That Was The Week That Was


• Part two of my Evangelical Theological Society paper on David Swartz’s Moral Minority argued that its most important chapter was its least (North) American one.

• Is it particularly hard to rank Christian colleges as opposed to their secular peers?

• I took a three-day break from formal blogging, but I did spend a fair amount of this Thanksgiving posting quotations from Tracy McKenzie’s splendid The First Thanksgiving at the blog’s Facebook page. I think a series is in order…

…There and Everywhere

McKenzie, The First Thanksgiving• Lots of others thought Thanksgiving and surrounding days would be a good time to review McKenzie’s book: my colleague AnneMarie Kooistra, for example; and three Anxious Bench blogmates: David Swartz, Thomas Kidd (at Christianity Today), and John Turner (at The Gospel Coalition).

• The first major written piece from Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), inspired effusive praise from just about everyone I read. Catholic reporter John Allen likened it to Francis’ “I Have a Dream” speech, and Jesuit journalist James Martin gushed, “In all my years as a Catholic, I cannot remember a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating. Frankly, reading it thrilled me.” Several of my favorite evangelical writers were also enthusiastic. Historian John Fea (who has a now three-part summary of the 51,000-word apostolic exhortation at his blog) identified ten reasons that evangelicals could embrace what Francis had written. Jay Phelan sounded a note of thanksgiving on Wednesday, for Francis’ “concern for the poor, his love for the other, his insistence on the beauty and hopefulness of the gospel. For the first time in a long time I feel the stirring of hope. And for that I am thankful to Pope Francis and to God.” And Roger Olson, who had initially professed himself leery of the hype surrounding Francis, celebrated the pope’s criticisms of wealth: “He may not be infallible, but he’s speaking as a prophet about this.”

• Rachel Held Evans has had a conflicted relationship with evangelicalism, but shared five reasons she was glad to have been brought up in that tradition. (And then invited readers to celebrate what they took away from their own religious upbringing — most interesting: a woman who converted to Christianity later in life but cherished how her atheist parents taught her to “internalize their morals and find my own, to always ask questions….”)

• I’m not much of a fan of either hip hop or Reformed theology, but I think I’m on the side of Owen Strachan and Mike Cosper in a recent kerfuffle over Reformed rap.

• I should really just read Pastrix before I pass along more links about Nadia Bolz-Weber, but I suspect that I’ll respond somewhat like Jonathan Fitzgerald: “Bolz-Weber’s profanity-laced prose feels a little forced… [But] If you can set aside the vague sense that this is all really savvy self-branding, the amazing thing about Nadia Bolz-Weber is that she manages to take her Christianity into corners of life where the church can be pretty uncomfortable going.”

• Starting in January, Eastern Mennonite University will hold a six-month “listening period” as part of its review of “current hiring policies and practices with respect to individuals in same-sex relationships,” perhaps opening the door to its becoming the first member of the evangelical Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to hire non-celibate, openly gay professors.

Eastern Mennonite University campus
Panoramic view of the Eastern Mennonite campus – Creative Commons (Michael Sheeler)

• Two Wesleyan schools in the CCCU, Houghton and Indiana Wesleyan, announced a new partnership in which online and adult education take center stage.

• If video games “have moved inexorably towards higher and more central cultural ground, much like film did in the first half of the 20th century,” how will historians preserve and study the history of that medium?

• A few hours northwest of me, the History Department (with over 120 majors) at Minnesota State University-Moorhead was one of eighteen at that institution identified as having “serious” potential for reductions, sparking a controversial Slate column by Rebecca Schuman that university officials and a former student newspaper reporter criticized for serious inaccuracies.

• Having been promoted to full professor over the summer, I’m not sure I want to know what I am in economist Alexandre Afonso’s analogy: “The academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders.”

• Before the Packers-Lions game on Thursday, Fox’s pregame show included Q&A from audiences on U.S. Army bases. Par for the course for a league that has long sought to play up connections with the military. But as Art Remillard pointed out, the recent hazing scandal involving Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito “unveils not the problems of a ‘warrior culture’ but rather an absence of it.”

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