Skip to content


The Grand Scheme is a project of Eileen Flynn, a veteran journalist who specializes in religion. She teaches the course Journalism & Religion at the University of Texas and frequently speaks to faith-based and secular groups about media coverage of religion. She also does freelance writing and editing.

Flynn was the religion beat writer at the Austin American-Statesman for many years. A native of Western Massachusetts, she lives in Austin with her husband and two daughters.



27 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2009 5:56 pm

    Hi Eileen,
    Great photo!

    I wanted to let you know that my book has just been released. It’s “This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.” If you email me a mailing address, I’d be happy to send you a copy.

    The book is a combination memoir and exposé that not only tells my personal story, but also documents the beginning of activist efforts to bring clergy accountability to Baptist-land. You can see more info about it here:

    Feel free to delete this comment off your blog. I used this method simply because your old Statesman email address bounced.

    Hope you’re doing well. Best wishes.
    Christa Brown

  2. July 29, 2009 11:56 am

    Cute kid, Eileen. Bet you’re having fun. Even without much sleep.

    • eeflynn permalink*
      July 29, 2009 12:55 pm

      Thanks, Dick. Yes, it’s more fun than I expected, actually. Say, your blog is really impressive. And you’re writing books??! So there is life after the Statesman.

      • July 29, 2009 11:04 pm

        Yep, racking up the rejection slips. But keeping on, anyhow. Otherwise the “life” is chauffering a 9-year-old and keeping him on his toes. 😉

  3. Diana Dworin permalink
    August 6, 2009 6:01 pm

    So glad to see this blog!

  4. Wendy Conklin permalink
    August 12, 2009 10:32 am

    Hi Eileen,

    Do you have contact information where I can reach you concerning consulting work?

    Congratulations on the new baby!

  5. September 7, 2009 7:08 am

    Dear Eileen,

    Congratulations on your baby (I have a 21-month old daughter!). I’m writing to you because I am the publicist for a forthcoming book, Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian (Oneworld Publications, October 2009) by Paul F. Knitter–professor/theologian at Union Seminary in New York.

    Without Buddha explores the subject of Christian-Buddhist double belonging and many more. Honest and unflinching, Knitter describes how he overcame a crisis of faith by looking to Buddhism for inspiration. In an engaging and fascinating interview, Knitter can discuss:
    •“Passing over” and “passing back” between religious traditions
    •The relationship between Buddhism and Christian mysticism
    •Buddhism’s ideal of “being peace” vs. Christianity’s “making peace”
    •“Comparative Theology” and “Double-Belonging”
    •Spiritual promiscuity versus spiritual hybridity
    •Does religion need to lead to violence?
    •How can religion be an instrument of peace rather than of conflict?

    Please contact me if you would like to interview Paul Knitter for your column in the Austin American-Statesman, or if you want a review copy of Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian.


  6. November 9, 2009 8:17 pm

    Hi Eileen,
    I’m a fairly new writer (Christian fiction genre) seeking opportunities to get acquainted with blogger-reader sites, and enjoyed your piece about Christian stories having to have a happy ending.
    What I like or dislike about a fictional work isn’t so much about a happy ending; rather if there are real heroes in it: books whose characters remain unchanged in the process of telling just leave me disappointed. No matter how rascally a character, if he improves and ‘gets it’ before the story is over, well good! This is what was most satisfying in “What A Christmas!”. Mrs. McPugh, my story’s villain, didn’t come across as lovable but she shaped up considerably.

    • eeflynn permalink*
      November 10, 2009 2:00 pm

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, I agree a character’s change is crucial in any story. Sometimes it can be a very small change, sometimes an epiphany that comes too late. But you’re right — regardless of the ending, it’s disappointing when a story lacks real character development.

  7. December 5, 2009 2:35 pm

    (Eileen, I sent the following via your Statesman E-mail addy, and copied it to some of my clergy/other friends here in Austin and San Antonio. Unfortunately, your E-mail bounced back. Hope you receive this. – Paul)

    Good Afternoon Eileen,

    It is always a pleasure and inspiration to read your columns in the Austin American-Statesman, and it was especially so today. You just knocked the ball out of the park in your insightful analysis of “Holiness Lost…” during this season of the year. Your quote of Warren Cole Smith, “that the Christmas wars have ironically become the ‘ultimate commercialization of Christmas,'” is right on target. So, a hardy and heartfelt Amen to your poignant and superbly written piece! (Copied below in its entirety)

    Thank you, too, for highlighting my good friend and colleague, Roger Temme in your closing paragraphs. Roger is, indeed, a hero in our community of faith. I’m forwarding this to some of his special friends and loyal fans.

