Opinion

Faith, and its (dis)contents

A local activist we know has complained that this newspaper spends too much time talking to architects and ministers.

Our response: both groups are making things happen around us, shaping our community as surely as the many islanders working to preserve trees or restore streams. It would be senseless to ignore them or dismiss their work because some are personally discomfited or affronted by it.

By our observation, architects are ready advocates in their own behalf; our local clerics less so, perhaps for want of an obvious vehicle outside their own congregations. And truth be told, organized religion has a generally awkward relationship with the media. Popular films and television tend to portray the clergy as fire-breathing zealots with southern accents – usually hypocrites, at that – a stereotype driven by the antics of some televangelists. Some clerics, in turn, condemn the media for the more prurient aspects of its content. (For his part, your humble editor sometimes signs his professional

correspondence, “Godless Liberal Press.”) In both cases, the truth is much more complex, as truth will be.

So we have come to consider reportage on the faith community integral to this newspaper’s mission, as surely as our coverage of government, schools, sports and arts groups. We recently revived our Island Faith series profiling local congregations; we are about halfway through the church directory, and intend to finish the series in coming months. We have also reported some recent timely news, including the opening of Grace Episcopal Church’s stunning building on Day Road, and the Kol Shalom group’s new place of worship in Winslow.

On today’s Calendar page, readers will find the first in a series of monthly columns from the Interfaith Council of Bainbridge and North Kitsap. Ross Boundy, bishop of the island’s Latter-day Saints ward and this year’s IFC president, offers the debut. The writers may quote from sectarian texts, but they will not proselytize; they will, we believe, give insight into our faith community, what motivates its members, and how they engage the issues of the day. We thank the IFC for using the Review as a forum to reach greater Bainbridge.

Why write about religion? It tends to be in the news a lot. Some high-profile foreign conflicts are driven by sectarian differences. Domestically, the Religion Newswriters Association notes the admission of homosexuals into the clergy and the split among faith groups over the war in Iraq, as among the social issues driven by doctrinal differences. And it should be recalled that the events of Sept. 11, 2001 – an intimation of national mortality, if you will – filled pews across the land, if only for a few weeks.

Closer to home, a lot of your island neighbors devote

considerable time and money to their faith institutions. To our thinking, that alone makes religion worth some attention.

And you know, there are only so many architects.

New views

It’s perhaps worth noting that the Review’s columnist

lineup has undergone other changes of late.

Island writer Cathy Nickum joins society maven Sally Robison in semi-regular rotation opposite this space on Wednesdays, with Ann Lovejoy still our Saturday stalwart.

Naturalist Ian Bentryn, recently on sabbatical, tells us that he will take up the quill again soon; his writings will move to the Midweek edition with Tom “The Latte Guy” Tyner and various Guest Column submissions. Weekend columnists on our Calendar page include Marcia Rudoff (senior issues), Barbara Clark (Helpline), Nancy Sefton (water resources), and now the Interfaith consortium.

We thank all for their participation, and contributing their vibrant hues to the palette of island living.

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