That Was The Week That Was

As this gets posted, I’ll be driving north from the Twin Cities to McGregor, MN, where I’m giving a series of talks as part of our church’s annual “family camp” at Covenant Pines. (I’ll post an outline next week.) Preparing for those talks left me with less blogging time than usual this past week, so I’ll try to make up for the brevity of the first section of this links post with a longer-than-usual second half…


• My sister-in-law once told me that I’m an old soul. More accurately, I’ve got an old fogey’s soul, as demonstrated by my spending over 1300 words defending denominationalism.

• A former Princeton president became the latest educator to weigh in on the significant value of a liberal arts education.

• My uncle Jim continued to set the bar high for Gehrz men…

• Meanwhile, I revealed my guilty pleasures in TV, music, and other media.

There and Everywhere


1662 Book of Common Prayer
The title page of the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer – Wikimedia

• Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris returned to blogging for the New York Times, posting a three-part series on identity (“What’s in a Name?”). I especially enjoyed the middle segment, which took the form of a brief history of identification techniques that took us from Herman Melville’s (photograph-less) passport to the strange case of two men who were seemingly identical but for the whorl of one finger’s print, from the Old Testament to Mark Twain.

• Why Germany is struggling to deal with the return of its first military veterans in decades.

• Molly Worthen cogently analyzed American evangelical adulation of British evangelicals like John Stott (“Stottophilia,” she called it), even if it seems a bit odd to cite Mark Noll’s eighteen-year old Scandal of the Evangelical Mind in support of a claim that “most accomplished evangelical scholars still think that the movement has a long way to go” to overcome their “intellectual inferiority complex.” (H/T John Schmalzbauer)

• It’s not getting quite the attention of the King James Bible turning 400, but the famous 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer turned 350 this week.

• As John Turner reports in his concise analysis of the 2010 U.S. Religion Census, the word “cratering” best describes adherence trends in mainline Protestant churches from 2000-2010, a phenomenon no doubt exacerbated by the splintering of denominations like the ELCA and PCUSA.

• One of the problems of the atomizing of the mainline: a new conservative Presbyterian group picked a name that was too similar to that of my denomination and had to rearrange some descriptors to avoid confusion.

(And if you’re wondering where the “mainline” even comes from, Religion in American History just happened to post a helpful primer.)

Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson at the 2012 Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing – Wikimedia

• David Dockery, longtime president of Union University, eulogized Charles Colson by recalling his support for and influence over Union and other Christian colleges.

• As Bethel (finally) gets to the end of its semester later this month, I’ll have the privilege of presiding over a couple of events for our students, including the presentations of our graduating seniors’ final research papers. So I know exactly how John Fea feels

• John also is part of a new group blog at Patheos’ Evangelical channel, The Anxious Bench, along with other leading religious historians Philip Jenkins, Thomas Kidd, and the aforementioned John Turner.

• The most acclaimed album by my favorite rock band turned ten years old last week, prompting this fine essay in The Atlantic.

• Marilynne Robinson had me at Gilead, but Rachel Stone’s post on her — concluding that she “humbly offers a beautifully unique, historically rich vision of fearless Christian love worth abiding in” — cements her place as my favorite Calvinist.

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