[Re-posted from earlier today]
Quite a while back, I wanted to create at the Dish a real online conversation about the last things and the first things – as well as the present things. In due time, the Dish’s weekend has emerged, from my original ramblings and readings and now curated and edited by the Dish team, led by Jessie Roberts, elevated by Alice Quinn, and deepened by Matt Sitman. We’ve created, I hope, a very rare place online that takes some time in the week to gather and air the best ideas, arguments, insights in online writing about literature, love, death, philosophy, faith, art, atheism, and sexuality.
In one of our reader surveys, we discovered that 50 percent of Dish readers are believers and 50 percent are non-believers. Where else do you find that kind of mix online or in the culture at large? I know it drives a lot of readers nuts that we actually take religious faith and experience seriously at the Dish – but I also know that many others of you really appreciate what we do here each weekend, and, even when you disagree strongly with stuff I write or we link to, see the importance of a civil space for this vital conversation.
My own belief is that you cannot understand politics today without also understanding religion – whatever your beliefs may be. And, while I am obviously a believing Christian, I hope the Dish is a place where a passionate atheist can also read views and arguments consonant with her own. It’s the conversation that counts. Or rather: the civil conversation.
So forgive me for interrupting this Sunday’s coverage by asking those of you who value its unique mix to renew your expiring subscription here, if you haven’t yet, or to subscribe for the first time here, if you never have. Just ask yourself how much this coverage is worth to you over a year and pay your own price. If you’ve read something that made you think, or spurred your imagination, or provoked a memory, or generated a prayer, or cemented your atheism, ask yourself how much that experience is worth, compared with everything else you pay for.
I know things are tight, which is why we aren’t changing our basic subscription of $1.99 a month and $19.99 a year, but if you can give more, we will plow those resources into this part of the weekend and into consolidating Deep Dish’s coverage of these questions as well – see The Untier Of Knots, my essay on Pope Francis as a prototype of how we hope at some point to start commissioning and publishing essays as well as curating and commenting on them.
And thanks for being here each week. I’ve learned so much and hope to learn so much more in the years to come.
A reader quotes another who isn’t a big fan of Sunday Dish:
The fact is you are kind of a blowhard. And a drama queen. Plus, also, you’re wrong. A LOT. Sometimes I wonder why I keep reading someone with such knee-jerk initial reactions (to insane wars, to mildly flubbed debates, to brain dead women being propped up by the state in order to fulfill some religious freaks’ rules). And don’t get me started on your devotion to your god. I never, EVER read the Dish on Sundays – I’d rather burn in hell.
I too hate the Sunday content, and often disagree with you (at least in the interval before you come around) but I renewed my subscription for $100 yesterday when I originally intended to send $50. This is why: You published this letter, when none of your readers would ever have known if you had simply discarded it. Just try to imagine Limbaugh doing such a thing.
A new subscriber, on the other hand, doesn’t mind all the God stuff:
It is important to me to point out that I have not found, elsewhere, a more vocal Christian who also engages with the world-as-it-is. You have managed to simultaneously embrace your faith without having to demean the world around as obstacles, enemies or contradictory. It is the first time I have seen my faith reflected in a public persona. You manage to speak about your own faith with poignance, without doing so in a way that comes off as agenda-driven, heavy-handed, or argumentative.
So, I always find it curious how some find it off-putting. I, as you, find value in people describing the things that bring them passion – even if I do not agree. You offer counter-points to your own views – and not caricatures, but rather the best arguments of your opponents. That is rare today. I’ll pay for that.
From an M.Div.:
If there’s one category of reader comment I really, really, really wish you’d stop featuring, it’s your readers who whine incessantly about the fact that you are a Christian. The degree to which these class of folks will just sort of go out of the way to try to remind you that you are somehow less intelligent for these reasons is just amazing. I mean, it’s just so insufferable. “I read you, you link to interesting things, you share different sides of the debate, but by goodness, you are just so stupid what with the praying and the kneeling!” It’s like they can’t fathom an interesting, well-rounded person who happens to not believe in the gospel according to Richard Dawkins.
I know that you should keep highlighting these readers out of principle, but if no one ever writes to say thank you for a Sunday that takes me places I want to actually go from time to time, then consider this message that thanks.