More About the Author
Cathleen Falsani is an award-winning religion journalist, featured writer for Sojourners in Washington, D.C., and author of four critically acclaimed nonfiction books: The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006), Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace (Zondervan, 2008), and The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers (Zondervan 2009), and BELIEBER: Fame, Faith & the Heart of Justin Bieber (Worthy 2011).
Cathleen was the religion writer and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times from 2000 to January 2010. As a writer for Sun-Times and other publications, Cathleen has covered her diverse "God beat" from locations as far afield as Vatican City, Vedic City, Ireland, Germany,the Caribbean, the West Wing, the Playboy Mansion and the dugout at Wrigley Field.
She was honored as the 2005 James O. Supple Religion Writer of the Year by the
Religion Newswriters Association, and twice has been a finalist for the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year award. She goes by the nickname "God Girl," a moniker given to her by her friend and fellow writer Bill Zehme back in 2002. It started as a greeting Bill yelled to across a crowded bar the day she came off a 10-day stint on the road with Bono of U2, chronicling his humanitarian efforts to raise awareness in U.S.religious communities about the AIDS emergency in sub-Saharan Africa. It was funny -- an affectionate joke -- but it stuck. Hence, www.godgrrl.com.
Cathleen began writing her popular column on spirituality and popular culture for the Sun-Times in 2001, and also writes as a columnist for Religion News Service, Sojourners Magazine and The Huffington Post. Her work has
appeared in many media outlets including Rolling Stone, Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, Christianity Today and Christian Century magazines, as well as the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star and other publications in North America and Europe. She has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Oprah Winfrey's "Soul Series," NPR, FoxNewsChannel, Moody Radio, The Tavis Smiley Show, PBS's "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly", and a host of other radio and television venues.
Since 2004, she has maintained the religion-and-popular-culture blog "The Dude
Abides," (www.godgrrl.com and/or www.cathleenfalsani.com)
Cathleen is perhaps best known for the April 2004 interview she did with U.S. President Barack Obama (then an Illinois State senator running for U.S. Senate) about his faith -- the lengthiest and most exhaustive Obama has granted to date about his personal spiritual and religious beliefs. A profile of the President, based on that interview, appeared in her 2006 book, The God Factor, alongside profiles of other notables including Bono of U2, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Hugh Hefner, Anne Rice, Dusty Baker, Hakim Olajuwon, Tom Robbins, John Patrick Shanley, Melissa Etheridge, Billy Corgan, Harold Ramis, Studs Terkel, Bush administration speech writer Michael Gerson, Annie Lennox, and Russell Simmons.
A Connecticut native and granddaughter of Italian and Irish immigrants, Cathleen is a graduate of Wheaton College, the alma mater of the Rev. Billy Graham, former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and horror film director Wes Craven. (Though she often finds more common ground with Craven and Graham than Hastert.)
She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University as well
as a master's degree in theological studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological
Seminary. She is also a 2009 Divinity School Media Fellow at Duke University,
a Gralla Fellow in Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, and was the 1996
Stoody-West Fellow in Religious Journalism.
She is a sought-after public speaker having presented lectures and talks at
colleges, universities, civic organizations, houses of worship and large faith-based conferences nationwide, including the National Pastors Convention, the Buechner Institute, the Catalyst Conference, the Los Angeles Book Festival, the Festival of Faith and Music, and the Festival of Faith and Writing,
numerous houses of worship and colleges including Westmont College, Andrew University, Southern Baptist University, Sacramento State University, Dominican University, and St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago.
Cathleen is also an active social media maven, with more than 7,000 followers
on Twitter and 1,500+ members of her Facebook Fan Page. She blogs regularly
on her own site and for God's Politics (Sojo.net), Huffington Post, and Faith &
Leadership (Duke Divinity School), and elsewhere. She is also working on
the manuscript for a memoir about her real-life, life-changing experiences with
social networks tentatively titled, The Thread: Faith, Friendship and Facebook.
Chicago Magazine media critic Steve Rhodes has said Cathleen writes one of the city's "most compelling columns . . . despite her focus on a subject that often
is handled with a deadly dullness."
Of her longtime column, Cathleen says she likes to try to "find God in the places
some people say God isn't supposed to be," and that she defines both spirituality
and popular culture quite broadly.
In its review of her debut book, The God Factor, the Chicago Tribune said:
"Cathleen Falsani is above all else, an exemplary conversationalist...She is
enthusiastic, well-read, articulate and open-minded. [In The God Factor,] she
sweeps us right along... She has done what only great interviewers have the
wisdom and patience to do. She has set the stage and dimmed the lights just
so. She has invited us in to the conversation and left us with wonder, confusion,
elation and grace."
On a more personal note...
After 20 years in Chicago, Cathleen relocated in the summer of 2009 to Laguna
Beach, California, with her husband, fellow author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Maurice Possley. Most recently, Cathleen became a mother (officially, at least) for the first time. The High Court of Malawi approved the adoption of the Falsani-Possley's son, Vasco, in 2010.
The story of how the couple met the boy who would become their son is told, in part, in the chapter "Chisomo" in her 2008 memoir, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide
for Grace. A feature-length documentary film chronicling Vasco and his family's journey currently is in production. Filmmakers Keiko and Rob Feldman of Juris
Productions and Cinependent Films (cinependentfilms.com) plan to release "Vasco's Heart" in 2012.