After my month-long break, I eased back into blogging with a couple of posts:
• First, I shared my talk, delivered Tuesday at the Christian College Consortium (CCC) at Wheaton College, on how a Pietist would advise colleges and universities seeking to remain “Christ-centered.”
• Then I previewed my plans for the Conference on Faith and History (CFH) biennial meeting at Pepperdine University. I spent much of Friday live-tweeting several sessions, and I’ll have at least a couple CFH-related posts next week.
…There and Everywhere
• Michael Gerson put more clearly than I could one of the points most central to my talk at the CCC: “A Christian vision of social engagement that is defined by resentment for lost social position and a scramble for group advantage is not particularly Christian.”
• In my CCC talk, I emphasized the importance of Christian colleges striving to build bridges rather than acting as faith-defending citadels. I’ve learned much in that regard from colleagues like Amy Poppinga, Sara Shady, and Marion Larson, who were at Georgetown University while I was at Wheaton, representing Bethel at the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge National Gathering.
• On this subject, philosopher Gary Gutting asked Sajjad Rivzi if Judaism, Christianity, and Islam should be thought of as “rivals, or as complementary developments of monotheism, or as different cultural expressions of an essentially similar religious experience…”
• At the CCC gathering, a big topic was the ongoing controversy over human sexuality at Gordon College. This week Gordon and its accreditor jointly announced that it had a year to demonstrate why its policies banning sex outside of heterosexual marriage meet the accreditor’s standard for non-discrimination.
• Debates over sexuality have flared up significantly in the Mennonite Church USA. One of the largest churches in its Ohio conference voted to seek a new affiliation after the Mountain States conference licensed a lesbian pastor in a committed relationship.
• Matthew Block’s post on Christian masculinity, rebutting the leader of America’s self-proclaimed “manliest church,” reminded me why First Thoughts is my favorite conservative blog. Rather than emphasizing warrior metaphors from Scripture, Block pointed to Adam’s original plant-tending role: “…maybe it won’t attract young men into your church the way advertising a gun give-away might. But gardening brings the one thing every Christian should desire—growth. It brings maturity. And this, by the grace of God, leads in the end to a harvest that matters.”
• Like Tracy McKenzie, I highly recommend Tony Horowitz’s Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War; but also like Tracy, I also find the Civil War reenactments that helped inspire Horowitz’s book to be problematic, particularly when they turn to the experience of combat.
• I missed my friend Miles Mullins’ paper at CFH, on The Sunday School Times and race relations in mid-20th century America, but fortunately he offered a preview at The Anxious Bench that focused on the surprising role of the Federal Council of Churches.
• I’ll have to tuck this one away for when I teach Cold War history next spring: a look inside the youth subculture that explores Chernobyl’s dead zone.
• William Deriesiwicz returned to Yale (which denied him tenure) to talk to students — a month after the publication of his book Excellent Sheep, decrying how elite universities like Yale attract/cultivate bright, gifted students who are also “anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose.” (He has also visited other Ivies, like Brown and Columbia.)
• An interesting piece in the Hedgehog Review asked if the humanities actually need the university to survive.
• Some good news for us professors: alongside doctors, nurses, and teachers, we’re one of the few professions that’s seen by the American public as being both very warm and highly competent. It’s striking how that the opposite end of that spectrum consists entirely of blue-collar jobs (and whatever prostitution would be classified as).