That Was The Week That Was


• The Pietist Schoolman Podcast returned from its early summer break with an enlightening conversation featuring sociologist John Hawthorne.

• If you agree that it feels like it might be time for this blog to get a makeover, it’s not too late to suggest a new theme! (We’ll start voting next week.)

• Is Pietism a set of instincts more than a set of beliefs or practices? (All that, plus some pretty pictures of church architecture in rural Iowa, if you like that sort of thing.)

• I’m thinking of expanding on that idea when I preach on August 9 in Ellsworth, Wisconsin.

…There and Everywhere

Planned Parenthood office in St. Paul, MN• Ed Stetzer wondered why progressive Christians were noticeably slow to respond to the troubling (and troublingly edited) video of a Planned Parenthood official callously discussing late-term, partial-birth abortion over lunch.

• Those voices can be found: Benjamin Corey welcomed Stetzer’s question and affirmed that “you don’t have to be afraid to be a pro-life progressive”; Ben Irwin acknowledged the complexities of the issue, but preferred “to err on the side of life”; and David Gushee pointed the finger back on “a society in which we have become utterly dependent on abortion.”

• And if you’re (rightly) bothered that I linked to so many men speaking about abortion, then you’re a third of the way to understanding why Matthew Paul Turner admitted that he hesitated to speak up against a practice he doesn’t like.

• Meanwhile, the recent treatment of Karen Swallow Prior, an evangelical woman who was falsely accused by fellow conservatives of not opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, exemplifies what Scot McKnight condemns as “crowdpounding.”

• Speaking of Prior, here’s her new Sojourners piece reflecting on how she came to see opposition to nuclear weapons as part of a “pro-life” ethic.

• Scot also ridiculed “crowdaffirming.” And while no few Christian writers are crowdaffirmed (or crowdpounded) as much as Rachel Held Evans, her piece dismantling the persecution complex held by too many conservative Christians deserves plenty of affirmation.

• While we’re wondering about progressive Christian silence on abortion, let’s also wonder about conservative Christian silence on gun violence.

• I’m as guilty as anyone of making a lot of hay out of surveys on religion in America, perhaps too hastily.

Olson, Counterfeith Christianity
At a glance you can see that the cover is indeed terrible, but to appreciate just how terrible, do a Google Image search for Roger…

• Even if the author himself hates the title and cover, it sounds like you should pick Roger Olson’s Counterfeit Christianity: The Persistence of Errors in the Church.

• Even if you haven’t followed my former colleague Kyle Roberts on a journey out of evangelicalism (prompted partly, in his case, by evangelical treatment of women), heed what he has to say about retrenchment in Christian higher education: “…I have a suspicion that the most strategic theological and ministerial training institutions for the future of Christianity will not be those that are most driven by retrenchment, but those which are most inspired by the creativity of change and that are most interested in pursuing truth wherever it leads.”

• I haven’t yet read Ta-Nehesi Coates’ new book, Between the World and Me, written as a letter to his son about the experience of being black in America. But when I do, I hope I’ll respond less like David Brooks and more like John Wilsey: “…perhaps Brooks would have been better served to follow his stated first intuitions–and just sat and listened…. I think the proper response is to be quiet; to listen; to let the man speak and be heard. To let the man speak and be heard, not out of pity because of his experiences, not out of sorrow over past injuries to his people, but because of his humanity. And also because he is sharing with all of us a deeply personal letter to his son, his very flesh and blood.”

• That said… I, like Alan Jacobs, wonder why Brooks inspires such hatred from his critics: “It’s perhaps a sign of out [sic] key cultural attitudes and priorities that all these people were taking it for granted that intense anger is a completely appropriate response to someone else’s being wrong about something.”

• Another book I haven’t picked up yet but should is Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s long-delayed follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird. Like most everyone I know, it’s been hard to accept that the Atticus Finch of the first book, a fair-minded lawyer who defended a black man from an unjust accusation, apparently turns into a KKK-backing bigot in the second book. (Though here I have to admit that I haven’t actually read the book since 8th grade English; my image of Atticus is entirely fixed by Gregory Peck, which I hope has us all reconsidering the greatness of a film actor who doesn’t always get his due.)

Anyway, David Parker suggests that “It might help if we realize that the fictional Finch had real-life counterparts, including one of the most famous historians of the American South not quite a century ago.”

• And things could be worse: Josef Goebbels’ estate could be making money every time historians quote his diaries. Wait, what?

• There was an unusual amount of discussion at the Pietist Schoolman Facebook page when I shared Heath Carter’s recent piece claiming an evangelical past for the labor movement.

• Having spent a decent amount of time studying the history of French education, I’m largely okay with our country’s much less centralized approach to education. But it does leave students in, say, Texas, at risk of reading less helpful history textbooks than their peers in other states.

• Does the enduring hold of television as a medium have something to say about the future of higher education?

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