In the wake of the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks we, as an increasingly secular nation, were reminded that religion is, for good and bad, still significant in the modern world. Alongside this new awareness, religion reporters adopted the tools of so-called New Journalists, reporters of the 1960s and '70s like Truman Capote and Joan Didion who inserted themselves into the stories they covered while borrowing the narrative tool kit of fiction to avail themselves of a deeper truth.
At the turn of the millennium, this personal, subjective, voice-driven New Religion Journalism was employed by young writers, willing to scrutinize questions of faith and doubt while taking God-talk seriously. Articles emerged from such journalists as Kelly Baker, Ann Neumann, Patrick Blanchfield, Jeff Kripal, and Meghan O'Gieblyn, characterized by their brash, innovative, daring, and stylistically sophisticated writing and an unprecedented willingness to detail their own interaction with faith (or their lack thereof).
The God Beat brings together some of the finest and most representative samples of this emerging genre. By curating and presenting them as part of a meaningful trend, this compellingly edited collection helps us understand how we talk about God in public spaces--and why it matters--in a whole new way.
About the Author
Costica Bradatan is religion editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books, a Professor of Humanities in the Honors College at Texas Tech University, and an Honorary Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland, Australia. He resides in Lubbock, Texas.
Ed Simon is a staff writer at The Millions, a contributing writer for Belt Magazine and a contributing editor for the History News Network, focusing on religion, literature, politics and geography. He is the author of several books, including An Alternative History of Pittsburgh from Belt Publishing and, most recently, Pandemonium: A Visual History of Demonology, a work of illustrated non-fiction released by Abrams. His essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review Daily, The Washington Post, Poetry, McSweeney's, Aeon, Jacobin, Salon, The New Republic and The New York Times, among numerous other publications. Currently he is working on a book about apocalypticism for MIT Press and a contribution to Bloomsbury's "Object Lessons" series entitled Relic.
The high quality of the selections suggests that an annual volume would be welcome. [Starred Review] --Publishers Weekly
The best writing about religion is simultaneously personal, political, historical, and spiritual--just like religion itself. The God Beat is all that and more. Costica Bradatan and Ed Simon have crafted a collection that is by turns profound, funny, and searching. It captures a still-unfolding moment in which the old ways of writing about faith were found wanting, and new ways were ready to be born. --Peter Manseau, curator of religious history at the Smithsonian and author of One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History.
For ten years ending in 1995, I was repeatedly invited and repeatedly declined to be the religion editor of the Los Angeles Times. Reading this anthology, I understand both why I was right to decline the gig back then and why today another reporter might jump at it. The religion beat of old has become what Bradatan and Simon call 'the God beat'--an exciting new freestyle game still learning its own rules. --Jack Miles, Pulitzer Prize winner for God: A Biography.