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Thursday, April 15, 2004

What makes a religion blog?

Jeff Sharlet of The Revealer, who will be talking with other religion bloggers at BloggerCon — which I will sadly have to miss, even though it's right here in Cambridge — asks some questions I'll be pondering. Among them:

What makes a good religion blog? What is the craft of religion blogging? Are there certain elements common to religion blogs across faiths? What do journalists have to learn from religion bloggers? What do other bloggers — particularly those concerned with culture and politics — have to learn from religion blogs?

My simple answer is, take religion seriously. Take it seriously intellectually, politically, interpersonally, spiritually. That's different than believing in it in many cases. I don't have to believe everything you say to take you seriously, but if I don't take you seriously, how could I ever hope to understand you?

The best example I've seen of a journalist who took religion seriously without abandoning his questions is Yossi Klein Halevi's 2001 book, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden. Here's my brief review.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 15 April 2004 at 5:52 PM

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Jeff Sharlet @ The Revealer:

April 15, 2004 11:58 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm with you on Halevi's book, which I reviewed for the Wash Post when it came out. Sad case. Published right around 9/11 and disappeared. Halevi was one of the journalists who found the murdered Israeli boys in the cave and subsequently moved far, far right, disavowing much of what's in that fine book.

There are a lot of other fine journalists who take religion seriously: Daniel Bergner's God of the Rodeo, about religion in prison; Dennis Covington's Salvation on Sand Mountain, about snake handlers; plenty more.


April 16, 2004 01:25 PM | Permalink for this comment


I agree completely. Take it seriously and have both a sense of humor and a little humility--the words are related--about your own tradition.

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