That Was the Week That Was

As I noted in my very first post on this blog, I’m not an early adopter. So I’m probably the ten millionth person to realize that Google has an application called Reader that lets you easily digest the contents of any blog that interests you without the trouble of actually visiting it. All of which should make these weekly recap posts much, much easier to assemble. Here’s what happened in the last week…


  • We passed the halfway mark and rounded the bend on our virtual circuit of the history of World War I, along the way encountering the rather graphic words of my favorite little-known war poet, hearing the bugles once more sound “Last Post” in Ypres, lamenting the WWI-related places we won’t be able to visit, introducing you to two of my ancestors, and reviewing France’s storied military/soccer history.
  • I admitted my relative disinterest in fiction-reading, then proceeded to recommend my two favorite historical novelists.
  • What does a graphic novel have in common with The Wire, A Knight’s Tale, William Shakespeare, and a tune from Mary Poppins?
  • We recapped the neo-Anabaptist critique of Pietism advanced by Harold Bender, Robert Friedmann, and other Mennonite scholars. That series will continue next week with a wise suggestion from the Brethren historian Dale Brown.
  • And this recap got pushed back to Sunday because I just couldn’t wait longer than a few hours to share my appreciation of the now-departed Friday Night Lights.

Not Here

  • Grantland is quickly becoming my favorite non-academic site to visit for its excellent, often funny writing on a wide variety of topics related to sports, culture, and whatever else interests its correspondents. Two highlights there this past week: an interview with legendary sabermetrician Bill James that had absolutely nothing to do with baseball, and the ins and outs of promotion and relegationin British soccer. To put the latter topic in American terms: this year the Pittsburgh Pirates would be playing in the International League and the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners in the Pacific Coast League, with the AAA champion Columbus Clippers moving into the NL Central, the Tacoma Rainiers taking Seattle’s spot in the AL West, and likely the Sacramento River Cats or Reno Aces replacing the D-Backs in the NL West. See how fun!

    Tacoma Rainiers
    A Tacoma Rainiers home game - Creative Commons (Ken Lund)
  • The 400th birthday of the King James Bible continued to inspire comment, from The Christian Century to Scot McKnight. My favorite pieces on the subject are still those by Mark Noll and Phil Anderson. Let’s hear it for the historian as public intellectual!
  • Stanley Fish reviewed and rebutted Naomi Schaefer Riley’s The Faculty Lounges. While he agreed with her that higher education oriented around vocational training and hyperpoliticized fields like area and gender studies was a dead end, he came to the opposite conclusion: tenure remains vital if colleges and universities are to “return to a future in which academic inquiry is its own justification.”
  • Insider Higher Ed investigated the growing phenomenon of “classical Christian” colleges like New Saint Andrews, Patrick Henry, and Imago Dei. While I’m fully on board with the notion that education (particularly Christian education) is not about “acquiring data” as much as “the formation of the individual,” these colleges trouble me for reasons I’ll hopefully explain in a post next month.
  • Both philosopher Jamie Smith and (Rob Bell’s) editor Mickey Maudlin lamented the increase of evangelical tribalism. Not denominationalism or confessionalism, the loss of which Smith somewhat lamented, but the process of “everyone carving themselves up into smaller and smaller tribish enclaves, and then proceeding to both rail against straw men and preach to their own little choirs.” Add this to the growing list of topics I’m promising to write about before the summer ends…

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