The Ascendance of Christian Radio

An interesting bit of data:  Christian radio gained the most number of stations in 2019.  Ninety-two of those stations were designated simply as “Religion” stations, while another sixty-one were “Contemporary Christian.”  That’s even with “Southern Gospel” and “Black Gospel” losing stations (eleven and five, respectively).

That puts “Religion” in second place, coming in behind the popular “Country” format and beating out my favorite, “News/Talk.”  That’s pretty substantial growth.

Could that upswing be a sign of greater faith?  I’m not so sure.  It does seem heartening that Christian radio is gaining stations; presumably, owners wouldn’t establish religious stations or change existing stations to that format if listeners aren’t there.

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TBT: How the Reformation Shaped the World

It’s a brand new year, and I’m excited for what it holds.  For this week’s TBT, I looked back to the first post of 2019—which then snowballed into a year-and-counting of daily posts.

This piece drew inspiration from a Pager U video (links below), and featured some of my off-the-cuff reflections on the influence of the Protestant Reformation.

I’ll let the original speak for itself.  Here is 2019’s “How the Reformation Shaped the World“:

There’s a video up on Prager University called “How the Reformation Shaped the World” (PDF transcript for those who prefer to read).  Stephen Cornils of the Wartburg Theological Seminary gives an adequate, broad overview of the impact of the Protestant Reformation (albeit with some noise about Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism, which, while accurate, smacks of throwing a sop to politically-correct hand-wringers).  You can view the video in full below.

I’ve written about the influence of Christianity (and it was, notably, Protestant Christianity) on the founding of America, and I’ve discussed how shared Protestantism helped create an American identity.  Indeed, I would argue that, without Protestantism, there would be no America, as such.

I would also argue—perhaps more controversially—that America’s commitment to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism allowed the nation to avoid the anticlerical upheavals seen in France and other predominantly and officially Catholic countries.  While there were official, established churches at the State level into the 19th-century—which I wrote about in “The Influence of Christianity on America’s Founding“—the lack of federal establishment, and the general movement towards greater religious liberty, ensured a proliferation of Protestant denominations in the early Republic.

Catholicism inherently insists upon a top-down hierarchy of control.  Luther’s view of man’s relation to God is horizontal, as Bishop James D. Heiser argues in his extended sermon The One True God, the Two Kingdoms, and the Three Estates (one of my Christmas gifts, incidentally, and a good, quick read for just $5).  That is, every man is accountable to God directly, and is responsible for accepting Christ and maintaining his relationship with God.  That horizontal, rather than vertical, relationship infuses Western Civilization with a sense of individualism, the effects of which have been far-reaching and both positive and negative.

Regardless, the impact of the Protestant Reformation is staggering to consider.  The Catholic Church in the 16th century was an increasingly sclerotic and corrupt institution, one that had fallen from its great height as the pacifying influence upon a barbaric, post-Roman Europe (of course, the Counter Reformation reinvigorated and, in part, helped purify the Church).  With the advent of the printing press and translations into national languages, conditions were ripe for an explosion of religious reform in the West.  The ripple effects of the Reformation still pulse through Western life and culture.

That said, I’m not anti-Catholic, nor is that the intent of this post.  In today’s political and theological climate, committed followers of Christ must band together, be they Catholic or Protestant.  I don’t “buy” Catholic theology in toto, but I respect the Catholic Church’s longstanding traditions and consistent institutional logic.  Thomas Aquinas’s cosmological argument in the Summa Theologica is pretty much what I learned growing up as an Evangelical Protestant.  And I’m broadly sympathetic to the traditional Catholic argument that the Reformation busted up the orderly cosmos of medieval European society (see Richard Weaver‘s various essays for further elucidation of this idea).  A side effect of the Reformation naturally includes many of the cons of modernity.

Ultimately, too, Christians face the double-threat of modern progressive ideology and radical Islamism.  I’ve written about the former in detail, but not so much the latter.  For the moment, suffice it to say that the two are temporary, uneasy, but powerful allies against a traditionalist, conservative, Christian worldview, and both are deeply antithetical to Western values and culture.

These are some broad and slapdash thoughts, ones which I will gradually develop in future posts as necessary.  Any useful resources or insights are welcome—please share in the comments.

Happy New Year!

Lazy Sunday XLII: 2019’s Top Five Posts

2019 is winding down, and with this being the last Sunday of the year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to look back at the most popular posts of 2019.

These posts aren’t necessarily the best posts—although that’s an entirely subjective measure—just the ones that received the most hits.

When looking through the most popular posts, there were a few surprises.  One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that posts I pour my heart and soul into may walk away with five views (and, oftentimes, only one!).  Then other posts that I dash off in a hurry to make my self-imposed daily goal take off like Rossini rockets, garnering dozens of hits.

Some of that is timing and promotion.  I find that the posts I have ready to launch at 6:30 AM do better on average.  But some generous linkbacks from WhatFinger.com really created some surprises here at the end of the year, surpassing even the exposure I received from Milo Yiannopoulos.  Writing posts about hot, current news items, the dropping links about said items in the comment sections of prominent news sites, also helps drive traffic, but I often lack the time required to do such “planting” (and it is a practice that can come across as spammy if not done with finesse).

Some posts take on a life of their own; I see consistent daily traffic from one of the posts on this list, “Tom Steyer’s Belt.”  Apparently, a bunch of people are as mystified as I am with Steyer’s goofy, virtue-signalling belt.

