That Was The Week That Was


• The news of Cedarville University dropping its philosophy major made me curious how many of its fellow members in the evangelical Council for Christian Colleges and Universities actually offered such a field of study. (Bethel does, and has the fourth largest philosophy faculty in the CCCU.)

• Part two of my series ruminating on the vocation of a Christian historian: this one focused on how professionalism can distract from calling.

• I find teaching central to my vocation, and I enjoy teaching few courses more than HIS/POS305G The Cold War — not least because it gives me excuses to play my guitar and show Soviet cartoons!

• West African Pietism, German emulation, Croatian phrases, and other things that lead people to this blog.

…There and Everywhere

• Loved Gail Irwin’s answer to a child asking her why she’s kind — especially this insight: “If I am sometimes kind, it’s because I have been drenched in the stories of [Christ’s] rough kindness, a kindness that embraced filthy children, shook evil spirits out of the sick, and shouted a dead man out of his tomb.”

• Likewise, Ryan Dueck took inspiration from his eleven year old son, whose encounter with Genesis 19 inspired this comment: “Sometimes I’m afraid of God when I read the Bible.” (H/T CC Blogs)

Martin, The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
John Martin’s 1852 depiction of one incident recounted in Genesis 19 – Wikimedia

• I’m not sure I’ve ever led off one of these posts with three consecutive links from the Christian Century, but they were on a roll this week: Robert Francis of Lutheran Social Services found himself in the unexpected position of disagreeing with progressive evangelical activist Ron Sider on Medicare and Social Security reform.

• I’m sure some people get frustrated by scholars who endlessly debate labels, but I’m a sucker for posts like Roger Olson’s attempt to define “fundamentalist” and Bo Sanders’ shot at “progressive” (a post which seemed to convince hardly any readers at The Jesus Creed, but give him credit for sticking with the discussion and answering just about every critical comment).

• Still, Tony Jones is probably on to something with his post on the way “missional” has been used.

The Immanent Frame‘s continuing discussion of the “new evangelicalism” (another label to pick apart) continued with Omri Elisha, who identified a tension that’s certainly present among the evangelicals I know: “…newness is a motivational framework that is at once extremely attractive and problematic. This is because any tradition that thrives on newness must also seek to protect the continuity of tradition, paradoxical as all that might seem.”

Poster for Lincoln (2012)• My own knowledge of Pietism is deep in some spots and shallow-to-non-existent in others, so I appreciate that Jared Burkholder (a fellow Pietist schoolman, if I might be so bold) is around to introduce lesser-known Pietists like Johannes Kelpius, who founded a mystical community near Philadelphia in the 1690s. A new work by Kelpius was just discovered (the first in over a century).

• Reading Jay Case’s second-biggest complaint about the Spielberg Lincoln film (“This Lincoln is inspiring. This Lincoln is thrilling. This is the Lincoln that every (white) moviegoer wants to be. And he is not the real Lincoln”) makes me eager to read the complaint that tops it…

• But in response to the criticism of the historical liberties taken in Lincoln and several other Oscar nominees, New York Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott argued that “invention remains one of the prerogatives of art and it is, after all, the job of writers, directors and actors to invent counterfeit realities. It is unfair to blame filmmakers if we sometimes confuse the real world with its representations. The truth is that we love movies partly because of their lies, beautiful and not. It’s journalists and politicians who owe us the truth.” And historians, I guess.

• I saw two of those movies, Argo and Lincoln, which makes me an unusual evangelical, apparently: according to Barna research, only 3% of my religious group reported seeing those two leading contenders for Best Picture, narrowly trailing the 42% (!) who saw The Avengers. And that despite the fact that evangelicals watched more movies than just about every other group except 18-28 year olds and those with no religion.

41 Cooper Square
The expensive new academic building at 41 Cooper Square that the NY Times described as the “most visible symbol of a debate about the future of Cooper Union” – Creative Commons (Beyond My Ken)

• You know that higher education has an economic problem when even Cooper Union (established to be as “free as air and water”) is thinking about charging tuition.

• Bethel (like many colleges) is currently working on developing “three-year plans” for liberal arts degrees, in part to address student and parent concerns about cost. But while Samuel Goldman acknowledged that “degrees that allow student to accomplish in three years what now takes four is [an] appealing goal,” he concluded that “it can’t be realized by just chopping a year out of their time in college.” I tend to think he’s right, on the basis of my own experience: I completed my A.B. at the College of William and Mary in three years. While I got an education that prepared me very well for graduate study in history, I’ve always regretted not having had the extra year. Not only did I have no spare semester in which to study abroad, or time to participate in extracurricular activities (I had a full load of credits most semesters), but the general education program that enabled my dash through college was not nearly as well thought out as what we use at Bethel — I didn’t need to take any science or math after my first year, the only reason I could write well is that I’d had an outstanding private school education in high school, and there was no gen ed capstone, to name three obvious deficits that helped me finish so quickly.

• I also managed to get through one of the nation’s leading public liberal arts college without taking any philosophy except a survey of modern political thought offered by the Government department. As part of my remedial education in philosophy, I enjoyed reading Adam Etinson’s post at The Stone on ethnocentrism — and why admitting that it exists does not lead inevitably to moral relativism.

• I feel duty-bound to share this information with my bright young undergraduates dreaming of going to grad school and then back to college to teach…

• …alas, teaching at levels below higher ed entails its own frustrations: the annual Survey of the American Teacher found a 23-point drop in job satisfaction since 2008.

• Well, at least I’m doing one thing right as a parent: our three year olds watch less than two hours of TV per day, and it’s so non-violent that Dinosaur Train has them convinced that carnivores got along just great with herbivores.

One thought on “That Was The Week That Was

  1. Re: the number of Ph.D.s who become professors: A couple of years ago, someone on MPR was interviewing a bright young man who was about to graduate from, if I remember correctly, Macalester. When he was asked what he wanted to do, he said that he hoped to be a professor (in some area of the humanities — I want to say history, but I’m no longer sure). My first thought was, “You might as well say ‘I want to be a rock star’ or ‘I want to be a professional athlete.'” I wish him luck.

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