That Was The Week That Was

Aside from doing some year-in-review stuff for Pietist Schoolman and Anxious Bench, I took off the week between Christmas and New Year’s in order to get ready for my J-term class. But here’s a round-up of some good writing from the waning days of 2017. Happy New Year, all!

Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary• Tish Harrison Warren, fresh off winning Christianity Today‘s book of the year, wrote a lovely essay on the church. I especially resonated with this pair of observations: “If you were wildly in love with church as a kid, it’s a confusing and painful thing to grow up…. Yet I still can’t shake my love for the church, in its variant and frail forms… Over time, I came to understand that the church—with its grape juice and fried chicken, with that basketball hoop and fellowship hall, that Bible and baptism—was not just a place I went for friendship or family ties. The church was, and still is, making me.”

• Bob Smietana reported on the decline of congregational singing. (I’d just add, as I write in our book, that learning to sing together is probably an important way we form ourselves for Christian unity.)

• “So many problems in Corinth—and I suspect in many other places,” wrote Douglas Campbell in a preview of his forthcoming book on the Apostle Paul, “would be solved if Christians were simply kinder to one another.”

• The campus pastor at my denomination’s university was relieved of her duties because she officiated at a same-sex wedding.

• If you hadn’t heard before, a Harvard-educated investment fund manager is starting a vaguely Anabaptist Christian college in Boston. I think my take on Sattler College is much like John Hawthorne’s.

• While you’re over at John’s blog, consider his suggestion that “the best way of thinking about evangelicals is to think of them as a group of people supporting a particular identity, not unlike the fans of a sports team.”

Erasmus by Holbein the Younger
1523 portrait of Desiderius Erasmus (1466?-1536) by Hans Holbein the Younger – Wikimedia

• A new book asks what would have happened if Erasmus had proven to be more influential in the 16th century than Luther, Calvin, or the Roman Catholics who won the day in the Council of Trent.

• I haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet. But once I do, I might be able to justify the expense as research for my “spiritual, but not religious” biography project.

• A Jewish critic made the case for the significance of Bob Dylan’s late Seventies/early Eighties “Christian period“: “Dylan had a shattering, smacked in the head religious experience which put Christ at the center of his consciousness, even though in later years he got cagey about whether precisely that is what happened. Any other understanding just doesn’t add up and isn’t honest with ourselves or the music.”

• Max Boot explained how he used to be a “smart-alecky young conservative” who would “scoff at the notion of ‘white male privilege,'” but now finds it “impossible for me to deny the reality of discrimination, harassment, even violence that people of color and women continue to experience in modern-day America from a power structure that remains for the most part in the hands of straight, white males. People like me, in other words.”