• The week started peacefully, and oddly, enough with a little piece about North Korea, time zones, imperialism, and Sabbath.
• Then I knew that I’d be publishing a guest-post by Devin Manzullo-Thomas providing historical context for Goshen/Eastern Mennonite controversy in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).
• I didn’t know that Devin’s post would become one of the most popular posts in this blog’s history, nor that I’d close the week with three of my own posts on the topic: a response to Union University’s abrupt decision to quit the CCCU; further thoughts on its president’s claim that “marriage is at the heart of the Gospel“; and finally, a plea for Christian college folks to stand with the CCCU as other conservative members threaten to quit if EMU and Goshen aren’t expelled.
I’m sure there will be more to say on Christian higher ed next week, but let’s cleanse the palate with the rest of today’s links wrap.
…There and Everywhere
• First, something (that ought to be) non-controversial: how men can move from simply affirming women in ministry to actually making that a reality in churches.
• Then how about politics and religion? Laura Turner explained why “God Bless America” is “a nice song, but a pretty lousy political ideology” — one that more and more conservatives are rethinking.
• Next: abortion! “What I have noticed,” observes the author of a forthcoming book on Roe v. Wade, “is that the subject makes people very uncomfortable. I can see a door shutting behind the eyes of a listener within minutes of the start of a conversation about abortion. It is both a protective reaction and a political reaction: don’t go there. I have my views, the reaction seems to say, and don’t even try to talk me out of them. I know this is complicated and I don’t want to think too much about it.”
• And, oh, atheism? Even if you’re not a football fan, this longform profile of NFL running back Arian Foster is utterly fascinating, a subtle portrait of a thoughtful, complicated nonconformist.
• But it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for an atheist fighting to keep her position… as a Christian minister.
• What should be done with “Sunday morning service culture“?
• Before you click this link, answer this question: How much should Franklin Graham be paid? Okay, now click.
• Is Pope Francis a Protestant? Yes, says Tony Campolo, “if Protestant is defined as someone who protests.”
• Are “trigger warnings” not just a terrible idea on educational grounds, but harmful for students’ mental health?
• Okay, on to the really hard questions… Why do Americans have to work so hard to love new American operas? (Or old and/or non-American ones, for some of us. This is really a test to see if my Verdi- and Rossini-loving father reads these posts.)
• Which profanities are most popular in different parts of the United States? (NSFW — except the Midwest map, of course.)
• And just how lousy a corporate name is Alphabet?
• In other news… At least one branch of American Christianity is complicating the narrative of decline and secularization.
• Not everyone thinks highly of Ta-Nehesi Coates’ Between the World and Me...
• My undergraduate alma mater removed a Confederate plaque from its oldest building.
• One of the most interesting groups in higher ed is the Association of American Colleges & Universities, which strives both to defend the liberal arts and general education and to embrace the best of potentially disruptive innovations like competency-based education.
•New research suggests that we actually retain a surprising amount of knowledge from collegiate studies, but that such memory depends heavily on “academic content and the way it is sequenced—i.e., curriculum…”
• Looks like I wasn’t the only writer with North Korea on the mind… What Pyongyang and Las Vegas have in common: “…both cities are products of a mid-twentieth-century spirit that saw what power and profit could be found in constructing mass fantasies ab nihilo—in the deserts of the West, out of the rubble of the Korean War…. both cities are haunted by a kind of lottery consciousness, which declares that power and glamour can be yours only if divine whim (or a throw of a dice) so decrees.”
• I’ve finally made my way to the one novel on my summer reading list: Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. The writing is scintillating, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to accept Thomas Cromwell as a relatively admirable protagonist.
• Science fiction provided Tracy McKenzie with a useful metaphor for what historians do: speak for the dead.
• And Tolkien, Lewis, and the other Inklings “are still gathering steam,” argues an enthusiastic review of Carol and Philip Zaleski’s new book on the British Christian writers who responded to the rupture of World War I “not with fragmentation and pessimism but with a redoubled commitment to the world behind the world, freshly visible through this new rip in the fabric.”