That Was The Week That Was


• Eight of my students took a shot at defining what historians do.

• Do political churches risk decline? Are apolitical churches drawing new members? Is there such a thing as an “apolitical” church? (For another critique of political partisanship in churches, see this from Chuck Gutenson.)

Another year, another Oscar ceremony. Perhaps the 2013 Academy Awards will make room in a short subject category for…

• One of my rare forays into video production had its world premiere: a 90-second preview of the travel course on World War I that I’ll be co-teaching next January.

• More on the Great War: some great classical music that it inspired.

• I think it might have been my most alluring headline. Pity I really had nothing to say about February 30, 1712 beyond noting its existence in Swedish history and continuing to mine the depleted vein of lutefisk humor.

• And in case it slipped your attention when I foolishly posted it at the tail end of the work week, I issued an invitation for some guest writers to share their insights on this blog.


Rick Santorum
Licensed by Creative Commons (Gage Skidmore)

• Ah, the joys and sorrows of getting the momentum that comes with winning the Minnesota caucuses… Not only does winning almost 38% of the vote on Mitt Romney’s near-home turf seem less like a miracle and more like a setback, but Rick Santorum found himself the target of a wide variety of critics ready to dissect his statements on higher education-as-indoctrination/secularization, international religious liberty, the separation of church and state, and his rather selective adherence to his church’s stated positions.

• There’s funny, then there’s Venn diagram funny… Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post peers inside the minds of Santorum, Romney, and their Republican rivals (among others in the political world).

Scot McKnight on a figure familiar to those who have been reading some of my posts on Anabaptism and Pietism: Harold Bender. Hey, have I mentioned that Scot will be at Bethel on April 20 to give a talk on evangelicalism, Anabaptism, and Pietism?

• Interesting juxtaposition: the day after a new American Experience documentary inspired new interest in the Amish (including this appreciation from Roger Olson), Jana Riess wrote about the seemingly inevitable extinction of the Shakers. Both movements draw curiosity (even “voyeurism,” Roger suggested about the Amish documentary) but few converts, as most contemporary Americans are unwilling to commit to the rigors of the respective lifestyles. Yet while the celibate Shakers are down to a handful of members, the Amish celebrate large families, and 90% of their young people ultimately choose to be baptized into the church and live under its Ordnung.

Winner, Still• More from Jana Riess (now to be found on my Recommended Links page): her interview with Lauren Winner on the latter’s new book about experiencing a “mid-faith crisis.”

• Another famous convert: the Calvinist-turned-Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft on “the three most profound ideas” he’s ever had (not necessarily “original. But every one revolutionary”). (H/T First Thoughts)

• Daniel Burke on the effects of conservative “splinter churches” like the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, Anglican Church in North America, and North American Lutheran Church on mainline Protestantism.

• Granted, Michael Lindsay is a couple years older than me, and God only knows what the near-future holds for me. But I somehow doubt that in 2014 I’ll be president of a prestigious evangelical college, my mentoring of undergraduates drawing the attention of admiring Inside Higher Ed reporters.

• Staying in the Christian college world… Even as Biola University received some national attention for opening its new Center for Christian Thought, another of its signature programs, the Torrey Honors Institute, lost its founder and director, John Mark Reynolds, to Houston Baptist University, where he’ll become provost. I mostly know Reynolds through his posts at The Scriptorium Daily and can only hope that he’ll continue to blog there or in another venue. But more, I hope that his new administrative responsibilities permit some continued role in the classroom, since any professor who could inspire this kind of tribute from a former student must be a remarkable teacher indeed.

• And Cathleen Falsani shared what it’s like to sit at the feet of the remarkable Eugene Peterson: one post focused on how he learned preach from his mother, a Pentecostal pastor; a second had him reflecting on The Message (complete with a couple of minutes of audio: Peterson retelling the story of Samuel and Jesse).

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