Well, it’s certainly been an adventure.  And while it may be premature—there are still two days left in the year!—here are the Top Five Posts of 2019:

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Christmas and its Symbols

It’s Christmas!  Imagine “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” played on an uptempo French horn and a crackling fire.  That’s how I imagine Christmas morning—like a 1970s Christmas variety show.

In all seriousness, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year.  Christ is born!  It’s a day for celebrating His Birth with family and friends.  Just like the Wise Men of yore, we exchange presents to celebrate (and to stimulate the economy).

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Christmas Eve

It’s hard to believe it, but Christmas is nearly here!  As a child, the anticipation seemed too much to bear, and the calendar from Halloween to Christmas seemed to stretch into endless, soggy days.

Christmas Eve is always the most magical, mystical part of Christmas time.  Popular depictions of Jesus’ Birth take place, presumably, on Christmas Eve—the angels bursting into the black, silent night above Bethlehem.  The whole event is supernatural—the Virgin Birth, the Star guiding the way to the manger, the angels appearing to the shepherds and singing.  Tradition has it that even the animals in the manger talked at the moment of Christ’s birth (at exactly midnight, of course).  If the rocks can cry out, singing praises to Him, why not some donkeys?

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O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting

Somewhere—I think it was in one of the Civilization games, but I can’t seem to find the exact quotation—I heard a pithy saying, something along the lines of “Genius is a combination of pressure and time.”  It’s one of those expressions that instantly rings true.

Years ago, a coffee shop in a nearby town (it’s now become a hip, upscale dining spot—and it axed the live music) used to host a quirky songwriting competition.  The premise was simple—every month, participants would pay $5 entry fee into a pot, and a “secret judge” would pick a winner, who would win that evening’s pot.  Sometimes there would be a small “second round” of the top three contenders for that evening (I won once, back in January 2014, when I believe I debuted “Greek Fair“; I was surprised, but also thankful that I wouldn’t spend $5 a month for the rest of the year).

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Away in a Manger

The political scene still strikes me as incredibly boring—a sad testament to how jaded our politics have become, that we don’t get more riled up about impeachment proceedings.  It’s also a testament to the perfidy and disingenuous of congressional Democrats:  everyone knows the articles of impeachment are a politically-motivated farce and, to use GEOTUS’s preferred name, a “witch hunt.”

It’s sad that President Trump will be impeached, and I’m nervous that squishy neocons and RINOs in the Senate will betray him.  That would be the ultimate kick in the teeth—the elites backhanding their own citizens for daring to challenge their aloof rule.  I shudder to contemplate the fall out should conviction and removal in the Senate occur.

Until then, it’s all a distracting media circus, with the Democrats and press engaged in a frenzied dance around the cannibal’s pot.  Even then, it manages to be incredibly dull.  At least actual cannibals have some conviction.

All that said, let’s look at more Christmas carols!  Next up:  “Away in a Manger.”

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Lazy Sunday XL: Christmas Carols

No, it’s not an “extra large” edition of Lazy Sunday, dear reader:  it’s the fortieth edition of this hallowed tradition.  That’s forty Sundays of thematic reflections, gazing back at the output of fifty weeks of consecutive daily posts.  Yep—today marks the 350th consecutive day of posts here at The Portly Politico.  We’re just fifteen days away from reaching the one-year mark.

Just as yesterday’s SubscribeStar Saturday post on “O Holy Night” (subscribe today for just $1 a month to read it and dozens of other pieces) should have come as no surprise to readers, this Lazy Sunday continues with that theme.  Indeed, we’re looking back at the posts this week (and from last December) about Christmas music:

  • ‘Silent Night’ turns 200” (and “TBT: ‘Silent Night’ turns 200“) – I wrote this post on Christmas 2018.  At the time, the world was celebrating the 200th anniversary of a sweet, simple Christmas carol, and one of my all-time favorites.
  • The Joy of Christmas Carols” – This piece is a reflection on the sheer joy of playing and singing Christmas carols.  Like traditional hymns, carols possess wonderful staying power, and they stick with you powerfully.  I’ve often caught myself singing “Joy to the World” (more below) in the middle of July.  They also beautifully and simply tell the story of Christ.
  • Joy to the World” – “Joy to the World” is somewhere in my Top 5 Favorite Christmas Carols (if such a list actually existed).  The Number One slot goes to our next entry, but “Joy” is up there, for sure.  In this post I analyze the simple but effective use of a descending D major scale to kick off the melody of a song that leaps and bounds across those eight notes, much like the soaring tones of the angels that appeared over Bethlehem that night some 2000 years ago.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: O Holy Night” – I believe that, objectively, “O Holy Night” is the greatest Christmas song ever.  I used to say the “objectively” part as a joke—how can an opinion be objective reality?—but now I’ve come to believe it.  It’s powerful.  It’s operatic.  And for $1 a month, you can find out why.

That’s it!  We’re closing in on Christmas, rapidly.  Enjoy your Sunday, and Merry Christmas!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: O Holy Night

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

The unofficial theme of the blog this week has been Christmas music.  What better way to cap off the week than with a post about the best Christmas song ever written, Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night“?

Like its cousin “Silent Night,” the story of “O Holy Night” involves a village’s church organ.  In 1843, the church organ of the French village of Roquemaure had recently been renovated, so the parish priest asked a local wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the occasion.  That poem, “Cantique de Noël,” would be set to music a short time later by composer and music critic Adolphe Adam—and Christmas history would be made.

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