That Was The Week That Was


• July 1 is a big day for commemorating momentous battles: the Somme turned 97, and Gettysburg turned 150.

• “Liberal arts” ≠ “the humanities” (at least, not them alone).

• And in what’s already become a Pietist Schoolman tradition: a Bah, Humbug! kind of post for the 4th of July.

…There and Everywhere

Portrait of James Joyce by Patrick Tuohy
Patrick Tuohy’s portrait of James Joyce in Paris, 1924 – Wikimedia

• In that post, I argued that love of country could be expressed by dissent. Christian Piatt made the point much more effectively.

• When I spent a month in Paris doing dissertation research, I visited Shakespeare & Co., bought my first two James Joyce books, and resolved to read them before I left. Ulysses was lost when my computer bag was stolen on the way to the airport, so that remains on my to-do list. I did finish Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but foolishly forgot to make sure I had someone to discuss it with — it’s now completely forgotten. Too bad: apparently it might be “the great account of falling away from faith,” from a Catholic novelist who left Catholicism.

• Pope Francis has been busy: declaring the canonization of two former popes: John Paul II and John XXIII; and issuing his first encyclical — mostly written by his pope who preceded him and succeeded JPII, Benedict XVI.

• For some reason, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 doesn’t get a lot of attention from those who treat the Bible as an advice manual, but “mind your own business” seems as wise as other Pauline one-liners.

• You know you’ve made it when you’re being profiled in the Mennonite World Review — if you’re a “MennoNerd” or “NuDunker” trying to form Anabaptist community online, at least. (H/T and congrats to Pietist Schoolman reader Brian Gumm.)

• I might stop using the word “authenticity” to describe the aspirations of Pietism after reading this (secular) critique of the contemporary “gospel of authenticity” (think: self-help, New Age spirituality), in which “well-being has become the primary goal of human life. Rather than being the by-product of some collective project, some upbuilding of the New Jerusalem, well-being is an end in itself. The stroke of genius in the ideology of authenticity is that it doesn’t really require a belief in anything, and certainly not a belief in anything that might transcend the serene and contented living of one’s authentic life and baseline well-being. In this, one can claim to be beyond dogma.”

• Meet six new evangelical leaders who “share much of the old guard’s theology” yet “scarcely resemble the evangelicals we have gotten to know over decades of culture war.”

• I don’t think any blogger put out a better pair of posts last week than John Fea’s reflections on two personal firsts: teaching in a maximum security prison, and visiting a Southern Baptist church.

• One of the heroes of Gettysburg was the scholar-soldier Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, whose Maine regiment saved the battle for the Union on its second day. Lauded not only for those heroics, but for returning to his command despite being wounded six times and contracting serious illness twice during the war, Chamberlain went on to serve as governor of Maine and president of the college where he’d taught before the war. But few know the pain and near-ruin that Chamberlain endured as a result of his wounds and wartime maladies…

• Historians provided some context for the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage.

• To say (as the headline of his obituary emphasizes) that he “invented the mouse” understates the legacy of Douglas C. Engelbart, who died Tuesday. Here’s his legendary presentation that gave a glimpse of the Digital Age in 1968:

Sutton Hoo helmet
Ceremonial helmet recovered from the Sutton Hoo site – Creative Commons (geni)

• Standing with millions of others on Engelbart’s shoulders… my colleague Sam and I have been making virtual museums for the online Western civ course we’re teaching this summer. I’m not sure any are quite as impressive as what the British Museum did in partnership with Google to present the famous Anglo-Saxon ship found at Sutton Hoo. Though, to be fair, the British Museum itself is still much, much more impressive than anything online.

• Miles Mullin helpfully surveyed the “positive possibilities and potential pitfalls” of digitization for historical research. I think a couple of the pitfalls are likely to be addressed (precisely because of the value Miles attributed to them, I expect that marginalia and earlier drafts of manuscripts will be preserved), but I agree wholeheartedly that there is something irreplaceable about physical presence in archives.

• Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic continues to ask fun questions: Should colleges charge less tuition for a relatively inexpensive major like History (give us four walls, a chalkboard, and a book to discuss, we like to say) than for a lab- and equipment-intensive one like Biology? What effect would it have on enrollment in the pricier programs?

• You never know what you might find in the Chronicle of Higher Education: a lengthy, not entirely unsympathetic profile of evangelical philosopher-apologist William Lane Craig, say.

• Add University College London dean Jonathan Wolff to the list of educators unwriting the obituary of the college lecture.

• So far, Lou Reed reviewing Kanye West is easily the most eye-grabbing thing on The Talkhouse, but a website that exists to “promote dialogue between musicians who may never have interacted otherwise…” has boundless potential.

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