Occasionally I covet the sinking-but-still-seven-digit readership of Time or Newsweek, and then I remind myself to be grateful for WORLD's 120,000 subscribers. Besides, it's unlikely that editors of those bigger-circulation magazines get the outpouring of affection and prayer support that I'm blessed to receive when speaking at WORLD dinners (most recently in Houston) or other venues.
So, to deepen subscriber involvement, here's an opportunity to enter two WORLD contests, with a total of six winners receiving glory, laud, honor, and a one-year extension of subscription. Names of contest winners will appear with their submissions. Deadline for both: May 15. Entries emailed to email@example.com are best, but we'll also accept ones mailed to June McGraw, WORLD Magazine, P.O. Box 20002, Asheville, NC 28802-9998.
Unusual ministries to the needy. During the past three years WORLD, working with the Acton Institute, has reported on and helped to evaluate finalists in Acton's Samaritan Award competition.
That competition has revealed grassroots compassionate conservatism (not the Washington-centric kind) from sea to shining sea. It's been great to see and report such ministries, but almost all of the finalists profiled have been rescue missions for the homeless or rehab centers for alcoholics and addicts.
Those organizations do great work and deserve attention, but as journalists we don't want to be repetitive. Acton is not having a competition this year, so we have the opportunity for stories about some unconventional ministries. Examples with which I'm familiar: A New York group that uses painting, jewelry design, and knitting to break down barriers between poor and affluent people. A Los Angeles group that helps former child prostitutes recover from terrible abuse. But hundreds more operate under WORLD's radar.
Please send to June McGraw your nominees for such ministries to the needy; include the director's name and contact information. Organizations nominated should be explicitly Christian, with ample use of volunteers and a track record of creating bonds between helpers and helped. They should demonstrate ethical financial practice and the discernment to say "no" at times, in the knowledge that they can't help those who don't want to be helped. What they're doing in one place should be doable by others elsewhere.
Our WORLD editorial staff will take your recommendations and investigate further when warranted, first by phone and then, for finalists, with a visit. Our approach will be journalistic rather than scientific: We're looking for good stories of God's grace to feature in WORLD.
Best last lines of books. Excellent opening lines like that of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina-"All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"-contain a promise of excellence. Jane Austen's most famous opener (Pride and Prejudice) is witty: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Closers, though, are often best when poignant.
I realized the importance of last words when my eldest son was small. Our bedtime reading for three months was the five books of Moses, with parts abridged by me but enough remaining that Pete was hugely fond of Moses. He was dismayed near the end of Deuteronomy when I read, "Moses was 120 years old when he died." He died? A hug partly comforted Pete but so did the close of the book: "Since then no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. . . . For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel" (NIV).
The ending of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorites, as Sam Gamgee heads home disappointed that he could not go with Frodo and others on the next adventure, and then remembers his different calling: "There was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and sat him in his chair, and put little Elanor on his lap. He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said."
So, the contest: Send June McGraw your favorite book closer (50 words maximum). Be sure to include author and title. Our book issue is scheduled for July 4, our compassion issue for August 29. Feel free to enter both contests.
If you have a question or comment for Marvin Olasky, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.