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7/23/97 Newspaper columnist tackles issues of faith, morality

DALLAS (BP)–Steve Blow doesn’t consider his column in the Dallas Morning News a pulpit. But he admits some readers see it that way.
“There are a few people who have said they’re sick of me wearing my religion on my sleeve. I don’t think I do that,” he said. “But I did get a letter last week from someone who said I sound like a bleating divinity student.”
Others have questioned whether the Baptist layman has even a spark of divinity in him, particularly when he provides a platform for those with whom they disagree.
But most readers have responded enthusiastically to his human interest column. Particularly, they seem to appreciate his willingness to write in the newspaper’s Metropolitan section about issues of faith, morality and ethics.
“I try to use the column as a place where people with lots of different ideas feel comfortable and safe expressing their views,” he said. “I hope it’s a place where we can listen to each other. I just want to be the moderator of the discussion, to provide a place where we can talk in a civil way to each other about a lot of things, including matters of spirituality and faith.”
The Baptist General Convention of Texas communications advisory committee has selected Blow as the recipient of the 1997 Texas Baptist Communications Award, which is presented annually to a person in communications who has made significant contributions to the religious life of Texas.
The committee honored Blow for his ability “in portraying religion as a normal part of daily life,” according to chairman Beth Pratt, religion editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
“Steve Blow skillfully weaves entertaining and provocative columns on a wide range of topics, including ethical and religious subjects,” Pratt said. “He is up-front with his readers about his own faith without being preachy or ‘holier-than-thou.'”
Blow has worked for the Dallas Morning News since 1978, including about 10 years as a general assignments reporter and east Texas bureau chief. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Fort Worth Press and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. He has been honored as the top columnist by the Headliners Club of Texas, the Dallas Press Club and the Associated Press. He is a 1974 graduate of the University of North Texas, Denton.
He and his wife, Lori, and their children, Allison and Corey, live in Sunnyvale, Texas. They are members of Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church, Dallas.
Two staff members at Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church — minister of education Dickie Dunn and single adult minister Novalynn Bryant — nominated Blow for the Texas Baptist award.
“Through the years that Steve has written for the Dallas Morning News, he has used wit and humor to pen articles that reveal how Christian values are influencing our society and how society influences Christian values,” they stated in a letter of nomination.
“He draws from real-life situations to remind his readers that spiritual values are still needed in today’s world. A strong witness for the Lord, he often writes about his faith and his relationship to Jesus Christ, many times in the face of criticism.”
Blow grew up in a Church of God congregation and became a Christian as a 12-year-old at an east Texas camp.
“I may be one of the last people to have been saved in an honest-to-goodness brush arbor camp meeting,” he said.
Blow’s commitment to Christ tends to permeate his column, to the delight of some and consternation of others.
“I certainly didn’t begin writing the column with the idea that ‘here’s my pulpit.’ I did make the conscious decision to be as honest as I possibly could be in the column about my life and experiences, and a big part of my life is my faith. Matters of spirituality are important to me and they interest me, so I write about them.”
What he’s not interested in is advancing anybody’s political agenda. And that has drawn fire from fellow Christians when he has featured people with a variety of perspectives on volatile issues such as homosexuality and abortion.
“I’m cursed with the ability to see both sides of every issue,” he said. “I think that comes with being a journalist. But that’s what prompts the letters about being lukewarm and getting ‘spewed out.'”
On at least one occasion, it also drew a protester who picketed outside the church where Blow and his family were worshiping.
“The folks at Shiloh Terrace have been wonderful to me,” he said. “And they were also wonderful to (the protester). A number of people went out of their way to make him feel welcome. I think it probably took all the fun out of it for him.”
For Blow, the fun still hasn’t gone out of writing his column, particularly when he is able to feature people who confound stereotypes and force readers to think, such as a 53-year-old conservative Baptist policeman who works with the homosexual community.
“I feel so blessed to have found a career I love,” he said. “There are so many people who work just to make a living. I’ve been blessed to have found something that is still exciting to me and exhilarating for me.”
Blow’s great fear is that his willingness to discuss matters of faith in a public forum will cause some to put him “on a pedestal” and hold unrealistic expectations for him.
“I don’t want to be seen as anything other than a saved sinner,” he said.

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  • Ken Camp