That Was The Week That Was


• As my series on Ed Gilbreath’s Birmingham Revolution wrapped up, I concluded that “For the vast majority of us… the call is not to speak as a prophet, but to listen for such voices, to bend our ears to hear what [Ken] Wytsma calls ‘the God-given devices for bending society back when it veers from where it should be.'”

• I had some fun with the Google Ngram Viewer and a dissertations database to chart the rising and falling popularity of World War I as a topic for historical research and writing.

• And if you missed the series the first time, I reprinted my three-part attempt to explain just what the Evangelical Covenant Church is — focusing on the phrases “missional Pietists” and “immigrant church.”

…There and Everywhere

Robin Williams in 2008
Robin Williams in 2008 – Creative Commons (Steve Jurvetson)

• I can only imagine that Robin Williams’ death is the reason so many came to this blog to read a two year-old post about casting presidents in The Butler. (Williams played Eisenhower.) Rather than offering my own response to that sad story… Here’s Anne Lamott’s.

• While I was attending Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit, I did some microblogging at the Pietist Schoolman Facebook page, responding to the composition of the Summit’s faculty: “I’m trying to imagine a leadership summit taught by philosophers, art historians, and poets that sought to help the CEOs, politicians, and senior pastors in the audience ask eternal questions that have paradoxical answers.”

(I think Nicholas Kristof would agree.)

• And over at our project blog for Bethel at War, I started a series on letters to Bethel by servicemen and women in WWII (including an exchange between a Baptist conscientious objector and a patriotic dean, and a chaplain observing the physical and human costs of the war in Naples, Italy) and Fletcher finished his series on the Baptist General Conference and the Vietnam War. I can’t recommend that series highly enough to anyone interested in post-WWII American religious history: it’s some of the first serious scholarship on the BGC that is conversant with the larger historiography of evangelicalism.

• I’m sure we’ll start to run out of new ways to revisit the history of World War I as the centenary continues, but let’s enjoy the ride: this week brought posts on fashion and the war and the eight artists sent to war by the U.S. government in 1918.

• I spent much of this past week creating the index for our new book on Pietism and Christian higher ed. (Now available for preorder from InterVarsity Press!) Among the odder entries will be a line for “Einstein, Albert” — whose “instinctive pacifism” kept him from joining the Nobel Prize-winning physicists and other German intellectuals who issued a strong pro-war statement in August 1914.

Mark Totten and family
I did get to befriend a law/ethics student who’s now a rising star on the other side of the aisle from Sasse. Consider supporting Mark Totten, seen here with his amazing family, in his race for attorney general of Michigan.

• Was Barack Obama channeling St. Augustine in his decision to send airstrikes against ISIS?

• We must have overlapped at Yale, but I didn’t meet the man who’s likely to become Nebraska’s next Republican senator: while I was busying studying education in post-WWII Germany, Ben Sasse was offering a revisionist take on the rise of the religious right in the United States.

Another fine response to Carl Trueman’s claim that American Christians are entering a “time of exile,” courtesy of Lutheran pastor Benjamin Dueholm.

Plus this, from Mark Noll at the recent conference on The Bible in American Life: “In U.S. history, the only real persecution of Christians was done by other Christians. Black Christians by white Christians. And that happened for about 250 years. That’s the only Christian persecution in U.S. history.”

• Meanwhile, are evangelical cultural warriors shifting their attention to Latin American politics?

• Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea prompted Candida Moss to explain why that Asian country “might be the future of the Catholic Church.” (And the Protestant one, for that matter.)

• Pietism studies star Kate Carté Engel got the “Four Questions” treatment at the Religion in American History blog.

• What comments about the crisis in Gaza by some of her Facebook friends told one writer about anti-Semitism today — and why it convinced her to retreat from being a “public Jew.”

Marsh, Strange Glory• John Turner added more praise for Charles Marsh’s acclaimed new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “It does not solve all of the riddles of an enigmatic personality, nor does it fully explore all of Bonhoeffer’s theological writings (for someone who died at a young age, he left behind a very large corpus). Nor, perhaps, can anyone fully explain how Dietrich Bonhoeffer could feel wonderfully protected by the good and gracious power of God while witnessing the destruction of his country and facing his own imminent death. It does, however, encourage us to consider the same questions that Bonhoeffer faced, to determine who Jesus Christ is, to feel the claims of scripture on our thoughts and beliefs, and to dedicate ourselves to the church of Jesus Christ and to fiercely guard it from all forms of idolatry.”

• So that’s why I can never remember the names of people I’ve just met…

• We certainly are living in a golden age of infographics. Have fun playing around with how Americans have moved between states every decade from 1900 to the present! (Especially interesting: Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and the District of Columbia.)

• Or consider how these maps illustrate the striking religious changes in Africa since 1913.

• Also changed since 1913: college applications.

• What does it mean when we claim to teach students “critical thinking“?

• If we’ve got the Church, why do we need the university? A fine response from Matthew Moser: “Perhaps we should see the university as a gift to the Church. Perhaps the university is ordered to the Church, even as the Church is ordered to the kingdom of God. Perhaps we could even say that the (Christian) university, theologically considered at least, exists to serve the Church by extending the central boundaries of its confession into all the world.”

• One Christian student at Columbia University thinks that William Deresiewicz’s critique of the Ivy League both failed to give those elite schools enough credit (for their “real ability to create an amazing community of diverse people”) and didn’t get to the fundamental problems of the Ivies (“which are not fundamentally to do with economics or the class dynamics of the Ivy League’s meritocratic pretensions”).

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