This blog is maintained on behalf of the Amy Foundation for the purpose of tracking the best Christian journalism we find on the Web. Our posts regularly identify those news articles or opinions in the mainstream media that represent good faith-based writing and example them for other Christian journalists.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

NY Times Reader Review

Another great article, this time in The New York Times, that qualifies for the Amy Writing Awards! This is making my blogging job so easy.

Michael Joseph Gross recently wrote a reader review for The New York Times. His December 10, 2006 article, titled “A Once-Feared Kingmaker Called to a Different Battle,” tells the engaging story of Good News Holdings, a new venture for venerable movie magnet, David Kirkpatrick. In the story, Gross explains Kirkpatrick’s path from mogul to Christian to president of Good News, the production company behind several of today’s faith-inspired blockbusters.

Gross does a keen job of drawing in the reader and he doesn’t dose the reader with heavy-handed Christian-speak, which wouldn't see print in papers like The NY Times. No, his approach in dealing with Kirkpatrick’s personal faith is sophisticated. Here is how he introduces the scripture passage that qualifies his article:
The phrase describes a worldview that interprets human thoughts and actions as the product of unseen battles between angels and demons. Frank Peretti’s 1986 novel “This Present Darkness,” a best-selling Christian thriller, made spiritual warfare a popular notion among evangelicals, who cite as evidence for their belief verses from Chapter 6 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, particularly Verse 12: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
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While this paragraph appears in the last 1/3rd of a lengthy article, the entire story does an excellent job relating Kirkpatrick’s coming to faith and the effect that is having on the Hollywood movie industry. Also note how Gross uses "a popular notion among evangelicals" to provide 1) context for the scripture quotation and 2) Gross with professional distance from his sources.

This is exactly the type of writing The Amy Foundation seeks to encourage with the Amy Writing Awards. I am going to email Gross and encourage him to enter.

Great work, Michael!

Submitted by,
Bruce Umpstead

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Atheists' bleak alternative"

Google News is great! I have it set to search the net for search terms “Christian, Faith, God” and it daily returns top news stories on these topics. Today, it found an Amy Writing Awards-qualifying opinion in The Boston Globe (yes, The Boston Globe), written by Jeff Jacoby, an award-winning Op-Ed writer.

In his 12/13/06 opine, entitled “Atheists' bleak alternative,” Jacoby identifies secularism's great success in Great Britain in banishing “Christmas” from holiday cards. His opinion bids ominous tidings for the United States, where secularists are actively attacking the religious moorings of the holiday on this side of the Atlantic. (See “Groups protest calling Capitol tree a "Christmas Tree" in the Lansing State Journal for an example that hits close to home.)

In his smartly-worded opinion, Jacoby writes:

What is at stake in all this isn't just angels on Christmas cards. What society loses when it discards Judeo-Christian faith and belief in God is something far more difficult to replace: the value system most likely to promote ethical behavior and sustain a decent society. That is because without God, the difference between good and evil becomes purely subjective. What makes murder inherently wrong is not that it feels wrong, but that a transcendent Creator to whom we are answerable commands: "Thou shalt not murder." What makes kindness to others inherently right is not that human reason says so, but that God does: "Love thy neighbor as thyself; I am the Lord."

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I underlined Jacoby’s expert uses of scripture to point out the ease at which he integrated relevant passages into his opinion without editorial reprise. If he can get an Amy Writing Award-qualifying opinion published in a paper like The Boston Globe, it makes sense that other writers—professional or otherwise—can accomplish the same task in smaller ones.

I am going email Jacoby and encourage him to submit this opinion to this year’s Amy Writing Awards contest. He has until January 31, 2007 to mail in a tear sheet and his contact information. That’s all it takes. (For a complete list of rules, please visit

Jeff Jacoby, keep up the good work!

Submitted by,
Bruce Umpstead

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Great Article on The Nativity Story

On December 7, The Tucson Citizen published an opinion by Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder entitled, "'Nativity Story' has message for impressionable youth."

Baeher is founder and publisher of Movieguide (, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, and a longtime friend of the Amy Foundation. Snyder is the editor of Movieguide.

In the 12/7 opinion, they write:
Joseph's faith and trust in God gave him great courage to obey God, resist social pressure and take Mary home to be his wife. That courage, trust and faith inspired Joseph to protect Mary's holy child, Jesus, when his life was in danger.

Today's teenagers are daily bombarded with hedonistic, pagan images and sounds of sex in the mass media. No wonder that a recent medical study revealed that half of all of today's teenagers will get a sexually transmitted disease by the time they are 25 years old.

Today, of course, an STD can kill you. In fact, some STDs can kill you long before any second-hand cigarette smoke will.

Another recent study, by the journal of the American Association of Pediatrics, found that teenagers listening to music with explicit sexual lyrics fornicate sooner than teenagers who do not.

These two studies show clearly that following the example of sexual purity and honor set by the Virgin Mary and Joseph is not just some quaint remnant of Medieval Times or the Victorian Age. It's a matter of life and death.
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It's a well-written opinion on a current topic-- both in terms of the movie and teenage sexual practices--but unfortunately, it doesn't qualify for the Amy Writing Awards because it doesn't include identifable scripture. The authors could have easily accommodated a quotation given the subject matter.

But readers of this blog should take their opinion as encouragement that current issues have a Christian perspective that needs sharing. It would be great to see 100 similar opinions in magazines and newspapers, large and small, using the release of The Nativity Story to relate God's truth on a variety of topics. So let's get writing!