Jacobs’s effort is thoughtful and well worth engaging. But I am not sure we have a shortage of Christian intellectuals (although I may be biased because some of my best friends might be counted as part of this group). Rather, we live in a world where (1) religion has been subsumed by politics; (2) many liberals have accepted the view that religion now lives almost entirely on the right end of politics; (3) the popular media tend to focus on the most extreme and outlandish examples of religion rather than the more thoughtful kind; which means that (4) the quieter forms of religious expression — left, right and center — rarely win notice on the covers of magazines or anywhere else. Put another way: Even Reinhold Niebuhr could not be Reinhold Niebuhr in 2016.
E. J. Dionne. Which was one of the chief points of my essay: “At some point in the past sixty years or so a perverse and destructive feedback loop engaged, and I cannot see how to disengage it.” Also, I never say in the essay that there is “a shortage of Christian intellectuals”: I say that we don’t currently have “serious Christian intellectuals who [occupy] a prominent place on the national stage.”
I don’t know how to account for it, but in all my years of writing I have never published anything that has received as many misunderstandings as this essay. Every day I hear from people complaining “Your essay would have been better if you had said X” when I did in fact say X, or “I think you’re wrong about Z” when Z is something I neither said nor think.