That Was The Week That Was


• America has changed a lot since the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

• As I finished one book project and contemplated others, I found myself asking a big mid-career question: “What comes next?

• Evangelicals — and especially those of us in Christian higher ed — ought to pay attention to a Jesuit journalist’s advice for bridge-building between the church and the LBGT community.

For All Saints’ Day, I revisited my notion of “stewardship of the past” as a kind of creation care.

…There (Your World Champion Chicago Cubs)…

Predictably, the Cubs breaking a 108-year long drought inspired lots of reflection. For example:

Cubs victory parade on Nov. 4, 2016
Scene from the Cubs victory parade yesterday – Creative Commons (spablab)

• Sportswriter Robert Mays: “All I could think about was the words I’d heard on that tape [recorded by his dying father], words that defined this week and the past century of watching and loving the Cubs. Hope is all we have.”

• Intellectual historian Tim Lacy: “The loveliness of the Cubs was wrapped in its futility…. History had, heretofore, offered empirical evidence of disappointment. Agony and heartbreak were real. The baggage was as much of a reality as the loveliness of Cubs culture.”

• High school theology teacher James Monahan: “I’ve told people for years that I’m a Cubs fan because I’m a Christian. (Or is it the other way around?) I always thought I was kidding until this year. Now I might actually mean it.”

…and Everywhere

• We visited an alpaca farm yesterday, a little slice of Peru up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The first Alpaca we met was named Augustine. After the month he was born, not the North African saint. But still… that story will serve as my roundabout way of introducing David Gibson’s observation that the author of City of God has much to say to American Christians this election cycle.

• Lots of responses to the 499th anniversary of the 95 Theses this week, including two good ones at First Thoughts: Matthew Block on death and the Reformation; and Dale Coulter on Protestant identity and tradition.

• Ed Stetzer addressed evangelicals on ethics and the election: “…if you find that you have overlooked or dismissed many of the morals and values that you have held dear in the past, then it just may be that your character has been Trumped.”

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, June 1940
Mussolini and Hitler in June 1940 – Creative Commons (National Archives)

• Among other #NeverTrump voices, I really admire Tommy Kidd’s, as when he takes on Franklin Graham’s implication that voting for Trump will help bring about religious revival.

• While many historians surveyed for this piece saw similarities between Trump and Hitler (or, more commonly, Mussolini), they generally (and appropriately, I think) rejected the idea that the Republican candidate is a “fascist.”

• Everyone is sick of Hillary’s emails and Trump’s tweets, but from a digital historian’s perspective: “Both incidents are political nightmares. But a politician’s nightmare can be a historian’s dream.”

• Speaking of, I thought the Obama Administration’s strategy for making a social media transition out of power — while still attempting to archive its pioneering uses of Twitter, Instagram, etc. — was fairly fascinating.

• I love “history of the future” pieces — such as this one on how Americans in past eras looked ahead to the day when a woman was elected president: “Despite widespread predictions about the inevitability of technological progress, the notion of a woman president was widely seen as counter to such advances.”

• If my “exuberant” take on the Conference on Faith and History seemed misplaced to you, then consider D.G. Hart’s helpfully skeptical counterpoint: “…why keep CFH going? What’s the point of gathering as formerly evangelical historians when you are ambivalent about being evangelical? Is it because, as I argued two decades ago, the historians who belong to CFH are more interested in fellowship than scholarship[?]”

• Joshua Kim is one of the more interesting observers of higher education: e.g., as a city-raised technologist who celebrates the rural setting of small colleges.

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