That Was The Week That Was


• A short week back from vacation began with the news of the passing of the leading historian of the Baptist General Conference (now Converge Worldwide)…

• …then ended with the case of the South Carolina high school student who defied a school district policy and inserted the Lord’s Prayer into his commencement address.

…There and Everywhere

Pope Francis in March
Pope Francis – Creative Commons (Presidency of Argentina)

• Why do Christians sing? Following the 4th century theologian Athanasius, Steven Guthrie argued that singing is a spiritual discipline — less (at the outset) about expression than impression (“Singing is first of all an act of imitating. I take another person’s words, another person’s declaration, on my own lips and into my own heart.”)

• It’s hard not to join the Pope Francis fan club. One prominent member is columnist Michael Gerson, who finds Francis’ witness Christ-like and faithful to Catholic social teaching, whose foundational assertion “that human beings have moral and social natures, and that true freedom is found in their fulfillment” is “fundamentally at odds with moral relativism and economic libertarianism. It transcends our ideological debates and challenges all sides of them.”

• After explaining why she remains a celibate, gay Catholic rather than switching to one of the “Christian churches beginning to integrate gay marriage into their theology,” Eve Tushnet concluded that “gay Catholics can also offer a necessary witness to the broader society. By leading lives of fruitful, creative love, we can offer proof that sexual restraint isn’t a death sentence (or an especially boring form of masochism). Celibacy can offer some of us radical freedom to serve others…. Moreover, celibate gay Christians can offer proof that friendship can be real love, and deserves the same honor as any other form of lovingkindness, caretaking and devotion.”

• I’ll have a post on the concept of innovation next week, noting (among other things) that the Christian theological tradition has not always embraced that word. Seeking to answer the question, “How can one innovate while both remaining inside of, and even bolstering the case for, orthodoxy?”, Ben Stevens proposed a surprisingly compelling analogy to… typography.

• Another interesting Mark Oppenheimer article: on the diverse experiences of Jewish converts to (politically) conservative Christianity.

• What leads young people to atheism? After interviewing student leaders of Freethinking Societies and Secular Student Alliances, Larry Taunton reported that most had grown up in churches, where they “heard plenty of messages encouraging ‘social justice,’ community involvement, and ‘being good,’ but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.”

• Last October I blogged about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, both of which were marking 50th anniversaries. Like me, George Weigel places Pope John XXIII’s  Pacem in Terris at the nexus of those two events; unlike me, he knows a great deal about that encyclical and its legacy.

• The 1962 Cuban crisis is often regarded as the most dangerous moment in the Cold War, but it may be that a massive NATO war game in 1983 — as misinterpreted by Soviet leaders — may have brought the world even closer to thermonuclear war.

• Yep, this is pretty much the life of the college graduate with a humanities major. (H/T Hilary Ritchie via Dan Ritchie)

Hamza Yusuf
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder and president of Zaytuna College – Creative Commons (Omar Chatriwala)

• But if something like that cartoon doesn’t sell it, the discipline of philosophy could try this marketing campaign.

• In a New Yorker profile of America’s first Muslim liberal arts college, Rollo Romig concluded that “there are predictable areas in which the tension between religious conservatism and liberal arts has manifested itself at Christian colleges, and they seem likely to play out at Zaytuna as well…. If [co-founder Hamza] Yusuf had wanted to create a school that’s a Muslim equivalent of Bob Jones University, he wouldn’t have any problem—there’s a long tradition of intolerant American religious colleges that Zaytuna could fit into. But few of them have the élite academic reputation Zaytuna aspires to. One notable exception is Wheaton College, a Christian Evangelical liberal-arts school in Illinois, which has repeatedly been ranked the least L.G.B.T.-friendly college in the United States by the Princeton Review, but which is also highly regarded for the quality of its undergraduate teaching.”

• It’s a start, at least: the German language lost its longest word.

• I was ready to worry that my blog posts are often double the ideal length suggested by the Tenured Radical, but it turns out that 38% of blog readers “bounce” after reading only a few words and most visitors only read about half the post anyway. (Of course, I put this at the end of a post, guaranteeing it would be read only by dedicated readers like yourself, who now have even more reason to feel superior to the rest of the semi-literates flitting about the blogosphere.)

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