That Was The Week That Was

Thanks to some computer issues on Friday night and Saturday, I’ll just offer a shortened, belated set of links from a busy, sad last seven days.


• I’ve been describing Bethel at War, the digital history project that debuted this week, as “sneaky big” — Fletcher Warren and I started off with the idea that we’d write an “impressionistic survey” of how one Christian college experienced a century of warfare, but it ended up being at least as much work as anything I’ve done since my dissertation.

• There were over 400 people at Baylor’s Spirit of Sports conference. If you weren’t among them, you can always read my recap.

• Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio joked that he was going to come after another college major after making a crack about philosophers being paid less than welders. Don’t worry, fellow history majors: evidence is your friend.

• I didn’t really respond directly to what’s been going on at Yale and the University of Missouri, but some of the rhetoric from students at the former got me wondering about how colleges are viewed as “home” by students — a view many schools seem to encourage.

…There (#Paris)…

My own reaction to the most recent terrorist attacks in Paris was short (in part because the aforementioned technical issue came up in the middle of writing that post) but then there’s been no shortage of commentary since then. Three important themes that emerged:

• First, that it was also all too common for American politicians, activists, and pundits to seek to make political hay out of the attacks. But as Frank Bruni observed, “At this point it’s our ingrained habit to rush with dizzying speed into hyper-political overdrive and treat any shocking new development as fresh fodder for an old argument.”

London's National Gallery as the setting of a rally in support of Paris
Rally at London’s National Gallery – Creative Commons (Christiaan Triebert)

• Second, that it was all too easy to ignore that suicide bombings struck Beirut on Thursday. “When my people died,” noted one Lebanese blogger, “no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag.”

• Third, that, even as we hear of French airstrikes against ISIS targets, it’s not clear what the right response is. Philip Jenkins (who anticipated an attack like Friday’s) had a particularly acute analysis at The Anxious Bench.

…and Everywhere (Other Topics)

Mark Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer graduated from Yale College in 1996 and completed his doctorate at Yale in 2003; he has also taught at the university

• There’s been tons written about the student protests and administration responses at Yale and Mizzou. Three writers have struck me as having especially helpful takes, precisely because they’re both sympathetic to the protestors but not unreservedly so. First, Mark Oppenheimer drew on his own experience of Yale to provide some helpful context about “a system in which students off-shore much of their social lives to adults appointed by the university.”

• Second, John Warner thought that the “best way to deal with student protest is to both encourage it and to take it seriously.” The latter “protesters to be serious, and means administrations must decide what they can and cannot due in response. Too often, the administrative move is to either ignore or alternatively placate protesters by caving in to demands which may or may not be reasonable and consistent with institutional values.”

• Perhaps more interestingly, Adam Laats was wary of the seeming “impulse to orthodoxy” among some protestors — an impulse that put him in mind of the people he’s currently studying: early 20th century Protestant fundamentalists like Bob Jones, Sr.

(For that matter, Oppenheimer found interesting parallels between Yale and, of all schools, Brigham Young University, with the “paternalism” of its behavior codes: “…the Yale students, as much as BYU students, resist the kind of adult self-conception that could bring about lasting change in a campus culture that they rightly decry.”)

• One of the schools Laats is studying, Wheaton College, suffered a double blow, as the English Department lost two of its professors in one week: Brett Foster and Roger Lundin.

Hamilton Playbill• Yale professor and Alexander Hamilton scholar Joanne Freeman approves of the new Hamilton musical, despite the liberties taken with history.

• Gracy Olmstead remains one of the best reasons for people of all political and ideological persuasions to read The American Conservative.

• What to make of a study claiming that religious children are less altruistic than their secular peers? Perhaps not that much.

• Not sure which of those categories Ruth Graham’s child would fit into, since she’s a “secular but not religious” parent who wants to raise her infant daughter “in the church.”

• Jonathan Merritt dissected the suggestion that Americans are, in effect, lying to pollsters about their support of same-sex marriage.

• Also at The Atlantic, Emma Green offered a typically perspective take on the Starbucks non-controversy.

• On the 200th anniversary of the American foreign mission movement, how has the “hierarchy of heathenism” changed?

• Finally, two Christian responses to Veterans Day: Christianity Today introduced readers to some Christian soldiers from history; Mennonite World Review celebrated how “more and more people are expressing a desire to remember all those killed by the immense folly and failure of war.”

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