Stepping back

Two years ago, I approached my friend Rebecca about starting a blog together. At the time I’d just finished a longtime writing partnership and found I missed the dialogue. But as Rebecca and I chatted about Big Issues on Facebook, I realized that she was a smart and formidable writer who would help me raise my game as I think through issues.

She agreed, and 606 was born.

I had the honor of writing the first post. I introduced the intent of the blog thusly:

For me, writing is a discussion. I spent most of a decade writing a point-counterpoint column that was syndicated to newspapers. When that ended, I searched for a new discussion. Rebecca, my friend, turned out to be an excellent person to be in dialogue with, and I’m glad she’s here too. It’s also nice that we have enough in common, idea-wise, that our conversations on this blog won’t consist of endless arguing. Then again, I think our perspectives differ just enough to keep each other honest.

I think we’ve done some pretty good work here over the last two years, at times amplifying a lefty Mennonite perspective on issues that was worthy of amplifying, both to the world at large and in more intra-Menno debates. Rebecca, if you can’t tell, has done the lion’s share of the work — pulling in contributions from outside contributors, doing interviews, and generally making us look like a real website.

For awhile, I’ve been embarrassed by my inability to keep up. More recently, I’ve realized that whatever my best intentions, I probably can’t at this point. I still love being in dialogue with Rebecca, but my writing energies these days are directed at writing a three-times-a-week column for TheWeek.com. It’s a tremendous privilege, but it sometimes leaves me thinking I don’t have much smart left to say in this space. It’s also true that I abandoned Facebook in December, and while I continue to be relieved by that decision, it made me feel like I couldn’t sufficiently promote what I was writing here.

So I am, with Rebecca’s permission and generosity, backing out of a day-to-day role at 606.

You’ll notice already that she’s brought aboard some smart new contributors to refresh and revitalize the site. I’m particularly excited to see contributions from Angela Muhuri, who is one of the dearest friends of my life. This blog, I believe, is in good hands going forward.

I won’t disappear entirely. From time to time, I may pop my head in here with thoughts about topics that don’t quite fit my mission at The Week. There is a season for everything — I am so glad to have helped launch this site, and I hope that it grows and becomes an ever-more fertile ground for ideas, discussion and dialogue.

And yes: No matter how far I drift from orthodox Christianity, no matter how seldom I end up attending church, one truth abides — this song still gives me chills.

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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