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.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

ESPN the Magazine

Here is an article in this month’s ESPN the Magazine has an amazing amount of Christmas without any Santa. Written by Rick Riley, the subtitle says it all, “There are some games where cheering for the other side feels better than winning.

Riley writes:
They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team's fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go Tornadoes!" Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.
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Riley doesn’t dwell on the fact that the opposing team was Grapevine Faith "Christian" School in Grapevine, Texas (I don't think Christian was mentioned one time), or that, obviously, their acts of grace and kindness towards the Gainesville “maximum security students” were religiously motivated. He let their actions tell the story … a good sign of good writing.

This story moved me; it’s what we look for in the Amy Writing Awards, but unfortunately, the feature didn’t include an identifiable scripture, such as Hebrews 13:3: Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (NIV).

Regardless, the article accomplished more than intended-- going beyond reporting to inspiring faith. Thank you, Rick Riley, for writing this excellent story.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good book review, doesn't qualify

Here is an article on the book, “Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion," in the Wall Street Journal, written by Vincent Carroll, editorial-page editor of the Rocky Mountain News.

Carroll writes in the December 22, 2008 Wall Street Journal edition:
In a jarring misreading of the Islamist mentality, the New York Times last month described a Jewish center in Mumbai, India, as the "unlikely target" of the terrorists who attacked various locations there. "It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen," the Times went on to declare, "or if it was an accidental hostage scene."

Paul Marshall would not be surprised by such stunningly naïve statements. In "Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion" -- a collection of essays that he edited with Lela Gilbert and Roberta Green Ahmanson -- he notes that similar assertions have been common in the coverage of Islamic terrorism. The book's contributors explore all sorts of news stories with a religious component -- Islamic and otherwise -- showing where reporters have veered off course and discussing the reasons why.
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Although well written, Carroll’s article isn’t the type of journalism the Amy Writing Awards intends to recognize because it doesn’t include identifiable scripture and doesn’t promote a faith-based world view, only criticizes secular ones.

What his article does exceptionally well is identify why we have the Amy Writing Awards and this blog— that is, to promote knowledge representation of faith-based issues. To quote the Amy Foundation’s website:
The Amy Foundation Writing Awards program is designed to recognize creative, skillful writing that applies in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner the biblical principles to issues affecting the world today, with an emphasis on discipling.

To be eligible, submitted articles must be published in a secular, non-religious publication (either printed or online) and must be reinforced with at least one passage of scripture.
Please don’t get me wrong, Carroll’s article is important because it demonstrates the need for more informed faith-based journalism, but it had the potential for excellent, in terms of Amy Writing Award entries, if it had turned from its sharp, accurate criticism to indentify why it is important to properly cover such issues, possibly providing an example of when mainstream media gets it right (and it does frequently). What’s more, it highlights a resource, Paul Marshall’s "Blind Spot: …

I just wanted biblical truth and journalism’s sword in the same 950-word opinion.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

100 blog posts and counting (12-18-08)

This marks the 100th post on "The Best Christian Journalism on the Web" blog, which the Amy Foundation started a couple years ago to recognize good faith-based journalism with the hope of boosting Amy Writing Award submissions.

Well, mission accomplished. Last year, award entry submissions were up 25 percent and this year entries were up 7 percent with two months to go.

Along the way we found dozens of well written articles that qualified and a number that should have, but didn't (they missed by not including a piece of identifiable scripture). We also learned a great deal about online publication and, in 2008, we expanded the Amy Writing Awards to include qualifying entries that were only published online.

The plan is to continue blogging, possibly adding other contributors, all with the goal of connecting with more writers who connect with more readers by sharing their faith in print-- whether published in ink or pixels.

Thanks for reading.

Interesting Debate in Newsweek

Newsweek organized a debate between Rick Warren, best selling Christian pastor, and Sam Harris, an up-and-coming apologist for Atheism. The excerpt-based article, titled “The God Debate,” starts this way:
The latest NEWSWEEK poll shows that 91 percent of American adults surveyed believe in God—and nearly half reject the theory of evolution. Also, Americans on John Edwards and the Senate's goal for troop withdrawal.

Rick Warren is as big as a bear, with a booming voice and easygoing charm. Sam Harris is compact, reserved and, despite the polemical tone of his books, friendly and mild. Warren, one of the best-known pastors in the world, started Saddleback in 1980; now 25,000 people attend the church each Sunday. Harris is softer-spoken; paragraphs pour out of him, complex and fact-filled—as befits a Ph.D. student in neuroscience. At NEWSWEEK's invitation, they met in Warren's office recently and chatted, mostly amiably, for four hours.
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The conversation is long and illuminating. I was disappointed to find the article did not qualify for the Amy Writing Awards, although the article comes close on internet webpage 7 when Warren quoted Jesus when he said, “I am the only way to God. I am the way to the Father.” Close paraphrase, but not close enough.

Still, the dialogue, which gets testy at times, is interesting. Give it a read!