That Was The Week That Was

All I did here was to promote some upcoming speaking engagements and to invite people to sign up to receive a free e-copy of our forthcoming Lenten devotional. (At The Anxious Bench, I considered Ulysses Grant’s position as America’s first Methodist president.) I’ll try to get back to Pietist Schoolman blogging next week; until then, here’s some of what caught my eye this past week:

Robespierre executes the executioner in the Reign of Terror
Dan contrasted the Anglo-American “constitutional sensibility” with that of Jacobins like Maximilien Robespierre, here depicted executing the executioner after the Reign of Terror ran out of victims — Wikimedia

• One of my favorite conservatives is my colleague Dan Ritchie, who looked back to the 18th century to sketch various ways of thinking about how to create and sustain “a free people.”

• Not surprisingly, Jim Wallis had harsh words for the Republican Party — but he wasn’t much happier with the Democrats. Like many of us, the founder of Sojourners feels “politically homeless” as 2018 begins. (He mused briefly about the possibility of a third party… a topic I broached in the months before Trump’s election.)

• For all my theological differences with The Gospel Coalition, I appreciate that a conservative group that big hosts a history blog in which Thomas Kidd can survey the problematic relationship between Christian missionaries and Western imperialism.

• Roger Olson understood why some evangelicals go “home to Rome” — but he didn’t think Catholicism offered a solution to the “pervasive interpretive pluralism” of Protestant biblical interpretation.

• At this point, it’s hard to put much stock in any attempt to survey “evangelicals.” But I hope some attention is paid to a sociological study finding that “evangelicals were the most likely to say that they view religion and science as having a collaborative relationship in which the two spheres support each other….”

Adventures in Odyssey logo
For example, I’ve never heard a minute of Adventures in Odyssey…

• The best evidence that I’m not really an “evangelical” is that I’m utterly unmoved by the emergence of “an entire cottage industry related to Christian pop culture nostalgia.”

• That, and I’m completely unsympathetic to the gun lobby.

• Well, at least Christian clergy are trusted more than bankers and lobbyists.

• If you’re wondering what happens in the Church of Latter-day Saints when its president dies, get some historical context from John Turner.

• Everyone in my discipline has to cope with the fragmentary nature of historical evidence… but here’s one more reminder that ancient historians have a steeper hill to climb than most.

• Over Christmas I managed to make time to watch Gary Oldman’s magnificent performance in The Darkest Hour. But could it be that the man who ultimately unseated Winston Churchill as prime minister is actually a better political model for 2018?

• “The real intellectual crisis on campus,” argued one English professor, “is not threats to free speech, but threats to the quality of speech.”