    Blessings! And, oh, here’s wishing you a Happy Advent and Merry Christmas

    Paul W. Dodd, D.Min., LPC
    Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy

  8. January 11, 2010 9:13 am


    (I don’t remember if you knew me as Kojin or as John Dinsmore of the Austin Zen Center. I am now Cintita. The name changes are confusing everbody, including me. My name as used by different friends and family members is frozen at different points as a record of my religious history.)

    I am still here in Myanmar, where I reordained as a Theravada bhikkhu almost a year ago now. But I will return to Austin on March 3. I have Internet access and find myself in anticipation increasingly drawn to what is going on back home. I discovered your blog a couple of days ago and have been very much enjoying it, reading about Robert Jensen and Jim Rigby, the frustrating misunderstandings of Islam on the part of conservative Christians, and so on. It sounds like home.

    I hope you are enjoying motherhood.

    Bhikkhu Cintita

    • eeflynn permalink*
      January 24, 2010 9:19 pm

      It’s wonderful to hear from you and to discover your blog. Congratulations on your (re)ordination. It’s nice to be able to get a glimpse into your experience through your blog. When you return, will you be living at Sitagu Vihara?

      Thank you for reading my blog. I’m doing well and very much enjoying motherhood. My daughter turns 1 tomorrow. She is a joy. I also continue to teach the Journalism & Religion class and take the students to AZC every semester. Zenpo has been very generous with us the last two visits. Now that he’s in San Antonio, I hope to connect with Kosho. The students love getting out of the classroom and trying meditation.

      Will be reading your blog.

      Wishing you a safe trip back to the U.S.,

  9. Barry Chinn permalink
    January 22, 2010 12:17 pm

    Eileen, It is good to see your writing again in the Statesman! Congratulations on your new baby! Our first grandchild was a year old in November. Our daughter and son-in-law live in Cherryville, North Carolina, so we only get to see them a couple of times a year. Congratulations on your blog and best wishes in all your endeavors!

    Happy Trails!

    Barry Chinn, Pastor
    Cowboy Church of Travis County

  10. f. kwan permalink
    January 24, 2010 3:59 pm

    Congratulations on the baby!

    As I wrote in another comment area, I’ve been a fan for years. I’ve decided to follow my dreams and become…a writer about spiritual things. So I thought it would make sense to ask my role model how you got started. 🙂 I see you have “journalism students”. Can I apply to be one more? If you have time, you can write me at the above address.

    • July 8, 2010 1:18 pm

      Eileen — When Danny Pearl’s father was in town about a year ago, you interviewed him and wrote a marvelous profile. His take on forgiving the unrepentant, in this case his son’s captors and killers, was memorable. I find myself wanting to re-read the interview for that morsel but can’t find the story in the Statesman’s archives. I’m sorry to bother you, but could you possibly send me the date your interview ran or the HL or something, and maybe I’ll have better luck finding the story in the archives.

      I’m a fan of your writing. Thanks for how well you bring fresh thoughts about faith traditions to the news columns of our paper (and now, I find, on your blog which I’m thrilled to find).

      Josie Corning
      Dripping Springs

  11. February 1, 2010 12:46 pm

    Dear Eileen,
    I would like to speak to you about a dynamic and young dharma teacher and activist, Ethan Nichtern, who is coming to Austin in mid-February in connection with the newly-founded Interdependence Project here in Austin. Nichtern is the founder of the meditation/arts/activism non-profit The Interdependence Project in NYC. The website is His bio on the site, and he was on NPR and CNN recently in connection with the story concerning Tiger Woods’s Buddhist background.

    Nichtern is the author of One City: A Declaration of Interdependence. I would like to get you a press copy.

    My email is

    Thank you.

  12. March 6, 2010 8:32 am

    Thanks for the “Faith leaders push for immig. reform” column in the 3-6-10 Statesman.

    Note the robust reply (actually a biblical smackdown!) to Edwards by the Hakes:

    Click to access Hake_BIB_1-1-10.pdf

    See also:



    Dan Kowalski,

    • eeflynn permalink*
      March 7, 2010 10:05 am

      Thanks, Dan! These are great links. Much appreciated. The Hakes rebuttal is especially interesting.
      Best wishes,

  13. March 7, 2010 11:43 am

    Please consider mentioning the Hakes’ work if you publish a follow-up piece; I’d hate for folks to think that Edwards is the last word on the subject…


  14. July 18, 2010 8:25 pm

    Hello Eileen,
    I enjoyed your article, Abstract Art Can Have a Place Among the Pews, Pastor Says, in the Austin American Statesman,
    Saturday, June 26, 2010. As a follow-up to your article, please visit my web site and read my Artist Statement. If you are
    interested, please give me a call and visit my studio.

    Thank you

  15. September 6, 2010 10:19 pm

    Dear Eileen,

    I read your recent Statesman piece with great interest.

