April 2, 2002
In the days since Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten penned his March 22 column, "In the Words of Charles Colson?" there's been much controversy (and not a little criticism) over how Mr. Colson's columns are put together.
As someone who has worked with Mr. Colson for eight years, and who currently collaborates with him on his Christianity Today columns, I'd like to clear up some of the confusion.
Each column begins with an idea from Mr. Colson. He typically dictates a memo, outlining his thoughts on the idea, and frequently sends me newspaper clippings on the subject. I then get to work on the first draft, assisted by a researcher who tracks down quotations Mr. Colson wants to use and any additional materials. At this point, Mr. Colson and I typically fax the column back and forth several times as he crosses out sentences, paragraphs, and sometimes (to my chagrin) entire pages, substituting detailed alterations in his own hand. On some occasions, the final draft bears very little resemblance to what I initially submitted.
So much for letting other people do his writing for him.
Mr. Colson's commitment to giving his readers the most thoughtful opinion possible means that he frequently asks me to send his columns to colleagues associated with Prison Fellowship—distinguished theologians, philosophers, and law professors—for their input. Sometimes he accepts their input, sometimes he rejects it.
So much for letting other people do his thinking for him.
In other words, Mr. Colson's columns have far more than his "fingerprints" on them; he is an active participant at every step in the writing process. His columns are indeed his own words.
Moreover, Mr. Colson—who runs a worldwide prison ministry, broadcasts ...1
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