That's why, very early in the history of this blog, your GetReligionistas started suggesting that -- when facing tough issues about how to cover religion in an accurate and balanced manner -- journalists should ask this not-so-simple question: What Would Richard Ostling Do?
For newcomers to this terrain, Ostling was the religion-beat pro at Time magaizne, back in the days when it was a gold standard in weekly hard-news reporting at the national and especially global levels. From there, he went to the top religion slot at the Associated Press. He is retired now, but still active in religion-news circles as a writer and consultant.
Most features on Patheos are opinionated, faith-specific (Buddhist, Catholic, Pagan) ... whereas mine will be non-partisan and journalistic in approach and cover wide-ranging topics.
We’ll be asking folks in cyberspace to send in questions regarding any and all faiths, any Scriptures, current church-state and religion-politics issues, moral quandaries and other such puzzlements and curiosities. If I’m able, I’ll post an answer with others then welcome others to add comments.
From the beginning, there has been quite a bit of GetReligion-esque material at Ostling's blog -- a trend that he welcomed and we welcomed.
Stop and think about it. It's understandable that lots of people have lots of questions about topics they keep seeing in religion-news coverage. Thus, we have linked to quite a few Ostling posts here at GetReligion.
And now there will be more.
Ostling is going to keep writing his weekly "Q&A" essays and his blog will stay open. However, he is also becoming a part of the GetReligion team and all of the posts by "The Ridgewood Religion Guy" will start appearing here, as well.
At this point, Ostling -- in retirement -- remains a very busy guy and he will not be writing standard GetReligion posts. He will stick with his "Q&A" format, while interacting with the GetReligion team.
But here's the key: One of the top religion-beat pros on the planet wants to answer your questions about religion topics related to the news. You will now be able to ask him questions here at GetReligion, in comments on his posts or through the usual "Submit" link provided to send emails to the members of the GetReligion team.
Ask him lots of great questions -- especially questions linked to ongoing topics in the news (include a URL or two) -- and we hope The Guy will be tempted to write more posts. Who knows. It could happen.
Meanwhile, if you want to know more about Ostling and his work -- via audio -- just click here and check out this interview conducted at the Calvin Institute of Worship. With luck, we can convince The Guy to do an occasional "Crossroads" interview for our podcasts, as well.
Start sending in those questions.
Just do it.