That Was The Week That Was


• Beware the fearmongering of higher ed pundits…

• …and find some hope in the opportunity of educating a “spiritual, but not religious” generation.

• We probably came up with about fifteen C’s of institutional history at our Conference on Faith and History panel on the subject, but I narrowed it down to six.

…There and Everywhere

• Getting closer and closer to publication…

• One of the contributors to the book David is holding, Azusa Pacific philosopher David Williams, made a cameo in a Chronicle of Higher Education essay by his English professor colleague Christopher Noble, arguing that fields like ours can fare best in schools like ours: “Facing extinction elsewhere, the humanities will always have a chance to evolve in Christian colleges.”

• I’m not sure that evangelical college students and faculty are especially prone to self-loathing, but at least Stephen Dilley suggested that a history of evangelicalism ought to go back to the 17th century, not the 20th.

Pumpkin Spice Latte sign• A while back I wrote about Spelman College’s decision to end its athletics program and reinvest the money in a campus wellness initiative. Inside Higher Ed checked in on the progress of that program.

• So you’re saying I should continue to buy pumpkin spice lattes?… Okay, can continue to buy pumpkin spice lattes.

• I’m kind of fed up with every attempt to rank colleges at this point, though I’m bound to smile at any system that places Harvard at #438. (Yale, for the record, does even worse: #440.)

• Or one that focuses on ranking the worst colleges in America.

• I’d be more nervous about the implications of a recent study finding that only 18% of American college students are required to take a course on their own nation’s history. Except that the New York Times found exactly the same thing was true… during World War II.

• Not only are we unlikely to get another president as great as Washington, Lincoln, or FDR, but one historian thinks that “Our search for greatness in the presidency – really an addiction without a fix — has actually raised our expectations of presidential performance to dangerous levels; placed unreasonable ones on our presidents and skewed the debate over what constitutes an effective presidency.”

• While we might like to think that the soldiers in the Union Army were as noble as their president, “but the messy realities of war swept into the Army countless men whose commitment to big causes was far more muddled and erratic….”

• Speaking particularly to those who “came of political age” in the hope-filled election of 2008, David Brooks made the case for a “low idealism.”

Robinson, Lila• Anne Applebaum reviewed the first volume of Stephen Kotkin’s massively ambitious biography of Josef Stalin, an attempt “to sweep the cobwebs and the mythology out of Soviet historiography forever.”

• As a reader and writer alike, I’m part of the problem — but I tend to agree with Amy Julia Becker’s preference for the book over the blog post.

• I’m still trying to get past the fact that John Wilson didn’t like Gilead or Home, but at least he was enthusiastic about the newest novel from Marilynne Robinson: “No writer can see life whole. There’s too much of it, too many sides, to be comprehended by a single vision. But some books give us a sense of such wholeness, and they are precious for it. ‘Lila’ is such a book.”

• What factors best predict religiosity?

• Social media meets Rust Belt Catholicism: the “Mass mob.”

• Kudos to Bethel University alumna Deb Haarsma, president of BioLogos, for calling out creationist Ken Ham and urging a more “gracious conversation” about human origins among fellow Christians.

(If you live in the Twin Cities… you might such a conversation taking place at the Bethel-sponsored “Summit on Origins” — November 7-8 at Calvary Church in Roseville, MN.)

• Never afraid to critique his own movement for its insularity and lack of humility, Reformed pastor-blogger Derek Rishmawy warned that progressive evangelicals, despite their avowed commitment to diversity and inclusion, are starting to require adherence to a seven-point “package” in order to participate in the progressive conversation.

McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy• To the extent I think Rishmawy is on to something (and I’m not sure that all seven of his tenets are really shibboleths among progressives), it might explain why I so appreciate Greg Boyd and Scot McKnight, who both fit some of Rishmawy’s progressive typology (pacifism, criticism of Calvinism), but defy easy categorization:

Greg on John 14:6: “My belief that Jesus is the only way to God is admittedly narrow, though no more so than the person who claims there are innumerable ways to God. But I can give evidence and argumentation to defend my truth claim, and I’m perfectly willing to adjust my belief if and when the evidence and/or argumentation call for it. I wish all those who espoused the ‘all-roads-lead-to-God’ mantra shared this attitude.”

Scot on Christian (ab)use of the term “kingdom”: “The skinny jeans crowd focuses on the law – and focuses that on justice and peace. The pleated pants crowd focuses on God as redemptive king, so it focuses on elements of redemption in the Christian life: evangelism, healing, and influencing the public sector. Sadly, neither focuses on the kingdom as a people…. hordes of American Christians are far less committed to their local church because they are committed to doing ‘kingdom work.’ Kingdom for many means the bigger things God is doing in this world. A proper kingdom theology leads people to the middle of the church, not away from it.”

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