• Having to teach a new course on the history of WWII for three hours each afternoon during Bethel’s J-term has definitely made it a challenge to find time for blogging. But getting ready for that course also yielded this meditation for Epiphany, on finding light in the “thick darkness” that covered the earth during that war.
• German responsibility for starting WWI: it’s not just a debate for academics anymore. Checking in with a raging controversy in Britain…
• Is the “ground of human rights… crumbling beneath us“? And how might religion offer both a challenge and opportunity for human rights advocates?
…There and Everywhere
• There are several reasons I wish I could have attended last week’s annual meeting of the American Historical Association, including the panel discussion of historians teaching massive open online courses. One panelist (who happens to be my favorite critic of MOOCs) offered his summary. Or you could watch the session on YouTube, thanks to History News Network:
One thing I learned: it rhymes with “book,” not “kook.”
• Which years marked turning points in history? Take a guess, check it against the answers at the bottom of the post, then read how one historian came up with that list.
• An expat philosopher explored the roots of French xenophobia and found them in the 18th century: “Equality is of course one of the virtues on which the French Republic was founded, yet critics of the Enlightenment philosophy behind the Revolution have long noticed a double standard: when equality is invoked, these critics note, it is understood that this is equality among equals. Political and social inequality is allowed to go on as before, as long as it is presumed that this is rooted in a natural inequality” (emphasis original).
• Thank you, Scot McKnight! In response to yet another piece setting up “following Jesus” vs. “Christianity,” he appealed to “Bonhoeffer’s famous observation that we must, must, must surrender our ideals of the church and learn to live with its brokenness and the brokenness of all those connected to it.”
• Is Monty Python’s “depiction of faction-ridden messianic movements in First Century Judea” in Life of Brian “probably a more accurate portrayal of the historical context than many Hollywood films about Jesus”?
• A brief introduction to the festival of Epiphany, particularly as it originated in the Eastern church.
• And Epiphany as it showed up in the writings of two people not normally linked together: James Joyce and Jean Bethke Elshtain.
• I have to say, I hesitated before quoting anything from London’s Daily Mail in my post on WWI commemoration, but decided that the debate itself was worth covering. Relying on that tabloid for reporting on changes in Anglican liturgy… Don’t go there.
• Granted, David Swartz had me at “renegade Wesleyan evangelist from the Appalachians,” but the story of William Taylor’s mid-19th century mission to South Africa is pretty fascinating.
• Yet another positive review of Molly Worthen’s new history of neo-evangelicalism, this one suggesting that “One of the worst aspects of conservative evangelicalism is that too often, especially on its fundamentalist fringes, its literalism encourages know-nothing atheism of the [Richard] Dawkins variety.”
• This post from Christianity Today on the relationship between Christian colleges and their founding denominations revisits a study that I blogged about last year, but adds commentary from two actual experts on Christian higher ed: David Dockery and William Ringenberg.
• Another insightful commentator on Christian colleges that I’ve been happy to discover through social media: sociologist John Hawthorne. Get introduced by reading about the top eight posts last year at his blog, Sociological Reflections.
• The release of a new Bruce Springsteen album prompted one critic to go through The Boss’ entire catalog and decide what’s been overrated (The Rising), underrated (The River), or properly rated (the live concert experience). This is primarily a test to see if one fellow blogger is reading closely…
Turning point years: 1763, 1776, 1789, 1848, 1914, and 1945