Yes, the Oscars have rolled up the red carpet, but for Canadian Christian publications, it’s awards season. No statues of golden men await, but responding to the calls for entries for the Canadian Church Press awards, as well as the Write Canada awards, does give us the opportunity to dig through the past year’s magazines and find what we think was the best of the best.
We are just finalizing our choices, but so far, we’re narrowing in on selections like Arthur Boer’s excellent cover story on reclaiming our lives from being so very busy and questioning the clobbering our spirits can take from so much technology. “What happens to you and me, to our hearts, to our own compassion, when we live in a nonstop, 24/7 world of demands and more demands? When we are bombarded with messages that we need to multitask and get more done? The rapid pace of our lives is one of the most pressing spiritual challenges to Christian life today,” writes Boers.
Then, there was Mark Buchanan’s thoughtful essay with the intriguing title: “I’ve been meaning to tell you this: Confessions of an ex-pastor.” Here’s a sample of what Mark wrote: “And then it became startlingly clear. The church hadn’t failed me. I had failed the church. I had not fully lived up to my calling. So these five confessions are exactly that – admissions of failure, cathartic for me, and perhaps helpful for you.” We’re considering entering that piece for its crisp creative design as well.
An article that told the story of soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder might make our short list : “This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide – more than 800,000 slaughtered in one of the ugliest bruises on our world’s heart. Back in 1994, many of us couldn’t even bear to watch an entire story about it on The National. It could give you a nightmare and leave a bad taste in your mouth for days to come. Imagine being there.”
We also had articles that coached readers on how to read the Bible better, the revered J.I. Packer on weakness: “I have lived long enough, by the way, to realize that usefulness is much more profoundly a matter of the kind of person you are than of the particular things you do,” and Gordon T. Smith writing on how we can disagree well: “If you are a person of conscience and conviction in church matters – local and denominational – you are going to eventually learn two things: there are good folks who think you are very wrong on this, that or the other. And odds are you will be voting in the minority on a substantive matter more than once along the way. The only hope for authentic Christian fellowship is that we learn how to disagree. Too much is at stake to not learn.”
In 2014 we dug into church planting, small groups, Quebec, and stories like the moving account of a man forgiving his sister’s murderer. We had six excellent interviews with people like Andrew Bennett of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom and Dave Toycen on his goodbye from World Vision. And our columnists like John Stackhouse and James Beverley rankled, inspired, moved and challenged us in every issue.
In short, we think it was a pretty good year for Canadian Christian journalism, no matter what happens on awards night. A good year because there are so many rich, deep, challenging, moving, tragic and beautiful stories to tell to and about Christ-followers in Canada. So, thanks to you!