Beliefnet
Year of Sundays

Since we’re new to beliefnet.com, I figured it might be a good idea for us to introduce ourselves.

Amanda P. Westmont and Joel Gunz. We might be impious delinquents, but at least we're adorable together!

So, HI! I’m Amanda P. Westmont. This is the bio Joel wrote for me when we started this project back in January:

Amanda has been a professional blogger since 2003, producing content for Disney’s Family.com, as well as AlphaMom.com, ClubMom.com and FoodLushBlog.com. With well over a million page views, her personal blog, mandajuice.com, has enjoyed wide success. Though she hates the term “mommy blogger,” she digs being recognized in airports. A self-proclaimed Kindlevangelist, Amanda released her first novel, GRAVY, exclusively on Kindle and Nook. Her erotica series is due out this summer.

And here’s the bio for my partner-in-crime, Joel Gunz:

As a professional journalist, humorist and advertising writer, Joel’s by-lined work has appeared on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and in The Oregonian, Commerce Magazine, Northwest Palate and other periodicals. He is author of two additional blogs exjehovahswitnessportland.blogspot.com and alfredhitchcockgeek.com. The latter, which enjoys a large international following, has been dubbed “The best Hitchcock blog on the Internet” and has landed him two appearances at The 39 Steps on Broadway. He is a very good kisser.

(Okay, so that last sentence was all me.)

WHAT the hell are we doing here?

Every week for a year, we’re going to visit a different church. Then we’re going to write about it. Be sure to read both of our columns — otherwise God, Allah or the giant Kool-Aid guy will either smite you or bust through your living room wall and hand you a sugary beverage, depending.

Since we’re both the kind of impious delinquents who get our thrills pissing people off, this blog won’t be for the religiously faint of heart. If you’re a believer, you might want to slip on a pair of steel toed boots before visiting our page. As a former lifetime member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Joel admits he may have issues with religion in general and Amanda admits she just has issues. So accept our apologies in advance for any snark, sarcasm, cynicism or otherwise bitter remarks. Hey, if you were forbidden to masturbate for 30 years, you’d get a little edgy too.

We write our reviews with one criterion in mind. Regarding humankind’s amazing variety of music, Duke Ellington famously said, “if it sounds good, it is good.” That’s the benchmark we will use to evaluate every religious service we attend. You’re invited to agree, to disagree, or, if you really don’t like what we write, to start your own blog. What we do promise is to be as honest as we can about our experiences.

Like the legendary New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, who held Big Hollywood pictures up to a higher standard than their lower-budget competition, we expect bigger things from bigger churches.  Yes, Pope Benedict XVI, we’re talking to you.

Also, a word about how we approach churches. We’re hardly stealth. We make it a point to introduce ourselves to the leadership and explain our mission. We believe that God, if he or she exists, probably has a secure ego. We doubt that his (or her) feelings could possibly be hurt by anything we could write.

WHY are we doing this?

Because it’s fun.

Because Margarita Monday was already taken.

Because Joel thinks Amanda looks cute in her Sunday Go To Church dress.

Because we think it might be good for the kids.

Because everybody says they’re going to do it, but nobody ever does.

Because there are worse ways to nurse a hangover.

Because, for Joel, it feels oddly naughty.

But for Amanda, it feels oddly nice.

Because, though we suspect that God is dead, it can’t hurt to hedge our bets.

Because we thought that if we could actually get through 50 posts, we could write a book.

Because sometimes you need a break from sex and happy hour.

Because we made a pact that if we break up, we’ll still write this damn thing.

Because Amanda needs a reason to buy old lady hats.

Because Baptists can’t have all the fun, Buddhists can’t have all the peace, Jews can’t have all the guilt, Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t have all the apocalypse fantasies and Catholics can’t have all the cute altar boys.

And because, frankly, we’re a little jealous of the people who believe.

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