That Was The Week That Was


• I shared answers to the first two of many good questions that I was asked via Skype by an 8th grade history class in Kalispell, Montana: Did my history teachers make me want to be a historian?; and Who’s my favorite historical figure?

• Paying tribute to Dallas Willard, who died of cancer this past Wednesday.

• The debate over abolitionist John Brown continued…

• How well paid are professors at Christian colleges compared to their peers at peer institutions? I’m glad you asked.

…There and Everywhere

• One of my favorite blogs, The Anxious Bench, added Miles Mullin and David Swartz to its rotation.

• Miles wasted no time making his mark, sharing a reflection on how “American attitudes towards death and dying have been transformed from an uncomfortable familiarity to a comfortable unfamiliarity over the last two centuries.” It’s a model of how that blog seeks to help readers understand present-day faith, culture, and politics in light of religious history.

Burying the dead at Fredericksburg
Death in 19th century America: burials at Fredericksburg, 1864 – U.S. National Archives

(And if you want to learn more about 19th century Americans’ “uncomfortable familiarity” with death and dying, be sure to read Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.)

• Miles was also kind enough to draw my attention to this beautiful infographic illustrating what one leading college’s history majors do with their degrees. (And then click on to see other majors and the spectacular collation of all majors.)

• If the idea of having “smarty-pants conversations” about Christianity via social media with “scholarly-minded folks in the Anabaptist+Radical Pietist tradition of the Church of the Brethren” sounds good, then the NuDunkers are for you! And if doesn’t, it should. Not just because I think that particular tradition has much to offer, but because it’s absolutely true that “the church and the academy need each other.”

• In that same vein… Thanks to Mark Galli for dedicating a Christianity Today editorial to making the case that the local church should care deeply about the problems facing Christian higher education.

University of Northwestern-St. Paul logo• The Christian college a couple miles down the road from Bethel is becoming a Christian university.

• Also in local news… Fifty years ago one of America’s most important theaters opened in an unlikely place, with Sir Tyrone Guthrie directing Hamlet.

• Americans: Would you have enjoyed Argo if it had focused on the Canadian ambassador, and not a CIA officer?

• One downside of working at a college with a J-term is that it’s almost impossible for me to attend the American Historical Association’s annual meetings. So I’m going to have to miss what I’d otherwise describe as unmissable: a panel on historians and MOOCs organized by frequent MOOC critic Jonathan Rees and featuring Philip Zelikow of the University of Virginia, whose MOOC on global history since 1760 if probably the leading history option from Coursera.

(For perspectives on that course… Here’s a profile from the Washington Post, Rees’ own experience with Zelikow’s course, and A.J. Jacobs’ report card on that and other MOOCs.)

SimCity• Are American universities failing by multitasking? Samuel Goldman thinks so: “The problem is that there’s little agreement about what universities’ core competencies actually are. Students want them to emphasize personal growth and amenities; the faculty favors pure scholarship and graduate education; politicians want job training and economically productive research; and so on. None of these constituencies ‘owns’ the university. On the other hand, none can simply be ignored. As a result, nothing much gets done.”

SimCity played (too big) a role in my adolescence, but I lost touch with it over the years. As you may have heard, it’s back — and still ironing out the kinks. I’m probably one of the those who would rather stick with single-player mode, but I still found this interview with the game’s chief designer fascinating.

• No, the suburbs are not evil. (But SimSuburb probably wouldn’t be all that interesting, I admit.)

• Three guesses which country “may one day be the world’s leader in combating climate change.” (Not the United States, according to Ramez Naam.)

• If you saw the New York Times piece anointing Sir Alex Ferguson a “candidate for the title of greatest coach, or manager, in history — not only in soccer, but in any sport on any continent” and wondered what all the fuss was about, read John Cassidy’s profile of Manchester United’s recently retired manager.

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