That Was The Week That Was


• Is New Year’s Day a “Christian holiday“? Ecclesiastes, Christian Piatt, and others helped me on this one…

• I know I’m living in the past, but hey, I’m a historian: the blogging year in review for 2013.

• Looking to the rapidly nearing future: a preview of some themes from the new World War II course that I’ll begin teaching next week.

• Jared Burkholder reported from wintry Washington, where the Pietism Studies Group session at the American Society of Church History meeting focused on Protestant marriage in the early modern world.

• And I started counting down the days until Downton Abbey (Jan. 5th) and, more importantly, Sherlock (the 19th) start their new series in the US.

…There and Everywhere

Jacobs, The Book of Common Prayer• Apparently, New Year’s resolutions used to be much more ambitious. In that spirit, I’ll frame the remainder of TWTWTW in resolution form…

• I resolve to read at least three of the books on Scot McKnight’s best of 2013 list. I’ve already pledged to read Worthen (holder of the top spot on the most read list for the Christian Century church history blog, Then and Now) and Cleveland, but at least one of Jacobs, Bratt, or Boyd as well.

• And at least one of Jana Riess’s top five religious books of the year. Crouch would be the easy choice, but I’m leaning towards Blue — previously blogged about here — or Russell — recently the subject of fellow Pietisten columnist Jay Phelan.

• And I also resolve to read at least one significant work by the 19th century German philosopher whose “vision of reality,” wrote Nathan Gilmour, “will likely remain the second-most-compelling universe, next to Augustine’s…”

• Speaking of… The first three resolutions might not leave me enough time actually to join Collin Garbarino in reading through City of God in its entirety, but I resolve to encourage readers to do so in my stead. (Well, that’s one I can check off the list!)

Schneider Memorial in Womrath, Germany
Memorial to Paul Schneider in his former church at Womrath; the inscription is from Wisdom 3 (“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them…”) – Creative Commons (Dietrich)

• I resolve to learn more about Paul Robert Schneider, the first Protestant pastor killed in a Nazi concentration camp, whose last sermon called on Christians to declare the Word of God not just within the relative safety of churches but “outside in the world too and in public, to those who want to hear it and to those who do not want to hear this, before this nation and state and all earthly authorities.”

• I resolve to stop just talking a good game about digital humanities and actually devote some time to learning, as Claire Potter put it in her dispatch from the American Historical Association meeting, “how the digital world enhances and alters at least some of our historical practices.”

• I resolve to continue avoiding all TED talks like the plague, as I fully agree with Benjamin Bratton’s disdain for them: “If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation. Instead of dumbing-down the future, we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about “personal stories of inspiration”, it’s about the difficult and uncertain work of demystification and reconceptualisation: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins.” (H/T David Kroeker Maus)

• Inspired by Michael Wear’s post on Duke Ellington, who prayed for sixty years before finally presenting his “sacred concerts,” I resolve to “give [myself] time to grow into what is most important, rather than try to rush the process.”

• And in honor of the late Phil Everly, I resolve to spend at least three hours listening to him and his brother harmonize:

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