Sally Quinn tells RNS: 'Occultism was so much a part of my growing up and my beliefs'

The media campaign for Washington, D.C, journalism legend Sally Quinn's "Finding Magic" book rolls on and on.

This really isn't a surprise, in light of her spectacular social connections to just about every level of Beltway society and the media powers that be -- starting, of course, with The Washington Post, where she was a Style page force to be reckoned with both as a writer and as a news maker. There was her infamous romance with the married editor Ben Bradlee, of course, followed by their equally celebrated marriage.

That Washingtonian profile -- the subject of my first post on Quinn and her book ("Sally Quinn and her ghosts") -- was just the start, describing her as the "gatekeeper of Washington society turned religion columnist and about-to-turn evangelist for mysticism, magic, and the divine."

Yes, there are all the hot political connections. Yes, there are the even hotter personal details, from sex to deadly hexes. But I am sticking by my earlier statement that the Quinn revelations in this book are important and that they should matter to GetReligion readers because:

... Quinn -- during some crucial years -- served as a major influence on religion-beat debates. My take on her approach: Why focus on hard news when everyone knows that religion is really about emotions, feelings and personal experiences?

Now, Religion News Service, has an interesting Q&A up online with Quinn, which means here are going to be lots of questions about the DC maven's "evolving faith." The word "occult" shows up in Quinn's very first answer and the crucial theological term "theodicy" should have, as well.

RNS: Your childhood is a particularly beautiful and important part of the book. What was your religious experience growing up?
Quinn: For me, it was what I call embedded religion. The occultism was so much a part of my growing up and my beliefs. If you’re brought up Catholic or Jewish, you just assume that if you’re Catholic you’ll have your First Communion, or you’ll have a bar or bat mitzvah if you’re Jewish. It’s the normal assumption of the way things are. So I had this Christian family, but after I was looking at my father’s Holocaust scrapbooks when I was four years old, I lost my faith in God. What worked for me was this kind of belief in magic, really.
Whatever faith it may be, it’s all magic. I was exhilarated when I figured that out, when it became clear to me that my magic was no different -- no better, no worse, and no less legitimate -- than anyone else’s.

"Witchy" things? Check. Voodoo? Check. Astrology? Check. Comments the current poisoned atmosphere in DC? Of course.

But here is another religion-content exchange that will interest think piece" readers:

RNS: One theme in the book that I found particularly beautiful is that you have a lot of rumination about the “stuff” of religion, the material culture -- the things that you hold, the talismans you carry, and even the house that you bought. I had no idea until I read this book that you bought Grey Gardens! What it is about these tangible objects with a history that makes them resonate for you religiously?
Quinn: I don’t know how to answer that. All I know is that I’m sitting here looking at my evil eye bracelet, and I’ve got Ganesh right next to me, and my chains around my neck. I feel protected. There are so many people who wear crosses or St. Christopher medals. My father carried a Buffalo nickel. It’s something that you can’t explain, but it has to be based on faith, which is part of the mystery, magic, and meaning, the three sections of my book.
All of these sayings and these rituals and charms and talismans are about faith; it’s all about magic. I don’t know why I feel protected, but I do. And each one of these things has a lot of meaning for me.

So there you go. Read it all.

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