It is with enormous pleasure and pride that we announce contributing editor and columnist Dr. Christine B. Whelan’s selection for a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowship in Science & Religion—one of the youngest journalists to ever receive that honor. Christine will spend the summer at the University of Cambridge, England, engaged in research and study on the ways in which science and religion affect each other in contemporary society.
Since the fellowship began in 2004, Pulitzer Prize finalists, bestselling authors and other prominent journalists have received the award. Christine will be joined in Cambridge this year by journalists from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Discover, New Republic and Slate.com.
We are of course delighted that BustedHalo has made an impact alongside those giants of the media world. “My columns on BustedHalo were a key reason the fellowship committee took notice of my research,” Christine tells us. “BustedHalo has been a tremendous platform for me—and the readers have been so supportive by sharing their opinions in our surveys, sending my articles to friends and emailing me with comments.”
Christine will study the intersection of psychology and religion—especially as those two philosophies collide in popular self-help texts. “From Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac to Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking, advice literature has a rich history in the United States,” Christine says. “Early American advice books were predominantly religious texts, and today self-help and religion seem inextricably entwined. Christian self-help books make up to 45% of all self-help books in print, and most advice books in other categories make explicit references to God.”
As Christine’s work points out, although science and religion are often portrayed in the contemporary media as being in conflict, the story is really much more complicated than that. “The story of science and religion, with its deep roots in the past, has grown into one of the most complex, challenging, and important stories of our time,” says Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships Co-director Sir Brian Heap, Research Associate, University of Cambridge. “This program aims to support the outstanding journalists selected for the fellowships in covering this story with the depth, rigor, and thoroughness that it requires and deserves.”
That is BustedHalo’s mission too: to explore our human need for spiritual meaning with all the depth, rigor and thoroughness that this too-often neglected yearning deserves. We are proud that Christine is a part of our effort.