That Was The Week That Was

Here…

• I didn’t dislike the new college rankings from MONEY magazine, but as I considered how Bethel and other Christian colleges fared, I remained convinced that “no system that needs to rank public institutions and avowedly secular private ones is going to properly assess the value of Christian colleges and universities.”

• We reached the 100th anniversary of the day that World War I began — or so I argued.

• If this centenary has got you interested in learning more about the Great War, but unsure where to start, consider these suggestions.

…There and Everywhere

Gas mask-wearing British soldiers in front of a soccer goal in 1916
British soldiers in 1916 – Bibliothèque nationale de France

• And the WWI suggestions just keep on coming: “The history of soccer in the First World War… is a history of two worlds in unresolvable tension. It’s the story of a failed metaphor.”

• Yale historian Jay Winter on the centenary: “The anniversary of the outbreak of the war has buried the word ‘celebration.’ We don’t celebrate the war; to do so has a taste as of ashes. We see it as a global catastrophe, which opened the door to the Second World War and the Holocaust. Hence, commemorating the Great War necessarily has a pacifist character. No cause justified the slaughter of 10 million men and the mutilation of another 20 million.”

• In some ways, the implications of that war are continuing to play out in the Middle East, as John Judis argued in a sobering essay on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the little the US government can do about it.

John Turner’s post on ISIS at Anxious Bench was a model of the wisdom historians can bring to the role of public intellectual: “…international tragedies are a constant reminder of how limited our capacity is to express Christian love beyond our immediate families and communities. If we actually spent much of our time contemplating what ISIS is doing to Iraqis and Syrians (or devoted our thoughts to the many other tragedies unfolding around the world today), we might well cease to function. At the very least, though, it is a time to pray and a time to mourn.”

• In that post, John also alluded to the situation in Gaza. I’ve been as horrified as anyone at the plight of Muslim and Christian civilians in Palestine, but I’m also as wary of Hamas as ever after one of its spokesmen repeated (then did it again) one of the oldest, vilest myths in the history of anti-Semitism.

Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll – Mars Hill Church

• The big news yesterday in the evangelical world (not my part of it, really, but still): the Acts 29 Network removed its co-founder, Mark Driscoll, and his Mars Hill Church from membership: “Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming. We now have to take another course of action. Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”

• Had I written a links post last Saturday, Robert George’s widely circulated post warning young scholars against falling “in love with applause” surely would have made the cut. So I’ll mention it here — as well as Alan Jacobs’ equally good response, which underscored “the importance for Christian scholars of serious commitment to a church community.”

• Also leftover from last week… David Masciotra’s defense of English departments, specifically as they continue to teach the printed word in a digital age: “Higher education should challenge students, not coddle them by indulging their pre-formed biases and preferences.”

• In this vein, see the excerpt from Danny Anderson’s Introduction to Literature syllabus, which starts, promisingly, “I want to make you miserable.”

• The conventional wisdom holds that more education tends to make people less religious, but a new study comes to a strikingly different conclusion: “…a college degree used to mean people were more likely to lose religion. Now some people are losing religion whether they went to college or not—but it’s especially true for those who didn’t go to college.”

• Good to see Matt Moser blogging again at Christ & University — he made a strong return with a post contemplating how physical space “shapes the way we learn, the way we think, the way we discuss.” (It’s a theme I’ve explored a bit myself…)

• Loved Elesha Coffman’s reflection on how a rather obscure book about medieval Orthodoxy prepared her for a life of scholarship.

The American Patriot's Bible• How important is it that intellectual historians — whatever their religious beliefs, if any — know the Bible? (I probably wouldn’t limit it to this category within the guild. If that book is “the most significant source of inspiration for most Americans for most of the country’s history,” I’d imagine that those who do cultural history, social history, African American history, Southern history, and many other fields would need to know it as well. And likewise for, say, 19th century Britain, or early modern Europe, or post-colonial Africa, or…)

• Speaking of the Bible and Africa… David Swartz’s critique of The Patriot’s Bible took a global turn: “The appeal of this message and approach surely has real limits in the context of a rising Global South, a maturing theological educational system abroad, and burgeoning immigration to the U.S. from the Majority World.”

• Sarah Pulliam Bailey burnished her credentials as one of the country’s most interesting religion reporters with a piece on “celibate gay Christians, who seek to be true to both their sexuality and their faith.” And who, in so doing, find themselves misunderstood by many in the Church and the LGBT movement.

• “I’m with” musician Michael Gungor in his views on science and hermeneutics — as I’ll try to make clear when I finally fulfill a promise to write about fair critiques of Christian colleges — though I suspect that his tone convinced few “huddle people” that “I’m for you. I really am. And I’m with you.”

Still, what Aaron Ross said

• And what Alan Noble said: “If evangelicals want to have a persuasive voice in a pluralist society, a voice that can defend Christians from serious persecution, then we must be able to discern accurately when we are truly victims of oppression—and when this victimization is only imagined.”


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