That Was The Week That Was


• My favorite Anxious Bench post so far: a historical and personal reflection on Warner Sallman’s painting Head of Christ. (Though, not surprisingly, writing a post questioning a depiction of Jesus as white brought out the worst in Patheos commenters…)

• Another fellow Covenanter, my co-author Mark Pattie, shared a sneak peek at his chapter on the Bible in our forthcoming book on Pietism and the future of Christianity.

• Would evangelicals be supporting Donald Trump by such a wide margin if fewer of their leaders were white men?

…There (@JohnFea1)…

I didn’t read quite as many posts and articles this week because we were taking a trip through DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. On Thursday morning I got to drop by Messiah College and have coffee with fellow historian-blogger John Fea.

Neither of us thought to take a picture, but in gratitude for the good conversation and free caffeine, I thought I’d mark the occasion by dedicating a section of TWTWTW to John’s blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

• I don’t know how John keeps responding to David Barton with the patience and depth that he does. For example: John’s letter to students in a Bible college that recently hosted Barton.

• We can’t offer seafood on the oceanfront, but perhaps we can convince John to spend a day at Bethel like the one he recently spent at Eastern Nazarene

• John passed along an interesting idea for a quick social media experiment: go to the Facebook pages for the various presidential candidates, and see how many of your friends have liked each page. For the record, here are my results: 21 Hillary Clinton, 14 Gary Johnson, 4 Jill Stein, 3 Donald Trump, 3 Mike Maturen/American Solidarity Party. (Given responses to some of my own Trump writing, I know that I’ve got many more FB friends than that who intend to vote for the GOP nominee, but they haven’t liked his page. Most of all, I’m struck that less than 10% of the people in my FB network have liked even one such page.)

• And don’t forget to listen to John’s TWOILH podcast, now in its second season.

…and Everywhere

Pages on Hillary Clinton's Methodist upbringing in Alexander, Who is Hillary Clinton?
Speaking of Methodists in politics… I recently stumbled across these pages in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble (from Heather Alexander’s Who Is Hillary Clinton?)

• Was there a “Methodist Moment” forty years ago? Are its legacies still shaping American politics? Martin Marty reflects.

• That “moment” was centered on the 1972 candidacy of liberal Democrat George McGovern. But my Anxious Bench colleague Philip Jenkins has been surveying the role of religion in driving conservative political movements in that era, from Israel and Iran to the United States.

• Another insightful New York Times piece on evangelicals: Laurie Goldstein’s not unsympathetic profile of an older couple who refused to rent the church next to their house to a gay couple planning their wedding.

• There’s a lot of Christian anxiety about the rise of the religious “nones.” Here’s a Jewish take, as concerned with memory and culture as belief.

• If the USA is indeed becoming a post-Christian society, then evangelicals might want to learn from the experience of their British counterparts.

• I didn’t know that Malcolm Gladwell had a history podcast. If you’ve listened, I’d be curious to know if you agree with Allison Miller’s critique: “…in the episodes of Revisionist History that actually deal with history, people of the past come across as basically the same as we are today. Neither Gladwell nor his listeners have to dig very deeply into radically different mindsets, or to exert themselves much to achieve a cross-temporal state of empathy.” (H/T Michial Farmer)

• How should universities atone for their complicity in slavery and racism? Inside a conversation between the presidents of Harvard and Georgetown and writer (and reparations advocate) Ta-Nehisi Coates…


One thought on “That Was The Week That Was

  1. I posted this elsewhere in response to Farmer’s question:

    I’ve listened to one or two episodes [of Revisionist History] and found it to be appropriately named; much like Barton’s “Jefferson Lies,” it’s probably unintentional.

    I think Gladwell suffers from two delusions. First, that our present was the necessary outcome of the past. Second, that the present is objectively morally superior to the past. Therefore, the whole show suffers.

    David Rieff said it much better than I that the best history is outward-looking, removing ourselves from the center of our academic universe and practicing that rare gift: empathy (something I admit I lack, but at least I know I don’t have it).

    In short, Revisionist History is little more that Presentism Propaganda.

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