I “debuted” a new religion column on Saturday.
Yes, it’s called “FaithBeat.” Not the greatest name for a column, I concede.
But neither I nor my colleagues could not come up with something that wasn’t a goofy play on Scripture or worse (“The Gospel According to Gary” anyone? How about “Dude-eronomy?” “Fun With Faith?” “Religion Rap?” “In the Garden of Gannett?”).
See, FaithBeat isn’t so bad.
What is the purpose of my column? It’s kind of hard to explain. Not unlike doing this blog.
I’m not a columnist in the traditional sense. I’m not calling for anything, let alone demanding action of some sort. I have no opinions that I will promote.
I will use the column, I guess, to try to explain things (as I see them), in my own voice. Which is what I try to do, more or less, with this blog.
Take, for example, my first column.
In the months leading up to election day, I kept hearing and reading about “The Catholic Vote.” Since the big day, I’ve read and hear numerous attempts to explain The Catholic Vote.
But it seems to me that there is no Catholic vote. There are, perhaps, many Catholic votes. There are Catholic votes within Catholic votes.
But there is no such thing as a single, definable, categorizable Catholic vote because there are too many Catholics and Catholics are way too diverse to generalize about. Of course, I’m talking about people who identity themselves as Roman Catholic. I fully understand that some Catholics do not see other Catholics as being fully or truly Catholic.
I tried to lay this out in my first column. I’ve gotten a pretty good reaction so far.
I guess it’s like a longer blog post, to which I’ve given a little more thought.
Why a column? Why now? Reporters here who cover the environment, health and transportation already write columns on the topics they cover.
But I was hesitant to take on the commitment, in part because I’ve always wanted to known as a newspaper reporter. Period.
But times have changed. And the truth is, I received a huge reaction to a first-person feature I wrote in late summer about shopping for school supplies for my kids. That’s me at Staples, with my short, summer haircut.
I think many people are more comfortable with the first-person voice these days than with the objective, detached, third-person voice, which is increasingly seen, I think, as old-fashioned.
Think of the popularity of memoirs. Not to mention blogs. Consider the influence of TV personalities who filter the news through their “world view.”
It’s a first-person world. I’m just joining it. Tentatively. I think.