for those who have experienced homophobia/transphobia in the church. As we engage with that book for this issue’s biblical grounding, how do we wrestle with the tensions that brings up? Can we glean wisdom and insight from these ancestors while still holding their words in cultural context?

- The Septuagint used the phrase “a trumpet-blast of liberty.” There is an undeniable connection between joy and this economic/property shift. Joy may not always be the first thing to come to mind when we talk about land back and reparations . . . but no doubt that joy breathes in those possibilities. Explore this jubilation, this celebration, the trumpet’s song, and how we weave joy into conversations around economic justice.

- In the spirit of release, what tensions, grudges, or resentments are you holding on to that you are ready to let go of? What would you need to do that?

- What does the biblical framework of jubilee add to our current economic conversations? How can jubilee be a tool that we lean into? What does it offer our churches?

Prompts

Rewrite Isaiah 61, “The year of the Lord’s favor,” in the context of today’s struggles for justice.
Research predatory loan companies and compare their practices to the mandates laid out in Leviticus 25.
Write a play imagining what would happen if a Jubilee year was announced for 2022.
Take a nap. Write a poem about it.
List some practical ideas of shifting practices around money or alternative economic models.
Dig into the etymology of the word Jubilee.
Tell us about what God does when God rests.
Write a street liturgy for the front steps of Navient, American Educational Services, or other student loan debt collectors.
Explore global social movements that have employed practices of Jubilee, implicitly or explicitly.
Describe the sounds of a great Jubilee party.
This issue will be released January 1. Draw on winter imagery that helps us understand what it means to rest and lay fallow.

Notes about Submissions

We’re looking for long-form journalism, personal stories of transformation, short bursts of feelings, and nuggets of inspiration. Choose an aspect of the topic and expand with personal experience, researched wisdom, or spiritual insight.

A great pitch  will describe the piece, explain why it’s a perfect fit for Geez, list the sources you’ll consult, and state why you’re the best person to write it. Please include a brief bio and where you live. 

Ideally, pitches are a page or less. Note: if you send us 20 pages, we likely will not be able to read it. If you already have a completed manuscript, poem, photo, or design, feel free to submit it as well.

1. Long-form nonfiction (600, 1200, or 1800 words)

We’re looking for creative nonfiction essays, investigative articles or research-based pieces on the topic above. While a reference to your personal experience is welcome, readers need wisdom from other sources as well (interviews, books, articles, theologians, social-justice activists, academics, and moms and dads). 

2. Flash nonfiction (50-300 words)

These are short, personal experiences or insights. Your piece should capture a moment that illuminates a larger issue or convey a feeling familiar to us all. This is a chance to bring hope, insight, emotion, and connection to readers. Think of it as a snapshot with words.

3. Photos/Illustrations:

Consider the topic above and send original photographs (i.e. you took the photo) or illustrations that provoke or pacify, animate or incite. Or, if you know of a photographer or illustrator who can deliver an awesome photo essay or series of drawings and is willing to get big play in a premium little magazine for a modest honorarium, please pass this pitch along. Note: artwork pitches and submissions will be given more time, due October 1. 

4. Poems:

In each issue we aim to publish 2 or more poems, often with one poem per page. Poems may relate closely to the theme, or not. We’ll look at them all.

Additional Info:

Before pitching, please read our guidelines for writers. Ideally we would like to respond personally to every piece of correspondence we receive. But given the number of submissions we receive – and having tried to respond to all – we realize it is just not possible. If you do not hear back from us within four weeks of the deadline assume that we were unable to use your submission.

Contributor Honorariums:

We are a small nonprofit that currently offers very modest honorariums. Depending on the length, we usually offer between $30 and $100. Our goal for our 2022 budget is to increase these numbers.

Deadline for pitches: August 12, 2021

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

Sincerely,
Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, managing editor
Kateri Boucher, associate editor
Lucia Wylie-Eggert, art director

Send pitches, manuscripts, and images to: 
Geez Editors
email: stories [at] geezmagazine [dot] org
mail: Geez magazine, 1950 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48216 USA
To join our Writers List, click HERE.

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