• Two more posts on how World War I has been commemorated in western Europe, the first focused on German military cemeteries in Belgium and France and the second on memorials in two large German cities.
• And for good measure, a link to an op-ed piece in the New York Times about why WWI resonates in Britain, France, and beyond. (And if all that isn’t enough to quench your thirst for knowledge about that war… Check out Glorious Mire, a blog that goes more into the actual military history of the war than I tend to do.)
• More details on our coming colloquium on Pietism: the title and abstract for Scot McKnight’s keynote address (plus a bio for those who just said, “Scot McWho?”). Expect some more details to come out next week.
• An announcement about the expansion (or minor redirection) of my blogging activities, and hopefully those of my colleagues and students.
• And, finally… Look out, Simon Schama — you picked the wrong PBS soap opera/costume drama to denigrate!
• Will Inboden thinks that some positions taken recently by the Justice and Health & Human Services departments help explain “the Obama administration’s otherwise baffling apathy on international religious freedom.” More on human rights next week as I gear up to teach my course Human Rights in International History for the first time in four years…
• One of the key topics in that course is the abolition of slavery, particularly as it (gradually) came about in Great Britain and its empire, so I’m excited to see that British Abolitionism and the Question of Moral Progress in History (edited by Don Yerxa) will come out in March.
• Something remarkable showed up in our local daily: activists on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate having a civil conversation in which they actually seemed to be listening to each other.
• Christianity Today’s continuing series “This Is Our City” has been a thought-provoking and helpful read for someone like me, a suburbanite who dreams of the country and tends to be suspicious of attempts to valorize urban living. Having closed one of my earlier posts with a rather agrarian vision of Eden, I especially appreciated Eric Jacobsen’s recent piece on eschatology (reprinted from Comment): “While I don’t want to deny the possibility of rural beauty and even domestic bliss in the eschaton, the problem I have with ignoring the urban in our eschatology is simply that it isn’t very biblical. No matter our aesthetic tastes, the story of our salvation goes from a garden to a city, not from a garden to a backyard.”
• The “Jesus vs. Religion” meme and a letter from a friend wondering why he should attend church regularly prompted a gentle response from Winn Collier: “Over the long haul, I can’t imagine a spirituality with roots deep enough to nourish and sustain us that isn’t melded with the communal practices of word and sacrament. God is everywhere, but God is uniquely present among the awkward and beautiful people He’s called His Body. Church is about physicality, presence. God with us, us with God – and all of us with one another.”
• I haven’t gone to a lot of concerts in my life, but one of my favorite was put on by Bruce Cockburn in the social hall of an Episcopalian church. Cockburn is one of those musicians whose work I admire more than enjoy, but I recommend this brief interview with Christianity Today, particularly for his reflections on visiting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan (one of whom being Cockburn’s brother, an army doctor).
• Speaking of musical Bruces… I don’t know if I admire or enjoy The Boss quite as much as John Fea does, but John’s column on “Springsteen’s republicanism” (very definitely with a little ‘r’) got me more interested in Wrecking Ball than in any Springsteen album since The Rising.
• One of the best pieces of advice in Alan Jacobs’ extended essay on The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction is to read the authors that your favorite authors read. As a declared fan of every spy novel Alan Furst has published, I suppose that means I ought to add something by Eric Ambler to my summer reading list. Until then I’ll just content myself with Shmuel Ben-Gad’s gloss on Judgment on Deltchev.