FIRST-PERSON: 'My Last Column'

by Phil Boatwright, posted Thursday, August 20, 2015 (2 years ago)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- If you were a writer and you knew you could only author one more feature story, what would it be?

I'm a writer. Not quite in league with Ernest Hemingway, but nonetheless, a scribbler who has managed to con many an editor into thinking I know a predicate from a pronoun.

I once wrote a book, afterwards discovering the use of adverbs should be kept to a minimum. Leafing through it, I realized my book was all adverbs. If you find that confession amusing, I borrowed the witticism from David Niven, who authored four books with a skill I have yet to achieve.

Now, despite the provocative title to this piece, I don't actually plan on this being my last column. But someday, my columns will cease. Either the editors at Baptist Press will finally realize that my improper use of commas is the least of my writing deficiencies; or I'll get hit by a bus as I cross the street on my way to a press screening of yet another Marvel comic book come to screen life. Or, maybe I'll just become a Methodist, a rather unlikely event. Whatever the future holds, that last writing assignment will eventually come.

This subject may seem somewhat macabre, so let me assure you, I haven't had any premonitions, no sad pronouncements from doctors, no visions of a shadowy figure with a scythe. Lately, I have simply wondered how my journalistic epitaph would someday read. What would I be remembered for?

It would be nice to be remembered as a good writer. I understand the best writers get awards, but I'm a realist. Those punctuation problems will haunt me. And as birthdays creep past, now at an accelerated pace, acknowledgments from friend or foe don't seem quite as important.

Do I want to be remembered as a lover of the cinema? Yes and no.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time to laugh and a time to dance. This supports the belief that we need recreation and fun, and can be interpreted as a defense for time spent at the movies. For me, movies are the essence of all art forms, and besides being amused and moved by many a motion picture, I've also learned about my fellow man, myself and my God. But the psalmist says in Psalm 101, "I will set before my eyes no vile thing." So, I analyze Hollywood and its effect on our culture in hopes my efforts will aid others. That said, I want to be remembered for something else.

Though the majority of my readers have already turned their lives over to Christ, what about the one who has yet to make that most important of decisions? I'd like my last column to be aimed at him or her. It's not the love of movies I want to be remembered for, but the declaration of my faith.

In this age when those who believe the Big Bang was the miraculous but undesigned birth point of existence, I maintain a belief in God's existence. Despite my failings, foibles, faults and sins, I am assured that one day I'll stand accepted before the most Holy God, because of His grace and Christ's sacrifice. I want that same assurance for everyone.

For those who accept science as the answer to the unknown, here's an experiment that begins with a prayer: "God, if You exist, reveal Yourself to me through Your Word. I will seek theological counsel, I will read the Bible, and I will pray in order to find Your true purpose for my life." Give that exercise a year and I promise our Heavenly Father will not ignore the sincere entreaty. Or are you afraid to discover that even science had a Creator?

Since I have been writing about Hollywood for more than 30 years, I'd end my final editorial with this warning: to discern the media's misconceptions and misdirection we must be grounded in scriptural teaching. Those teachings are the armor we need to put on -- daily.

Lest you think this piece is narcissistic, allow me to ask, what will you be remembered for?

That's what I'd say if this were my last column. But it's not. I'll be back next month; well, if I don't get hit by that bus.

Phil Boatwright, in addition to writing for Baptist Press, reviews films for www.previewonline.org and is a regular contributor to "The World and Everything In It," a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group.
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