That Was The Week That Was

Here…

• As if I needed any more proof that I’m Minnesotan: I’m still blushing from the superlatives lavished on our Pietism/higher ed book by its endorsers. Thanks, Amos, Jake, John, John, Rhonda, and Shirley!

• GW Carlson on Glen Stassen: “Stassen’s calm but passionate presentations suggested that we need to take seriously the Sermon on the Mount and find ways to not allow the secular powers to shape our values and ethics.”

• Stan Friedman on John Weborg: “There are teachers who educate, and then there are those who open vistas, showing you worlds you didn’t know existed. That’s who John has been for many of us.”

…There and Everywhere

Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, Iowa
The Bob Feller Museum in his hometown of Van Meter, Iowa — Creative Commons (Jerrye and Roy Klotz)

• Since 1888, 188,060 matches have been played in the top four tiers of British football. Guess how many have ended with at least one team scoring zero goals. (Look for the answer at the end of this post.)

• I’m a sucker for maps like those produced this week by Slate‘s Ben Blatt, who spent the week reimagining a union of fifty American states with boundaries redrawn to allow for more equal distribution of population — naturally, I especially like the one based on where baseball players are born, which placed me at the border between “Winfieldsconsin” and “Fellera.”

• Or as we still call it, the Twin Cities, where the American Society of Church History will be holding its meetings next April. That led Paul Putz to perceive something of a “Minnesota turn” in the history of Christianity, since the ASCH meeting coincides with the emergence of a distinct set of scholarship about the Midwest. (Of course, given the existence of Somali, Hmong, Tibetan, and other immigrant communities in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and many smaller cities, suburbs, and towns, any such “turn” ought to go beyond Christianity to investigate other religions.)

• Do Americans actually want more religion in their politics?

• If so, that might be news to the New York Times, which remains rather inconsistent in its coverage of the role of religion in public life (see: Christian leadership of recent protests in Hong Kong). But, points out historian Jay Case, we all have such “blind spots.”

• The fact that I scored just five out of thirteen on John Fea’s “You Might Be an Evangelical If…” quiz and yet still consider myself an evangelical suggests that John’s pretty much focused on the American postfundamentalist neo-evangelicalism of the last fifty years or so, while I think of evangelicalism as something that spans cultures and centuries.

General Theological Seminary
General Theological Seminary in New York – Creative Commons (Makemi)

• While American Christians continue to debate it, African Christians are responding to climate change.

• The convergence of a general decline in traditional seminaries and the general decline of the Episcopal Church seems to be yielding a particularly awful collapse for one school.

• The idea of passing plates to collect offerings in worship has a rather short history. Does it also have a short future?

• Religion reporter Kimberly Winston wrote a fascinating piece on atheists of color, who tend to have rather different concerns (and more willingness to partner with the religious) than the rather affluent white people who tend to be the face of the movement.

• I can’t imagine there have been too many blogging weeks when The Christian Century‘s Steve Thorngate agrees with Ross Douthat and Thomas Kidd about something. Maybe (contra the quasi-critique I linked to last week) we don’t actually need to feel all that ambivalent about medical missionaries risking their lives to heal people.

• Speaking of hard-to-fathom statements by secularists… Bill Maher and Sam Harris have been receiving all sorts of well-deserved criticism for their comments about Islam. The most significant critique, for my money, was Peter Beinart’s, since it took on directly Maher’s claim that he was standing up for liberal principles: “Today, some liberals are so focused on the struggle against American militarism and Islamophobia that they can’t muster much outrage against ISIS…. So far, so good. Where Maher goes wrong is in forgetting two other lessons of the liberal anti-totalitarian tradition. The first is to be precise about what you’re opposing. The second, to not get so carried away with your own virtue that you end up justifying terrible crimes.”

• Coming to the defense of Gordon College (and perhaps other Christian colleges whose lifestyle covenants prohibit sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage), gay rights advocate Andrew Sullivan: “I’ve spent most of my adult life challenging the notion that the distinction between a homosexual person and ‘homosexual acts’ makes sense – but I am not omniscient, and I respect those who sincerely disagree with me. I certainly don’t want them penalized for such religious convictions. This is something called ‘liberalism’ – the toleration of different faiths in a civil society, and the conviction that the best long-term way to discern the truth is not to suppress such faiths but to allow them to flourish (or not) in the free marketplace of ideas and beliefs.”

Lecrae, Anomaly
Lecrae’s 2014 album, Anomaly, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200

• Kudos to Rachel Held Evans, who has invited a variety of gay Christians into a conversation about Christianity and sexuality. Most recently, she posed questions from her readers to Julie Rodgers, who discussed her commitment to celibacy.

• The music of chart-topping Christian rapper Lecrae, says Emma Green of The Atlantic, “troubles the stereotypes of both Christian music and mainstream rap—it doesn’t really feel wholesome or sanctified, but it’s also filled with self-deprecation and explicit warnings about immoral behavior.”

• The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities reached a settlement with Edward Blews, who had been mysteriously dismissed after a short tenure as CCCU president.

• Oh good, U.S. News is ranking the world’s universities now.

• Just in time for American students who might be looking to take advantage of tuition-free higher education in the country that did so much to shape the modern university. (Incidentally, only one German university cracks the world top 50 as determined by Times Higher Education.)

In defense of maintaining tenure, shared governance, middle-class pay, and the other hallmarks of an academic profession that has, overall, served American higher education very well. (Incidentally, twenty-seven of the THE top fifty are American.)

• Just how “pacifist” is post-WWII Japan?

• Yes. Yes, I am a long e-mail sender.

Answer: according to research by James Curley, 85,694 British football matches since 1888 have ended with at least one team not scoring a single goal — 45.6% of all played. Over 13,000 (7%) have ended nil-nil. Concluded Curley, “Soccer is a bit dull.”


One thought on “That Was The Week That Was

  1. Love this, Chris. Instant clarification of my muddy position!
    “Today, some liberals are so focused on the struggle against American militarism and Islamophobia that they can’t muster much outrage against ISIS…. So far, so good. Where Maher goes wrong is in forgetting two other lessons of the liberal anti-totalitarian tradition. The first is to be precise about what you’re opposing. The second, to not get so carried away with your own virtue that you end up justifying terrible crimes.”

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