Discuss: Are discussions like ours possible?

godbless shirtThe editors of GetReligion have commented frequently on Jon Meacham's work, in part because he has shown such a frequent and keen interest in religion coverage. To his credit, Meacham has kept that interest keen since becoming the editor of Newsweek. Indeed, last week offered a fine competition between Newsweek and Time for best religion-based cover story (about which more in a subsequent post). On a more timely note, however, Meacham has joined forces with Sally Quinn of The Washington Post to create a new religion blog called On Faith. Today's Post featured a full-page ad for On Faith that played on the classic joke of "A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar," and Post reporter Caryle Murphy, who frequently covers religion news, is On Faith's producer.

Quinn's presence makes On Faith especially interesting. Quinn informs readers that she declared herself an atheist at 13:

And I was a committed atheist all of my life. My view was that more evil had been done in the name of religion than anything else in the world.I saw no redeeming value in it at all. Then I met Jon Meacham and we began talking.

Now Quinn approaches religion with the enthusiasm of a reporter on an exciting and challenging new beat, though this closing paragraph in her biography is too precious by half:

I still don't know what to call myself. Years ago I went to the opening of "How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying" on Broadway. There was a moment when the star, Robert Morse, sang to himself in the mirror, "You have the cool clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth." That sounds good to me.

As a joint effort of Newsweek and The Washington Post, On Faith should soon leave our humble little blog far behind in Web readership ratings. On Faith already is riding one of Meacham's favorite hobby horses: "If some religious people believe they have a monopoly on truth, then are conversation and common ground possible?"

To answer such questions, On Faith has gathered a group of On Faith Panelists that should be the envy of any interfaith panel discussion. The full list does not stray far from the favored pundits of mainline and liberal faith, including Karen Armstrong, Lauren Artress, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan and everybody's favorite celebrity Wiccan, Starhawk. By my count, On Faith welcomes eight panelists who are on the right edge of the political or theological spectrum: Lyle Dukes, Richard Land, Al Mohler, Richard Mouw, Michael Otterson, Cal Thomas, Rick Warren and George Weigel. OK, I'll add Mohammad Khatami, in the interfaith goodwill of On Faith. That's 9 out of 62, a ratio that should make media-savvy conservatives feel right at home.

Image credit and Web commerce where it is due: Kinky Friedman.

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