That Was The Week That Was


Thanks to everyone who responded to our “comment drive” questions:

• Which movies are most historically accurate? (And how important is that?)

• What’s your favorite biography?

• Why is the Civil War so fascinating, 150 years later?

…There and Everywhere

Slave trading firm in Atlanta, 1864
An Atlanta slave trading company in 1864 – Wikimedia

• One source sustaining my fascination with that conflict is the New York Times‘ Disunion blog, which recently pointed out that “Demands for enslaved labor by Confederate, state and local governments escalated” after the Emancipation Proclamation: “slaveholders saw purchasing enslaved people as a sign of their patriotism, and newspaper editors crowed about the large sales and rising prices they saw in the market.”

• Following up on the sexuality controversy at Gordon College: it’s in no danger of losing its accreditation, despite its leadership reaffirming its position on human sexuality; and it recently hosted evangelical ethicist David Gushee, who explained why he has shifted his position on that same issue. (Admitted a seemingly surprised local reporter: “Anyone upset with Gordon College after the recent controversy over LGBT issues will have to at least acknowledge that the school is willing to entertain views from the other side.”)

• One study of millennials, two completely different interpretations of what they think about sexuality and family: “So much for hookup culture,” says The Atlantic; or “it’s all about personal circumstances,” according to OnFaith.

• Has Sunday School outlived its usefulness?

• Maybe so, but I’m quite sure the local church hasn’t.

Evans, Searching for Sunday
Evans’ new book (on “loving, leaving and finding the church”) arrives next month

• I’m not sure why anyone was all that surprised or upset about writer Rachel Held Evans “leaving” evangelicalism to join an Episcopal church. While she conflates the wider evangelical interest in Anglican churches (many of which are quite conservative) with her particular appreciation for the Episcopal Church, it’s certainly not an impossible combination. (One of my favorite retired colleagues at Bethel is a staunch Episcopalian.)

• Cathy Norman Peterson shared a beautiful, vulnerable reflection on why Christians struggle “to accept—even rejoice in—God’s good gift of our physical selves.”

• Read also: Jennifer Woodruff Tait on why the church needs to “learn to sit in the darkness and suffer” rather than radiate “relentless cheerfulness.”

• Just what does it mean to be “middle class,” if a college student whose family makes a quarter-million dollars a year doesn’t feel “rich”?

• One (very, very upper-class) student at Columbia University is a retired NBA player finishing a degree in sociology.

• Joshua Kim is more sympathetic to the goals of Kevin Carey’s End of College than others I’ve quoted, but he still pushed back on five points, including this: “What I did not see in your book is a good feel for how most faculty approach their professions. The vast majority of faculty care greatly about teaching and learning. Yes, there are some faculty who look at teaching as a tax on research – but they are surprisingly few.  In reality,  faculty mostly get into the business because they love their disciplines, and want to share this passion with students. They believe in the power of education to change lives, and they are committed to serving their students.”

• Having experimented a lot with blogging assignments in classes of late, the conclusion of this study feels exactly right: “…students appear to be overall more likely to take greater intellectual risks in blogs, which they know will be read and commented upon by their peers. Conversely, journals — the more private option — compel students to be vulnerable and take more personal risks in their reflection.”

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