The Week’s Best Longreads for December 21, 2013

The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week. By David Sessions.

The Daily Beast

Where Are the People?Jim Hinch, American ScholarEvangelical Christianity in America is losing its power. What happened to Orange County’s Crystal Cathedral shows why.

The Welfare QueenJosh Levin, SlateIn the 1970s, Ronald Reagan villainized a Chicago woman for bilking the government. Her other sins—including possible kidnappings and murders—were far worse.

How John McCain Turned His Clichés Into MeaningMark Leibovich, The New York Times MagazineThe “brave maverick” who became the “bitter old man” is now “learning to let go.”

The Other Side of the StoryJenny Kutner, Texas MonthlyWhen she was fourteen, she had a relationship with her eighth grade history teacher. People called her a victim, and him a villain. Now, she says, it was more complicated than that.

Extracting the WoodchuckAdam Kirsch, Harvard MagazineRobert Frost’s “doubleness,” revealed in his letters—and poems.

Was Skylar Neese Murdered By Her Best Friends?Caroline Linton, The Daily BeastSkylar, Rachel, and Shelia were the best of friends—until one of them went missing and the other two were implicated in a grisly murder case that has upended their idyllic town.

For more great longreads, visit our friends at Longreads.com.