A long, long time ago -- 29-plus years to be precise -- several editors at the old Scripps Howard News Service noticed something.
At the time, I was the religion-beat reporter and columnist at The Rocky Mountain News in Denver (memory eternal). The national wire desk in Washington, D.C., noticed that, when they put my national-angle columns on the wire -- as opposed to something completely Colorado-centric -- they would get picked up by quite a few smaller and mid-sized papers.
Plus, there was a pending request from the editor of The Knoxville News Sentinel -- Harry Moskos at the time -- for a weekly Scripps Howard wire piece on religion to serve as one anchor for his newspaper's planned Saturday section on issues of family and faith. Those two subjects, you see, kept showing up near the top of lists about subjects that interested his local readers.
So the national editors worked out a deal with my bosses in Denver to free me up to do a weekly column for the national wire.
Thus, my national column was born 29 years ago last week. An editor asked me what I wanted to call it and I proposed "Get Religion."
That name struck one of the editors as a bit aggressive. You see, he didn't get that I was (wink, wink) linking the old Southern saying that someone "got religion" -- as in got saved, in a revival tent sort of way -- with the modern idea that some people just "don't get it," as in feminist lingo. So they changed "Get Religion" to "On Religion."
Anyway, I rarely run anything from "On Religion" (the column is now carried by the Universal syndicate) here at GetReligion, but I thought I would let readers here see this past week's piece -- as I open my third decade doing that column.
Yes, 29 years is a long time. This particular column is also about -- well, do you remember that turn of phrase used by New York Times editor Dean Baquet?