That Was The Week That Was

Aside from sharing part of my Pietist Option for Baptists class (on reading the Bible) and being interviewed for a new podcast by a Covenant pastor, I spent most of the week preparing for the start of the academic year. Here’s some of what was happening elsewhere in the realms of Christianity, history, and education:

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin in 1967 – Wikimedia

• Rest in peace, Aretha Franklin, who (one gospel music expert wrote) “often couldn’t live by the words she sang. But she sang the words anyway and believed them, too.”

• The appalling report of abuse by Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania — paired with the scandal at Willow Creek involving Bill Hybels — left me more concerned than usual about the perils of organizing religion.

• Tina Osterhouse reflected on the meaning of holiness, which (among other things) “has something to do with seeing your own life as sacred.”

• If you enjoy Jared Burkholder’s piece on the politics of Christian rock, check out not only the Randall Stephens history Jared mentioned, but Greg Thornbury’s acclaimed biography of Larry Norman.

• Is there a kind of religion building up around the current president? “Trumpism proposes a system of worship formed in direct opposition to bourgeois moral logic, with values that are anti-intellectual and anti–politically correct. If mainline Protestantism is a bastion of the educated, upper-middle class, the Church of Trump is a gathering place for its castoffs.”

• If you need to feel better about the presidency, read this profile of Jimmy Carter, who seems to live modestly in every sense of that word.

• Like John Fea, I’ve bemoaned the fearful politics of Trump-supporting Christians. So, are their opponents equally fearful?

• John blogged about it before I could, but go back and read the terrific, troubling World Magazine exposé of how Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his administration censor student journalism. (Then maybe re-read my earlier piece on how Falwell celebrated his ability to “tame” the faculty at that university.)

• John Inazu hasn’t abandoned hope for “confident pluralism.”

• The New York Times‘ temporarily handed over its philosophy blog to non-philosophers, and the results have been thought-provoking, if not exactly cheery: first, a Nigerian novelist’s reflection on condolence and commiseration; and second, an argument that “an awareness and acceptance of our own mortality” actually “makes us human.”

Smith, Awaiting the King• I don’t know if he gave a fair review of Jamie Smith’s Awaiting the King, but I appreciated Jason Micheli’s insight that we might need to rethink how the relationship between Christians and culture works:  “Formed by the loves of the earthly city, we infiltrate the heavenly city’s outpost, where we, as culture crusaders, transform the church.”

• Katelyn Beaty pointed out how LGBT Christians who choose to remain celibate find theirs “a lonely road to walk,” viewed skeptically from the Right and Left alike.

• It’s been a rocky few months for Religion News Service, but I’m glad that fellow Covenanter Bob Smietana is taking the helm as editor-in-chief.

• I’m preparing for fall courses, but keeping an eye on spring as well — I think I’ll have my World War II students read about these American women pilots

• But this fall, I wonder if I can fit this study of Billy Graham’s (declining) use of the Old Testament into my Cold War class…

• Was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience “based on an uncritical acceptance of the Gandhi myth, a construct of the Mahatama’s devoted followers”?

• Everything has a history… even the backpack.

• Everything has an intellectual history… even fantasy football.

• As someone who has dabbled in the intersection of sports and Anabaptism, it was amazing to read a Wall Street Journal piece on the Amish and Mennonite enthusiasm for something called Spikeball.