The week in question being last week… Back on our regular schedule this Saturday…
• More posts in the devotional/inspirational vein than usual for me, thanks to Holy Week: Pietists on resurrection and hope for Maundy Thursday; seeing crosses everywhere on our WWI trip for Good Friday; and why a TV cliffhanger might suggest something about what was going through minds of the disciples on the first Holy Saturday.
• And one more devotional piece that had nothing to do with the run-up to Easter, and everything to do with how I’m learning about grace from my children.
• What majors and career tracks guarantee the best return on investment for prospective college students? Is ROI even a useful concept for higher education?
• I unleashed my inner TV critic on House of Cards… It wasn’t pretty.
…There and Everywhere
• This nugget from the Pew Research Center is actually three years old, but I missed it until Nicholas Kristof of all people tweeted it last week… 27% of American Christians say that Jesus will definitely return in the next forty years, against 10% who say he will definitely not return in that period. Check the bottom of this post for the percentage giving the only biblically legitimate response to the question: i.e., “I don’t know.”
• Google’s decision to feature the late Cesar Chavez (celebrating a birthday on March 31st) on Easter Sunday outraged many conservative Christians — but not Matthew Schmitz of First Thoughts. He explained why “Google’s odd choice should remind us that whatever one thinks of Chavez’s politics, they are impossible to understand apart from his belief in the resurrected Christ.”
• If the question “When did the Romans stop crucifying people?” gets you to click the link, then (a) you probably are, were, or should be/have been a history major, (b) you have an odd sense of appropriate reading for the middle of the workday, and (c) you’re a lot like me.
• Another political evolution attracted Michael Gerson’s attention: “America is moving in the direction of having one secular party and one religious party, bringing polarization to a new level of intensity. This is movement in the direction of Europe, which has been cursed by the conflict between anticlerical parties and religious parties. For America, this could be a dangerous source of social division, with each side viewing the other as theocrats or pagans. There is no contempt like the contempt of the true believer or the militant skeptic.”
• While I try to touch on lots of different Christian traditions here, Unitarians rarely catch my attention. But you put their name in a Washington Post headline with the phrase “polyamory activists,” and… Welcome to The Pietist Schoolman, Unitarian-Universalist Association!
• Every semester in our Christianity and Western Culture class, we remind students that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic and inconsistent rather than sustained and systematic, but also have them read the story of Perpetua to understand why martyrdom — however rare — was still significant. In other words, they shouldn’t find anything remotely surprising in this report from CNN’s John Blake.
• Also at CNN’s Belief Blog, Wheaton College alumna Sarah Pulliam Bailey (formerly of Christianity Today) offered a nuanced report on sexuality at her alma mater and other evangelical colleges and universities.
• Also in the previous installment of That Was… I wrote, of a parenthetical comment by Mark Edwards about the Conference on Faith and History, “Perhaps I’ve just been spending too much time in the world of Christian scholarship and education, or perhaps I’m simply naïve, but I’m astounded that Edwards has ‘heard the CFH referred to in private conversation as ‘the intellectual arm of the religious right.’” Friend-of-this-blog John Fea agreed in a Monday post: “Whoever thinks that the CFH is connected in any way, shape, or form with the Religious Right–either officially or ideologically–does not know the CFH very well. In fact, I would argue that one of the primary missions of the CFH is to counter the Religious Right’s view of history, especially when it comes to Christian nationalist interpretations of the American past or providentialist views of history.”
• John was also in the middle of another debate this past week… Graduate student Cara Burnidge disagreed with his observation that many leading historians of religion seem to have been inspired in their course of research by their own religious backgrounds. Here’s John’s response to her critique.
• Does the success of cable TV shows The Bible and The Great American Bible Challenge indicate “a longing for some kind of spirituality, but without being part of a worship community”?
• That argument from a professor at Luther Seminary here in St. Paul, which got bigger and less-desired press for the deep cuts it was forced to make in the wake of a massive financial crisis.
• Alas, similar crises have hit even closer to home…
• A hundred years ago, American public schools tracked students (by IQ, but also race and ethnicity). Is the practice returning as “ability grouping“?
• Infographics showing which Beatle played which instrument on their songs? There went two hours I should have spent grading…
• And here’s the answer to our quiz from the first “…There and Everywhere” item above… How many American Christians remember Jesus’ own words clearly enough to know to tell a Pew pollster, “I don’t know when Jesus will return”? 14%.