Preparing for a new National Press Club pilot series on RELIGION AND THE PRESS. Sally Quinn will be the first speaker on December 1.
Religion is the most pervasive yet least understood topic in global life. From the caves of the Afghan-Pakistan border to the cul-de-sacs of the American Sunbelt, faith shapes and suffuses the way billions of people-Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and nonbelievers-think and act, vote and fight, love and, tragically, hate. It is the most ancient of forces. As Homer said, "All men need the gods." Even the most ferocious atheists find themselves doing intellectual battle on a field defined by forces of the faithful.
And so, in a time of extremism -- for extremism is to the 21st century what totalitarianism was to the 20th -- how can people engage in a conversation about faith and its implications in a way that sheds light rather than generates heat? At The Washington Post and Newsweek, we believe the first step is conversation-intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation-among specialists and generalists who devote a good part of their lives to understanding and delineating religion's influence on the life of the world. The point of our new online religion feature is to provide a forum for such sane and spirited talk, drawing on a remarkable panel of distinguished figures from the academy, the faith traditions, and journalism. Members of the group will weigh in on a question posed at least once a week, perhaps sometimes more often, depending on the flow of the news. We encourage readers to join the conversation by commenting on what our panelists have to say, offering their own opinions and suggesting topics for future discussions.
From the nature of evil to religious reformation, from the morality of fetal stem-cell research to the history of scripture, from how to raise kids in multi-faith households to the place of gays in traditional churches -- of the asking of questions, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there shall be no end. We think that the online world, with its limitless space, offers us a unique opportunity to carry on a fruitful, intriguing, and above all constructive conversation about the things that matter most.
Posted by Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham on November 9, 2006 10:19 AM