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It’s a wonderful career

One life touches so many others

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’Tis the season for It’s a Wonderful Life, the great 1946 movie in which the character played by Jimmy Stewart spends years putting people into homes through his work at Bailey Bros. Building and Loan. Then, as Christmas approaches, the film takes a terrible turn, but bad news becomes blessing as it provokes a community response that reminds him of what a wonderful career he’s had.

I had in November a mini-version of that. I’m grateful to have been editor since 1994, and had thought the painful disputes of September and October a departure from all that joy. But after The New York Times and the Religion News Service published articles about the advent of WORLD Opinions and the consequent resignations, the reaction made me thankful for bad news as well.

Suddenly, my email and Twitter feeds were full of sweet notes from former students and interns, readers of my columns and books, and others. I saw the moral of It’s a Wonderful Life: One life touches so many others. And I’ve learned this: Please write notes to those who have touched your life. They can make a huge difference in times of stress.

Every WORLD writer during my editing years has been a gift.

I’ll quote just one tweet here, from a student I taught long ago at the University of Texas: “Olasky was one of my profs when I was in J school. He was an [expletive]. Anyone who disagreed with him had to come correct with deeply reported work that made clear, concise arguments. My work was better because he was a man of unshakeable principles.”

That’s a great Christmas gift to a teacher, and I’ve had so many. Every WORLD writer during my editing years has been a gift. Here’s a partial list, in rough order of appearance: Joel Belz, Mindy Belz, Roy Maynard, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Joe Maxwell, Nick Eicher, Cal Thomas, Carl F.H. Henry, Forrest Mims, Susan Olasky, Helen Durham, Amy Sherman, Arsenio Orteza, Gene Edward Veith, Pamela Johnson, George Grant, David Chilton, Bob Jones IV, William H. Smith, R.C. Sproul Jr., Gary Thomas, Pete Wehner, Margie Haack, Joseph Slife.

And: Ed Plowman, Cal Beisner, Doug Bandow, Jay Grelen, David Aikman, Greg Dabel, Chris Stamper, Brad Stetson, Janie Cheaney, Les Sillars, Lynn Vincent, David Bayly, Tim Lamer, Joe Loconte, J. Budziszewski, Barbara Curtis, Candi Cushman, Tim Graham, Andrée Seu Peterson, Al Mohler, Nancy Pearcey, William E. Brown, Leah Driggers, Joel Rosenberg, Andrew Coffin, Tim Montgomerie, Anne Morse.

And: John Piper, Priya Abraham, John Dawson, Jennifer Marshall, Mark Bergin, Jamie Dean, Leigh Jones, Lynde Langdon, Hugh Hewitt, Anthony Bradley, Lauren Dunn, Alisa Harris, Jill Nelson, Megan Basham, Harrison Scott Key, Becky Perry, Matt Ristuccia, Mary Hopkins, Clint Rainey, Dick Ostling, Sam Thielman, Kiley Crossland, Amy Henry, Alissa Wilkinson, Joel Hannahs, Roberta Ahmanson.

And: Warren Smith, Tony Woodlief, Daniel James Devine, Emily Belz, Lee Pitts, Paul Glader, Michael Leaser, Angela Lu Fulton, Tiffany Owens, Mickey McLean, Whitney Williams, J.C. Derrick, Thomas Kidd, Emily Whitten, Sophia Lee, Chelsea Boes, Tim Challies, Mary Jackson, Michael Cochrane, Julie Borg, Andrew Branch, Joy Pullmann, Bob Brown, James Bruce, Sandy Barwick, Jae Wasson, Onize Ohikere.

And: James Marroquin, Evan Wilt, LaShawn Barber, Gaye Clark, Laura Finch, Samantha Gobba, Anna Poole, Bonnie Pritchett, Julia Seymour, Paul Butler, Kent Covington, Mary Reichard, Jim Henry, Sarah Schweinsberg, Juliana Chan Erikson, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Charles Horton, Henry Olsen, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Charissa Koh, Jim Long, Harvest Prude, Sharla Megilligan, Russell St. John, Marty VanDriel.

And: Michael Reneau, Rachel Aldrich, Ann Walters Custer, Rob Holmes, Mary Coleman, Sharon Dierberger, Jenny Rough, Andrew Shaughnessy, Laura Singleton, Jeff Koch, Laura Edghill, Steve West, Maria Baer, Myrna Brown, Trillia Newbell, Esther Eaton, Leah Savas, Hannah Harris, Maryrose Delahunty, Kyle Ziemnick, Collin Garbarino, Anna Johansen Brown, Ryan Bomberger, Jim Hill, Joyce Wu, Carolina Lumetta.

Finally, thanks to some helpers: David Freeland, Rob Patete, Krieg Barrie, Katrina Gettman, Joanna Veith, Rachel Beatty, Mary Ruth Murdoch, Kristin Chapman, Amanda Beddingfield.

And June McGraw.

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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