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Friday, December 22, 2017

Long Live Little "e" Evangelicalism

Why Politics Can't Save Us
After a week of blistering political coverage, it's good to be reminded that politics isn't the most important thing. That's a key message in Yuval Levin's The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism, which is reviewed by James K. A. Smith here. Levin's is a keen political analysis without suggesting that politics is the answer to the fracturing—instead, mediating institutions, like the church, must play a key role. I'm halfway through the book as I write, and I agree with Smith's summary take:
Levin is that rare combination of heart and mind, intellect and soul, who writes with the philosopher's commitment to big ideas but as someone who knows and loves his neighbors.
The Nature of Media Bias
Ask reporters or editors if their coverage is biased, and they will almost universally say no. That's because the particular stories they publish tend to be accurate and fair. The bias comes out not in the reporting as such—although, yes, bias seeps through once in a while (no one is perfect). Where it shows up most is in what a newspaper or magazine decides to cover and not cover. That is the point of a refreshingly honest article by former CEO at NPR Ken Stern.
Most reporters and editors are liberal—a now-dated Pew Research Center poll found that liberals outnumber conservatives in the media by some 5 to 1, and that comports with my own anecdotal experience at National Public Radio. When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be. This may seem like an unusual admission from someone who once ran NPR, but it is borne of recent experience.
He goes on to describe his adventures in reporting on "the other America," including a visit to evangelical megachurches and the mega-Christian conference called Urbana. His story is not about bashing the liberal press but to simply note, "It's not that media is suppressing stories intentionally. It's that these stories don't reflect their interests and beliefs." His call is for media who consider the nation their beat to cover all the nation, not just that part that reflects their interests and beliefs.
Long Live Little "e" Evangelicalism
Here are two pieces that explore some of the implications of the recent Alabama election for those who still identify as evangelical. While some credited African American women with playing the key role in defeating Moore, professor Mark Silk argues that it was conservative evangelicals who sank him—or more precisely, the ten percent who usually vote Republican who decided not to vote for Moore.

This piece by pastor Tim Keller admits that this election has done deep damage to one version of evangelicalism, while explaining there is another evangelical phenomenon that is not political but spiritual and theological, and socially ethical, in character. It's refreshing to see this kind of analysis in The New Yorker.
A Season of Longing
That would be Advent. Carolyn Arends, one of my favorite writers, explores the nuanced and complex emotions that surround the days leading up to Christmas, emotions which speak to the deepest meaning of biblical hope.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

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