It’s the season of the best-of-the-year lists. It’s a time to look back on, well, everything, from the best botched athlete celebrations to the top stories on race and nerd culture (both lists are worth checking out, by the way).
Here’s my own top ten list of the various best-of-2014 lists that shed light on the intersection of religion and politics this year.
GQ put together this list that was immediately derided for having 17 Republicans included on its list of 20 crazy politicians. GQ put politicians on the list if they found facts “super annoying, like science” or were “frightened of communists, Muslims, and vaginas.” With those criteria, it’s not surprising that those on the list are either religious or backed by religious conservatives. My suggestion for next year’s list: 1) ask economists whom they find the most anti-rational and 2) look for conspiracy theorists. The list should balance itself out. Crazy is bipartisan.
Editorial cartoons may seem like a dying art, at least in traditional newspapers. But they’re still some of the sharpest tools in a social critic’s toolbox. This Washington Post list puts together scores of them — click through until you find the ones of genius, the ones that reveal the truth of an issue in a way that seems both obvious and defiant.
CT’s Gleanings is an online source for news of interest to evangelicals. If you want to see what evangelicals like to know, check out this list of Gleanings most read list. Topping the list isn’t one story but the many stories that came out this year as the Mark Driscoll fiasco unfolded. For those who aren’t up on the news, let me summarize it this way: Driscoll led the creation of a mega-church and network of churches that was praised and criticized by evangelicals. This summer he stepped down amidst scandal. There was no sex, drugs, or embezzlement. His cardinal sin was pride. He is the first religious leader I know of whose downfall was due to being a major ass-hole. And evangelicals in the know watched every turn and twist in his downfall.
Time‘s Man of the Year for 2013 keeps on surprising people. It’s not so much what he says but what he does that matters. Maybe it’s for good. Maybe not. Who am I to judge?
Pictures are worth a thousand words? The best pictures transcend words. Here over one hundred of AP’s pictures of the year. Beautiful. Horrifying. Profound.
This one isn’t on religion or politics per se, but it points to how we are going to understand both in our world of big data. Sorting through this data isn’t just something the NSF does. There is a movement to make data easier to understand by putting data into pictures. Some of these efforts fall short of being simple, but they are works of art.
The Court always makes news, and here are two lists of the most important cases. We’ll have our own round-up of the year’s biggest cases that addressed religion. And there were some biggies. Most importantly was the Hobby Lobby decision, which ruled that closely-held corporations have religious rights.
Ok, Kevin Eckstrom is Editor-in-Chief of RNS; so, you would expect me to include his round-up of religion news. Truth is: his summary makes my list because it shows how religion isn’t on the sideline to the world’s news. It is often in the middle of the scrum. Isis? Ebola? Ferguson? Cuba? Report on any of these stories without including the role of religion is to miss the story.
Campaigns often don’t matter. Election outcomes are often determined by political terrain shaped by the economy and other forces outside of a candidate’s control. But occasionally, there are smart campaigns that make the most of this terrain, even if it battling uphill. Roll Call‘s list of best campaigns finds these, even among some who lost. My hunch is that you’ll be seeing more from those on this list as they go from campaigners to congressional leaders.
Religion and politics shape how we view the world. And both would be improved if these world-views embraced science instead of fighting it. What happened in science this year? Everything from new understandings about the uniqueness of homo sapiens to the features of the big bang. But the top story in science also one of the top stories in religion and politics: the ebola epidemic. To understand it (and many other stories) we need an understanding of science, religion, and politics.