That Was The Week That Was


• I started the week by reflecting on the idea that education might serve primarily to teach us how to pray. So it seemed appropriate that I ended the week by leading my European history students in praying for our enemies, having just read a book about late 19th century terrorism.

• A World War I memorial was at the center of Wednesday’s shooting in Ottawa, which also came up in our class discussion yesterday.

• I’m happy to read Field of Dreams as a Christian parable of vocation, but must reason and passion distract us from God’s calling?

• Thanks again to Dave Bruno and John Fea for engaging with last week’s post on institutional history!

…There and Everywhere

• For those who missed yesterday’s post on the Ottawa war memorial, here’s the must-see political cartoon that I embedded:

• How photographer James Hill has spent recent years searching “for forms of beauty in war and for closure in peace.”

Descent into Hell• There was precious little beauty when World War II came to Okinawa in 1945: one in three civilians died — many because they committed suicide or were killed by Japanese soldiers to keep them from surrendering. A newly translated book based on eyewitness testimony from the survivors explores how a half-century of indoctrination had created a “cult of self-sacrifice.”

• That book was translated by Mark Ealey and Alastair McLauchlan. Or as they would have been known throughout most of history, Mark and Alastair.

• It turns out that the pre-Nazi history of the swastika ranges from paleolithic figurines to early 20th century Coca-Cola. (H/T Diana Magnuson)

• The passing of longtime Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee mostly made me think of Jason Robards’ performance in All the President’s Men. (Note to self: watch All the President’s Men again.) But Patton Dodd, who works with Bradlee’s widow, Sally Quinn, at OnFaith, had something more profound come to mind: “The ballyhooed conflict between journalism and religion obscures a deeper relationship between the two endeavors, which is the pursuit of truth. At their best, religious communities and journalists share a conviction that truth matters and is worth a life’s pursuit. Bradlee’s dedication to truth — getting things right, on the record, whatever may come of the powers that be — is a powerful model for truth-pursuers of all kinds.”

• Depending how you read it, this map in Bradlee’s former paper either confirms that most of this country has had competitive elections gerrymandered out of existence or leaves you surprised just how many recent House races have been close contests.

• In light of the independent report on widespread academic fraud released Wednesday, there’s plenty in the recent history of the University of North Carolina to find appalling. But it’s hard to top the roles played by faculty members like Julius Nyang’oro and ethicist (yes) Jeanette Boxill.

• Hey, some good news about the humanities! At least for one university, whose humanists have learned to work together and find new ways to explain the value of what they do.

Einstein's Oxford Blackboard
One of the more famous blackboards in existence, the one used by Albert Einstein at Oxford in 1931 – Creative Commons (decltype)

• More than two centuries after it was invented, the blackboard (this one, not this one) “offers more than pedagogical efficiency; it also offers an effective set of teaching possibilities.”

• I’m not sure members of a group with “Intercollegiate” in its title ought to get that excited about someone best known for trying to discourage bright young students from going to college.

• Historian — and evangelical Christian homeschooler — John Wilsey warned that Christian homeschool history curricula are “bastions of Americolatry (American exceptionalism + Christian America thesis)….”

• Of the many dissections of the fall of megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, one of the most interesting came from historian Miles Mullin, who observed that similarities between Driscoll and former president Bill Clinton “reveal something troubling about the nature of ‘successful’ church leadership in American evangelical circles.”

• Also at Anxious Bench, Philip Jenkins checked in on the continued numerical decline of his  denomination, suggesting that it was facing “church evaporation.”

• Luke Norsworthy was understandably “nauseated by the self-contradiction” of Christians who act as if “being religious” and “being in relationship with Christ” are mutually exclusive.

• Speaking of relationships, Efrem Smith thought a lack of them was marring responses to poverty and racism: “Too many Privileged People are giving commentary on people they aren’t in relationship with.”

• Big news before it even happens: David Gushee, a leading evangelical ethicist, is planning to give a speech affirming same-sex relationships.

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