That Was The Week That Was


• Did I mention that you can preorder our forthcoming book on Pietism and Christian higher education? Never too early for Christmas shopping, right? What? It comes out January 5th?… Yeah, I meant Christmas 2015 shopping.

• I really do work during the summer, all evidence of goofing off to the contrary.

• And while I was making a quasi-TV show, guest blogger Chuck King contributed some actual scholarship on my supposed field of Pietism studies.

…There and Everywhere

Trachselwald Castle
Trachselwald Castle, near Bern, may one day host an Anabaptist museum – Wikimedia

• There are a million things to be said about the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Two came from Bob Bixby (“White evangelicals need to learn that it is not enough to have a black friend or to love a black person. One must love the black community. We who are white have grown up in a world where blacks must learn to live with us but where we have never had to learn to live with them”) and my new Bethel colleague Christena Cleveland (“Following [Christ’s] lead, all Christians are called to love well across racial and cultural differences, choose to see the world from other people’s perspectives, search for and extinguish inequality in the church and society, advocate for each other, esteem one another, and live as true brothers and sisters (Philippians 2:1-3).”

• The interesting effort to preserve a Swiss castle as a museum of Anabaptist history.

• It’s not exactly getting a lot of attention, but one of the world’s most leading evangelists just started his first American crusade.

• Meanwhile, one of the world’s leading atheists thought it would be a good idea to muse on Twitter about the morality of aborting a fetus with Down’s Syndrome.

• Beyond discourse on abortion, John Hawthorne reflected on evangelicals’ use of “choice” language.

• “Why are we Christians, anyway?”, asked Episcopal priest-blogger Evan Garner. “More and more, it seems the instinctive answer has something to do with ‘being good’ or ‘doing good things for other people.’ But, if that’s the case, we aren’t Christians; we’re just secular humanists who like a midmorning snack of bread and wine. Let’s get back in touch with the particularity of Christ.”

• I wish Tracy McKenzie blogged more often… But when he does write, he offers something to savor — and sustain you till the next post: “I may be wrong, but I don’t think we evangelicals give much thought to the temporal dimension of God’s church. When it comes to our musings about heaven, we may acknowledge that the ‘sacred throng’ that will gather around the throne will include representatives of ‘every kindred’ and ‘every tribe,’ as the hymn writer put it long ago. But I don’t think it much dawns on us that the saints will represent a vast range of times as well as places. The ‘communion of the saints’ is a fellowship that spans centuries as well as cultures.”

(In this vein, see also Dale Coulter on education, exile, and Christian Tradition.)

• David Swartz offered the perfect welcome to the newest students of Asbury University: “There is considerable pressure on you to follow a safe narrative, to view college and your major only as job preparation…. But it’s possible to be too practical, to train for a job that might not exist in a decade. One of the strongest defenses of the liberal arts is that it teaches you to think, write, and have imagination. This prepares you for many kinds of jobs. But beyond this practical critique of practicality, I imagine that we should be open to the possibility of sources of inspiration beyond spreadsheets, sources like tradition, morality, passion, and mystery.”

• Also defending the liberal arts, cartoon characters. Yes, cartoon characters.

• One career for liberal arts grads that I haven’t had the chance to spotlight before: law enforcement (and why that connection is all the more relevant in light of Ferguson).

• Pursuing “balanced education” in a digital age might mean more of an older technology in a classroom and less of its newer cousins: “Precisely because young people spend so much time with digital media outside of school, schools must offer them a very different kind of education in order to even the cognitive scales. In [Patricia] Greenfield’s view, this means reading copious amounts of old-fashioned literature—just what young people are not doing (according to research) on their own time.”

• Ordinarily, I’d dismiss out of hand the notion that teaching is a science, not an art or craft. But not when it comes from Nathan Gilmour — who wonders if (Christian) humanists like us might not want to embrace that notion.

Imperial War Museum, London
The Imperial War Museum, London

• Our weekly round-up of World War I centenary links: praise for the new WWI galleries at the Imperial War Museum (can’t wait to take students there in January!); a reminder about one early WWI blockbuster that didn’t make my list of great Great War films; and the history of nursing in the war.

• Hope College continues to be a leader in the realm of digital humanities — check out Digital Holland, a project spearheaded by the school’s undergraduate Mellon Scholars.

• I spent enough of my high school, college, and grad school years watching and rewatching The Simpsons that the idea of a 278-hour cable marathon of the series’ entire quarter-century (!) run isn’t all that attractive. But if you need a reason to watch, say, five Simpsons episodes, try the quintet of religiously-themed half-hours suggested by Jana Riess.

• In my second-ever blog post, I jokingly promised to write a lot about The Simpsons since I was “pretty sure no one else has had much of anything to say about” them. Also on that list: Wilco, whose leader is releasing his first solo album.

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