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, February 28, 2010

Qualifying, Challenging Article by Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times

I have to admit it, I read the New York Times ( on a daily basis. As a would-be writer and annual judge for the Amy Writing Awards, I fell in love to the writing style and quality. There is also something inside me that likes my news “liberal” so I understand the bents and biases inside the articles and opinions that challenge and sharpen my Christian world view.

But every once and awhile I run across a Times article that surprises me, that opens my mind beyond the usual analysis and critical thinking. “Learning From the Sin of Sodom” (2/28/2010), written by op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, is one such opinion.

Kristof writes:

For most of the last century, save-the-worlders were primarily Democrats and liberals. In contrast, many Republicans and religious conservatives denounced government aid programs, with Senator Jesse Helms calling them “money down a rat hole.”

Over the last decade, however, that divide has dissolved, in ways that many Americans haven’t noticed or appreciated. Evangelicals have become the new internationalists, pushing successfully for new American programs against AIDS and malaria, and doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in Congo.

Read more>>

I have enjoyed reading Kristof’s challenging opinions, especially the ones based on his international assignments, but this one caught me off guard because it used Biblical scripture to substantiate the expanding roll of evangelical Christians in addressing some of the world’s most serious problems.

Kristof keeps his professional distance by quoting an author (an effective way to bring Biblical truth into the mainstream conversation). Kristof writes:

A growing number of conservative Christians are explicitly and self-critically acknowledging that to be “pro-life” must mean more than opposing abortion. The head of World Vision in the United States, Richard Stearns, begins his fascinating book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” with an account of a visit a decade ago to Uganda, where he met a 13-year-old AIDS orphan who was raising his younger brothers by himself.

“What sickened me most was this question: where was the Church?” he writes. “Where were the followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time? Surely the Church should have been caring for these ‘orphans and widows in their distress.’ (James 1:27). Shouldn’t the pulpits across America have flamed with exhortations to rush to the front lines of compassion?

What I believe Kristof accomplishes something remarkable. To use vernacular, he hits conservative readers in the mouth by using scripture typically used to condemn behavior that example God’s expectation for all of us to engage the world where people are suffering most. Then, as if with a smack to back liberal readers’ head, he calls for an understanding, if not appreciation, for the vital role faith-based initiatives play in solving the world’s most pressing problems.

Because Kristof included scripture quotes and proper references, he more than qualifies for the Amy Writing Awards. Honestly, I hope he submits because I want to read more, well written, challenging entries in next year’s submissions. That’s what this blog is aboutn.