Magazine article The Catholic World

Finding God in the Newsroom

Magazine article The Catholic World

Finding God in the Newsroom

Article excerpt

"God Dammit, I need that copy - and I need it NOW."

Most of us grew up in a newsroom environment where the most frequent involving of God's name occurred around deadline time when the city editor was trying to wrest a story from a reporter.

I have been asked to explore whether or not God exists in the newsroom. That's easy. The answer is yes.

The bigger question is: How does God's existence in broadcast and print newsrooms affect the way we conduct ourselves there?

Of course, those who don't believe in the existence of God, period, don't have to worry about these questions. But most research shows that true non-believers make up less than ten percent of the population.

Before answering the "how" question, it is important for each of us to meditate on our definition of "God." Is he man? Is she woman? Is she or he a Higher Power of some sort? Only the devil would expect me to try answering those questions. Possibly we could all simply agree that God is a mystery.

For purposes of this exercise, let's just say that you begin your day in the newsroom by logging on to your computer and becoming plugged into divine energy. Pick your own password: Alleluia, Shalom, Beelzebub...

It may not slow down your life in the fast lane, but it sure changes your perspective. Most folks find it simpler to leave their religious life at the stairs of the church or synagogue. The idea - nay, the responsibility - of living it in a newsroom makes for complications that frankly tend to give me much pause. I write not as an expert on the subject, but as one who has struggled more than succeeded.

Despite much scholarship on faith and work, I have never seen the subject addressed in the mainline media.

Rev. John C. Haughey, a Jesuit stationed in Chicago, once explained it this way: "We've got to extend the sacred to the workplace, which is often the last place where we want to extend it. People should expect to find God at work - in people, where there is justice, where there is need, where there is kindness, compassion, goodness or talent. These are the kinds of things that enable us to bring a sense of awe to what work is, even when it's humdrum."

In a recent sermon at a healing service at First Church in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, Tricia Brennan, a social worker, referred to the partnership of God and humans as "giving form to that divine desire in our daily struggles to create a just and caring world."

Fr. Chrystomos Gunning, a Russian Orthodox priest in Waldorf, MD, once made reference to getting a ghmpse of God's face with these comments: "It happens not in the pew on Sunday but in the ordinary moments of what is our daily life ... at work, wearing a skirt and blouse, in a shirt and tie, in blue jeans and boots, with grease on our hands ... while an arrogant co-worker makes life miserable for us ... and perhaps even with the fear of losing job and position hanging over our head.

Finding God in church and prayer is not the hard part; finding him where we would rather not have him - that's the hard part."

Let's ponder the "hard part" for a moment. The early mystics used to write about the dark night of the soul. If you are working hard yet feeling more empty, you know what that means. Indeed, there are moments when we all are alienated from the light. We are grappling with all sorts of difficulties. They may be personal difficulties; they may be the by-product of staring tragedy in the face in our day in, day out coverage of life on the streets.

The ethic of the workplace revolves around power, status, competition, compromise, financial security and inappropriate company demands, according to William E. Diehl, author of Thank God It's Monday, who cites the words of Charles Revson and Vince Lombardi as the mantras of the work world.

Revson of Revlon: "I don't meet competition, I crush it."

Lombardi, the Green Bay Packers coach: "Winning is not the most important thing. …

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