That Was the Week That Was

What you might have missed last week, first here at The Pietist Schoolman and then around the blogosphere:


  • Reading Carolyn Weber’s Surprised by Oxford in light of memoirs by Augustine of Hippo and Frederick Buechner had me thinking about how hard it can be to talk about loving God with those I most love.
  • A new series on ranking national anthems kicked off with six nominees that didn’t do especially well in my system, three honorable mentions that just missed the cut for the final round, and then my students’ 6th favorite national anthem.
  • My favorite band in ten songs, on the eve of the release of its new (terrific) album.
  • My attempt to become king of all obscure media continues as this week marked the return of our department’s podcast series, plus yet another episode of CWC: The Radio Show.
  • An overview of my series on Pietism and the notion of a “usable past” for Christian colleges and universities. If you happen to be reading this before 10am CDT on Saturday, October 1st and live in the Twin Cities, come hear me as part of a panel on the “Pietist impulse” in the history of one such Christian college, at the Bethel University Library.


  • Colossal Bust of Constantine
    Colossal Bust of Constantine - Creative Commons (Jean-Christophe Benoist)

    David Heim, executive editor of The Christian Century, highlighted a variety of recent works pushing back against (or at least reopening a discussion of) the common view that the reign of Constantine marked a kind of “second Fall,” the corruption of the Church by its alliance with power and privilege.

  • A seemingly unlikely fan of Martin Luther revealed his admiration for his fellow German. (H/T First Thoughts)
  • If it feels like I’m referring to John Fea of Messiah College in just about every blog post (and more — he shows up in our department podcast’s discussion of historical revisionism, thanks to this essay, and I’m adopted this book of his for our spring section of HIS499 Senior Seminar), well, his hot streak continues with a Patheos column on how historical study promotes virtues like compassion, humility, and hospitality. I hope to have my own post or posts on that topic at some point this fall. To John’s list, I’d also dare to add two virtues that seem, at best, distantly related to history: hope and joy.
  • As I would, John stresses the connections between studying history and developing empathy. David Brooks celebrated empathy in his Friday New York Times column, but also warns of the difficulties of translating it into action on behalf of others.
  • Roger Olson continued his series on biblicism, as it has been famously critiqued by sociologist Christian Smith. The series exemplifies why I like and admire Roger (for years a mainstay of Bethel’s biblical and theological studies department): he both acknowledges the fairness of a well-made point (one of them here being that, at the “grassroots of evangelicalism,” there’s a kind of folk religion that treats the Bible without sufficient sophistication), but doesn’t hesitate to explain his disagreements with it (i.e., that the same isn’t true of evangelical leaders and scholars, and that, on essential points, evangelicals do not suffer from “pervasive interpretive pluralism” despite their high view of Scripture).
  • Peter James Yoder, one of the contributors to our Pietist Impulse book (read the preview of his chapter here), started a new blog this week: Theology, History, and Society.
  • Hey, did anything happen in baseball this past Wednesday night? If you happened to miss the most thrilling single day in regular season baseball history (no hyperbole — they’ve been playing professional baseball since 1871, and what happened involving the Braves, Cardinals, Rays, and Red Sox has never happened before), check out this summary from Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. And for good measure, my Minnesota Twins closed their miserable season on a high note: a walk-off 1-0 victory that also happened to be the very last game called by John Gordon, retiring after a twenty-five year stay in Minnesota that began with the year of the Twins’ first World Series victory.

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