• In retrospect, I’m not sure I should have lumped in The Avett Brothers with Mumford & Sons in a post probing the challenges of making good folk-pop music. At least a couple of the tracks on their new album are downright Beatlesque…
• As a Protestant, it was interesting to read such a wide range of Catholic reactions to the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.
• Ecumenism was a key theme of Vatican II: while Roger Olson doesn’t write off church unity, he does make the case that denominations are worth holding onto.
• I’d already planned to read David Swartz’s history of the evangelical left, but I’m even more eager to do so after reading Jared Burkholder’s three-part interview with Swartz. (For some insight into progressive evangelicalism today, check out this conversation between Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne at Relevant magazine.)
• Are evangelical colleges (or, at least, their faculty, curricula, courses, programs, etc.) as conservative as their student bodies seem to be? Not in my experience…
• What’d I learn at the Conference on Faith and History? That one of the largest collections of religious art in the Western Hemisphere has a surprising home.
• A “membership drive” at our department’s blog seems like as good a time as any for you to check in and see what we’ve been doing with that space.
There and Everywhere
• From least to most surprising, four things I took away from this article about the annual meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America: 1. Upwards of 700 people paid for the privilege to attend / 2. Many of them dressed in period costume / 3. JASNA was once the scene for an academic paper on masturbation that “was widely derided as epitomizing the excesses of postmodern theory” / 4. Featured speaker Cornel West is a “self-described Jane Austen fanatic.”
• Did the European Union deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? Yes and not really, depending which Atlantic blogger you ask. My own opinion: it’s hard to understate the significance of French-German-British amity emerging from the wreckage of the first half of the twentieth century, but the Nobel folks are risking the credibility of the award by so transparently using it to buttress a troubled economy (after not long ago giving it in anticipation of, rather than recognition of, an American president’s achievements).
• Good stuff from Nathan Gilmour, on the problems with “the grand protest, the person who finally says that there’s not enough ‘here’ worth redeeming, that any future worth calling a future means striking out and leaving ‘the past’ behind.”
• Sojourners joined others urging the Associated Press to drop the phrase “illegal alien” from its stylebook, used widely by journalists. As a response, see the recent explanation from Margaret Sullivan, public editor of The New York Times, explaining why she sees “no advantage for Times readers in a move away from the paper’s use of the phrase ‘illegal immigrant.'” (Ditto Sullivan’s interview with the Times‘ immigration reporter.)
• The emptying pews of historically African-American churches in gentrifying urban neighborhoods.
• A new review of Pietism in Germany and North America, 1680-1820 featured a couple of the contributors to our The Pietist Impulse in Christianity: the reviewer (Eric Carlsson) and the book’s co-editor (Jonathan Strom). It certainly looks like a significant contribution to the growing English-language scholarship on Pietism, but if you’re on a budget, please note that our volume is almost $70 cheaper…
• The tide of evangelical objection to David Barton continued to swell, with this conclusion from Southern Baptist historian Miles Mullin: “…in Barton’s scheme, politics replaces discipleship, and the nation, not the church, becomes the focus of our efforts towards righteousness. Further, the church becomes a servant to the state, extolling America’s blessed history, proclaiming its righteous mission, and praising its glorious leaders. And thus, by taking Christ’s place in the church, the nation becomes an idol. And that is something my evangelical convictions cannot countenance.”
• Fellow blogger-tweeter-department chair John Fea shared his own three–part series reflecting on last weekend’s meeting of the Conference on Faith and History. In parts one and three he wrote about sensing a paradigm shift in CFH and the larger guild of historians, towards a greater engagement with the general public (including the church, for CFH members and other Christian historians).
• This weekend’s suggested links from our department blog cover everything from the politics of plankton to puritanical rap, fire prevention to the smearing of Upton Sinclair.