That Was The Week That Was

Here…

• I surveyed the religious history of the modern Olympic Games for my weekly Anxious Bench post… also reflecting briefly on the Olympics as religion (a theme I developed a bit more when invited to rewrite that post for The Gospel Coalition).

• After a year of enormous division, could the games help bring Americans together?

• And for no great reason other than that I enjoyed this kind of number-crunching, I updated a popular old post on the countries and continents that dominate each Olympic summer sport.

Japanese swimmer at Rio Games
Japanese swimmer competing at Rio – Creative Commons (Agencia Brasil)

…There (Christianity and the Olympics)…

If you enjoyed my religion/Olympics post, there’s plenty more of that coverage from other sources:

• Actual sports historian Art Remillard shared the story of the Irish missionary who trained a Olympic champion runner from Kenya.

• I noted that Olympism was originally intended as a kind of secular religion… but Religion News Service‘s Kimberly Winston reports that some think the games have departed from those roots.

• Winston’s colleague Emily McFarlan Miller profiled two world-class swimmers deeply influenced by Catholicism: Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin. (Winston found the same with gold medal favorite gymnast Simone Biles.)

• Pope Francis released a video celebrating the Olympics: “I dream of sports as the practice of human dignity, turned into a vehicle of fraternity.”

• Also for RNS, Adelle Banks wrote about gymnast Jake Dalton, who attends a Covenant church in Oklahoma.

• And Christianity Today‘s Morgan Lee introduced several other Christians on Team USA, including swimmer Maya DiRado (who took silver last night in the 400m individual medley).

…and Everywhere

Mercifully, the Olympics lets the presidential campaign take a backseat for a while. But there was still some important writing on that topic:

Wayne Grudem as a Bethel professor (1978)
Grudem taught at Bethel a generation before I got there – Bethel University Digital Library

• There were several effective responses to theologian Wayne Grudem’s dismaying endorsement of Donald Trump as a morally acceptable candidate. My Anxious Bench colleague Beth Allison Barr wondered if Grudem could accept a woman as president. Jonathan Merritt warned that we can’t all be experts on everything. (A warning I need to take to heart!) And Jake Meador of Mere Orthodoxy countered with the most devastating satire I’ve read this election cycle.

• Not to say that Trump’s opponent has been able to overcome some lingering issues of her own.

• Can pro-life voters back Hillary Clinton? Rachel Held Evans says yes, and Clinton’s own views on abortion are more complicated than you may know.

• Tobin Grant explained how reported poll numbers probably overstate actual evangelical support for Trump.

And while the summer is a slow season for most blogs, there were plenty of other nuggets related to the themes of this blog:

• My favorite part of working with The Anxious Bench: learning about things like the Christian symbolism of the pelican from colleagues like John Turner.

• How deep are the Christian roots of human rights — or, at least, the foundational principle of human dignity?

• When we take students to Europe to study the history of World War I where it was fought, our local Belgian guide invariably emphasizes the war’s impact on farming. Learn more from History News Network — and why “That tragedy within the tragedy of World War One is being repeated today.”

Calhoun College at Yale University
Calhoun College, Yale University — Creative Commons (Jpm2367jp)

• So it might be that my graduate alma mater won’t actually keep one of its residential colleges named after one of the most virulent white supremacists in American history.

• Did you know that 4% of the country’s colleges and universities control 75% of its collective endowment wealth?


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