America’s Most Popular Podcast Is about the Bible

Jan. 18 2021

While it is easy to read reports—or find signs—of the vulgarization of popular culture and public discourse, decreasing religiosity, and the weakening of venerable traditions, a single statistic suggests something else. According to Apple’s own numbers, the most popular podcast on its platform is currently The Bible in a Year, a course taught by a Catholic priest named Mike Schmitz. Alexandra DeSanctis comments:

Each episode is about 25 minutes in length and features Schmitz . . . reading Scripture aloud and exploring its historical context and theological meaning. During the first week of episodes, he has read through several chapters of the book of Genesis, as well as a number of the Psalms and some chapters of the books of Job and Proverbs.

What are we to make of the fact that The Bible in a Year has now spent more than a week sitting atop the charts ahead of wildly popular, long-running news and crime podcasts such as The Daily by the New York Times, Crime Junkie, and the Ben Shapiro Show?

So many of us are hungry for more than the news, for rest within a world fraught with division. People long for clarity beyond the sound bites, for a reality that is meaningful and soul-filling, for an answer to the ache we feel for peace and stability amidst suffering and turmoil.

Efforts such as these—and their consistent success, especially with young people—don’t often garner the attention of media, pundits, or the papers. And why should they? They repudiate the click-generating falsehoods that evil and death might have the final word, that our neighbors are our enemies, that the right politics could be our salvation, and that fallen men are our gods.

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Read more at National Review

More about: American Religion, Bible, Christianity

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform