That Was The Week That Was


• I turned forty.

• A leading Holocaust historian rebutted the abuse of that history by two politicians.

• What are the best Cold War movies? (Follow up: I saw and enjoyed Bridge of Spies yesterday. More later perhaps…)

• Molly Worthen provided our annual reminder that the lecture is not actually a terrible way to teach.

• A new report from Stanford suggested that student achievement is reduced in online courses. (Make sure to read the comments from readers who work with online education; they offer important cautions about the study.)

…There and Everywhere

The Shrine of St. Joseph
No one was injured in the fire at the Shrine of St. Joseph – Wikimedia

• A rash of church arsons continued in St. Louis. While most of the targets have been African American church, the latest (#7) was a predominantly white Catholic church.

• According to the Pew Research Center, while three-quarters of those who seldom or never attend religious services say that science and religion are often in conflict, almost half of evangelicals say that the two are compatible. One key observation from Pew: “People’s sense that there generally is a conflict between religion and science seems to have less to do with their own religious beliefs than it does with their perceptions of other people’s beliefs.”

• Indeed, Slate‘s Rachel Gross suggested that the nonreligious perceive religious hostility to science primarily because they tend to know so few religious people. Instead, “what they see of the religious community is generally what’s depicted in the media: all-out warfare.”

• A Sikh delegate reported from last weekend’s Parliament of World Religions, held in the U.S. for the first time in more than two decades.

• A Southern Baptist pastor from Alabama shared his story of coming to embrace immigration: “I began to actually ‘see’ the immigrants in my city and state who were here illegally, as well as the millions more who had come legally. I began to learn their stories and understand why they came, who brought them here, and who benefitted from them being here. I began to see them as people made in God’s image instead of just law-breakers or as ‘foreigners.'”

• Also encouraging, the National Association of Evangelicals changed its stance on capital punishment to acknowledge that a growing minority of those Christians now oppose the death penalty.

• Do Christians in this country make an “idol of the family“? (Perhaps refer back to my post protesting the notion that “marriage is at the heart of the gospel…”)

• While affirming that “an essential part of Christianity must be its role as an agent of protest against the intentional amnesia and the built-in obsolescence of this age,” Carl Trueman warned First Things readers not “to confuse the historical with the true.”

• I’ve experimented a bit with the practice of lectio divina, at the encouragement of our pastor. Here’s how to pray in that way with your children.

Donald Trump earlier this year
Licensed by Creative Commons (Gage Skidmore)

• At The Anxious Bench, Thomas Kidd pledged that “I will not support [Donald] Trump under any circumstances, and I would use what little influence I have to stop him from being elected president,” while John Turner suspected that the nomination of Trump, however unlikely, was also unlikely to cause evangelicals to desert the Republican Party.

• I can’t remember ever hearing so much interest in America’s 29th president, but add one more tidbit about Warren G. Harding: he was our first Baptist president.

• This morning my co-research Fletcher Warren and I will be presenting our Bethel at War research. One of my contributions to that project examined the effects of the 1944 G.I. Bill on schools like Bethel. (I’ll have a fuller report on that research in early November.) But how have later iterations of the legislation affected veterans?

• In my essay on the G.I. Bill, I observed that that legislation helped set what’s becoming a recurring pattern at Bethel (and many other schools): they try to grow their way out of their problems. But at least a couple of private colleges are now trying to shrink their way to health.

• Students at the University of Missouri started a petition to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson, claiming that its existence “perpetuates a sexist-racist atmosphere that continues to reside on campus.”

• Meanwhile, one state over, where pre-student state support for higher education has declined 40% in the last fifteen years, the chancellor of the University of Kansas wondered if public universities would still be around a century from now.

• Plenty of responses to Worthen’s pro-lecture essay… For example, writing professor Lee Skallerup Bessette worried that professors who love lecturing (like her) tend to confuse student learning with their own enjoyment: “…I always have to remind myself that what I think is fun and interesting and engaging is much, much different than what they do…. Instead of building on the love of literature we nurtured in the first part of the course, I was surely stamping it out.”

• Just what do we mean when we say that we’re teaching students “critical thinking“? In particular, do we consider how it relates to enhancing self-awareness and the capacity for personal and societal improvement?

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