That Was The Week That Was

Aside from noting the season finale of our department webisode series (on calling and careers) and the newest episode of The Pietist Schoolman Podcast (on sciences and visual arts within the liberal arts), the only new post at this blog was an overview of four key findings from the new Pew survey on this country’s changing religious landscape.

So let’s dive right into links from elsewhere in the blogosphere!

• Plenty of commentary on that Pew survey… Ed Stetzer celebrated the decline of “nominal” Christianity and, at the Washington Post, the “evangelicalization” of American Christianity. Jonathan Merritt and Steve Thorngate tried to nuance that conclusion. Some mainliners embraced the decline, as in Mark Sandlin’s “letter to a dying church.”

1995 German stamp of Dietrich Bonhoeffer• Are we seeing the fall of the religious right and/or the rise of the intolerant left?

• Karen Guth pushed back against the misuses of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Public invocations of Bonhoeffer tend to ignore his emphasis on particular contexts and on the need for constant discernment. Bonhoeffer places utmost importance on active discernment of the will of God in each new time and place. To assume that action in one time or context—even Bonhoeffer’s own action—can be replicated in others or used as a straightforward guide violates his central theological and ethical point of departure: ‘Who is Christ actually for us today?'”

• Roger Olson’s version of a Mother’s Day post investigated his discomfort with gender-inclusive language for God (Father and Son, but not the Holy Spirit).

• RIP B.B. King, whose blues, rooted in his experience of the church, served as “secular spirituals.”

• The president of Northwest Nazarene University resigned after his dismissal of a popular theologian attracted widespread criticism.

Tal Howard
Thomas Albert Howard – Gordon College

• Thanks to an improving economy, college enrollment is dipping… at for-profit and two-year schools. (It held steady at nonprofit four-year colleges and universities.)

• One of the country’s most gifted Christian historians is leaving Gordon College for Valparaiso University.

• For fellow history profs: some advice to share with your department’s graduates.

• One of my favorite topics in the last few weeks of our Intro to History course has been historical reenactment. This week NPR spotlighted a non-military version of that practice: “vintage base ball.”

• Having just finished another turn through my course on the Cold War, I’m in a mood to agree with historian Walter Moss’ critique of ideologies: “The problem with rigid ideologies is that they distort our view of reality. Moreover, as [John] Burns and Pope Francis have indicated, they smother independent thinking, and value too little such virtues as love, humility, and kindness.”

• Now that Mad Men is on the verge of its final episode, Fred Kaplan wondered what it had taught us about American history: “The ’60s were a transitional decade, and, like most transitions, they were more wrenching, less romantic, than portrayed in many pop-culture haze-fests—a point that Mad Men has grasped acutely.”

• Another reminder that American culture is more diverse than we realize: the variety of colloquialism. (As a Minnesotan, I have been known to say “ish,” but my Iowan wife had no idea what “kittenball” was.)

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