That Was The Week That Was

Aside from a post occasioned by the convergence of college commencement and a hole in the lectionary for Pentecost and the announcement of the newest issue of Christian History magazine, I was on break from active blogging during the past week. But grading is submitted, summer has officially started, and plenty of other writers were more than picking up my slack. In case you missed them:

• Roger Olson explained why he (unlike Bethel’s sponsoring denomination) won’t give up the name “Baptist.”

John Edwards
John Edwards – Wikimedia

• Elsewhere in the Baptist world, “centrist evangelical” Jonathan Merritt shared his difficult experience embracing environmentalism while at a Southern Baptist seminary.

• One more Southern Baptist story: I don’t know if John Edwards has clung to his upbringing in that church, but Robert Wright heard echoes of Southern Baptist views on sin and salvation in the Edwards story and his public confessions.

• I also don’t know if photographer Rebecca Norris Webb is any relation to writer Kathleen Norris, or if it’s just coincidence that they share a name and a fascination with South Dakota.

• Mark O’Connell said it better than I could have: “When I say that I love Marilynne Robinson’s work, I’m not talking about half of it; I’m talking about every word of it.” It’s an especially remarkable statement coming from a writer who describes himself as “more or less a fully paid-up atheist” who nonetheless finds himself “more drawn to Robinson’s Christian humanism than I am to the Dawkins-Dennett-Hitchens-Harris school of anti-theist fighting talk,” in part because Robinson’s “is not the kind of voice I normally associate with religious people, and it makes me wonder whether we might not be listening to the wrong voices.”

• Based on Gilead and Home, I suspect that Robinson would agree with Bradley Wright that a “balance of the routine and novel seems important, both in our personal life, and in our faith.”

• Couldn’t agree more with Kyle Roberts’ advice to seminary graduates: “…the greatest need right now for good theologians is in the local church. Not the ‘broader church.’ Not Christianity as a whole. And not ‘the world.'”

• I guess it’s nice to know that Americans aren’t the only people who hold foolish stereotypes about other nations: according to a Pew survey of Europeans, Germans are hard-working and honest, Italians are corrupt, and Greeks are lazy. The Greek self-image is fascinating: they find themselves the hardest-working and most corrupt people in Europe!

• Speaking of lazy… I didn’t have it in me to wake up early enough to write a reflection on how Christians should feel about the civil religion of Memorial Day, but Christian Humanist Nathan Gilmour was all over it.

Memorial Day Flags
Licensed by Creative Commons (eddiecoyote)

• “Small-town traditionalism” is not a phrase I’d have instinctively applied to Facebook, but Matthew Schmitz was willing to take on fellow conservative Ross Douthat to make that particular case.

• I saved Jamie Smith’s speech on the joys of the scholarly way of life for this morning: I doubt I would have believed it if I’d read it in the middle of grading…

Tom Verducci’s piece on former pitcher-turned-pastor Dan Naulty extends Sports Illustrated‘s deep tradition for excellent long-form reporting. It not only sheds light on the steroids culture that dominated major (and minor) league baseball in the 1990s, but it turns a Minnesota Twin I can barely remember into one of the most complex and compelling characters I’ve read about this year.

• Bob Dylan (check that: Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Bob Dylan) was the subject of several interesting profiles and retrospectives this week. Two having little in common but well worth reading: The A.V. Club sought to sum up fifty years of Dylan recordings in one relatively concise post; and Matthew Schmitz (two from him this week) argued that Dylan has made himself much harder to pin down politically and ideologically than progressives would prefer.

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