That Was The Week That Was


• Veterans Day took on a new poignancy for me this year…

• Also on the 11th, I helped the local newsmedia celebrate the G.I. Bill.

• What does your name say about your politics?

• The Pew Forum found further evidence that Latin American Christianity is becoming less (Roman) Catholic and more Protestant.

…There and Everywhere

Rand Paul in 2009
Rand Paul campaigning in 2009 – Creative Commons (Gage Skidmore)

• Perhaps the most unexpected Christian pacifist (sort of) in a series on unexpected sites of Christian pacifism: David Swartz on Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).

• What quintessentially American value does Peter Chin think is “nothing less than a heresy that runs contrary to some of the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ.”

• Not surprisingly, the Jesuit magazine America had a slightly different read on the Pew report.

• By “more Protestant,” Pew really meant “more Pentecostal.” In this country, why is Pentecostalism growing while most other churches are stagnant or shrinking? Ed Stetzer offered some sociological explanations, while Dale Coulter thought that certain aspects of Pentecostalism resonated well with popular culture.

• I’m sure there’s something to the relationship between the decline of certain kinds of Christianity in this country and the erosion of the middle class, but to get to that part of this piece in On Faith you need to get past some abysmal historical analysis (“The church is a bourgeois institution. And not just in our times — it’s always been this way”) and entirely ignore the astonishing growth of Christianity outside of the West.

• Earlier this fall I suggested that Christian colleges shouldn’t aim to be “citadels” defending theological boundaries but communities of people serving in “borderlands.” I feel even more certain of that suggestion after reading Philip Yancey’s most recent interview in Christianity Today: “We hunker down amongst ourselves, water down our witness, or beat down our opponents. For many reasons, those aren’t New Testament models.

“So what should we be? We need to create pioneer settlements that show the world a different, grace-based way of living.”

Is gender is “the hot (dare I say sexy?) new topic in studies of evangelicalism”?

• In other news… It’s still not easy at some institutions for a faculty member to write (or blog) for the public and keep the respect of colleagues and administrators.

• Amen to Nate Kreuter’s argument that numeracy is as important as literacy if faculty are to participate in decision-making in 21st century universities.

• Does a liberal arts education lead to good jobs? Yes, says Shailja Sharma, but keep in mind that “Colleges, especially, liberal arts colleges, have never been a seamless conduit to industry.”

• From the TSA to the presidency of a Christian college: meet John Pistole.

• Who are the most important black historians? Henry Louis Gates, Jr. named eight.

Swiss Guards in the Vatican
Does the Vatican City’s Swiss Guard count as a military? — Creative Commons (Alberto Luccaroni)

• What does it mean when undergraduates say they don’t want “bias” in the study of history?

• I spent some time this week working on the syllabus for my new spring course, Introduction to History. We’ll be using John Fea’s Why Study History? as a textbook. The author himself reflected on teaching his own book in Messiah College’s version of that intro course.

• A couple of fun global lists: all the countries without a military, and the ten most popular countries. (Spoiler alert: the USA is not on the first list, and it no longer tops the second.)

• Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall went down, five physical barriers that still separate populations.

• The Civil War? Even the two world wars? I’ve heard of that kind of reenactment. But Vietnam reenactors?

• Which famous singer-songwriter was once interested in starring in a slapstick comedy on HBO? Here’s a hint:

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