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.

Read more at National Review

More about: American Religion, Bible, Christianity

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy