One of the best ways to keep a finger on the pulse of evangelical culture and the wider world is to subscribe to a variety of magazines. Yes, I recognize that magazines seem to be on their way out. Newsweek went online only. US News and World Report fell away. Time is holding on, but who knows for how long?
You might be thinking, “Why should I subscribe to any magazines?” My answer to that is two-fold. Most magazines are relatively cheap (their revenue comes from ad sales, not subscriptions). Also, magazines provide a quick and easy way of seeing what’s going on in different segments of our culture.
Here are a few magazines I subscribe to, and some reasons why you might consider taking out a subscription as well.
This is perhaps the best place to get a quick overview of American news and culture viewed through the lens of a left-of-center editorial staff.
The cover stories are usually well-written. The columnists are a mixed bag, sometimes insightful, other times not so much. Despite the shortcomings, if I had one secular magazine I would subscribe to, it would be Time.
I don’t pay for this one. It’s one of the selections I get as a perk for collecting Sky Miles. I doubt I would pay for it if it came otherwise. Still, you can flip through this in about 10 minutes and be aware of upcoming films, TV shows, music, etc. You see what the Hollywood glitterati are talking about.
Don’t expect any in-depth treatment here. The feel of Entertainment Weekly is that of a giddy fan base that can’t wait for the next big thing from the entertainment industry.
These are two different magazines, but they blend together for me. They are magazines about business practices, innovation, and changes in economics and industry. If I had to pick just one, I’d go with Fast Company.
Flipping through these, I usually find two or three items of particular interest and at least one stellar article that I read from start to finish.
When I lived in Romania, I was subscribed to only two magazines: Christianity Today and World. They arrived weeks later than their release date, but it didn’t matter. I gobbled them up when they arrived, reading them cover to cover, generally the same day they came in the mail.
Christianity Today is the magazine begun by Billy Graham, now under the leadership of Mark Galli and Andy Crouch. It’s the flagship publication for big-tent evangelicalism. I’ve contributed occasionally to CT both online and in print for the past few years now, and I always consider it an honor to write for such a respected journal of evangelicalism. In the past few months, they’ve overhauled their design and they’ve also added N. D. Wilson as a contributor, so now you’ve got additional reasons to subscribe.
As I mentioned above, World was my other lifeline in Romania. It’s more conservative than Christianity Today and tends to be more politically focused. The contributors analyze current events and trends in light of a conservative, Christian worldview.
World magazine comes out bimonthly instead of weekly, which gives TIME an edge on being “current.” But I find that I don’t read World to discover the big news, but to see the magazine’s analysis of the news. Also, they introduce stories that I may have missed elsewhere. Their annual Roe v. Wade edition in January and their annual recap in December are “cover-to-cover” reads for me. Then there are Marvin Olasky’s “treadmill books,” the Daniel of the Year, and the always refreshing Andree Seu Peterson.
A 60-year-old quarterly magazine for evangelical leaders, Facts & Trends covers the intersection of church and culture with relevant stories and practical information. Recently redesigned, it features award-winning journalism from writers that include one of the nation’s top religion reporters (Bob Smietana), the latest church-related research from LifeWay Research, and columns from Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. Even with all that, the magazine is free. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain from subscribing.
With Modern Reformation, we are moving on to some magazines that cost a little more to subscribe to because their circulation numbers are lower. Still, they’ve been helpful to me. Modern Reformation takes a current event, theological issue, evangelical trend, or biblical doctrine and examines it from a conservative, Reformed perspective.
The analysis is always insightful, with helpful book reviews. The most recent edition dealt with God’s judgment on the Canaanites and was a thoughtful presentation of various issues related to God’s judgment and mercy. Michael Horton is the brains behind this outfit, and he has assembled a number of good contributors to make this a must-read.
I’m a new subscriber to Touchstone, a journal of “mere Christianity.” With contributions from Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant leaders, this is the most ecumenical magazine in my reading stack.
What I like about Touchstone is that the “mere Christianity” on display here doesn’t water down the distinctives between these confessional commitments. The Catholics don’t pretend to be Protestants, and the Protestants don’t pretend to be Catholics. But in issues related to religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and the distaste for watering down doctrine, the contributors all share a similar tone. Russ Moore’s involvement with Touchstone was one of the reasons I subscribed.
I have a box full of Christian History and Biography magazines. It’s one of the most helpful resources out there. I don’t know how many times when I’ve needed to know something about either a movement or a figure from Christian history that instead of going to my books, I’ve gone to this box.
The quarterly magazine shut down a few years ago and then relaunched through donations. This is an underrated gem.
What magazines do you subscribe to? What magazines should I add to this list? I’m all ears.