God Girl’s Got News: Religion Dispatches and ‘Remapping’ Christianity

11075263_10152909550180819_5979026208049641961_nHiya folks,

Loooooong time no write (in this space at least.)

Well, I’m back. For realsies and when I’m not noodling in this longtime space (11 years!) you can find me over at my new gig on Religion Dispatches.

To wit: announcement time (via RD and our host family, the University of Southern California — Trojan Country) —

Cathleen Falsani, an award-winning religion journalist, will spearhead coverage of the changing landscape of American religious practice, identity and belief in Religion Dispatches.

As senior editor for the daily online magazine about religion, politics and culture, Falsani will lead the three-year “Remapping American Christianities” project. She will work alongside Lisa Webster and Evan Derkacz, the magazine’s co-editors.

Besides launching the new initiative, Falsani will work with students at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism who are interested in covering religion and spirituality.

The Christianities project is funded by a $1 million grant the Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded to USC Annenberg School in December. The magazine is overseen by Diane Winston, holder of the Knight Chair in Media and Religion.

Cathleen is one of the country’s leading religion journalists.

~ USC/Annenberg Knight Chair in Media & Religion, Diane Winston

“Cathleen is one of the country’s leading religion journalists,” Winston said. “She has an unerring sense of how people live out their spiritual commitments and find meaning in their daily lives.”

Papal coverage

Falsani was religion writer for the Chicago Sun Times from 2000-10 and most recently religion columnist for the Orange County Register, where she covered the election of Pope Francis in Rome and his first pontifical year. She served as Web editor and director of new media for Sojourners magazine and she has been a longtime contributor and columnist to Religion News Service.

Her writing has appeared on numerous media outlets, including Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune,Christianity Today, The Atlantic and TIME. Her sixth and most current work explores the spiritual, social, cultural, political and technological reasons for Pope Francis’ popularity.

“I am thrilled to be joining colleagues who are passionate about serious journalism at the intersection of faith and culture.” Falsani said. “The Remapping American Christianities project will explore the root questions behind shifting cultural expressions of identity, meaning and lived beliefs that are inextricably tied to the American experience.”

Falsani, who holds degrees from Northwestern University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, was honored as the 2005 James O. Supple Religion Writer of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association and twice has been a finalist for the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year award.

Launched in 2008, Religion Dispatches has been nominated for a Webby Award three of the last four years. In 2014, it had 2.7 million unique views. The site moved to USC Annenberg in October 2013.

And all the people said SQUEE.

You can read the entirety of my first piece for RD, “The Gospel According to Frank Underwood,” HERE.
And you can read a few bars I hummed about the passing of the Rev. Robert H. Schuller HERE.
Categories: BREAKING NEWS!, GODSTUFF | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Justin Bieber’s Arrest in Miami Beach

justin mug shot

click photo to go to full story

Thank God no one was hurt in the alleged drag-racing incident in Miami overnight that led to the pop star’s arrest.

But Justin IS hurt. He’s been injured in a way that’s worse than what could have happened in a car wreck.
I had hoped he’d avoid taking this path, the one far-more-traveled-by than the one he should have taken. He can change course, right the ship, and carry on paying it forward. But he’s going to need help (divine and human). It’s going to take time.
And he’s going to have a lot of amends to make — but NOT for the sake of his career.
I wish I could dispatch (Justice League-style) a few particularly wonderful clergy and musician friends to grab him when he’s released from the lock-up and bundle him off to somewhere safe and private where he can deal with the mess he’s made and still know that he is loved by God exactly the same (and just as much) as he was before he started misbehaving, and that grace is there for him.
For all the media who have been contacting my agent to talk to me about Justin’s arrest: I have been turning down interview requests for months because I have had nothing constructive to say. But I do now.
And it starts with an apology to Justin for being a part of  the media pressure that contributed to his arrival at this troubling, scary, and sad place.
Justin, I am sorry. Please forgive me.
“Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.” ~ Richard Rohr

My media colleagues:To request an interview, please contact my agent:


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Roger, We Will Miss You

Roger Ebert died today. He was 70.

I will miss him and I am grateful to have crossed paths with him along the way.


From a piece I wrote about Roger and his memoir Life Itself a few years ago:

“To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts,” Ebert said. “We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try…I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”


Categories: BREAKING NEWS! | 1 Comment

God Girl’s Got News: My Happy Return to Fourth Estate


Imgage via Wiki Commons:

It is with great delight that I share some (personal) breaking news: At the end of the month, I will be joining the staff of the Orange County Register as its Faith & Values Columnist.

