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Dating

Hello Goodbye by Ruth Graham.

The author of a best-selling abstinence manifesto is reconsidering the lessons he taught to millions.

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Hard

It’s Hard to Go to Church by Emma Green.

The standard narrative of American religious decline goes something like this: A few hundred years ago, European and American intellectuals began doubting the validity of God as an explanatory mechanism for natural life. As science became a more widely accepted method for investigating and understanding the physical world, religion became a less viable way of thinking—not just about medicine and mechanics, but also culture and politics and economics and every other sphere of public life. As the United States became more secular, people slowly began drifting away from faith.

Of course, this tale is not just reductive—it’s arguably inaccurate, in that it seems to capture neither the reasons nor the reality behind contemporary American belief. For one thing, the U.S. is still overwhelmingly religious, despite years of predictions about religion’s demise. A significant number of people who don’t identify with any particular faith group still say they believe in God, and roughly 40 percent pray daily or weekly. While there have been changes in this kind of private belief and practice, the most significant shift has been in the way people publicly practice their faith: Americans, and particularly young Americans, are less likely to attend services or identify with a religious group than they have at any time in recent memory.

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Cage

The World Wide Cage by Nicholas Carr.

Technology promised to set us free. Instead it has trained us to withdraw from the world into distraction and dependency.

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Role Model

How Israel Became a Role Model in Fighting Terrorism by Nathalie Hamou.

In the wake of last month’s tragedy in Nice, just like after the attacks in Paris on November 13th, the same solution was put forward for France: “the Israeli model,” where the terrorist threat is part of daily life.

In Tel Aviv, military experts invited on television sets appeared to be modest, avoiding any kind of reference to an “Israeli anti-terrorist model.” The Jewish state, whose people have been through seven wars and two intifadas since its creation, has become a textbook case for how to handle a permanent state of insecurity. This expertise could be a source of inspiration for European decision-makers.

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Apocalypse

The Coming Free Speech Apocalypse by Daniel Payne.

There is a good chance American enemies of American free speech will shortly mount a sustained and successful effort to drastically reduce American speech freedoms.

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Arms Race

The Adultery Arms Race by Michelle Cottle.

Technology has made cheating on your spouse, or catching a cheater, easier than ever. How digital tools are aiding the unfaithful and the untrusting—and may be mending some broken marriages.

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Intellectualism

Francis Schaeffer and Christian Intellectualism by Jake Meador.

In his recent essay on Christian intellectualism (see link here), Alan Jacobs dates the high point of the public Christian intellectual in America as being in the late 1940s. Citing the influence of thinkers like CS Lewis, WH Auden, and Reinhold Niebuhr, Jacobs argues that the movement began to fade in the 1950s and, by the 1960s, was largely a spent force. By that time Lewis, Auden, and Niebuhr were no longer as relevant in contemporary debates and the next generation had not yet emerged. By the time that generation of leaders did, Jacobs argues, the culture had moved past them and they had become more conversant in the intramural discussions happening in conservative religious circles rather than the broader cultural conversation.

As a general overview of the era, that seems reasonable enough. That said, the conclusions Jacobs comes to seem a bit incomplete. So what follows is not necessarily an attempt to refute what Jacobs is doing in his piece, but is, rather, an attempt to highlight some complicating factors in hopes of getting Jacobs to say a bit more. (Or to perhaps address the question in his forthcoming book which seems to be closely related to the issues he raises in his essay.)

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Temporary?

California’s Temporarily Temporary Tax by Larry Sand.

A state tax increase, due to expire in 2018, might live on.

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Boom

The Twin Boom by Laura Spinney.

The proportion of twins in the population has waxed and waned in human history. For the first time we understand why.

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Bad

How Bad Prosecutors Cause Bad Policing by Taylor Pendergrass.

What responsibility do district attorneys have for fixing broken policing practices that lead to tragic and infuriating deaths like those of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling? “Prosecute bad cops,” goes the refrain. But top prosecutors bear far more responsibility for police misconduct than prosecuting officers who abuse, injure, or kill community members. The decision to indict is only the final step in a prosecutorial process that tilts in cops’ favor in many little ways that are largely beyond public view. Without greater scrutiny of their day-to-day practices, prosecutors will continue to enable police abuse. Indictments and prosecutions of cops—if and when they happen—always come after the fact and tend to reflect a purely punitive approach to harmful behavior that criminal justice reformers appropriately decry in other contexts. It’s time for a new approach.

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Relativistic

Why Liberals Don’t Want Immigrants To Embrace ‘American Values’ by David Harsanyi.

American idealism has become so relativistic, we probably couldn’t agree on what it is anymore.

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Averted

Religious Liberty Crisis Averted in California by Darren Patrick Guerra and Andrew T. Walker.

The war is far from over, but a recent battle in California shows that pluralism, religious liberty, and traditional values can be defended where there is a will to mobilize and resist.

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Monetary Suicide

Japan’s Slow-Motion Fiscal and Monetary Suicide by Daniel J. Mitchell.

Remember Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, the 1993 comedy classic about a weatherman who experiences the same day over and over again?

Well, the same thing is happening in Japan. But instead of a person waking up and reliving the same day, we get politicians pursuing the same failed Keynesian stimulus policies over and over again.

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Watchmen

The Watchmen by Alan Jacobs.

What became of the Christian intellectuals?

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Rescuing

Rescuing “Diversity” from Affirmative Action and Campus Activists by Peter Minowitz.

For over 600 years, “diversity” crisply conveyed the presence of differences, the absence of homogeneity. In recent decades, however, it has become a crudely wielded slogan. It is used to evoke historically marginalized racial, ethnic, and sexual differences—with differences in religion, wealth, health, and other attributes of identity sometimes added to the mix—that we wish to celebrate without normally taking the trouble to indicate the specific traits whose disparagement and/or “underrepresentation” we are trying to combat. People err more disturbingly when they present anyone who disagrees with them regarding, say, immigration policy or affirmative action as being anti-diversity—and therefore, presumably, afflicted by racism, sexism, classism, and comparable forms of bigotry.

Among the thousands of examples one could offer—from the most exalted precincts of intellectual life in America—of how “diversity” has been profoundly narrowed, I shall sketch a tiny sample that involve affirmative-action cases from Texas and Michigan.

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Reality

Truth in Stereotypes by Lee Jussim.

Social scientists dismiss them, but rather than being universally inaccurate, stereotypes are often grounded in reality.

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Fractured

Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart by Scott Anderson.

This is a story unlike any we have previously published. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue. The product of some 18 months of reporting, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Falluja.

It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story, and to ask our readers to do the same. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read.

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Strayed

How Far a ‘Freedom Friendly’ City Has Strayed by Steven Greenhut.

Years ago, Anaheim gained notice for its freedom-friendly way of governing. Now, the city is pursuing the command, control and subsidize approach seen elsewhere.

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Out Of Control

Anti-Semitism At The 2016 Olympics Is Completely Out Of Control by Bre Payton.

Throughout the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Israeli athletes have encountered stark anti-Semitism.

After losing a judo match on Friday, Islam el-Shehaby, a fighter from Egypt, refused to shake his Israeli opponent’s hand — a major breach of judo etiquette. After beating him handily, Israeli fighter Or Sasson extended his hand to el-Shehaby. In response, the Egyptian fighter backed away, refusing to reciprocate the gesture.

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Platitudes

You Can Do It, Baby! by Leslie Garrett.

Our culture is rich with esteem-boosting platitudes for young dreamers, but the assurances are dishonest and dangerous.

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