That Was The Week That Was


• I don’t normally start my blogging week on a Saturday night, but as I wrote in response to the executive order on refugees, “things are not normal. It’s just my privilege to live as if they are.”

• There are spiritual dangers facing both supporters and opponents of the Trump administration, and one of the best protections we have is our collective memory as congregations.

• Jerry Falwell, Jr. might be the country’s most powerful Christian university president, but he’s not the face of the Christian higher ed as I know and love it.

• Thanks again to Steve Nolt and John Roth for helping me put together a reading list on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that doesn’t neglect the Anabaptist experience.

…There (Trump and Historical Analogies)…

Ullrich, Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939• Over at The Anxious Bench, I tried to write as even-handed a post as I could about the value of historical analogies between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump.

• But it could be that historian Cameron Blevins is right that the problems of such comparisons point to the limits on history as a tool for resistance to Trump.

• Still… Hitler biographer Volker Ullrich (quoted in my post as emphasizing the differences between Hitler and Trump) recently reminded German readers of a possible historical rhyme: that in 1932-1933 many Germans convinced themselves that Hitler would either grow more reasonable or be reined in by others once he took power. (H/T Kristin Du Mez)

• Or just contemplate a more recent historical parallel: between President Trump and pro football team owner Trump.

…and Everywhere

• What is “false consensus bias” — and what can we do about it?

• Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway defended his immigration policy by literally making up a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

• But it’s not just conservatives falling prey to fake news.

Hamilton, Creed• If you don’t follow Twitter, you might not know what long shot presidential candidate Evan McMullin has been up to since the election — or why it’s so important.

• I’ve always been interested in the ministry of Adam Hamilton, a former Roger Olson student who pastors the largest United Methodist church in the U.S. NPR recently asked him how he’s addressing the first days of the Trump presidency as he serves a congregation that falls all over the political spectrum.

• About a third of Americans surveyed by Pew think that being Christian is essential to national identity. Only two other countries in the same survey had a higher result: Poland and Greece.

• What motivates evangelical Trump supporters? John Fea has been talking to many of them and thinks it comes down to abortion, religious liberty, and (most troubling to me) fear.

• It’s been fascinating to see so strong a backlash against education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos — even from other evangelicals.

• In covering DeVos, many reporters have fundamentally misunderstood the Dutch Reformed aspects of her background. One of her fellow Calvin College alumni (and a critic of her nomination) offered a helpful corrective.

• My Anxious Bench colleague Philip Jenkins argued in The American Conservative that if the Civil War was this country’s Iliad, then “World War II was our Aeneid, an epic struggle against authentic evil, which at once created the nation and framed its destiny. It should not be commemorated as a study in victimhood and injustice.”

• My favorite history post of the week: Paul Putz on the legendary football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, who stood up in 1945 (at the age of 82) for the reintegration of Japanese American internees into the life of Stockton, California.

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