Michele Van Loon sees hope in middle age: “For all of human history, people have been trying to make sense of this existential dark space—the downward arc that comes at the beginning of the end. Popular culture often brands it a ‘midlife crisis,’ and indeed, coming to terms with mortality can first occur during the vicissitudes of our 40s and 50s. However, questions of purpose, identity, and meaning persist well into our final decades.”


Janelle Griffith reports on a tragic killing: "’We have completed an initial review of the case, and based on the evidence we intend to ask the Grand Jury for an indictment of murder against Aaron Dean,’ the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office said in a statement. ‘We will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.’"


Joe Carter lists nine interesting facts about Paula White: “White is said to be President Trump’s spiritual adviser and personal pastor. She says she’s ‘directly shared the gospel’ with him, but she believes he’s been a Christian since childhood. White delivered the invocation at Trump’s inauguration, and claims to be the ‘convened and de facto head’ of the president’s evangelical advisory board. The group of about 35 evangelical pastors includes the four men who endorsed her latest book: Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, Jack Graham, and Robert Jeffress.”


Rod Dreher unpacks some appalling statistics: “There is no good news anywhere in this report. It breaks down religious decline by region. It’s down dramatically in every region in the country, though the most rapidly secularizing is the Northeast, having lost a staggering 15 percent of its Christians over the past dozen years. It breaks it down by party affiliation too. The Democrats are without a doubt the secular party now. Most white Democrats no longer identify as Christian. Christianity within that party’s partisans is largely confined to blacks and Hispanics, though it is declining among them too. And, most white adults say they rarely if ever attend church services.”


Dustin Barnes crunches the numbers: “At 26,765 days — that's more than 73 years — the Carters surpassed the previous record held by former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. The Carters married July 7, 1946, in a Methodist church in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, when he was 21 and she was 18.”


Ritu Prasad takes a tour of Charleston: “Middleton Place brands itself as home to America's ‘oldest landscaped gardens’. It's also one of the city's oldest plantations. There are certainly elements of slave history throughout the grounds, and Middleton offers a slave-focused tour - but if visitors aren't looking for it, they could miss it. A sign at the entrance tells guests the gardens and buildings are ‘the evidence of the work of generations of Africans and African Americans’. The word ‘enslaved’ appears once, and there is no mention of what these people endured as they ‘maintained the Gardens, worked in the House, husbanded livestock’.”


Michael R. Wing encourages a life of the mind: “All of those people pursue projects that are long-term, scholarly, creative, and original — things nobody has done before. They think about their projects often, even when they’re not working on them. The French have a related concept they call "le jardin secret" (the secret garden) that most often describes an extramarital affair. I’m not urging former academics to have an affair. What I am saying: Having an absorbing but part-time scholarly project to occupy your waking thoughts is sort of like having a romantic affair.”


Jayson Casper describes the plight of Christians in Syria: “Fadi Habsouna, a father of two, was injured when missiles hit his home and ruined his shop. His wife is in critical condition. His grandfather’s home was destroyed by a bomb. The pastor housed them in church-owned property, and decided to remain to assist the family, and others suffering similarly. The church agreed; only eight families would leave.”


Dean Davis offers a helpful guide for what to believe about the end times: “The question of the millennium is like the tip of an iceberg: All sorts of interesting materials lie hidden beneath the surface. This becomes especially clear when we take a quick look at the three main views of the end times popular among Christians today: Historic Premillennialism, Dispensational Premillennialism, and Amillennialism.”


Podcast of the Week: Jemar Tisby joins Derek and Alastair to discuss the history of racism in the American church in his latest book.