Jesus in the Food Court goes online

Overhead of people etinhg in a photo court that has a mural of Jesus on the cross.

RMIG member Doug Mendenhall went live Feb. 8 with dougmendenhall.com to house a weekly religion column that he’s written for almost two decades.

Mendenhall, an associate JMC professor with the title of Journalist in Residence at Abilene Christian University, began writing the column in 2000 for The Huntsville Times, an Alabama daily newspaper for which he was design editor.

Portrait

Doug Mendenhall

“I was asked to lead a committee about how we could improve our features sections, and one of the suggestions was to create more personality for Faith & Values,” he said. “So, I volunteered to write a weekly personal column – and nobody stepped up to say I couldn’t.”

Doug Mendenhall Mendenhall wrote the column for The Times until 2012, although in 2008 he left Alabama to join the faculty of ACU in Texas. Once there, he also wrote for the Abilene Reporter-News as well. That stopped at the end of 2019 when the Gannett paper cut all funding for freelancers.

“It was nothing personal,” Mendenhall said. “Such a common story these days. I felt worse for the other people who lost their platform than for myself. But I did want to keep writing.”

Mendenhall said he uses his columns as examples in some of his classes: Media Writing, Opinion Writing, Race & Media and Media & Religion.

The website is branded as “Jesus in the Food Court,” a reference to a collection of Mendenhall’s early work in the 2006 book How Jesus Ended Up in the Food Court.

“I’ve always liked that title, and it’s a good thing for me to keep up there as a focus for my work – thinking about how Jesus would act in the more secular or mundane settings in which we find ourselves,” he said.

The site includes an archive of Mendenhall’s columns for the past 20 years, which he uploaded individually from old Word documents. “That’s a scary and sometimes wonderful thing, to see all your work flash before your eyes like that,” he said. “I can really tell how my thinking has changed in 20 years, but I also patted myself on the back some for those early pieces.”

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