About Dean Nelson

Dean Nelson is the founder and director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. He writes occasionally for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Christianity Today, Sojourners, and several other national publications. He has won several awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for his reporting, and has written or co-written 14 books. Nelson is a frequent speaker at writing workshops and conducts retreats that focus on spiritual depth.

He has traveled throughout the world covering stories of human interest — India, where he wrote about the slums of Bombay; Kosovo, where he interviewed and wrote about victims of terrorism; Africa, where he wrote about members of the Black Panther Party who live in exile in Tanzania; Tibet, where he wrote about religious persecution; Central America, where he wrote about poverty and contaminated water; New Orleans, where he wrote about the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Haiti, where he wrote about the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, and elsewhere.

His book on the seven sacraments, God Hides in Plain Sight: How to Find the Sacred in a Chaotic World, was published by Brazos Press in September, 2009.

His most recent book is Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion, published in 2011 by Lion-Hudson Press of Oxford, England. The book is about the life of John Polkinghorne, a world-famous physicist who became a priest in the Anglican Church. It is also about how faith and science do not need to be mutually exclusive.

In addition to directing the PLNU journalism program, Nelson also hosts the annual Writer’s Symposium By The Sea, where prominent writers come to discuss the craft of writing. Nelson has interviewed Amy Tan, Anne Lamott, Gay Talese, Anchee Min, Ray Bradbury, George Plimpton, Otis Chandler, Kathleen Norris, Donald Miller, Bill Moyers, Jim Wallis, Chitra Divakaruni, Joseph Wambaugh, James Fallows, Barbara Brown Taylor, Eugene Peterson, Philip Yancey, Michael Eric Dyson, Bill McKibben, Chris Hedges, Rachel Held Evans, Garrison Keillor, Luis Urrea¬†and dozens of others. Many of those interviews are viewable on the interviews tab of this site and on UCSD-TV’s website. They have been broadcast worldwide.

Nelson came to San Diego from Minneapolis, where he was working as a business writer.

He has a Ph.D. in journalism from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia, and a bachelor’s degree in literature from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas City.

He grew up in Minnesota, is a die-hard hockey player and fan, is married to his college sweetheart, Marcia, and has two adult children, Blake and Vanessa.

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11 Responses to “About Dean Nelson”

  1. Judith Dupree  on July 16th, 2009

    Dean! Wunnerful, wunnerful!! I can’t wait to read your book, will order. May your trip across the pond be rich — and full of new exploration and a bit of rolicking. I am so proud of you, man!

    Christ be with you explicitly ~

  2. Judith Dupree  on July 16th, 2009

    Dean, I am so proud of you! This book sounds wonderful, and may it — and you — thrive.

    Have a fruitful and beautifully dimensional Time across the pond, and return the richer for it

    Christ be with you ~

  3. cyndilambcurry  on July 16th, 2009

    How exciting to hear about your new book. I’m so happy that your “baby” is finally being born! Thanks for including me in the loop.

  4. Gregg Chenoweth  on July 16th, 2009

    Congratulations on this book, Dean! It’s ironic that I’m reading Merton for the first time right now (his biography, The Seven Story Mountain). I also see the irony that I’m headed to London too to encounter Richard Dawkins and others with paper presentations on the faith-science debate that you’ll be writing about. I like your ambition and productivity and continuous lean into the church! God bless your efforts to the kingdom! And enjoy a spot of tea along the way!

  5. Beth Barefoot  on September 29th, 2009

    Congratulations, Deano. Looks like you’ve traveled many miles since the Motor City! Do you ship to Maine?

  6. deannelson  on September 29th, 2009

    Beth? Really? Oh my goodness! How awesome to hear from you! I’ll see if the Pony Express still goes to Maine.

  7. Sundays9amMariani  on November 6th, 2009

    7p once a month (first thursday) at our home, we start with tea and dessert and then an hour of reading and discussing God Hides in Plain Sight. Would we need to apply for a permit from Dr. Nelson? Is there a royalty due each time we mention his name?

  8. deannelson  on November 9th, 2009

    A microchip is in each copy of the book, and every time you mention my name or the book’s title, a small amount is deducted from your bank account. So discuss to your heart’s content. Couldn’t you meet more often than once a month?

  9. Heather McClure  on June 13th, 2010


    I’m so glad you told me about your site–one more thing to keep me occupied for hours and get in the way of completing my daily responsibilities.

    Mostly, though, I am impressed by the fact that I can “become a fan” of you on Facebook. This is huge.

  10. deannelson  on June 14th, 2010

    Thank you! And any time I can keep you from doing something important, that’s always gratifying!

  11. Debbie Neal  on July 19th, 2013

    Oh, Dean. . you made me cry. I remember the story about Blake and the wagon. Now, you have added to the significance with this latest version. I can’t believe our children are grown. You are amazing! Miss you and Marcia.

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