God Girl’s Bio

Cathleen, age 4.
God Girl circa 1973. She later became an ardent supporter of hand-gun control.

Cathleen Falsani is an award-winning religion journalist and author of the critically acclaimed The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, BELIEBER: Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber, and Disquiet Time: A Devotional for Ordinary Skeptics (co-edited with Jennifer Grant). She is at work on several book projects, including a book about global hunger with Jenny Eaton Dyer, and the tentatively titled The Raffle: How I Took A Chance, Won A Family, and Learned the Power of ‘Why Not?’ —the story of how Vasco became her son. 

A Connecticut native and granddaughter of Italian and Irish immigrants, Cathleen is a graduate of Wheaton College, the alma mater of one of her heroes, the Rev. Billy Graham. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University as well as a master’s degree in theological studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She also was a 2009 Divinity School Media Fellow at Duke University, a Gralla Fellow in Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, and was the 1996 Stoody-West Fellow in Religious Journalism.

Cathleen is a featured writer for Sojourners, where from August 2011 to December 2012, she served as Web Editor and Director of New Media for the Sojourners organization and ran its popular God’s Politics blog. She also was a contributing editor and columnist for Sojourners magazine.

Cathleen was the religion writer and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times from 2000 to January 2010, and was a longtime contributor and columnist for Religion News Service. Most recently, she was the Faith & Values columnist for the Orange County Register (from February 2013 to January 2014, when her position was eliminated in a company-wide downsizing). During her busy tenure at the Register, she covered the election and first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate (traveling to Rome for his election and installation), the post-AIDS-emergency rebirth in Zambia and Malawi, music, film, comedy, and faith (among many other things.)

For nearly 15 years, in addition to (and often complimenting) her work on the religion beat, she has written extensively about development and justice issues in Africa, including in-the-field reporting from Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and its island of Zanzibar, Haiti, and Nepal.

Cathleen today.
Cathleen today.

For 20 years, as a reporter, columnist, commentator, and essayist for a number of publications, Cathleen has covered her diverse “God beat” from locations as far afield as Vatican City, Vedic City, Ireland, Germany, the Caribbean, the West Wing, the Playboy Mansion and the dugout at Wrigley Field. She was honored as the 2005 James O. Supple Religion Writer of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association, and has twice been a finalist for the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year award.

Chicago Magazine media critic Steve Rhodes called Cathleen’s writing one of Chicago’s “most compelling columns…despite her focus on a subject that often is handled with a deadly dullness.” Of her columnizing, Cathleen says she likes to try to “find God in the places some people say God isn’t supposed to be,” and that she defines both spirituality and popular culture quite broadly.

Cathleen began writing her popular weekly column on spirituality and popular culture for the Sun-Times in 2001, wrote a regular column for Religion News Service for several years, ending in September 2011 when she took on a full-time role at, Sojourners. Since 2006, Cathleen has been a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. Her work also has appeared in Rolling Stone, Christianity Today and Christian Century magazines, as well as the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star, Kansas City Star, Madison Capital Times, The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, CNN.com and other publications in North America and Europe. She has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Oprah Winfrey’s “Soul Series,” National Public Radio’s “The Story” and “Weekend Edition,” BBC World Service, FoxNewsChannel, Moody Radio, WGN-Radio, NPR’s “Day to Day,” The Tavis Smiley Show (on PBS), and a host of other radio and television venues.

Cathleen with her husband, Maurice Possley, and their son, Vasco, in 2009.

Cathleen is a sought-after public speaker having presented lectures and talks at colleges, universities, civic organizations, houses of worship and large faith-based conferences nationwide, including the Wild Goose Festival, the National Pastors Convention, the Catalyst Conference, the Los Angeles Book Festival, the Festival of Faith and Music, and the Festival of Faith and Writing,  St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago, WomenChurch, Point Loma Nazarene University’s Symposium by the Sea, Dominican University in Chicago, California State University in Sacramento, and a host of universities, conferences, festivals, institutions, and houses of worship throughout the country.

She is honored to serve as a member of the advisory board for ONE Girls and Women, part of the ONE Campaign.

Since 1997, Cathleen has been married to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Maurice Possley, with whom she operates Sinners & Saints Consulting, a literary consultancy working with non-fiction and fiction authors, as well as with filmmakers and television producers.

After 20 years in Chicago, in the summer of 2009, Cathleen moved with Maury and their son Vasco to Laguna Beach, California. Vasco, who was born in Malawi in Central Africa, became a permanent part of the Possley family on June 1, 2010 when his adoption was approved by the High Court of Malawi in Blantyre.

7 thoughts on “God Girl’s Bio

  1. So I was wondering what it would take to have you up here and speaking to our church sometime, like a Sunday evening or some event. We are in Thousand Oaks–not TOO far from Laguna.

    You seem to be a delightful and thoughtful person. We have more of those up here.

    Pastor Stuart

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