That Was The Week That Was


• This is normally not a blog about politics. But there was nothing normal about Donald Trump becoming the presumptive nominee of a major political party.

• Trump famously promises to “Make America Great Again.” Which got me wondering if “Make the Church Great Again” is a valid aspiration for Christians — and if so, when was the Church at its “greatest”?

• But if you’re only going to read one of my posts from this week, skip anything related to Trump and read why my daughter is my hero.

…There and Everywhere

• I don’t think any college history department has a better blog than Calvin College. This week’s proof: an interview with historian Daniel Williams that featured questions from Calvin students about Williams’ research on the Religious Right.

• You may recall that a leading member of the Liberty University board of trustees publicly criticized Jerry Falwell, Jr. for personally endorsing Trump… Guess who just resigned from that board.

• I’m no physicist, but I’d like to imagine that there’s an alternative universe in which John Kasich actually got a fair hearing for his flawed but fascinating candidacy. Alas, as Michael Wear writes, “At a time when incivility is perceived as courage, and a lack of anger equated to a lack of understanding, Kasich is the odd man out.”

• Meanwhile, one of my fellow Yale PhD’s in History is refusing to give up the fight against Donald Trump (and Hillary Clinton).

• How significant is #NeverClinton feeling among Bernie Sanders supporters?

• In my “Untitled” post on Trump, I alluded to the “consistent life ethic” modeled by the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan, from whom Jim Wallis learned that “Peacemaking is biblical, theological, and political,” but “also personal — and a personal commitment at the heart of the gospel.”

• What does it mean to be a “good Christian“?

• If any of his children ought to bear the legacy of Billy Graham, it’s his daughter, Anne.

• If you enjoyed Chuck King’s 2014 guest post on Pietism and J.S. Bach, check out a new book that “explains Bach’s theology no differently than his musical ideas, showing how the two must be understood together.”

• “What happens to our work as historians,” asked John Fea in a series of posts this week, “when we no longer have students who are interested in the study of history and, more broadly, the humanities and the liberal arts”?

U.S. Marine Corps Memorial
The U.S. Marine Corps Memorial – Wikimedia

• Just last week in my World War II class, I told the story of Iwo Jima… Just a couple days before learning that one of the Americans who raised the flag on Iwo Jima may have been misidentified all this time.

• We’ll wrap up that class next week with some discussion of how the war has been remembered. I’ll surely mention what’s happening in Poland, where an ambitious attempt at creating a museum that would present the war “as global public history” has been threatened with cancellation by the country’s conservative government.

Rieff, In Praise of Forgetting• It’s been a while since I’ve read a good longform book review at The New Republic, but Samuel Moyn on David Rieff is essential for anyone interested in the nature of historical memory — and forgetting.

• In advance of Mother’s Day, Oxford University Press had some of their authors pay tribute to notable female historians. Emily Rosenberg (whose pioneering work on the role of culture in diplomatic history helped inspire my dissertation) and Margaret MacMillan (a master of writing grand narratives) were mentioned in that post, but I’d add Lynn Hunt (who first got me thinking about what historians have to contribute to the study of human rights).

• There’s an essay circulating alleging that the digital humanities have facilitated “the neoliberal takeover of the university.” I’ll link to it, but any supposedly serious critique of DH that doesn’t even talk about digital history probably doesn’t deserve a whole lot of your time.

• If you’re an academic, you’ve probably seen the “Failure CV” put out by psychologist Johannes Haushofer. But some question whether someone who landed a job at Princeton is sending the right message about what constitutes failure and success.

• More controversy at Wheaton College, which was criticized by the LGBT-affirming group OneWheaton for “not [having] issued a stronger statement of condemnation and grief over damage done by someone whose image has been so strongly connected to Wheaton College” — namely, former House speaker and admitted child abuser Dennis Hastert.

• One result of Bethel’s most recent branding campaign is that our department received a new slogan: “History is about more than studying the past. It’s about preparing for the future.” And every other department got a variation on the “about more than” theme. Turns out that that’s a common formula — one example of how, in branding themselves, “Colleges want to stand out, but they also want to be pithy. The effect is often grandiose, stylized and crushingly clichéd.”

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