for drafting a guest
"Faith and Beliefs" column
for preparing material
to be incorporated into a column
0. DISCLAIMER:The column began in 1994 and runs each Wednesday, but budgetary or policy changes could end it at any time. I am not a member of The Star staff; I am a "repeat free-lance" writer.
1. Thank you for agreeing to draft a guest column for the "Faiths and Beliefs" space in the Wednesday Kansas City Star or for providing me with your material to acknowledge and include in my column.
2. The column often runs about 400 words, in 10 to 12 short paragraphs, depending on ad space and headline lay-out. Occasionally the column is severely cut, depending on ad space, placement, and shape. I have no control over the final edit, headlines, or trims.
2a. If I've sent you some specific questions, I'd usually welcome brief answers, but if I have any concern at all as I put the column together, I'll send a draft to you. Of course you can rearrange the order of the questions, combine, reword them or whatever you like, and answer questions you wish I had asked.
3. Please send me a sentence or two that I can adapt to identify you as you wish to be identified in the column.
4. Please draft your material to run about 400 words or more. I'm fairly good at editing down from a longer text. I write to space, not word-count, so polish is not required at this early stage. I am responsible for what is submitted to The Star, and I will prepare your material with the proper formatting. Don't count words too carefully; I'll help prune if necessary. If advisable, I will mark it up and send it back to you for your comments. Space is the demon that drives me to put words in your mouth, conflate, reduce, summarize, lose nuance, etc. But I will do this only with your cooperation. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions as you prepare your text.
4. See notes on style below. Please remember this is a popular, rather than academic, style. But if you use factual material, I'll need to have citations to present to my editor.
5. Please send plain text in an email, not as an attachment. Send your material to me. The best way is email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. The Star often wants the column to end with my personal reflection on the material, and I'll consult with you about that if I have any concerns.
7. Unless we've agreed on a deadline, there is no rush; but whenever you are ready, I will schedule the column. The current deadline for the column is normally Thursday morning at 8 am for publication the following Wednesday in The Star's FYI section. (Holidays can affect this schedule.) If I've asked for your consent for the edited version, please phone or email me before then.
8. For examples of past columns, visit http://www.cres.org/star and browse from the index.
Again, thank you. Your contribution will help Kansas Citians understand
the diversity and depth of religious life among us. I think this is important.
the "Faith and Beliefs" column
This was the 900th in the series,
published 2011 Dec 14
111214 THE STAR’S PRINT HEADLINE:
Q. Why are you interviewing yourself?
A. This is the
900th Wednesday for the “Faith and Beliefs” column and some questions need
Who are you?
Readers have labeled
me everything from an atheist to a fundamentalist believer. Some people
mistakenly think because I present this or that view in a particular
column, I must agree with it.
Who are your readers?
The guy behind
the parts counter at the auto dealership, the seminary professor, the young
bride, the folks in minority faiths and atheists — I like to hear from
all sorts of people, whether they approve or condemn what I write.
You discuss art, sports, music, literature, film, business, science, civic issues and other topics. You range from the beginning of time to the latest thing. What principles guide you in including them in a column on religion?
Two. First, my
professor, Mircea Eliade, believed we are called “to decipher and explicate
every kind of encounter with the sacred, from prehistory to our own day.”
He thought that secular phenomena arise from some obscuring of the sacred,
cracks in our sense of the whole, the holy. I try to point that out as
a step toward putting things together.
What column aroused the most responses?
When I complained
about the anti-Semitism, the over-the-top violence and the crude penal
theory of atonement in Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie, “The Passion of the Christ,”
the emails were overwhelming.
Do you ever run out of things to write about? How do you pick your subjects?
Each week I see at least a dozen topic possibilities. I ask myself, “What do my readers need to think about and am I prepared to present it?” — rather like the pastor planning sermons based on what the congregation needs rather than on one’s own interest. As I try to gauge what my readers would find helpful, I’m always grateful for suggestions.
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