That Was the Week That Was

The past week found me writing and reading an even more motley crew of posts than usual. Behold: a small but eclectic sampling of the week that was.


  • The first installment of what I plan as a recurring Monday feature: a semi-serious look-ahead at “This Week in History.” Embedded will be a recurring sub-feature: the “Birthdate-Sharing Odd Couple of the Week,” starting with pundit David Brooks and former NBA player Craig Ehlo.
  • Plus the premiere of a new series on the historiographical notion of a “usable past” and why it does or doesn’t work for Christian colleges rooted in Pietism.
  • Another series continued as we previewed two more sections of our Pietist Impulse in Christianity book: one on Scandinavian manifestations of Pietism; the other surveying the influence of Pietism on North Americans as diverse as a Swiss Protestant missionary to Quebec, the father of the father of the Social Gospel, and none other than Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • For newcomers to The Pietist Schoolman or anyone else who happened to miss my series on Anabaptist critiques of Pietism, a handy overview with sample quotations.
  • My tribute to the late Sen. Mark O. Hatfield. I’ll have my planned tribute to alumni later next week (giving me a chance to have one more conversation with a former student in the meantime).
  • My thoughts on the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall going up.
  • And a couple of quick notes about Bethel’s participation in a new interfaith community service initiative, and a Reformed blogger’s critique of “Chinese pietism.”


  • I was all ready to start work on a post or two shedding what little light I could on the history of rioting in London and other British cities, but then Dana Goblaskas at the Historical Society Blog beat me to the punch with something much better and more concise than I would have written. She even talked about The Clash… just as I was pulling London Calling out of my CD case! So then I thought I’d write about the differences between political protest and criminality… And again, the Historical Society Blog (Philip White this time) got there ahead of me and did it better than I could have. <sigh>
  • Insider Higher Ed previewed a forthcoming article by sociologist Philip Schwadel, in which he reported what every faculty member at every CCCU schooldemonstrates daily: that more education does not lead automatically to declining religious belief or practice.

    Olympic Stadium in Berlin, 1936
    Olympic Stadium in Berlin, 1936 - U.S. National Archives
  • Historian David Clay Large cleared up some myths and misunderstandings about the Berlin Olympics of 1936, concluding that the “Nazi Games” taught Hitler’s “regime how easy it was to mislead the global public.” He urged the International Olympic Committee to “use [the Olympics] as an opportunity to hold [repressive regimes] to the values that the Olympics claim to represent.” Learn more in his book Nazi Games.
  • As a fan of Sherlock Holmes and the principles of free speech (not necessarily in that order), I should probably be upset that a school board in Virginia has banned the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, because of the way it depicts Mormons. But given (a) that the parent who complained suggested replacing the book with the far superior Hound of the Baskervilles and (b) that the part of the novel focusing on Mormons is, if not offensive, superfluous, sensationalistic, and Holmes-free, I’m going to save my moral indignation for another day.
  • I’m so averse to conflict myself that I appreciate gadflies like Stanley Fish. And as a historian sometimes annoyed by the fact that I’m not as smart as my philosopher friends, I especially enjoyed his attempt to poke that group by asking if their discipline mattered. This week he posted responses to the criticism he’d received; not backing down a bit, Fish insisted that philosophy, unlike religion, cannot truly inspire or guide moral behavior. One key difference, he observed parenthetically, is that “Philosophy is something you can do occasionally, religion is not.”The Christian Humanist Podcast logo
  • My featured link this week is The Christian Humanist, featuring three Southern scholars who put out a fascinating podcast called, appropriately enough, The Christian Humanist Podcast, and also blog from time to time. It’s been a bit quiet over at The Christian Humanist Blog this summer, but this week they were back with a vengeance: Michial Farmer’s post on Aristotle and virtue and Nathan Gilmour’s review of the Francis Schaeffer classic, How Should We Then Live?, reminded me that I learn more from these guys than anyone else on the Internet. (Incidentally, Nathan’s review of the Schaeffer book happened to coincide with the publication of Ryan Lizza’s portrait of Michelle Bachmann in The New Yorker, which discusses the influence of Schaeffer, and the film series based on HSWTL?, on Bachmann at some length.)

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