That Was The Week That Was


• The 70th anniversary of a dark day in French history, when French police helped their German occupiers to round up 13,000 Jewish women, men, and children, cram them into a bicycling arena without sanitation, and eventually send them to their deaths in Auschwitz.

• The summer’s half over, but there’s still time for more reading suggestions from historians at Bethel University!

• I’ve rarely taken as long to write a post as I did when typing some reflections on the enormous statistical decline of mainline denominations like The Episcopal Church in the first decade of this century, and how some mainline and other progressive bloggers explained it. (One more post on this topic I’d recommend: Timothy George’s, which offers three important lessons for evangelicals.)

• And an appreciation of my favorite album by Steve Earle.

There and Everywhere

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon – NASA

• In that Earle post, I confessed to preferring songs about love to those about politics. For further proof, here’s one critic’s list of “ten terrible songs about politics.” (And then, from the same writer, “ten great songs” on the same theme.)

• Yesterday marked the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. If you’re a space race nerd like me, you’ll definitely want to check out this photo essay taking us through that chapter in American history. (The Apollo program also furnished a couple of anecdotes for this interesting essay on “the religious experience in space.”)

• For another set of amazing photographs, watch this slide show capturing the making of a Steinway piano from start to finish.

• A headline you don’t see too often: “Father and son join Catholic priesthood together.”

• Speaking of an unusual pair… David Barton and Howard Zinn finished a richly deserved 1-2 in voting for the “Least Credible History Book in Print.”

• As a bystander in this discussion, I’d add one name to Mark Bauerlein’s list of conservative intellectuals that liberal intellectuals ought to know but don’t: my colleague Dan Ritchie (The Fullness of Knowing: Modernity and Postmodernity from Defoe to Gadamer), a specialist in 18th century British literature and coordinator of Bethel’s Western Humanity in Christian Perspective program. We interviewed Dan this week as part of our continuing preparations for a new online Western civ course, and I was again struck by Dan’s principled articulation of Burkean conservatism — and by his unswerving commitment to the value of the liberal arts and study across cultures for higher education.

• One intellectual who seems to appeal to the Left and Right: Wendell Berry.

The Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – Creative Commons (Metoc)

• Next spring I’ll be teaching my Cold War course again. Thanks to one Minnesota politician, I’ll have a relatively new post-9/11 expression of McCarthyism to talk about with students. But thanks to Sen. John McCain, I’ll also be able to show them how to rebut that kind of demagoguery.

• Somehow I’ve yet to travel to Berlin, but when I do, I’ll surely want to see its Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe — which received a mixed review last week from New Yorker critic Richard Brody, who pointed out that, among other faults (and many strengths), the memorial’s “title doesn’t say ‘Holocaust’ or ‘Shoah’; in other words, it doesn’t say anything about who did the murdering or why—there’s nothing along the lines of ‘by Germany under Hitler’s regime,’ and the vagueness is disturbing.”

• With the Olympics coming up, Bob Costas reminded me yet again why he’s my favorite sports broadcaster – vowing (in the face of the IOC refusing to do the same) to take a own moment of silence while hosting the Opening Ceremonies, in honor of the Israeli athletes who died 40 years ago in Munich.

The New York Times continues to improve its reporting on religion: a long-form profile of Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall that treats his “renewalist” evangelical faith and practices seriously. (Added bonus: its reference to Eric Liddell will make you want to watch Chariots of Fire again!)

• Also from the Times… Let me insert another plug for Frank Jacobs’ geography blog (Borderlines), on the basis of his recent post exploring “cultural borders” in Europe — including those separating five distinct family types.

• A case of cultural and political-economic borders aligning? British journalist Chris Bowlby suggested that the eurozone is splitting along Catholic-Protestant lines.

Smith & Smith, Teaching and Christian Practices• Then surprising stories about the flourishing of religion in two particularly secular outposts of that famously “post-Christian” continent: the growth of evangelicalism in France, and the growing number of Muslims converting to Christianity in (where else?) eastern Germany.

• I’m afraid that Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith & Learning has been sitting on my desk since last December, but reading a four-headed review of it in Books and Culture and then co-editor Jamie Smith’s response to that review moved it up at least a few spots on the to-read list.

• I recommend Jana Riess’ approach to Sabbath-keeping: “things that I get to do on Sunday.”

• And in this week’s installment of “Weekend Reading” at the Bethel History Department blog, AC 2nd… Viking archeology, the Armenian Genocide, women in the U.S. Civil War, the first anniversary of the mass killings in Norway, and much more.

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