That Was The Week That Was


• While her talk at Bethel last week was about faith and science, I’ll happily credit journalist Krista Tippett with inspiring two posts about the practice of history: first, what do historians mean when they ask “Why?”; and second, how is history a “ministry of listening“?

• Thanks to Paul Putz for teaching us about the history of Christian matchmaking.

• I don’t normally put “Best of” posts on these link wraps, but this was a special one to me: seeing her profiled on a local TV news program reminded me of my own tribute to Maureen Conway, the teacher who most influenced me.

• Then a bit of spring cleaning: some links that I’d once bookmarked, but failed to blog about or pass along…

…There and Everywhere

• Few historians know more about World War I than Sir Hew Strachan — here are some of his thoughts about that war’s centenary.

• How Vladimir Putin “is representative of an accelerated push by autocratic leaders worldwide to reign in the unwieldy Internet space.”

Bring Back Our Girls photo
Licensed by Creative Commons (Xavier J. Peg)

• If you had never heard of Boko Haram before the #BringBackOurGirls phenomenon and are now suddenly filled with righteous indignation, read Brian Gumm’s thoughtful post before you start demanding “action”: “…both our burning desire for justice and concrete expressions of justice must themselves be brought under the Lordship of Christ. We must think carefully about what God’s righteous, compassionate justice might look like even in horrific situations such as this.”

• Then read Greg Boyd’s assessment of the relationship between non-violence and Christian discipleship.

• I know I’m repeating myself here, but… You really should be reading Tracy McKenzie if you want to understand why — and how — Christians should study history.

• Do these “church-types” to avoid and embrace exist outside of Kurt Willems’ imagination? (I don’t disagree with any of his concerns or hopes here — I just think you’d spend the rest of your life church-shopping if these are your standards.)

• I’ve probably made abundantly clear my desire that Christians — especially fellow evangelicals — seek unity (and not treat it as separable from evangelism), but I do appreciate how Carl Trueman asked hard, practical questions of what unity looks like and how it’s achieved.

• Likewise, while I’ve argued that evangelicals should strongly consider treating sexuality as a non-essential matter on which we can disagree, Russell Moore argued that “Sexuality isn’t ancillary to the gospel but is itself an embodied icon of the gospel, pointing us to the union of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:29-32).”

• Among the latest Christians to be caught up in that debate: the band Jars of Clay.

Jars of Clay in 2007
Jars of Clay playing in Toronto in 2007 – Creative Commons (Ian Muttoo)

• And reflecting on how quickly American public opinion has changed on same-sex marriage led Philip Jenkins to wonder “what ideas or theories are circulating today that might stand poised for a comparably rapid escalation and mainstreaming?”

• One scientist tried to convince her fellow evangelicals that they should take climate change seriously: “We have been given information about climate change that is not true. We have been told that it is incompatible with our values, whereas in fact it’s entirely compatible with conservative and with Christian values.”

• Perhaps one way to make some headway on that and other heated issues is being suggested by a Templeton project in Scotland that partners scientists with pastors to help bring discussions of science and faith into Christian churches. (H/T Kyle Roberts)

• On Thursday I heard a presentation on the tectonic shifts in higher education, including the fact that by 2020 about one-quarter of all high school graduates in this country will be Hispanic. I hope all the Christian college trustees and administrators sitting in the same room were aware that that population is undergoing its own dramatic shifts — in religious identity.

• Telling findings from Gallup in a survey of 30,000 American college graduates: “College graduates had double the odds of being engaged at work and three times the odds of thriving in Gallup’s five elements of well-being if they had had ’emotional support’—professors who ‘made me excited about learning,’ ‘cared about me as a person,’ or ‘encouraged my hopes and dreams.’ Graduates who had done a long-term project that took a semester or more, who had held an internship, or who were extremely involved in extracurricular activities or organizations had twice the odds of being engaged at work and an edge in thriving in well-being.” Equally interesting, the study “found virtually no difference in workplace engagement and well-being among graduates of public and private colleges, highly selective colleges and the rest, or the top-100-ranked colleges and the rest.”

Southern New Hampshire University logo• Meanwhile, people continue to monitor Southern New Hampshire University’s attempt to develop a purely online undergraduate program, whose faculty (paid less, not required to research — or live anywhere near New Hampshire, and with little role in governance) say that they “are the canaries in the coal mine for higher education.”

• On the other hand, William Pannapacker’s description of Hope College’s online summer program suggested how the liberal arts might adapt to technological change and yet remain intact.

• The mounting crisis at Bryan College had John Fea wondering if younger evangelicals would increasingly opt for more progressive Christian colleges (like his), or if the “evangelical mainstream” was shifting to the right.

• If I were to revisit the theme of overcoming “epistemic closure” and add someone to my list of “conservatives for progressives to read,” it would probably be Gracy Olmstead. I’m sure many of my more liberal friends would nod along with her post on the purpose of a college education: “Students who are seeking a career as an end in itself will experience disappointment once they enter the workforce…. But the student who desires to learn, for its own sake, will always receive benefits from college….”

• Which American states are most generous in giving to charity? As a Minnesotan I was prepared to puff out my chest when I saw that my state ranked #2 in percentage of residents saying they donated money and time to charities… Then I read the entire article and realized that we’re not even in the top 20 in terms of percentage of disposable income given.

• Coming in September 2014: The Allrounder, a new online journal with an international roster of contributors that “examines the ways that sport impacts communities, shapes culture, and taps bodies and emotions.”

• As a father of one set of twins, I have to admit that it’s hard not to be nervous about this scenario unfolding…

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