CNN religion blog offers fresh bite of irony

Several months ago, I had a chance to grab a bite to eat at Union Station with a long-time GetReligion reader named Eric Marrapodi, who just happens to be a producer at the CNN bureau here inside the Beltway. The topic for the day: Blogging about religion, especially in a multimedia, multi-platform world. It seems that the wider CNN world included a fair share of people, working in various job descriptions, who are interested in religion news. The problem was that they were spread out all over the place.

What they needed was a hub, a place where their work could be collected and then turn into something bigger. At the very least, we concluded, there needed to be a multimedia weblog.

Which there now is -- www.cnn.com/belief -- and that's a good thing. Just to be clear, for those who like clean bookmarks, that address immediately sends you over to a different digital niche (religion.blogs.cnn.com/) on the server.

Marrapodi also knew that he needed an air traffic controller for these CNN journalists scattered around in cyberspace. The good news, for people who watch the Godbeat carefully, is that they were able to sign up Dan Gilgoff, best known for his reporting and blogging at Beliefnet.com (think God-o-Meter during the 2008 White House race) and at U.S. News & World Report. And speaking of religion and politics, he is also the author of "The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America Are Winning the Culture War."

So go check out the new CNN blog and let us know what you think. Note that there are quite a few contributors from newsrooms other than Atlanta (co-editor Gilgoff) and Washington (co-editor Marrapodi).

And speaking of God and CNN, you may also want to click here and read this interesting item on that blog about an interesting personality in the world of journalism -- Ted Turner. It seems that this freewheeling (to say the least) has decided that theism may have its advantages, especially if God happens to agree with Ted Turner. This is a nice summary of Ted's past, for a site at CNN:

Ted Turner has never been one to keep his opinions to himself. Sometimes referred to as "The Mouth of the South," the CNN founder lashed out against religious believers in the past. He once dubbed Christianity a "religion for losers" and wondered aloud whether the Ash Wednesday observers around him at work were "Jesus freaks." His marriage to Jane Fonda was rumored to become strained when she started finding religion.

And while his stance has certainly mellowed with the years -- he apologized for his past comments and joined with churches in 2008 to fight malaria -- his suggestion that God may have had a hand in the oil disaster that killed 11 and is threatening the Gulf Coast may take some by surprise.

"Could be," God's work, he told CNN's Poppy Harlow. "He's sending us a message."

What, there's more. This is no surprise.

"I'm not a real religious person, but I'm somewhat religious. And I'm just wondering if God is telling us he doesn't want us to drill offshore," he said. "And right before that we had that coal mine disaster in West Virginia where we lost 29 miners," as well as repeated mining disasters -- "seems like there's one over there every week" -- in China.

"Maybe the Lord's tired of having the mountains of West Virginia, the tops knocked off of them so they can get more coal."

So let's see. That would mean that God miraculously intervened to kill the miners in West Virginia (as opposed to this tragedy occurring, in a sinful and fallen world, in part because of human mistakes or even the sinful abuse of safety laws)? Isn't that theological territory usually occupied by, oh, the Rev. Pat Robertson & Co.?

Interesting. But there I go, thinking in doctrinal terms again.

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