george hancock stefanBefore I wrote my doctoral dissertation, I had to take several classes. In one of them, a certain dissertation was held up as an example of what not to do. It was a dissertation about libraries in the 18th century. The doctoral student compiled a list of ten libraries and, based on the books that he found in those libraries, concluded that the books found in all the ten libraries were the most influential. Someone disagreed, stating that the fact that a particular book was present in the ten libraries did not mean that it was read or even opened. What was important was not the possession of a book, but to discover the books that inspired people to write on certain topics or share the books with their colleagues.

I try to make my reading as diversified as possible between books, newspapers and articles on the internet. I am aware that from time to time, some of my parishioners are not present at the worship service because the Sunday New York Times is pretty thick on Sundays and they need many hours to read it. As someone who still has an AOL email, I frequently read the Huffington Post. That publication is owned by the Huffington family and one of the main contributors is Ariana Huffington, a socialite from a Greek Orthodox background who married rich and is seeking to influence American culture.

 The editors of Huffington Post selected 42 articles for our Sunday reading on Sunday, June 12, 2016. They publicize 41 or 42 articles each day. What we read has been selected by a group of people who feel that we as the reading public should read these pieces for our information, entertainment, and formation.

These are the 42 titles of the published articles.

  1. 1.Mayor: 50 dead in Orlando nightclub shooting
  2. 2.Shooting suspect’s father reveals possible motive
  3. 3.Trump staffer slams Obama over Orlando shooting
  4. 4.Poll: ‘Major role’ Democrats want for Bernie Sanders
  5. 5.Romney: Trump’s comments are “breaking my heart”
  6. 6.Stop eating these ‘digestive destroyers’
  7. 7.Police identify gunman in ‘Voice’ singer’s murder
  8. 8.Woman celebrates her divorce with unlikely photos
  9. 9.Man spots eerie activity in North Korean wilderness
  10. 10.Teen commits suicide after friends post video online
  11. 11.Pack two weeks of clothing in a single carry-on bag
  12. 12.Hummer’s license plate is infuriating the internet
  13. 13.Tear-jerking photo from autistic girl’s part goes viral
  14. 14.Internet totally baffled by this photo
  15. 15.Reported punched in the face by total strangers on air
  16. 16.Search for missing Colorado woman takes tragic turn
  17. 17.Customer makes bizarre find inside McDonald’s burger
  18. 18.The No. 1 best-selling book on Amazon in 2016
  19. 19.Princess Charlotte makes balcony debut for Queen’s birthday parade
  20. 20.Too many emails in your inbox?
  21. 21.Worker makes gruesome find at construction site
  22. 22.You will never have to iron again thanks to this
  23. 23.Donkeys’ gesture for fallen friend will break your heart
  24. 24.Kim Kardashian reveals how Kanye is in the bedroom
  25. 25.Common attribute that may delay the sale of your house
  26. 26.Very unusual coin may be worth a small fortune
  27. 27.Disease that makes you more likely to have a heart attack
  28. 28.Debilitating health scare made Nettles cancel tour dates
  29. 29.You won’t believe what Oprah’s new house looks like
  30. 30.Amount reality stars earn isn’t what you’d think
  31. 31.Little boy suffers second degree burns from hose
  32. 32.Essential items that will make packing so much easier
  33. 33.Khloe Kardashian cuts off signature tresses for short ‘do’
  34. 34.Woman finds terrifying creature lurking inside berry
  35. 35.Activists plot to foil school’s graduation amid rape uproar
  36. 36.Stop using this 1 power-killing phrase in emails
  37. 37.The most hated company in the US is…
  38. 38.Emma Stone doesn’t look like this anymore
  39. 39.Julianne Hough flaunts insane abs after her workout
  40. 40.Rihanna makes jaws drop with super racy beach snaps
  41. 41.Creator wins Belmont Stakes by a nose
  42. 42.Prime Fielder didn’t even know he ruined a fan’s day

As you can see, we begin with politics and end with sports. The political section started with the recent Orlando shooting, followed by comments from politicians and some pieces about the election. The division of the articles is hard to grasp. Is Romney’s comment the end of the political section? Are digestive destroyers the beginning of health section?


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It is interesting that the international scene receives two articles and so do the Kardashians. On the international scene, we are treated to an obscure article about a finding in the North Korean wilderness and as an antimonarchical democracy we are forever fascinated with royalty, so we have an article about Princess Charlotte. We are also informed about Kanye’s prowess in bed and the important of a Kardashian haircut.

Fashion receives a good amount of attention with articles 38-41 revealing the importance of sexuality from hair to abs to racy beach apparel. Since it is the summer season, we are treated to a number of articles on how to travel light and have great enjoyment while doing it.

There are some wandering articles on a pair of donkeys and a terrifying creature found in someone’s berries. We can also read about murders, suicide, and a possible disruption of the Stanford graduation because some activists feel rape culture is not fully confronted in our universities.

What surprised me professionally and personally is that there was absolutely nothing on religion. In some newspapers you could find a religious section but on the internet that section has disappeared. Could one argue that the Internet has become totally secular? The editorial staff on the major newspapers and the major websites are no longer giving space to religious news. Is it because they consider us no longer important or because we are not as intriguing, informative, or titillating as other news?

If the adage is correct that we become what we read, then we are on a dangerous slope. Our editorial boards have become secular and completely abandoned the spiritual component of reading and life. By leaving out the spiritual component, they have impoverished their readership and (indirectly) all of human society. To correct this problem, one has to be vigilant in building reading habits that are rich and diverse.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...