MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, January 10th. Already! Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s time for Ask the Editor, our monthly feature in which our editor in chief Marvin Olasky answers your questions about why we do the things we do here at WORLD.
MARVIN OLASKY, COMMENTATOR: Here are three questions about the good, the bad, and the tough.
Question 1: You said recently that even those who hate Christ pay tribute to Him when they care for the poor. If by paying tribute to Jesus you mean they are glorifying Him, I think you are wrong. That would mean unbelievers can do good works which bring glory to God.
Answer: Good point. By paying tribute, I did not mean glorifying Him. I meant showing the influence of what Christ taught. To use a homely baseball example, say runners are on second and third in the bottom of the ninth. The home team trails by a run. The pitcher gives the batter an intentional walk. He is paying tribute to the batter, but not glorifying him—he’s actually removing the opportunity for the batter to win the game with a hit.
Before Jesus, in the Roman empire, the goal was to honor the strong, not help the weak. Anyone who helps the least of these, including unborn children, including the poor, pays tribute to Christ’s teaching, even if they are not Christians.
Question 2: How do you process the bad reactions you get concerning controversial columns, especially when people miss your point? As a pastor, I know about being misunderstood, but people rarely assault me personally. Are nasty attacks just par for the course?
Answer: Yup, they are par for the course—but sometimes I deserve them, since I hit lots of bogies. When I receive a letter from someone who missed my point, I first review what I wrote: Was I unclear or unbiblical? If I was, I try to learn. If I was not, I’m not bothered—I figure that for everyone who grotesquely misunderstands and complains, 10 people have understood it and nodded quietly.
Besides, I know that all of us, me included, are more ready to complain than to compliment. That leaves me pleased when someone who understands does take the time to write. I don’t take praising letters for granted and assume they are due me. Bad letters make me grateful for good ones.
Here’s a last question, since in a few days we’ll start our 11th World Journalism Institute mid-career course: Do your tough WJI classes train people to become columnists? That’s what I want to be.
Answer: Nope, we train people to become reporters. C.S. Lewis once wrote (Studies in Words), “Most people are obviously far more anxious to express their approval and disapproval of things than to describe them.” Good columns are based on good reporting. Good reporting is based on good describing. That’s what we hope to convey to students.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Marvin Olasky.