I’ll be on sabbatical until then, but I am thrilled to be joining the Register in this new era, with a publisher, Aaron Kushner, who believes in the power and necessity of excellent newspaper journalism. In the last few months, the Register has hired more than 70 new reporters, columnists, editors,  and designers.

When I visited the Register offices in Santa Ana late last year, I found something I hadn’t seen in more than a decade and feared I might never see again: a thriving newsroom. Every seat filled. Humming with the sounds of reporters doing their thing. Bubbling with energy and excitement. Unnamed_CCI_EPS

I was beyond thrilled to meet astute and creative editors who understand the importance of covering issues of faith, religion, values, morals, ethics, and belief that are a vital part of the fabric, history, and future of Orange County.

During the 3.5 years since my family relocated from Chicago to Orange County, I have fallen head-over-heels in love with this magical place, its lively and diverse community, and the extraordinary people I’m blessed to call my neighbors.

I can’t wait to dig in, discover, and tell their stories.

It’s an unexpected new chapter in my life for which I am deeply grateful.

Thanks to all of you for walking with me these many years and for joining me on this new adventure.

Categories: BREAKING NEWS! | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

CH-CH-CH-CH CHANGES: News from God Girl

It’s easier telling everyone this kind of thing at the same time.

This is a good thing. But it’s time for me to be going…

Below is most of the note I sent to my colleagues at Sojourners earlier today:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~ (From Mary Oliver‘s poem, “The Summer Day”)

Dear Sojourners friends and colleagues,

I have some news to share with you that is difficult (for me at least) but wanted you to hear it from the horse’s (or mama bear’s) mouth: In a few weeks, I will be leaving the staff as Web Editor and Director of New Media.

Change is hard. There is always a certain lamenting that comes with it, even when the change is, on many levels, a good thing. This was a difficult decision but one I felt I had to make in order to follow the lead of the Spirit. Our bosses received my news earlier this week with great grace, love and support.

See the thing is, as many of you know, I didn’t become a mother until about four years ago when my husband, Maury, and I welcomed home our boy, Vasco, whom we adopted from Malawi. Vasco, is now 13 and, as any parent of a teenager will tell you, they need you during these transitional boy-to-man/girl-to-woman years perhaps more than ever before, even as they are sprouting their independent wings and pulling away from you.

Being Vasco’s mother is the single most important thing to me in the world. It is my heart’s work. Writing is my calling and vocation, but mothering goes beyond either of those things. Unfortunately, my position at Sojourners has taken me away from Vasco — both physically when I travel to the DC offices and in other ways as well. When I’m home in the SoJoWest offices (i.e. my guest room downstairs) I’m still not really here.

So I must leave you to be with him more fully (and with his father) in the community where we live among our soul friends, where my spirit is filled and fed and inspired to go and do — but from right here by the shores of the Pacific.

I have made some wonderful friends at Sojourners — more than a few I hope to keep for the rest of my life. Thank you for your hard work, your devotion to the uncommon good, your kindness and generosity of spirit. For your faith and stubborn hope that the arc of history may be long but it does, as Dr. King said, in fact bend toward justice, I am ever grateful….

I’ll leave you with the poem by Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese,” which, appropriately enough, is also the name of the festival where I heard God’s still, small voice calling me in a different direction (back home, back to being a full-time mom to my beautiful son, the joy of my life).

May the peace of the Lord be with all of you as you continue to serve the world with grace, love, and a boatload of chutzpah.

Cathleen (aka “Mama Bear”)
“Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Categories: BECOMING FAMILY, BREAKING NEWS!, God Nods, VASCO'S HEART | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Belieber! Book News




Now available through iTunes – two brand-spankin’ new FREE apps for iPodTouch, iPhone and iPad that will keep you up-to-date with all the Belieber! news you could possibly want. Find out about upcoming events before they’re announced elsewhere, hear about contests and Belieber! swag, get the inside scoop from author Cathleen Falsani and the latest news from Belieber Nation right on your phone, iPod or iPad.

And the best part: It’s FREE! thanks to the awesome folks at LoudToast.

Download your Belieber! app today through the Apple app store or by clicking on the iTunes link HERE.








We’re so happy to announce that BELIEBER!: Fame, Faith & the Heart of Justin Bieber is now available for pre-order!

Click HERE to order on

Click HERE to order on Barnes&Noble

Click HERE to order through

The book will hit bookstores worldwide on September 27, 2011 and may even ship earlier through some of the online booksellers.

Be the first to get a copy of BELIEBER! by pre-ordering yours today!

Categories: BREAKING NEWS! | Leave a comment

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