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