A friend of WORLD dropped by our office a few days ago to give us a sneak preview of a movie, now in the final stages of production, that could provoke a good bit of discussion in the Christian community-and beyond-when it is released this fall to as many as 1,500 theaters across the country.
The movie is called Last Ounce of Courage and focuses on the fictional mayor of a small California town who decides he's had enough with the secularists of his community who are zealous to shut down any and all public observances of Christmas. No Christmas tree on the city square? No carols in the junior high's Christmas pageant? No "Merry Christmas" from a store clerk? The mayor, whose family history includes some military heroism, is ready to show some of that same spunk in the current fracas.
I hope Last Ounce of Courage sparks not just a minor but a noisy national conversation when it's released in September. At its best, that conversation won't be a narrow debate over how Christmas is publicly noted in modern America; it will instead be a discussion about freedom itself. It won't focus on whether "Silent Night" is offensive to a few grouchy secularists, but on whether the First Amendment means anything at all any more.
Last Ounce of Courage won't be everybody's favorite movie; it's got its hokey spots. But here's the response it provoked in me: If this particular issue doesn't get me really riled up, what issue will? If we don't think we can win something so mild as the political and cultural right to celebrate Christmas publicly, just exactly which battle is it that we think we might win? Too many of us-and I'm including myself-are waiting for the "appropriate" battle that's never going to happen.
With that admission in mind, readers, I'm going to ask you two very specific questions:
(1) If you could identify just one issue that you think is terribly askew in our culture today, and then were granted as a gift from God the ability to set that one issue right, what would it be? What specific cultural victory, if we could win it, would provide the most leverage to produce a society that is closer to the cultural blueprint God has designed for us? Can you identify and summarize that issue in 25 words or less?
(2) How has WORLD magazine helped you understand and address that issue better than you might have without our journalistic and editorial efforts? What might we have done better to help you decide which issues are most important-and, on the other hand, which issues least deserve your attention and efforts? What might we have done better to help you determine what specific activities should fill your schedule as a Christian concerned about the culture in which you find yourself? Please be concise-like in a single paragraph.
Send me that brief response by email if you can (see below), or address it to me at WORLD, P.O. Box 20002, Asheville, N.C., 28802.
WORLD has always enjoyed conversations of this sort with its readers. Just a couple of days before the visit from our friend with a whole movie to let us preview, I'd received a simple but plaintive note from Kimberly McCoy, a WORLD subscriber from Lee's Summit, Mo. "What kind of action should we be roused to?" she asked, responding to my column in our May 5 issue. "Other than praying and voting, is there some other action you would recommend?"
Well, ma'am. I'm glad you aren't discounting praying and voting. But I would be fascinated to know what "causes" rank highest on your and other readers' scales-and what you think we might do better to help you spend your "last ounce of courage" toward those important ends.