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.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Now playing on GodTube

Here is a great story about GodTube—a Christian response to YouTube—written Stephanie Shapiro for the Baltimore Sun, entitled, “Clicking with Jesus,” (1/13/08).

Stephanie writes:
Spend an hour on and you'll find that God is in the details of thousands of videos. He is benevolent. He is angry. He is forgiving. He is grief-stricken. He is ecstatic. He supports Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, too. He is there for Britney Spears, and He wants to save gay people from unholy desires.

Created in the image of YouTube, the Christian video-sharing site presents a God of unlimited dispositions. "A Letter from Hell," a fire-and-brimstone drama chronicling the fate of a teen drunken driving victim, suggests a judgmental God. "Little Girl and Psalm 23," a home video of a toddler reciting the song's sacred words, argues for a God who meets cute. In "That's My King!" the late preacher S.M. Lockridge's cadenced catalog of deific virtues, God is praised as all of the above - and more.
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The article does a wonderful job exploring the complex nature of an online Christian community where varying ideology and theology mix to create a rich online tapestry of Christ.

But for all the good achieves in encouraging personal expressions of faith in new forms of media, it stands as an example opposite of what the Amy Foundation, through the Amy Writing Awards, is trying to encourage, which is the sharing of one’s Christian faith, reinforced with scripture, in the mainstream media.

How easy is it to stand in front of your church and share your faith when you consider sharing it at a football game or at a work conference or across the street at your neighbor’s house?

Just like the local church, however, we need sites like GodTube to encourage people’s faith. It is my hope that those posting on GodTube, also post on YouTube too, so that their faith with “shine before [all] men” (Matt 5:16).

Stephanie’s interesting and engaging article is exactly the time of Christian journalism, published in the mainstream press, that we celebrate through the annual Amy Writing Awards. Unfortunately, I didn’t see where her writing included a piece of identifiable scripture, so the article doesn’t technically qualify for the 2008 Awards.

Stephanie, great job, keep up the good work, and try to work scripture in next time!

What we’re not looking for …

Sometimes I struggle with the title of our blog, “the best Christian journalism on the web,” simply because we are trying to highlight people sharing their faith more so than excellent writing. (We definitely take both faith and good writing when we can get it.)

Unfortunately, I run across the combination of bad faith and writing all the time. Let me share a sample I found today:

Many today are seeking fame and fortune. Remember the television show "Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous"?

When you see these so called fortunate people, do you think that they are really peaceful, content and happy? Or are they always wanting more, bigger and better things for themselves?

Look at the bad young girls of Hollywood today. They have got the amenities, but are they content and happy? Their fame and fortune seems to be destroying them on every level.

Their debauchery and low lifestyles are pictured in magazines, on television and in the gossip rags at every grocery store checkout lanes. Their notorious living gets top billing and front-page coverage.
(There’s more … a little later in the 318-word opinion, the author calls “them” “losers.”)

What is so troubling is that this judgmental, angry rant clearly comes from someone with a Christian faith perspective. The writer even references—but doesn’t quote—scripture (I Timothy 1:12, which it doesn't fit) to support her rant against the evil she sees in the world.

While clearly I agree with the writer that the fame and fun pursued by the Hollywood set is fleeting and self-destructive, I question whether she considers her audience as she caustically shares her perspective on God's truth. How many people read to the very end to reach the author’s salient conclusion: “Which is the better choice -- fame or faith? Fortune or faithfulness to God? One is temporal and the other is eternal.”

What makes me frustrated as I read is the opportunities destroyed by carelessness when we through out insults like, "so called," "low life," "gossip rags," and a little later, "losers."

Too many times people are turned off to God’s Good News of grace and peace by our offensive and angry rhetoric. Jesus told us that “… the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10), not to offend them.

It is my hope that fellow Christian writers will see articles like this one and feel challenged to share the good news even more, knowing we have to overcome evil with good, good writing with bad, and good faith with what’s not so good.

Keep writing!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

solid, non-qualifying article in the Indianapolis Start

Here is a solid, non-qualifying Amy Writing Award article, written by Tom Enrich for the Indianapolis Star, entitled, “Transformation is necessary to better ourselves, communities” (1/12/08).

Enrich writes:
In the Church Wellness Project (, we talk about three aspects of membership development: recruitment, retention and transformation.

The first two can be clearly, if inelegantly, stated as bringing new members in the front door and keeping them from going out the back door.

Both need to be in balance. It does no good to focus so much on new members that existing members feel abandoned and unloved. Nor can we be so solicitous of existing members that newcomers feel unwelcome and invisible.

