I’m very excited about becoming a contributor to GetReligion. It will be a real kick to do what I have often done as a reader — ponder the lens through which a particular article was written.
As an ordained minister who has written for newspapers since I graduated from seminary, I deeply believe that the religion beat demands sensitivity, knowledge, great listening skills — and a willingness to admit that you don’t know it all.
Although I confess that I don’t always like it, I am generally grateful, immediately or after I’ve thought it through, for the folks who took the time to question something I wrote — and make me check my own assumptions.
I would hope to do the same as a constructive critic here at GetReligion.
I’ll ask questions, offer some praise, and question possible factual errors or missing bits in a way that hopefully will open up a door, or new questions.
Meanwhile, here are a few relevant biographical details. I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., in a family in which politics was a blood sport and religion much more of an intellectual pursuit. After attending a nominally Episcopal prep school, I left the city for college with a great curiosity about what it meant to be a believer. It was while at Hamilton (Kirkland) College, through fellowship groups, chapel services, a group of nuns and the local Episcopal Church, that I really began to experience the presence of God in my life. The Great Anglican divines and poets, including John Donne and George Herbert, led me to the Christian faith.
I began my career as a freelance writer working for weeklies around Princeton, N.J., after graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary. When I was ordained as an Episcopal priest, I moved to Philadelphia, where I began writing for the diocesan paper. After time spent as an assistant chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, I became news editor for the old Episcopalian, until it moved to New York City.
I’ve been a stringer what is now Religion News Service, and a frequent commentator, book reviewer and features writer for The Philadephia Inquirer. I have a monthly column in The New Era in Lancaster, Pa.
I’ve served in a number of parishes, urban and suburban, evangelical and mainstream. But about six years ago I decided that I didn’t want to bear arms in the warfare roiling my denomination, and that I would do better as an observer. Currently our family attends a Lutheran church that marries the Gospel to social justice and an openness to new believers.
While I remain strongly eucharistically focused, I believe that our churches need to do a better job of reaching the indifferent or hurt or lost members of the flock. This can be done without sacrificing the basics of the faith, including creedal orthodoxy. I have also developed a deeper appreciation for the Anabaptist traditions, and their focus on communal holiness — something many of our larger denominations lack.
I can’t close without mentioning that I have two children who continually amaze me (and sometimes make me nuts). Our family lives outside (way outside) the Beltway in exurban Pennsylvania, where you can still see the stars at night — even if you can’t count them.