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Giving thanks, and answering a few final questions

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WORLD’s search engine indicates that this will be the last of my 3,224 pieces since the online records started in 1996. We had great editorial independence, so almost all of them have been fun. Many of you have sent lovely notes about how I’ve been “a fixture at the kitchen table.” Thank you. You have tolerated my flights of fancy: Telling “Jesus monster stories” about how He drove out evil spirits. Bowling with homeless guys. Not playing catch with my father. Since so many subscribers and I had a relationship, I didn’t have to opine each time about serious policy issues. My columns have been more like letters to friends. Thank you.

My thanks to readers who prompted playful columns. When a teacher in 2007 sent me a list of 100 random vocabulary words she wanted her students to know, I had fun writing a column using all 100 in alphabetical order. You indulged my writing about baseball, hummingbirds, and typing one column when the E key didn’t work and another with a splint on my lft han middl fingr so I ould not quikly typ anything with C’s, D’s, and E’s.

Some of you have grown up with the magazine. So have I. Politically I’m where I was in the 1990s while developing “compassionate conservatism,” but times have changed. Some of you have shared your own experiences and shown me angles I hadn’t considered, thus broadening my understanding. Thank you.

My columns have been more like letters to friends. Thank you.

Two years ago I wrote a column that led to 200 letters. It concerned one of the biggest questions of our era: whether or not Susan and I should pay a veterinarian $429 to brush our dog Greeley’s teeth. She worried that they were turning brown. I appreciated their color coordination with his fur.

Three-fourths of those who wrote said don’t do it. They recommended carrots, apples, rawhide bones, bony bones, Fresh Breath drops for dogs, strawberry toothpaste, tartar control toothpaste, teething toys, and a host of other change agents. But many veterinarians wrote about all that was involved in cleaning a dog’s teeth: general anesthesia, full mouth X-rays to check for disease under the gum line, etc.

Now it’s time to answer three frequently asked questions. First, what are my Top 10 movies? OK: The Great Escape, The Right Stuff, Tender Mercies, Ride the High Country, Field of Dreams, The Princess Bride, Casablanca, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Last of the Mohicans, Chariots of Fire. I also recommend a music video about parenting available on YouTube, Alanis Morissette’s “Ablaze.”

Second FAQ: Now that I’ll no longer be editing or writing for WORLD, what’s next for me? Book writing and more time with my local church, Grace and Peace Austin. World Journalism Institute courses in April (mid-career), May (college), and August (Europe). Also, Susan and I in 2014 started putting money into Zenger­House.com, our nonprofit foundation to promote Christian journalism. We plan to make awards starting in May. And, if you’re interested in my book recommendations and brief thoughts, please go to twitter.com and follow @MarvinOlasky.

Third FAQ: What about Greeley’s teeth? Susan wanted the full veterinarian treatment, but for two years we tried just about everything WORLD readers recommended. Nothing worked for our particular dog, so last month we paid the vet $450. Greeley’s breath smells great now.

One reader said that whatever we decided about Greeley, I should spend an additional $10 on dark chocolate for Susan. She deserves much more for coaching our young writers, writing 476 stories for WORLD over the years (including the obituaries in the last issue), and serving as my editor. I thank God for our 45 years of marriage thus far.

I also thank God for making me a Christian in 1976. It’s OK if we differ in some secondary understandings: We are still brothers and sisters, made siblings by Christ’s sacrifice. The Bible tells us the church will be made up of people of every tribe and tongue—and that will be part of its beauty. May God shed His grace on us. Amen.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is the former editor in chief of WORLD, having retired in January 2022, and former dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.



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