It is the third activity -- transformation -- that is difficult to pursue and measure.

The point of Christian community could be stated, variously, as new life, repentance, winning the victory over self, seeking forgiveness, learning to love, becoming God's agent in justice, making a positive difference with one's life, accepting God's better ways of living, or allowing God's reign to commence in one's life.
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Tom does a good job introducing and pursing an important topic— the need for transformational change in ourselves and our churches. Unfortunately, he doesn’t use a passage of scripture to assert his claim, such as:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2, TNIV)
We are not just promoting the inclusion of scripture so that an article qualifies for the Amy Writing Awards. No, including scripture ratchets up the authority of Enrich’s argument, from that of a well-meaning local pastor to an all-knowing, all-caring God.

I will write Tom Enrich and encourage him to keep sharing his transformational message and support it with God’s word.

Keep up the good work, Tom!

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Qualifying entry in Burbank Leader

Here is an Amy Writing Award- qualifying article, titled “Family Faith: Consider outcome of your choices,” written by Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian in the Burbank Leader (1/11/08).

Zakarian writes:
Choices. What does this word cause you to consider? As soon as I see or hear this word, I think of the life choices that I can decide to make — or not make — that will affect my life and the lives of those I am in contact with. I also think of the discipline my choices require and how they will shape the future.

Our lives are full of choices. Some are crucial and quick. In a split second, we can choose to give in to temptation, and sin, or to abstain. Perceptively, we will pay the consequences of a bad choice or be blessed by a good one. Other choices can be less vital, like whether to have that third cup of coffee in the morning when you are already behaving like an edgy drill sergeant to your family.
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Kimberlie practices good form by introducing an important topic that the average reader can relate to— making good choices. After she develops her argument, she supports it with a relevant scripture in a “non-preachy” way. (i.e., "Should we choose God’s way in our daily decisions? Proverbs 8:10 tells us this: “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than gold.”)

Good job, Kimberlie!

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Qualifying Article in The News Journal

Here is another well-written, qualifying article I found in the The News Journal (Wilmington, DE), titled, “Teens live for faith, prayer, rock 'n' roll.”

Dan Shortridge writes:
Four thousand heads simultaneously bowed in prayer. Eight thousand clasped hands rose high.

But the solemn silence filling the cavernous room was the exception Saturday, as this resort town played host to a gathering of thousands of United Methodist youths and adults from across the region, whipping them into a frenzy of faith.

The event's message was one of good works and religion in action: "No matter how old you are, God can use you," the Rev. Kathleen Baskin-Ball told the teens. "God can work through you, too."

Yet make no mistake: Teenagers being teenagers, the big draw for many was the music.
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Later in the story, Shortridge tells how the organizers arrived at the conference’s “whatever” theme:
The theme for the event, "Whatever," was not a slogan for the slacker generation, but instead an exhortation from Colossians: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."
This clear scripture citation qualifies the article for the Amy Writing Awards. I know it’s early, but I have a good feeling about 2008 in terms of finding good stories like Shortridge’s on the internet.

Keep up the good work, Dan!

First qualifying article of 2008

Here is a powerful story, titled “Faith carried teen through battle against leukemia,” about a teenager who fought leukemia with faith.

Kelly Bothum, columnist for The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), writes:
For 17 months, she fought like a warrior. But now, Kaylyn Warren was tired. Tired of staying in the hospital, connected to so many tubes and wires. Tired of the cancer-fighting cocktails that made her tongue swell and her skin blister.

Tired of the weakness and shortness of breath that usually meant she needed another blood transfusion. Tired of spiking a fever, the tell-tale sign of an infection somewhere in her body. But most of all, Kay was tired of the leukemia cells that kept invading her blood and marrow, despite everything her doctor tried.

She wanted to go home. No more needle sticks, no more IVs, no more chemotherapy. Just a comfortable bed, familiar surroundings and the chance to say goodbye to the people she loved who had spent the last 17 months rallying behind the brown-haired beauty with the heavenly voice and the faith to match it.
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I like how Bothum introduces the pivotal role faith plays in Kaylyn Warren’s cancer fight and how she relates the power of God’s word to support her struggle:

Kay had lived the first 17 years of her life trusting in the Bible verse from Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. She didn't plan on giving up that faith now that she needed it most. She believed God had a purpose behind her illness even if she didn't understand why.

Bothum’s article is a touching, must-read story, and hers is the first qualifying article I have found in 2008. I am going to write her and encourage her to submit for the Amy Writing Awards and to keep up the good work all year.

Good job, Kelly!