    In kind, I thought that you would also be interested in this powerful new song/video about the Ground Zero “mosque” controversy…
    “Hey American” on YouTube by my friend NYC singer/songwriter David Ippolito.
    Please watch:

    In the tradition of American folk/rock songwriters such as Dylan, Guthrie, Baez, and Bono, whose music can help change the world, David Ippolito is a voice for PEACE.

    “America isn’t easy. Principle isn’t easy. Living our principles takes genuine courage. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s just plain hard. But if we are to be the people or the country we claim to be, we must live by the principles upon which this nation was founded — or they are not principles… but pleasant and convenient possibilities.”
    — singer/songwriter DAVID IPPOLITO, New York City

    David, a NYC resident with personal connections to 9/11 and the son of a retired NYC fire department deputy chief, is reaching across the divide to encourage tolerance.
    Should you want a NYC artist-activist to interview about this controversy, please get in touch.
    I am trying to get the word out about the song “Hey American” and its message of peace and tolerance.

    Thank you kindly,
    Laura Manske

    • eeflynn permalink*
      September 6, 2010 11:21 pm

      Thanks for reading, Laura! I will definitely check out David’s song.

  16. October 11, 2010 10:26 pm


    Thank you for your coverage of religious issues for the Statesman and your thoughtful blogging here. Your voice is intelligent, compassionate, and reasonable, bringing light to issues that seem most often to be discussed only heatedly.

    As a follow-up to your column in March of last year on religious people grappling with the moral issues related to the need for immigration reform, I want to invite you to an event in Georgetown that is a local effort to counter some of the frightening rhetoric that has emerged from the debate about immigration reform.
    Keeping in mind the similarities between the smoldering economic and social turmoil of 1930’s Germany and the situation in the U.S. today, the words of Martin Niemoller become a call to action:
    They came for the Communists, and then the trade unionists, and then the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist, a trade unionist, or a Jew. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
    Recognizing our common humanity and the imperative to speak out when that is denied to any of us, an interfaith group in Georgetown is holding a public potluck dinner on October 28 at Saint Helen’s Catholic Church to build stronger relationships between the Hispanic community and the larger community, while making a statement of solidarity with those Hispanics who are being vilified and scapegoated in the national debate about the need for immigration reform. The event will feature bi-lingual table conversation, music, speakers by representatives of the Catholic and United Methodist leadership of this area, and resource tables with information on topics of interest to the Hispanic community and its allies. Please join us if you can. More information is available by emailing me at
    Best wishes,
    Susan Wukasch
    Georgetown, Texas

  17. Linda Ellis permalink
    November 20, 2010 1:53 pm

    Good Morning Eileen,
    I just read your article in the Austin American Statesman. Reading it led to my own personal reflection. The stories of belief in your article confirmed in me even more why I consider myself “spiritual” rather than “religious”.

    It’s no wonder that the statement “If you don’t believe, you can’t receive” is seen as a religious statement. It’s tied to the negatives “don’t and “can’t”. As phrased on the pillow, it sends a lot of mixed signals, but mostly it’s a finger-wagging message based in fear. It illustrates the fallacy that in order to have belief/faith we must believe in something outside ourselves. Religious beliefs/doctrines teach us that we, as inherently not so nice people, must rely on some outside source to make us do the right thing. When, in fact, our true belief comes from that inner goodness that is always part of us and always connected to our source (call he/she by any name you wish). To me, we must first believe in our own inner goodness. To create something real and lasting in life (whatever that is), it must come from an authentic place of love, not duty or fear of retribution if we venture too far from the religious doctrine. So it is my choice to change my relationship with my fellow humans, but it’s a choice that comes from within me… from a place of love and forgiveness. I’d change the message to read “If I believe, I am open to receive”.

    • eeflynn permalink*
      November 20, 2010 10:55 pm

      Hi, Linda,

      I love your take on this! If you are crafty, maybe you can start your own line of pillows with this message. ; )

      Thanks for your response,

  18. Jack Wirtz permalink
    December 9, 2011 3:22 pm


    Christianity is not a set of rules, but the measure of a Christian.

    12 Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.
    13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind. (2nd Peter 1:12-15)

    13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in GOD, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in GOD. 22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of GOD. 24 For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, 25 BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you. (1st Peter 1:13-25)

    17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2nd Peter 3:17-18)

    8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

    We are not always so much in need of teaching, as in reminding.

    Blessings Eileen

  19. August 14, 2013 12:35 pm

    I know you’re busy (I remember how it was) but since you apparently don’t have time to do specifically religious posts any more (not since April, anyhow) how about doing some about life with the kiddo? Must be a religious thought or two there, now that you’re no longer (I hope) changing diapers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: