That Was The Week That Was

A very busy week at this blog and others. Let’s dive in!


• I’m grateful to Jared Burkholder, for suggesting a moratorium on attempts to identify “true” Islam and for helping to make possible my upcoming visit to Grace College.

• There was lots of good conversation around one of the biggest stories in higher ed: the demise of Sweet Briar College, a small women’s college in rural Virginia that had declining enrollment, a rising discount rate, and a sizable endowment remaining…

• It’s overshadowed by the news that our department is starting a search for an ancient-digital (yes, ancient-digital) historian, but I like that our newest webisode gave me an excuse to go film at Bethel’s old campus across from the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

• Is it the task of Christian historians “to make believers” out of their students? My thoughts on this question, coming Monday.

…There and Everywhere

Arcade at Sweet Briar College
Licensed by Creative Commons (Vdeb40)

• More on the Sweet Briar story…  Inside Higher Ed wondered if more small college presidents and boards would opt to imitate Sweet Briar and “exit gracefully” rather than “fight to the bitter end”?

• Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. dismissed speculation that his school would acquire the campus of the nearby women’s college: “Right now, I don’t see it… I know what they’re going through… Back in the early ’90s, we had days when we wondered if that was going to be Liberty’s fate.”

• Ben Alpers put Sweet Briar’s demise in the context of larger changes to higher education that he attributed to neoliberalism (on this very idea, see Samuel Zalanga’s chapter in our Pietism and higher ed book).

• Also at the U.S. Intellectual History blog… I’m looking forward to learning more about the late Theodore Hesburgh from Tim Lacy’s series on the long-time Notre Dame president as a “Catholic intellectual.”

• Why has sex trafficking “become something of a Christian cause célèbre“?

• Was a Christian college chaplain punished for saying that Christians “have to be very careful about equating Christianity with patriotism”? (H/T John Fea)

• My fellow Minnesotan/one-time history major/blogger Ana Marie Cox (founder of Wonkette, now writing for The Guardian) “came out” as a Christian in light of some conservatives questioning President Obama’s faith: “…I’m nervous to come out as a Christian because I worry I’m not good enough of one. I’m not scared that non-believers will make me feel an outcast. I’m scared that Christians will.”

• But on the other end of the political spectrum, Rod Dreher was appreciative of her piece: “Being a Christian is not the same thing as being a good Democrat, or a good Republican. And — this was a hard thing for me to learn — being a good Christian is not merely a matter of holding the right doctrines in your head. You can be certain that if there’s nothing about your faith that contradicts party orthodoxy, you are not taking your faith seriously enough. We are commanded to love each other, in spite of ourselves.”

• A young composer had his piece dropped by the New York Youth Symphony after it was discovered that it contained a musical quotation of the Nazi anthem “The Horst Wessel Song.”

• Does the Cuban Missile Crisis teach lessons for the situation with Ukraine?

16th century example of italics
One of the earliest (1527) uses of italics, from Manutius’ contemporary Ludovico Arrighi – Wikimedia

• Last word on the Gordon Wood/Bernard Bailyn conversation to Kristin Kobes DuMez of Calvin College, who agrees that historians shouldn’t “steer clear of offering sweeping narratives,” but suggests that “what we need are not fewer books about ‘the oppressed,’ but more books that position members of these groups as central, and not marginal, to our grand narratives.”

• He’ll never get the glory due Gutenberg, but if only for inventing italics, Aldus Manutius is my favorite Renaissance-era printer.

• Our five-year old twins are about this close to mastering Knock-Knock jokes — a comedy staple whose history apparently goes back to the early 20th century.

• Predictably, Errol Morris is a fascinating interview subject.

2 thoughts on “That Was The Week That Was

  1. The comments are a bit scary in that many of them describe anyone who sounds like they lean left as also accepting (as one writer said) ‘sex week at Harvard’. Noting could be further from the truth. Those who have leanings to the right are not all alike and those who lean to the left are not all alike. It reminds me of a very domineering psych prof who was a good friend in a prior teaching venue. He said he could find out all he needed to know about a person if they just answered the question – Do you believe that Red China (you can figure out how long ago this was) should be admitted to (name your organization ie. UN, etc.) It is dangerous and not helpful to decide that you know what a person believes about very complicated social or religious issues by what they believe about one controversial issue.

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