Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind Wins Prize for General Excellence

There are moments in marriage you remember, images in a mental frame. Last night, I got to see my tuxedoed husband Mr. Chattering (Steven Waldman) charge up to a podium at Lincoln Center to receive from the American Society of Magazine Editors’s award for Website General Excellence. We won in that category over,,, and dozens of other excellent websites that entered the competition (the award itself, modeled after an Alexander Calder sculpture, is called an “Ellie” because it looks like an elephant). As images of our web pages were flashed on an overhead screen, here’s what was said by presenter Mark Whitaker, the former editor of Newsweek, now an NBC News vice-president:


“ is remarkable in both its focus on spirituality, inspiration
and faith, and its ability to unite a diverse audience under one digital
roof. Its strong content and web-friendly presentation feel rich and
satisfying. Packed with provocative commentary, unique blogs, user-generated material, original videos and inspirational talks, the site soothes and amuses in features as far-ranging as Preachers and Teachers, coverage of the DaVinci Code, the Jovialities and The Virtual Talmud. The site is one of a kind.”

All this causes me to flash back to a quieter moment in 1998, when Mr. Chattering came home to our row house in Washington D.C., having just met with some investors to discuss a long proposal he had written for a multi-faith religion magazine.


I think I was either emptying the dishwasher or holding a baby when Chattering put his backpack down and said to me, with an air of exhaustion, “They don’t want a magazine on paper. But if I turn it into a website, they’ll continue talking to me.”

“A website?” I said, perplexed and a little angry. Inside, I was thinking: “I don’t know websites. I dislike computers. I can’t relate to that.”

And this is where the “visionary” title truly fits dear Mr. Chattering. He walked downstairs to his basement office and rewrote the proposal that night. He came up with ways a web-zine (still very much an emerging form) could be better than a magazine on paper. With a website, readers could get information, interact, chat, post memorials, and form prayer circles quickly.


What Mr. Chattering visualized then is remarkably similar to what is right now. In his acceptance speech last night, Chattering saluted Beliefnet’s incredibly devoted, talented staff. He recalled the day when Beliefnet went into bankruptcy six years ago, and he was forced to lay off everyone on the staff–including himself–because he didn’t have any money left to pay them. That was on a Friday. Come Monday, everyone came back to work, he said. The website, in its darkest hours, never faded to black. Editors wouldn’t quit because they believed in the project and loved the topic with all their hearts.

Things come together. You wallow through life’s difficult patches, and you’re surprised to find gold at the end. And then you realize–to your amazement–that life’s been golden the whole time. We’re surrounded by gold, in fact, but we fail to see it. We don’t realize how happy we are until we choose to take that happiness in. I extend my warmest congratulations to the team; I thank every contributor, and send my deep appreciation to you, our readers, for sharing your thoughts, hopes, prayers and dreams. It’s been a joint venture, blessed from the outset.

Comments read comments(6)
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Laurie Sue

posted May 3, 2007 at 2:55 pm

What a BEAUTIFUL share! Thanks for letting us in on the history, the vision and the triumph. God Bless!

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Shelley Ackerman

posted May 3, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Congratulations Amy, Steve and all at Beliefnet. Well done, Well done! I love that this posting follows the one about Ricki Lake giving birth in a bath tub. In a sense, Steve (“Mr. Chattering”) and the original Beliefnet Team did the equivalent in 1998 with ‘birthing’ Beliefnet, in what at the time (might have looked unusual to some) as it took quite the leap-of-faith into unchartered cyber territory. May Beliefnet continue to grow as a unique and valuable forum for people of all faiths and philosophies to share ideas and learn about each other.

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posted May 3, 2007 at 3:22 pm

I like to add my thanks for sharing all the history with us. Wow! I want to also add that I love this site and spread the word to all my fellow web surfers. I get just about every newsletter in my email box and I start my day reading all of them. Even though I’m Catholic by origin and founding faith, I enjoy reading and learning about other faiths. This is the perfect place to do so along with finding solace, companionship and inspiration. Thank you, Beliefnet. com and congratualations on a job well done. Please, Amy, share this comment with your husband along with my deepest appreciation for this site.

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posted May 3, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Thank you for sharing this experience with us and most importantly, Congratulations on a job well done. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the articles and insight. Your courage and dedication are an inspiration to me to continue forward no matter what I chose. Blessings to all.

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posted May 4, 2007 at 4:01 pm

I would also like to add my congrats along with the others. I really love this whole web site.

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posted May 6, 2007 at 5:22 pm

I wish to compliment Bnet’s recent new choices in blog commentators, replacing previous ones. :-)

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