That Was The Week That Was


• I presented a three-part series exploring whether social class (as much as gender and race) is a source of inequality at Christian colleges like my employer. (part 1: some preliminary observations; part 2: mining data on higher education and social mobility; part 3: some stray thoughts on evangelical and Jesuit colleges and universities)

• A sampling of how two historians (and one philosopher) have responded to the Spielberg-Kushner-Day-Lewis Lincoln (I need to stop treating directors as sole auteurs…), and whether filmmaking can advance historical scholarship.

• Speaking of the 13th Amendment… You wouldn’t think I would enjoy being told that I did nothing to earn my view that slavery is wrong, but Jay Case’s observations on abolition and grace are still revelatory, a week later.

• Some early “Best of 2012” lists are out: here’s which history books have already garnered end-of-year praise.

There and Everywhere

Tony Kushner
Tony Kushner – Creative Commons (Commonwealth Club)

• Unlike me, John Fea actually read things other than the New York Times to put together his list of historians responding to Lincoln.

• Steven Spielberg was invited to give the keynote address at a commemorative ceremony at Gettysburg. Watch it here.

• And political scientist Tony Robin joined historian Kate Masur in being unimpressed by the film’s emphasis on white characters — but even less impressed by screenwriter Tony Kushner’s view of how the South was treated during Reconstruction.

• Meanwhile, Kevin Levin (who blogs at Civil War Memory) encouraged his fellow historians to chill out a bit and appreciate Lincoln as art: “Do any of these critiques help us to better understand the movie? No. They simply reinforce what we already know, which is that Hollywood will never make a movie that satisfies the demands of scholars. Nor should it.”

• I don’t have cable, but if Jared Burkholder is right, I didn’t miss anything when the History channel tackled the Crusades.

• 2012 marked milestone anniversaries for the War of 1812 and the Battle of Antietam, but also for gerrymandering, the Alexander Hamilton not on the $10 bill, a famous silent film, and one of my children’s favorite books.

• Speaking of the War of 1812 (as I did about a year ago), can it perhaps teach us how to handle the “fiscal cliff” debate?

• I can’t imagine any American politician calling for a return to the high marginal tax rates of the 1950s and 1960s, but no small number of economists think that’s exactly what should happen.

• Apparently I “endorsed” Jon Huntsman’s presidential candidacy four years too early. One conservative blogger called him “one of the only Republicans with anything sane to say on foreign policy” and rated him ahead of better-known names in the field.

• While Catholic political influence seems to be rising and evangelical influence waning, those groups’ levels of religious affiliation seem to be headed in the opposite direction.

• Is Reinhold Niebuhr still America’s “premier public theologian“?

St. Nicholas of Myra (270-343)
Russian fresco of St. Nicholas – Wikimedia

• Another of this country’s premier theologians appreciated the insights of “protest theologies,” but not when they reduced theology to “social ethics only with ‘God’ used as a cipher, a tool of liberating rhetoric.”

• John Turner’s review of a new book on St. Nicholas of Myra (“Santa Claus”) added an appealingly odd word to my vocabulary: myroblyte.

• Having worshiped in a couple of evangelical churches in New England, it was intriguing to find a Slate correspondent noting a mini-revival of that brand of Christianity in that famously post-Christian region of the country.

• The Bible, the Church, and other things “you don’t have to leave behind when you leave fundamentalism.”

• Samuel Goldman asked if the best argument for the liberal arts is that they are useful: “In America, especially, no argument for the liberal arts is likely to succeed unless it navigates between the extremes of public and private virtue. In other words, it has to make a plausible case that study of the liberal arts will actually help students find and succeed in rewarding careers.”

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