James R. Rogers is department head and associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University. He leads the “New Man” prison ministry at the Hamilton Unit in Bryan, Texas, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

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The Need for Epiphanic Evangelicalism

From First Thoughts

The second challenge I see facing American churches today (I discuss the first one here) is how the Church engages postmodernism in American culture. By “postmodern” I do not simply mean the period succeeding modernity, however one wants to date that. Rather, I mean the subjectivist thrust of . . . . Continue Reading »

Saving Willy Loman

From First Thoughts

The focus on the increase in death rates for white Americans between ages 45-54 in the media obscures equally troubling results in Anne Case and Angus Deaton’s recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife . . . . Continue Reading »

Mission Trips and the “Monolithic Other”

From First Thoughts

Short-term “mission trips” are hugely popular among American Evangelicals. Usually these trips involve lay people visiting another part of the world with the aim of helping locals and introducing them to Christianity. But recently, these trips have received a lot of criticism from those on the left, who say that many trips amount to little more than religious tourism, and from those on the right, who argue that such trips induce dependency on foreign aid in communities, rather than self-sufficiency. Continue Reading »

Worthy of Double Honor

From First Thoughts

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, median clergy income was 14 percent lower than the overall median income in the U.S. This is all the more striking when one considers that most professional clergy received years of specialized religious and theological graduate training after receiving their undergraduate degrees. Indeed, median clergy earnings are 24 percent lower than median earnings of people who hold undergraduate degrees, and 36 percent less than individuals who hold masters’ degrees. Continue Reading »

Oil and ISIS

From First Thoughts

Despite the dramatic drop in the price of oil—over 40 percent in just a few months—Saudi Arabia announced at the recent OPEC meeting that it plans to maintain current production levels. This guarantees that there will be no short-run price turnaround, and possibly continued price declines. After all, the price decrease puts the hurt on Saudi Arabia as well as others. While the nation used its oil profits to build a huge sovereign wealth fund, the government also spends a lot of money; and the International Monetary Fund recently suggested that the country may soon face government expenditures greater than revenue. So why this course of action? Continue Reading »