• First things first: the results of the great beard vote are in and…
Thanks for voting, everyone!
• In other news… January 30th happened to mark the birthday of one world leader tied to World War II, the rise of another, the assassination of another, and the funeral of another. Hmm.
• WWII also (you’ll have to read the post to see the connection) made me think of the liberal arts, whose purpose might just be finding purpose.
• And RIP Pete Seeger (1919-2014).
…There and Everywhere
• Jared and I mostly stayed away from politics in the Seeger post, but David Graham offered a fairly balanced overview of that dimension of the career of a man who loved America so much he became a Communist.
• Four reasons that white people don’t talk about race.
• Which is why it’s more than a little sad to see my colleague Curtiss DeYoung leave Bethel and its reconciliation studies program, though his new job sounds exciting.
• A while back I noted that the 100th anniversary of WWI was provoking some controversy in Britain, primarily having to do with differing views of Germany’s role in starting the war. The debate continued, with Gary Sheffield (no, not this one) furiously contesting fellow historian Niall Ferguson’s claim that Britain should never have gone to war with Germany in 1914.
• The most popular post I wrote in my first year of blogging touched on J.R.R. Tolkien’s experience of WWI. For a more detailed look at Tolkien’s career as a signals officer, see this post from the Innovating in Combat blog.
• As chairperson of our church, I celebrate that we’re multi-generational, but have occasionally exhorted our congregation to grow more intergenerational. At Jesus Creed Jonathan Storment addressed one important challenge here: “It seems like our Church cultures are saturated with ministers and churches talking about doing something radical for God, but our notions of radical faith are often crushing and fail to take into account Paul and Peter’s encouragement for Christians who are living ‘quiet lives’ as a way to serve the LORD.”
• I thought of my mom, an inveterate sewer (and knitter and embroiderer) when I saw this post at the Mormon history blog Juvenile Instructor, on the sewing machine as “religious technology.”
• Also from that blog… A review of Catholic scholar Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-Day Saints that’s generally appreciative of Webb’s efforts, but finds him “precariously close to the edge of singularly praising Mormonism without questioning many of the issues that he is explaining to Christians.”
• I received my copy of Molly Worthen’s Apostles of Reason from Amazon, so I’m inching closer to actually reading one of the most acclaimed recent histories of evangelicalism. In the meantime, I enjoyed John Turner’s review of the book for The Anxious Bench.
• Turner’s Bench-mate Thomas Kidd addressed the evangelical fondness for “pop experts.”
• Brett McCracken asked an important question at The Gospel Coalition: “…by focusing on brokenness as proof of our ‘realness’ and ‘authenticity,’ have evangelicals turned ‘being screwed up’ into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness? Has authenticity become a higher calling than, say, holiness?”‘
• It cost $300 million to build and another $1.5 million per year to maintain — in a country with an annual per capita income of $650. It has seating capacity for the entire 15,000-person population of the city that hosts it — plus 20% more — yet draws about 350 each Sunday. Welcome to the largest church in the world!
• Its presbytery has set the price for John Ortberg’s church to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA): $8.8 million.
• Brad Nassif steered clear of answering his own question, but it’s worth asking: Who’s right in the ongoing Orthodox vs. Catholic/Protestant debate over the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed? And does it matter?
• At least one Christian supporter of same-sex marriage was dismayed by the Grammy wedding ceremony: “Same-sex marriage doesn’t trivialize marriage; it enhances marriage.”
• Last week I linked to the Barna survey of the country’s most and least “Bible-minded” cities. I hope it was clear from the context of the post that my tongue was in cheek, since I tend to agree with this Lutheran blogger about the flawed nature of the survey.
• I’m not sure that ‘keeping up with Harvard’ is a great reason for Christian colleges and universities to embrace MOOCs…
• I run hot and cold in my appreciation for the TV drama Nashville: Connie Britton and the music, yes; almost everything else, not so much. So I missed a recent episode that featured much more Episcopalianism than you’d expect out of a soap opera about country music.
• What’s it like to write 31,000 words in a weekend? Ask John Fea. (And thanks, John, for making my own task — writing about 8,000 words between now and March 1st — seem both doable and pretty wimpy.)
• And just what is the point of academic publishing, anyway?
• As a blogger always searching for images licensed for reuse, this is terrific news.
• As a writer and editor, I greatly appreciate the comma. (The fact that it doesn’t use the Oxford comma is my only complaint about my current publisher.) But I also grade a lot of undergraduate writing, so I can easily imagine the comma-less world that may be on the horizon.