Sigh. Another late night with rowdy football fans at the pub outside my window here at St. Edmund Hall in downtown Oxford. Nevertheless, let me jump in for a second to share a link to an interview with an interesting religion writer -- Cathleen Falsani, a Wheaton College graduate who works the Godbeat for the Chicago Sun-Times. Actually she does much more than that, which leads to her book, The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People. She also has a blog called The Dude Abides.
The wonderful faith and pop culture site called Thunderstruck -- the much overlooked scribe Steve Beard is the head of it -- has a solid interview with Falsani (shown with Moby) conducted by freelance writer Angela Pancella, who may be best known for her work with @U2.
Most of the interview focuses on faith and entertainment, but there is this section that addresses one of the nagging questions that faces religious believers (or nonbelievers, now that I think about it) who work on the religion beat.
In regard to being a religion reporter, how have you chosen how much to reveal about your faith background?
I was never shy about it; it was just a matter of journalistic integrity, and trying to not appear to be biased and all that stuff. There's a big debate within the religion journalism community about what you should and shouldn't reveal about your religious predilections. I used to be very, very hard and fast about not revealing anything about myself because I didn't want to tell people what "team" I was on. I think now it's a judgment call. I think if you use it as leverage in one direction or another, it's not right. But when I became a columnist and I was writing about these personal things -- when you're writing in your own voice -- you get a very different kind of response from readers, and they were sharing things with me that were very intimate. And then when I started to have more of these conversations with public people, and they were telling me these things, I thought, I really should be talking about this myself. So when it feels appropriate, I let it come out instead of stifling it.
What do you think? Right call?
P.S. Click here for a post I did on this topic long ago -- in cyberyears -- on this blog.