Saturday, January 2, 2010

The End of "Beliefs" at NYT.

After 20 years of writing the Beliefs column for the New York Times, Peter Steinfels calls it quits.

It is partly to regain such freedom that, having left the regular staff of the paper in 1997, I have decided to bring Beliefs to a close. I look forward to being less limited to “900-word thoughts” and to being more personal, more direct and, when needs be, more political.

Ten years ago, Max Frankel, who had been executive editor of The Times when Beliefs began, gave up a column on the news media that he wrote for the Sunday Magazine. Mr. Frankel recalled in an interview that George Bernard Shaw had compared writing a column to “standing under a windmill, no sooner have you ducked one blade than the next one comes down.”

A column, Mr. Frankel said, “takes hold of your life” and creates constant worry “about what the next one will be about.”

I am not sorry that Beliefs took such a hold of my life. I am deeply grateful to the thousands of religious leaders, scholars and ordinary believers and nonbelievers whom I have encountered because of it. I regret that in so many cases, under threat of another blade coming down and another and another, I have failed to maintain contact with them and their work.

I forgive all those people who introduced themselves by saying that they read Beliefs “religiously.” And I will not miss worrying about what the next column will be about.



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