A Blogger Breaks Free: Your Reactions, Sunday Edition

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 1 2015 @ 9:51am

Sundays aren’t everyone’s favorite day of the Dish week, but many readers have written in expressing their dismay at the prospect of seeing it go. One implores:

Please consider continuing the “Sunday Dish”. The philosophical and religious discussions are unique, accessible, and my personal favorite part of the blog!

Another was irritated at first, but later felt “awash in a deep sense of gratitude”:

I’ve read your blog for the past fifteen years and at the start of that journey I was a closeted gay seminarian. I found your willingness to share your experience and strength, your struggle and hope, a life giving inspiration that it just might be possible to be honest with oneself, serious in ones thought, courageous and authentic in ones convictions, and yet somehow through the mystery of grace – joyful within the Church.  I thank you Andrew, you’ve been enormously helpful to me in learning to be compassionate to myself and, now as a Redemptorist priest, more compassionate to the people of God, especially to the most abandoned.

And there’s at least one non-believer who would miss the Dish on Sundays:

I am an atheist and I grew up in a secular household.  My mom’s family was southern Baptist and my father’s family is Jewish.  We never went to church and we never went to synagogue except for weddings or bar/batmitzvahs.  So I never personally had much direct experience with religion growing up.  In all honesty, the whole thing really mystifies me and seems incredibly silly.

However, I find the Sunday blog posts to be incredibly interesting and enlightening.  It gives me a glimpse into religionbeyond either stale history or attention grabbing headlines (always bad of course).  Over the years reading your blog I have definitely gathered a deeper understanding of religious people that makes me more understanding towards them than I may normally have been. There is none of the trying to convert people you see in many places, but just information.  If only many other religious people could act the same way.

Another reader adds:

I’ve only written to you a few times over the years, and it’s usually been about matters of faith.  I am a struggling Catholic.  I sometimes experience a spiritual emptiness that is simply paralyzing.  Your podcast with Wiman was a blessing, and I will miss sharing those moments with you, Andrew.  In the grand scheme of things, the daily political discourse is so meaningless and inconsequential compared to conversations about spirituality.  I hope you find some way to remain publicly engaged on matters of faith. I need your wisdom!

You have a lot of love in your heart, and that always seem to be the driving force in your musingseven your more combative ones.  I think that’s why I have always admired your work so much.  You start from a place of love, and maybe it’s because I was educated by the Jesuits, but I very much identify with that quality.

Good luck, thank you so much, and I look forward to your next adventure.

Our coverage has helped propel this reader’s faith:

What I will find irreplacable is more the depth of content, rather than the depth of coverage, specifically the Sunday posts on faith, spirituality, God, gods, grace, and peace. Though I don’t subscribe to any particular religion (other than maybe South Park), I have always been interested in religion, have very close friends who are (very) religious, and have been slowly inching away from agnosticism towards a very reticent faith in something. A huge amount of that progress has to be the reading I do (did) on The Dish on Sundays.

Another respects the Dish’s intellectual honesty:

You create a thoughtful internet – a place where someone might vote for Bush and then vote for Obama, a place where someone might love the Catholic church and be aware of its problems and mistakes, a place where someone might understand that spiritual seeking is an important part of an examined, scientific life. The mere fact alone that you highlight contrarian voices within our institutions creates space for people to change their mind and reconsider, which is so important.

Fun fact: when I started seeing a therapist for OCD related to anxiety about religion, my wife and friends said I had to stop reading Catholic blogs and sites, but they said you could stay!  This says a lot about your role in my life (that was 5 years ago – I’m a lot better now). If the Dish goes away I’ll have to try to recreate it for myself by tracking where the staff all end up and trying to assemble some sort of RSS folder to capture it all, but it won’t be the same.

And finally, a note of thanks from a Mormon reader:

I would like to leave you with two quick ways, among many, the Dish has been life-changing for me:

First, through your articulation of conservatism, I was able to give myself permission to shed the partisan labels and loyalties endowed to me by my upbringing and embrace conservative principles wherever they manifested themselves, even, and perhaps especially, when they appear in the views and policies where I’d least expect them.

Second, I am a 38 year-old active Mormon (1st Counselor to a local Bishop) who began reading your blog almost immediately upon returning home from my mission. The intellectual and spiritual honesty and vulnerability with which you have engaged questions of faith has helped me develop exactly the kind of critical-contemplative posture vis-à-vismy Mormonism that I now recognize as being an essential antidote to the dogmatic laziness that too often accompanies institutional religion.

I am profoundly grateful to you and The Dish staff. I wish you well in whatever your next endeavor may be. My next endeavor will be to try and fill the void that will be left as the sun sets on such an intellectually and spiritually stimulating place for sharing.