The inter-web is full of great conservative websites and resources and the number of erudite, passionate, and well-informed bloggers is growing by the day. But sometimes these websites seem to spend the majority of their time analyzing the big picture and not enough time equipping readers with how to get involved, arming them with the knowledge of how to get started.
This column has certainly been guilty of this in the past and so we seek to offer some practical suggestions. While I would never pretend to be able to speak definitively on this subject, I am happy to share some tools which have benefited me greatly. Hopefully, we’ll gather additional ideas in the comments below.
1) Set up Google Reader or another feed reader. This is the easiest way to accumulate all of the columns and blogs which you read daily in one easy website. Each time you log onto Reader, it goes out and asks each website you’re subscribed to if there is any new content or posts. If there is, it is retrieved and displayed like an email inbox. You can read, share, mark, or ignore each post as you see fit. And like most of Google’s apps, you have the ability to create labels which organize your feeds. You can find all of your daily posts about economics by slapping an Economics label on your feeds from Zero Hedge, Iowa Hawk, and the Acton Institute’s Power Blog, for instance.
Another great feature is the ability to search through your feeds using the Google Search engine. Want to find that post from a few weeks back about the amount of union campaign contributions given to Obama in 2012? Type it into the search bar at the top of the page and browse the results.
For those Luddites who think they’re taking a principled stand by refusing to use the products of a company which is so blatantly hostile to our worldview, my answer is a belly laugh and a rueful shake of the head. There are few things more poetic than taking what an enemy gives you and using it against them.
Google hates Bible-believing Christians? Great, let’s use their products to weaken their utopian ideal in the minds of our communities. Do I support every company which hates me and mine by using their products? Of course not. But when we can use the tools of our enemies against them, we should.
2) Start an Amazon Wish List. Each time you run across a book mentioned in an article or a conversation which sounds worthwhile, find it on Amazon and throw it on your wish list. This becomes your personal reading list. Trust me, you’ll never run out of items on this list, as new suggestions will multiply faster than you can take them off! As an added bonus, each time a friend asks what you’d like for your birthday, send them a link to the list. You’ll get something you can really use and maybe your friend will pick up a worthwhile book for themselves.
3) Sign up for a Public Library Card. Ever since Benjamin Franklin helped start one of the first libraries in this country this has been an invaluable resource for Americans in all walks of life. In most communities, all it takes to obtain a library card is an ID and a bill from the gas company with your address on it. One can go broke buying your way through your Amazon reading list, so see which titles are available at your public library and get to work. With the extra cash you save on not having to buy a copy of “Das Kapital” you can pick up the latest Doug Giles book!
Another cool feature which most libraries are incorporating is the loaning of eBooks through their website. Many of them are offering the ability to check out books for Kindles and Nooks for free. The loan period is normally only a couple of weeks, but it’s been said that if one does not connect to the internet from their device (you can download these books via USB), then the book stays on one’s device indefinitely (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
I think it’s important to note that in some cases, the library might be the only place you can find the relevant edition of the book you’re seeking. For instance if you buy a new copy of “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinski, the original dedication of the book (it was dedicated to Satan in the original edition) has been scrubbed.
Obviously there is a common thread in these first few suggestions. Read. I do not believe that we do enough of that these days, although it is a fact that conservatives read more than others. Make some time next to your Bible study and personal reflection to read a bit each day. We’ll continue this list next week with a few more suggestions about how to get started, equipping yourself to engage and win the ideological struggle in which we are amidst.