Julia Duin (pronounced “Deen”) is an accomplished writer and journalist who has worked for 5 newspapers, written five books, along with more magazine articles than she can count. She has chalked up 25 years full-time experience in journalism, has taught journalism at four colleges and got her second master’s degree (in journalism) at the University of Memphis in December 2014. She has spent the 2014-2015 academic year as the Snedden Chair at the University of Alaska/Fairbanks, a prestigious post that includes some of the most accomplished journalists in the country. She has freelanced many times for the Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, More magazine and is a contributing writer for the Washington Post Sunday magazine.
More than 14 of her years in the field were spent at The Washington Times, beginning in 1995. She began as culture page editor, then religion editor, winning many awards and being sent everywhere from India and Israel to Italy and Iceland (yes, four countries that begin with “I”) to do her job. She left the Times in mid-2010 and spent the next two years freelancing for everything ranging from the Economist to the Wall Street Journal. The bulk of her work was for The Washington Post Sunday magazine and Style section, for which she did 13 (mostly articles 2,000-3,000 words long) pieces through 2012 although there’s another due out in July 2015. Julia pulled in three awards in October 2012 for her Post pieces and a Wilbur award in April 2015 for a profile she wrote for More magazine. Before the sojourn at University of Memphis, she taught journalism for a year at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
Julia’s earned her first master’s degree in religion in 1992 at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a seminary near Pittsburgh. In addition to working more than three years with the Houston Chronicle in the late 1980s, she put in a year-long stint as a city editor for The Daily Times in Farmington, N.M. in the mid-1990s.
As religion editor for The Washington Times, she covered events ranging from inner city ministries in Brooklyn, N.Y. and a church/state conflict in northeastern Alabama to a famous child abuse case in eastern Washington state and the 2005 election of Pope Benedict XVI. For seven years, she oversaw interns on the Times’ national desk and edited the Times’ widely read second page, Culture & Etc., which has become known for its timely articles on national trends ranging from the media, the arts, abortion, teen pregnancy, spirituality, ethics, religion, TV sex and violence, gay rights issues and many other culture wars topics. When she switched to the religion beat in 2003, she put together award-winning series on ‘female feticide’ in India, the ‘new sanctuary movement’ among immigrants in America and the future of American clergy.
She is fluent in French, conversant in Spanish and German and speaks portions of Kurdish, Arabic, Russian and Italian. The Kurdish was for her 2004 trip to northern Iraq (where she was snuck in by a friendly NGO over the Turkish border); the Italian was to help her better cover the papal election in 2005 and the Russian was to help her get through almost seven weeks in Kazakhstan in 2007 as she awaited the adoption of her then 22-month-old daughter, Olivia Veronika, aka “Veeka.”
A native of Baltimore, Julia has been to nearly every state in the union, as her travels started at the age of six weeks when her family moved to Hawaii. She received her bachelor’s degree at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. She began magazine writing in high school, and gained national recognition as a correspondent for evangelical publications such as “Christianity Today” and “Charisma.”
She is not afraid to tackle tough topics and her first two books, which were on single Christians and sexuality, landed her on numerous radio and TV shows. She demonstrated her versatility in writing styles by producing a children’s book as her third work: “Waiting for True Love,” a collection of 19th century fairy tales that have a message. It was published in May 1998 and reflects her concern that children receive the kind of literature that inspires them to live noble lives. The book has since been renamed “Knights, Maidens and Dragons: Six medieval tales of virtue and valor,” was republished in 2011 and can be purchased on Amazon.com. Her fourth book,”Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do About It,” came out in 2008, and has been her best-selling book. You can get it on Kindle here. Book no. 5, “Days of Fire and Glory: The Rise and Fall of a Charismatic Community,” is her favorite book and one that took 15 years to get into print. Although the writing and research were complete by 1994, the book was not published until 2009. Fortunately, a new generation of Christians intrigued by the community lifestyle – as well as folks involved in the charismatic renewal – are still discovering the book. (Order it here). Her newest book about 20-something Appalachian serpent handlers is coming out in November 2017, courtesy of the University of Tennessee Press. It is called “In the House of the Serpent Handler: A Story of Faith and Fleeting Fame in an Age of Social Media. (Order it here). She fell into this topic while doing a lengthy piece for the Washington Post, and has continued following this group of unusual believers.
BV (Before Veeka), Julia liked to ski, hike, bike and play the Celtic harp. She pursued her harp studies at a worldwide gathering for folk harpists in 2001 in Edinburgh and has attended many other harp conferences. She even won a few blue ribbons in harp competitions. Julia also taught journalism as an adjunct at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., (fall 2001) and at the University of Maryland (spring 2012) and was nominated three times by the Times for a Pulitzer Prize.