Submissions

An Unexpected Journal is a pop-academic periodical of cultural apologetics that seeks to demonstrate the truth of Christianity through both reason and imagination, engaging with culture from a Christian worldview. Our print and online circulation averages more than 3,000 readers per issue. We welcome submissions of essays, book reviews, fiction, poetry, and graphic art, and we are now open to new submissions for all 2024 submission deadlines. Early submissions are strongly encouraged.

Thank you for partnering with us. We look forward to reviewing your work!

How to Submit

  1. Review the prompts below.
  2. Review our Contributors’ Guide carefully before submitting your piece(s). 
  3. When you are ready to submit, please send us your essay, fiction, poem, and/or visual art.

April 2024: The Merits & Myths of Modernity

Submission Deadline: January 20th

From the 17th century’s self-styled Enlightenment to the post-traumatic shell shock of the 20th century’s Great War, the conventions and attitudes known as Modernity held significant sway over the Western mind. Long before the post-war disillusionment that sparked Postmodernism, Modernity made (and frequently fulfilled) tremendous promises, birthing the hope of a man-made utopia. It was an age of reason and progress marked by technological, political, and artistic achievements that bettered the lot of humankind and vaulted European colonial powers to unprecedented heights. Yet this era was also marked by unfettered human ego, humanist optimism, and new prejudices – displacing the traditions and biases of the Middle Ages with a new set of often unconscious assumptions, traditions, and biases that continue to shape human thought.

This issue will explore both the positive and negative effects of Modernism as well as its ongoing impact on beliefs, values, and behaviors within both the church and the wider culture.

August 2024: Community Amidst Chaos: Making Space at the Table

Submission Deadline: April 20th

During a 2014 address at Oxford’s University Church, Dr. Diana Glyer popularized the term “intellectual hospitality” – a concept rooted in C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christian” ethos. Even then, unity despite disagreement and community over cancellation was radically countercultural. In the decade since, our world has grown even more fractured and fractious than at any time in recent memory. Animosity and tribalism have arisen both between and within longstanding social institutions. Yet examples of intellectual hospitality still abound. We see it in both pop-culture depictions and in practice, in the abstract realms of intellectual engagement and social media discourse and in the physical, incarnate spaces where we live, work, shop, volunteer, and worship.

This issue asks: Where do we see Lewis’s hospitable “Mere Christian” ethos – as a companion to theological and philosophical disagreement – in art, academia, business, church, and elsewhere in the public square? What are the sources and the legacy of that ethos? In the spirit of that ethos, how can we ourselves cultivate intellectual hospitality with our fellow believers and our neighbors of every political and religious persuasion?

December 2024: Whose Mind?: The Virtuosic Influence of Dorothy L. Sayers

Submission Deadline: June 29th

Many writers have dabbled in a range of genres, but few have so successfully contributed influential work to so many as Dorothy L. Sayers. From detective fiction to theological treatises to popular dramas to acclaimed translations to startling cultural criticism, Sayers’ work produced a pronounced and positive impact. She co-founded two literary circles and collaborated more frequently and more extensively with other writers than the Inklings. She was one of the first women to receive a degree from Oxford, yet when offered an honorary doctorate of divinity for her lucid explication of the Trinity, The Mind of the Maker, Sayers quietly turned it down. She proclaimed A Man Born to be King to a new generation in everyday language, yet forced modern “traditionalists” to confront the deceptively simple question, Are Women Human?

This issue will focus on her influence and legacy in the worlds of letters, Christianity, and mainstream culture.

April 2025: Relativity & Reconstruction: Seeking the Real in Postmodernity’s Heap of Broken Images

Submission Deadline: October 25th

For nearly three centuries, Modernity teased humanity with hopes of a comprehensible universe, epistemological certainty, and political utopia, but the 20th century brought those hopes crashing down. Between two world wars, industrialized slaughter and destruction of the natural world, crippling economic depressions, rampant social unrest, and ideological revolutions leading to genocide, the idea that technological progress leads inexorably to human flourishing was revealed as hopelessly naïve. Attempts to explain why the tidy formulas of Modernism had failed were worked out in the context of postcolonialism and global multiculturalism, generating deep suspicion toward certainty claims. If cultural supremacy leads to imperialism, war, mass extinctions, and the brink of nuclear winter, might not peace and flourishing require abolishing absolutism, relinquishing institutional possession of truth, and submitting ourselves to the myriad perspectives and lived experiences of others?

The Postmodern era has brought us valuable lessons, including a recognition of the difficulties inherent in accessing objective truth, the role of subjectivity in our reasoning, and the crucial necessity of full representation in building just societies. Yet as with most pendulum swings, Postmodernity goes too far. Among other shortcomings, it denies ultimate truth, reduces justice and flourishing to personal preferences, and idolizes individual choice. This issue will examine both the positives and negatives of this era as a foundation for engaging our postmodern neighbors, along with re-catechizing our postmodern selves.

All Issues: Worth Reading

Submission Deadline: October 25th

Worth Reading is An Unexpected Journal’s book recommendations column. Each issue highlights a few titles related to that issue’s theme, as recommended by AUJ staff, contributors, or readers. Books featured can be from any genre, for readers of any age, published at any time. What they have in common is that people who appreciate the work and goals of An Unexpected Journal believe them to be Worth Reading.

To contribute your recommended book or books to Worth Reading, write ~500 words explaining why it’s a good book and a good fit for a particular upcoming issue, and use the Submissions form to send it in. We also accept long-form book reviews as standalone essays. See Submission Guidelines for more information.

We’ve been using reason and imagination to advance and defend the Christian worldview since 2018.

And you can help us spread that message.