That Was The Week That Was


• Should non-theologians like Rachel Held Evans and me be doing theology?

• All readers interested in Pietism beyond 17th century Germany need to check out Mark Safstrom’s new translations of C. O. Rosenius and P. P. Waldenström.

• Some more in this vein: the newest issue of a periodical written by the Baptist descendants of Rosenius is now available.

• This week on The Pietist Schoolman Podcast: philosopher Ray VanArragon on intellectual virtues and vices (and Family Guy).

• And our department aired this year’s penultimate episode of Past & Presence: historians and the church, hosted again from our trip to Europe.

…There and Everywhere

Polling station sign at Hampstead Heath, May 2015
Licensed by Creative Commons (Bondegezou)

• Watching a live BBC feed of the British general election results was among the nerdier things I’ve done in recent memory. Among other notable outcomes, a 20-year old was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in several hundred years, and yet another Anglophone country elected a right-of-center government.

(And I wonder if all my left-of-center Facebook friend bemoaning this result and clamoring for proportional representation realize that a model like D’Hondt would have likely produced an even less satisfactory outcome: the Conservatives still would have been the largest party, but David Cameron would have had to consider forming a coalition with the far-right UK Independence Party, suddenly holders of over eighty seats in the Commons, not one.)

• Pew released a fascinating survey of how Americans and Germans see each other and their shared history. One nugget: 20% of Germans see the Marshall Plan as the most important event in U.S.-German relations over the past 75 years — the same percentage that chose WWII and the Holocaust.

• Also in that survey, Americans were twice as likely as Germans to think the latter should play a more active military role in world affairs. Thomas Friedman would seem to agree: “A week at the American Academy in Berlin leaves me with two contradictory feelings: one is that Germany today deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, and the other is that Germany tomorrow will have to overcome its deeply ingrained post-World War II pacifism and become a more serious, activist global power. And I say both as a compliment.”

• The 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War is slipping away, but before it goes: read Tracy McKenzie’s typically nuanced account of being at a sesquicentennial event in Knoxville, Tennessee and finding himself across from the Lost Causites known as the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

• Actually, something like 40,000 Confederates left the Union after 1865 and migrated south, with Brazil (then a last bastion of slaveholding) still home a colony of bilingual Confederados.

• Other Civil War veterans moved to Britain, with a few surviving long enough to welcome Pershing’s Crusaders when they arrived in 1918.

• Researchers in California stumbled across 150 year old articles written by a young Mark Twain.

Chinese and Malayan "comfort women"
Chinese and Malayan women and girls forced into prostitution by the Japanese military – Imperial War Museum

• Historians again called on the Japanese government to be more open about the more atrocious aspects of its conduct during World War II, such as the “comfort women” system.

• Recently in my Intro to History class, we’ve spent a couple of weeks talking about the question of historical accuracy in historical films… According to one English professor, we needn’t have fretted: to him, the real problem is that any attempt — book or film — to write a “realist” account of history for a general audience creates an illusion implying “that the past is a vistitable [sic] place. It’s not. We can look at its postcards and souvenirs—the documents of a historical archive—but no plane will take us there.”

• Can an introductory anthropology course fulfill a California state mandate that all students complete “comprehensive study” of American history?

• A Canadian dissertation was accepted despite having no punctuation and no capital letters.

• Like most academics, I’ve tended to assume that administrative bloat and expensive building campaigns have been the prime culprits in higher ed’s economic crisis, but a study from a left-leaning think tank finds that neither factor is the major problem, at least for public colleges.

• Also confounding easy explanations… A Democratic senator’s recent encounter with the Secular Coalition for America, as related by E. J. Dionne.

• What do Augustine, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, and Billy Graham have in common?

• Evangelicals are more skeptical than you might think about the argument that religious ministries at public universities must require their leaders to hold to specific beliefs.

• Jonathan Den Hartog reported from the recent American Society of Church History meeting here in Minneapolis, which underscored that the Midwestern history of religion is much more complicated than “the news from Lake Wobegon.”

• Speaking of… Why don’t Lutherans sing their own hymns?

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