That Was The Week That Was


• My colleague, friend, and mentor G.W. Carlson passed away on Friday morning. I expect that I’ll have more to say next week, but until then, here’s the tribute I wrote on the occasion of his retirement.

• The behavior of the president of Mount St. Mary’s, a small Catholic university, got me to sign a petition for the first time in ages.

• Should Christian colleges invite political candidates to speak on campus, even in their chapel services?

• Entanglement in politics was one of many issues we talked about on the newest episode of The Pietist Schoolman Podcast.

…There and Everywhere

Simon Newman
Mount St. Mary’s president (for now) Simon Newman

• More developments at Mount St. Mary’s: while the administration has offered to reinstate two fired professors, it’s not clear that either wants to come back under the current president, whose negative statements about the school’s Catholic identity have also come to light.

• In any event, that story is just one reason (Wheaton College’s recent troubles, which reached a kind of resolution this week, are another) that John Hawthorne’s latest post is so important: “Christian institutions should differ from other organizational forms. Things don’t divide evenly between administrators, faculty, and staff. We believe we are a community.”

• And if schools like Wheaton want their communities to become more diverse, they should probably heed the advice of former Wheaton prof Alan Jacobs: “The (often inchoate) sense of institutional culture and ‘fit’ has too often trumped the college’s explicit statements of what it’s all about. Here’s my proposal: What if Wheaton were to trust its own Statement of Faith? What if it were to open its doors to people who don’t look or speak or think like the typical Wheaton person — but who share the same convictions?”

• In any case, and as I’ve argued before, let’s not make too much of what happens at one school in Illinois. For example, by responding to the #DocHawk case by claiming that Christian higher ed is dead.

• What’s driving up the cost of higher education? According to one new study, it’s not faculty salaries, climbing walls, or decreased state aid; it’s financial aid.

Plato, The Republic
The #1 choice in the Ivy League

• What books do Ivy Leaguers read, and do they differ from other college students? A new study of syllabi has some answers.

• As we enter the church’s season of discipline and repentance, Jamie Smith wants to question the individualism inherent in the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

• Can — should — you be spiritual, but not religious? An important new book says no.

• If I didn’t know it already, William Deresiewicz’ long essay makes it unavoidably clear: one of the greatest gaps in my education is that I’ve never read anything by Annie Dillard. (Given that I’m about to spend a sabbatical in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I think I’ll find room in my suitcase for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.)

• John Fea is exactly right about the state of the Republican presidential field: “If [John Kasich] doesn’t win the evangelical vote going forward the problem is with evangelicalism, not Kasich or his message.”

• Charlie Camosy doesn’t agree with Bernie Sanders about abortion rights (among other things), but he still argues that Catholics can vote for the runaway winner of New Hampshire’s Democratic primary.

• And even if you do agree with Sanders about abortion, I’d hope you’d still shake your head at one abortion rights group’s tweeted criticism of a Super Bowl ad.

End, Silence• “A city with a population equivalent to that of Wichita, Kansas,” ancient Athens “was an unlikely candidate for greatness,” yet it “produced more brilliant minds—from Socrates to Aristotle—than any other place the world has seen before or since. Only Renaissance Florence came close.”

• One of my favorite Christian humanists wrote about one of my favorite Christian novels, Shusaku Endo’s Silence.

• Heath Carter isn’t convinced that we’ve entered a new Gilded Age, though not for the reason you might think: “…whatever the similarities between the days of Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt and those of Gates, Buffett, and Bezos, there is this fundamental difference: Our late-nineteenth century forebears were less inclined to give economic inequality their ‘amen.’ In the face of the Gilded Age’s notorious disparities, working people built movements that challenged the underlying structures of industrial capitalism, contributing along the way to an unprecedented, nationwide ferment regarding the shape of a moral economy—and it is on these crucial fronts that the analogy to our own time falls apart.”

• “Now most of the veterans are dead,” says Robert Paxton of the French Resistance, “and the time of the historians has come.”

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