That Was The Week That Was


• Fortunately, blog readership plummets during Easter weekend, but in case you want to revisit them, I did post reflections on the vigil of Holy Saturday and the “resurrection sunset” of Easter evening.

• Lesson learned: any supposed list of “indispensable Christian academic Twitter users” is itself quite dispensable. (Though you could do worse than to follow these seven.)

• And our department hired a new colleague to teach ancient history and coordinate a new program in digital humanities.

…There (The Resurrection)…

Grünewald, Resurrection
Matthias Grünewald, “Resurrection,” from the Isenheim Altarpiece

• Carl Trueman worried that “the resurrection is often trotted out in popular Christian piety as a shortcut to happiness and a trite solution to life’s problems, bypassing the valley of the shadow of death and the complexity of living in the real world.”

• Jeff Bilbro also considered the relationship between death and resurrection: “Death hurts, but on Easter morning its sting was removed, and this knowledge gives us the courage to embrace death so that we may see God and our neighbors face to face.”

• Doug Thompson should blog more often: “We are a resurrection people but that means we must be willing to think about the suffering and death we will endure.”

• What did the resurrection change? Among other things, disciples became apostles.

• And Giles Fraser suggested still another way to think about resurrection, arguing that it “is more an identity than an argument. That’s why we turn it into participatory theatre, with incense and candles. It is who we are – our word for how we go on in the face of overwhelming odds. It’s the Christian term for defiance.”

• But the most interesting piece I read coming out of Easter asked why “Christians with disabilities are the exception to [a] general lack of engagement with resurrection theology.”

…and Everywhere (Other Stuff)

• On his historic visit to Cuba, Pres. Obama attended a baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays. Sean O’Neil reflected on what that event suggested about the mix of sports, politics, and religion: “Sporting events, like civil religion, can provide pluralistic spaces of resiliency in the face of terror. Many claim baseball did that after 9/11. Obama is a believer in that legacy. But the power of sports to produce heightened emotional states of unity, which scholars call ‘collective effervescence,’ can also give it a shared power with religion to occlude injustice in this world, to bury it in cheap, playful sentiment.”

• If they can hold on to first place in the Premiership, there will be plenty of collective effervescence among supporters of Leicester City. But their triumph would only rank #3 on a top 10 list of least likely championships in history (including major national soccer leagues, as well as the NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball).

DVD cover of Seventeen Moments of Spring
Part of the answer, according to Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, is that Soviet audiences preferred stories about the Nazis, like the popular 1973 miniseries, Seventeen Moments of Spring

• At what point should we rename buildings named in honor of someone who now seems quite undeserving of the honor (e.g., Yale’s Calhoun College)?

• My favorite question of the week: why did Soviet movies during the Cold War rarely feature American villains?

• Terrific analysis of the use of historical analogies in political discourse: “Appeals to the past are most valuable, and do most to strengthen our democratic culture, when they help us see more potential futures: by showing events to be contingent and complex, turning us away from simplistic models and easy answers, and reminding us of the terrific, terrifying creativity that drives human behavior. In practice, that means we should spend less time trying to find the perfect single equivalence between Trump and politicians past and more time reflecting on broader patterns. More than particular historical analogies, we need historical thinking.”

• In recent months, Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland got a lot of (negative) attention in blogs like this one. Now, it’s the turn of St. Mary’s College, also in Maryland…

• No small number of people in higher ed think that many small, financially challenged colleges should give up the fight and just close. Meet a rather surprising advocate of that position.

• According to a new study, “notions of conservative professors being ostracized among their peers and generally miserable seem exaggerated… at least in some disciplines.”

• You might not think that a governor who endorses Donald Trump would have a good sense of humor, but check out Rick Scott’s early April Fool’s joke.

• I’m afraid that this reaction to grading doesn’t necessarily diminish with experience: “I find myself in the strange position of having to judge the work of others and of having my judgements be taken with a measure of authority. This is perhaps even more anxiety-inducing because now it’s not just about me. I have a responsibility to other people now. I feel wracked with guilt over every comment I write and score I give.”

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