• The least risky way to prepare for work in the 21st century is to major in history or another of the humanities. (“Least risky” in one sense. In another, it’s terribly risky — more on that next week…)
• Given one chance to speak to our faculty as president, I didn’t want to throw away my shot.
…There and Everywhere
• My address was aimed at faculty, but others at Bethel impact the lives of our students in significant ways. Meet head football coach Steve Johnson, profiled by local media as he starts his 30th season this afternoon.
• Speaking of… I’m starting to plan a course on the history (and politics) of sports. It’s at least a year away, but I’m sure I’ll have students read Paul Putz’s terrific essay on the history (and politics) of prayer in football.
• I don’t think I can include every notice about a Christian college going through a budget crisis, but this one is perhaps more noteworthy than others — because it affects a historic bastion of fundamentalism.
• I don’t normally associate the sense of smell with my discipline, but another address at our faculty retreat got me thinking about two aromas that always make me think of history — for very different reasons.
• My undergraduate alma mater is planning a memorial to the enslaved African Americans who helped build it.
• My mind is also turning back to World War I, as I prepare to lead another J-term trip to Europe on that subject. So it was helpful to read James Bratt’s reflection on what the war looked like each of the five August 30’s during its duration.
• One of my favorite writers about the two world wars is Minnesota native Samuel Hynes, who has a new book out. (Even if you haven’t read his work, you might remember him from Ken Burns’ The War.)
• Near the end of the semester, my Cold War students will grapple with Francis Fukuyama, the “end of history” theorist whose new book is on identity politics.
• According to a new typology from Pew, my religious identity is that of a “Sunday Stalwart.” Though I suspect that’s a much more diverse group than you’d think from the brief description — and like John Hawthorne, I’m interested in how that group differs from the members of the “God and Country Christians” category.
• I don’t pay a lot of attention to Australian politics, but it is fairly striking to see an evangelical Christian take on the role of prime minister in that increasingly secular country.
• Is there a growing generational divide among evangelicals in America?
• One of my friends suggested that American evangelicalism has become something like a modern-day imperial cult… while another argued that it’s not a political movement — because it’s no longer a movement at all.
• Roger Olson unpacked the Trump-as-Cyrus analogy, common in certain evangelical circles.
• John McCain’s memorial service is happening as I write this. There’s a lot to be said about McCain, but mostly, I want to echo Jeffrey Salkin’s point: if you’re going to honor someone’s memory, you shouldn’t include an “I didn’t agree with him on everything” disclaimer. (If you want a second piece stemming from McCain’s death, read Frank Bruni’s column on our reactions to celebrity deaths in an age of narcissism.)
• I was ready to dismiss this New York Times piece based on the headline alone, but the more I read about a debate over the air temperature of a New York gubernatorial debate, the more I did think about gender and workplace.