Journalism, Karaoke, and Birdwatching
Katelyn Beaty has the distinction of being Christianity Today magazine's first female managing editor. Katelyn has been with the ministry of CT for five years and has shown time and again that she has multiple abilities to initiate and complete projects, such as the "This Is Our City" series. An Ohio native, she graduated from Calvin College in 2006 and spent a semester studying at Oxford University before moving to the Chicago suburbs to work at CT. In this interview, we hear about Katelyn's passion for the magazine, her weirdest job before CT, and what she has to say to the Christian leaders who read Christianity Today magazine.
These past five years, what have you liked most about working with Christianity Today magazine?
I've most enjoyed meeting and spotlighting Christians across the United States through the This Is Our City project. Their willingness to serve God and neighbors in sacrificial ways that often fly below the radar is inspiring. When so much brokenness dominates the news cycle, it's refreshing to be able to tell an honestly good story about the church in America.
What was your first reaction when you were asked to be Christianity Today's managing editor?
Surprise and gratitude. Surprise, because I didn't think the chance to oversee a magazine would come for several more years. Gratitude, because it demonstrated how much my colleagues believe I am capable of this challenging, exciting work.
What fresh perspectives might a woman bring to this role?
I hope that whatever fresh perspectives I bring flow from who I am as an editor, not a "woman editor," so to speak. But I do believe that gender inherently colors how we see and experience the world. So, I expect that much of what works about Her.meneutics, which I cofounded three years ago, will flow into my managing editor work. That includes serious analytical thinking, willingness to address topics once considered irrelevant to Christian faith, a hearty dose of wit, and the sense that we are made for community and can do far more together than we can alone.
What was your most unusual job before you came to CT?
I was a church janitor one summer during college. It was unglamorous work, but it had a couple of perks: I could wear jeans and listen to my Walkman all day. But I don't miss cleaning 18 toilets a day. Yes, I counted.
What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Some colleagues might guess karaoke, which, to be sure, is a close second, but I would have to say birdwatching. During college I started going on birdwatching trips with my parents, and after college I started searching for species on my own. I've seen pretty much all there is to see in the Chicago area, but have also had the chance to birdwatch in Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada, and Maine. I've accumulated over 300 species on my list—which sounds like a lot until you realize there are about 10,000 species worldwide. My favorite sighting was a snowy owl (November 2011), and my dream sighting would be anything in Costa Rica. I would take even a sparrow as long as it was in Costa Rica.
Why Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is one of the most avian-rich countries of the world, with 893 species, all of them boasting beautiful, vibrant plumage. I've always wanted to birdwatch in a tropical climate.
How would your best friends describe you?
Inquisitive. A good listener. Deep-thinking. Organized. Analytical. Hopefully, they would also describe me as a lifelong friend and a fellow traveler on the kingdom road. And then there's Kiki.
Kiki is a sort of alter-ego version of myself that comes out around family and close friends. My mom came up with the name when I was a teenager, and it stuck. Kiki enjoys karaoke, dancing around her and others' apartments, impersonating others, and contorting her body in strange ways. She sometimes gets complaints for being loud. She sees herself either growing old with a lot of cats, joining a monastic community for women, or enjoying a lifetime membership to Blue Chip Casino.
Since Christian leaders are CT's biggest audience, what one thing would you like to tell them?
Our desire to change the world, to be world changers, is good. God has given us as the church a bounty of gifts and opportunities to wield creative power to bless others, seek justice, reflect beauty, and glorify his name through it all. But our world-changing efforts will prove effective only as we abide in the One who is truly capable of "making all things new." This abiding is hidden, unglamorous work—a daily dying to self. It's difficult, but it seems it's the only way. I hope that Christian leaders, including those of us leading Christianity Today magazine, will choose this narrow way as we faithfully undertake the work God has given us to do.