That Was The Week That Was


If you like reading about Swedish-American Pietist educators who left their denominations’ colleges in the 1970s to do other things… Well, this past week at The Pietist Schoolman was pretty much your best week ever.

• Karl Olsson, the Evangelical Covenant historian and former president of North Park College and Seminary, would have turned 100 on Monday. In addition to a birthday post, I dug into some old research to summarize Olsson’s somewhat conflict response to Pietism.

• Virgil Olson, the Baptist General Conference historian and former dean of Bethel College, died recently at the age of 96. Guest poster GW Carlson shared a two-part tribute: first focusing on Virgil’s understanding of the Baptist Pietist tradition; then turning to Virgil’s post-Bethel work in world missions.

• Both men were quoted multiple times in the two-day workshop on Pietism and higher education that I coordinated at Bethel. Look for some reflections on that next week…

Meanwhile, in non-Swedish-American, non-Pietist news…

…There and Everywhere

Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III – Creative Commons (Keith Allison)

• Last year I engaged a couple of my sports-loving colleagues to muse about which sport (if any) would replace pro football if the NFL somehow went out of business in ten years. If that scenario seemed unlikely to you, I’ve got at least one Pro Football Hall of Famer thinking along similar lines.

• But assuming the NFL isn’t on the way out, we can now turn to the next important question: is Robert Griffin III the next Tim Tebow?

• Back in 2005, Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler proclaimed it “time for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools.” Here in 2013, religion writer Tom Krattenmaker wrote of a different kind of “evangelical engagement with public schools that is dedicated solely to helping kids rather than arguing over school prayer, evangelism, and other culture war flash points.”

• If this month’s cover story in Christianity Today made you want to learn more about why child sponsorship is so effective, read historian Jay Case’s story of taking a group from Malone University to Kenya.

• As I reported here last fall, my colleague Chris Armstrong received a major grant to direct a program (“Work with Purpose”) “designed to address the disconnect that many Christians feel between their faith and their work.” If that theme interests you, check out Chris’ address at Seattle Pacific on what we can learn about work and economics from John Wesley.

• Which media do Christians generally make the best and worst use of?

• If you want to read a simple response to the problem of how evangelical Christians should view homosexuality, don’t read Peter Wehner’s recent post on Patheos. All others should appreciate how his piece “underscore[s] how fraught with difficulty this matter can be. A ‘God said it, I believe it, that settles it’ mindset is clearly insufficient.”

• Why 4th of July weekend might be the hardest time to preach a good sermon.

Luther bust in Eisleben
Bust of Martin Luther at the Luther birth house in Lutherstadt Eisleben – Creative Commons (Con2tto)

• While Martin Luther was critical of the corruption of the late medieval pilgrimage industry, the region in Germany known as “Luther Land” (Eisleben, Eisenach, Erfurt, Halle, Wittenberg) has long been a center of religious tourism, where, as Tal Howard found on a recent trip, “one need not believe in God to profit from those who do.”

• My undergraduate research thesis was on post-WWI movements for a “United States of Europe.” So I’m not surprised to find an advocate of European integration encouraging his continent “to form a full and mighty union on Anglo-American lines.” Likening the EU as it presently functions to the Holy Roman Empire on the other hand…

Meet Asiya: the nearly 100-year old woman who is the last Armenian living in a Turkish village that, before the genocide began in 1915, was home to 10,000 Armenians.

• That I could use the word “genocide” in the previous bullet is a small legacy of Raphael Lemkin, the “one-man NGO” who coined that term and was chiefly responsible for the UN adopting a genocide convention in 1948. Yale University Press is publishing his unfinished autobiography this month.

• Tracy McKenzie would like to see “revisionist” disappear from the English language — at least, as it’s used to discuss history. (This is also a chance to get a sneak preview of his new book on The First Thanksgiving.)

• I’ve spent more time than I ever thought I would thinking about colleges and universities closing. (See my recent series on the history of this phenomenon in 20th century America.) One closure that would truly make me sad: that of the nation’s leading historically black university, Howard, whose trustee board vice-chairwoman fears it may not survive more than three more years.

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