I once had an idea for a magazine called The Misfit. I was not exactly sure what we’d publish, but I wanted something called The Misfit because I thought misfitting was the essence of being alive. We sorta fit into this world, but not really. I felt this was truer of me than most people, mostly for religious reasons—raised Southern Baptist, but it didn’t quite take; re-converted to passionate Pentecostalism after high school, but that didn’t last long either. Didn’t quite believe, didn’t not believe, couldn’t fit into church or very many good parties. But I suspected something like this was true of everyone deep down.
Also, I loved this Flannery O’Connor short story called “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” and the villain of that story is an escaped convict dubbed the Misfit. He’s a villain, but he may also be Jesus, or at least a vessel of some awful mercy. A few years ago, I read the entire story out loud to a class of college students. It took a long time, the room was warm, and not much happens in the story until the end. But only one of my students fell asleep. It’s a really good story.
Welcome to OnFaith
We’re not The Misfit. We’re OnFaith, a website devoted to covering religion and spirituality in all its wonder and weirdness. I’ve written for and edited sites sort of like this before—Patheos, Beliefnet, Killing the Buddha, long may they live—and published essays and stories on religion and culture for a variety of mainstream and alternative publications. OnFaith was founded by Sally Quinn at the Washington Post in 2006, and it’s gone through a few iterations. Now that we’ve got our hands on it, it gets to go through a few more. We’re pretty excited about what OnFaith was, is, and can be.
We will continue to publish some daily news and opinion pieces from top writers and other folks whose perspectives need to be heard. But we have lots of other ideas, and we hope to get to do all of them in time.
Our first new initiative is to publish Weekly Issues—to have one topic per week and publish a mixture of stories, essays, videos, illustrations and more on that topic. Some topics will be evergreen, and some will be newsy or trending. Some will unveil religious angles on stories everyone is talking about, but where the spiritual tales have been occluded or ignored.
Here—I’ll stop being general and give you a taste of what’s coming soon:
God in the White House
- Joshua DuBois (author of The President’s Devotional) on what President Obama, after the worst year of his presidency, could learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s struggles
- Lawrence Wright (author of Going Clear) on the role religion played in the Camp David Accords
- Jon Meacham (author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power) on why we need the counsel of the Founders with regard to religion now more than ever
- Michael Beschloss (author of Presidential Courage) on how presidents play up and play down their faith
- Diana Butler Bass (author of Christianity After Religion) on the future of God-talk from the White House
National Faith League
- an interview with ESPN columnist and King of Sports author Gregg Easterbrook on the ethical problems facing football
- a profile of New York Jets chaplain Adam Burt
- Greg Garrett (author of The Prodigal) on the Super Bowl as America’s Hunger Games
- a video holding a mirror to our nation’s ecstatic worship of football
- Laura Ortberg Turner (of Religion News Service) on the power of Powder Puff Football
We also have Issues in the works on what legal marijuana means for religion and morals in America (some of the answers may surprise you), approaches to sex and spirituality, and plenty of Pope Francis, then Jesus. And that just gets us through February.
OnFaith will grow and adapt as we publish and learn and hear from you. Indeed, part of what happens here is up to you. Our editorial team is exceedingly small (though we’ve been super lucky to recruit some amazing interns based in NYC, DC, and Florida, and we sing their praises daily). So we need lots of quality ideas and queries and submissions. I’ll be sending semi-monthly emails announcing upcoming Issues and asking for submissions on those topics. Sign up for that email here. You can also email us anytime at [email protected]
Again—the team is small. If your email is not answered, it’s not you, it’s us. (It might be you. But it’s probably us.)
Your Questions Answered
Why has OnFaith Left the Washington Post?
Last summer, OnFaith was acquired by FaithStreet, a technology company based in New York City that is building an online directory of congregations and digital fundraising solutions. FaithStreet was part of the 2013 class of Techstars NYC.
What happened to the OnFaith archives?
We have them all. We migrated many thousands of pages and we are in the process of improving those pages. Our site will grow over time, including new navigational tools that make all the content easier to find and more relevant to you.
FaithStreet’s directory of congregations is actually a directory of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Churches. Is OnFaith becoming a Christian site?
No. Building and maintaining high-quality, up-to-date directories takes a lot of time and resources. In the future, FaithStreet will include congregations from other faith traditions and also humanist gatherings. As FaithStreet grows, OnFaith will publish the best material we can find on religion and spirituality across the traditions and perspectives, including atheism and humanism.
You may have more questions, but those are the three we hear the most frequently. More answers will come in time, but mostly we ask that you stay in tune and stay in touch. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, comment on our pages, and help us grow OnFaith.