back-to-school outreach

Love for people drives major-league catcher to help, but what role does his faith play?

Love for people drives major-league catcher to help, but what role does his faith play?

Was it a good movie?

Did you enjoy it?

Those tend to be my main two questions in assessing the latest flick at the theater.

I don't pay a lot of attention to film critics because they tend — from my perspective — to nitpick various details that don't matter much to me. They're paid to find fault.

What does that have to do with GetReligion? Well, as a media critic for this journalism-focused website, my job calls upon me to spot holy ghosts in mainstream press stories and point them out for readers. But occasionally, I fear that I'm demanding a level of religious specificity that is no concern to ordinary readers.

Thus, when I read a story like a recent Dallas Morning News feature on good works by Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, I'm unsure whether to (1) just be thankful for a nice piece that goes behind the scenes of a charitable player or (2) complain that the paper fails to offer any concrete details on the subject's obvious faith.

I mean, given the circumstances, it's not difficult for most readers to assume that Chirinos must be a Christian (something that the "Servant of Christ" mention on his Twitter profile quicks confirms):

ARLINGTON -- He had just signed his first professional contract. The scouts who signed him had just left his home. He was 16. His father, Roberto, told Robinson Chirinos to pull up a chair at the family's kitchen table.

"Never forget about people," Roberto Chirinos told him.

He never has.

Robinson Chirinos was telling the story again Saturday afternoon after spending the morning, along with more than half of the Rangers' roster, handing out backpacks as part of a Back To School Block party at the Refuge Church in Fort Worth.

The event taking place at a church is a pretty obvious clue, as is the additional context offered in the next few paragraphs:

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Friday Five: New editor for RNS, Sutherland Springs gunman's wife, Pennsylvania grand jury and more

Friday Five: New editor for RNS, Sutherland Springs gunman's wife, Pennsylvania grand jury and more

Nearly four months after the firing of Jerome Socolovsky, Religion News Service has hired a new editor in chief.

The name will be familiar to regular GetReligion readers: Bob Smietana.

Smietana, as a news release from RNS notes, is an award-winning religion reporter and editor who has worked for The Tennessean, Christianity Today and, most recently, Facts & Trends, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Smietana served as president of the Religion News Association from 2013 to 2015. He is extremely familiar with RNS, previously serving as a correspondent for the news organization and as a member of its board of managers.

From the release:

Smietana credits RNS with first launching his career, and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to now lead the organization, expand its footprint and mentor the next generation of religion journalists.

“The American religious landscape is being transformed before our eyes,” Smietana said. “For more than 80 years, RNS has covered religion with accuracy, insight, empathy and independence. As a result, RNS is perfectly positioned to document that transformation and to help our readers navigate this new world.”

Smietana’s appointment concludes a national search, which solicited more than 130 applicants, helmed by Nicole Neroulias Gupte, chair of the RNS Board of Managers.

“After considering many qualified candidates for this position, we were impressed by the breadth and depth of Bob Smietana’s religion journalism experience, his passion for this beat and commitment to our organization,” Gupte said. “We look forward to working with him as RNS grows its staff and coverage areas, including implementing our Global Religion Journalism Initiative and other exciting projects.”

Smietana is a friend of mine and a longtime reader of GetReligion. We appreciate his willingness to praise us when he agrees with our critiques and engage with us when he disagrees. We hope that continues in his new role.

Full disclosure: I occasionally write freelance stories for RNS.

Now, let's dive into the Friday Five:

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