That Was The Week That Was

Most of my energy this week went into starting spring classes, but we recorded a rather autobiographical episode of our new sports history podcast, I noted an unusual spate of news stories on Christian colleges, and I shared five books I’m hoping to read for Black History Month. Elsewhere…

Hobbs, A Chosen Exile
One of AnneMarie’s recommendations: Allyson Hobbs’ history of racial “passing”

• Some more February reading recommendations came from my Bethel colleagues AnneMarie Kooistra and Ruben Rivera.

• Longform piece of the week: West Point grad Jackie Munn’s account of leading an all-women team attached to a unit of Green Berets in Afghanistan.

• In a time when thousands of churches close each year, what kinds of congregations are thriving?

• Michael Gerson reflected on taking a break from Twitter (“It turns out that you don’t actually die”), which I learned about, of course, via Twitter.

• Speaking of that social medium… I’m pretty sure that 90% of the historians I follow on it shared Eric Alterman’s lament for the decline of historical thinking.

• Another decline in the Age of Trump: America’s refugee resettlement system, including faith-based organizations.

• Is it possible that a socially liberal, fiscally conservative independent candidate could actually split the pro-Trump vote in 2020?

• Last week I hinted at the likely presidential candidacy of my state’s senior senator, Amy Klobuchar. But a local political scientist warned that she’s not as strong a candidate as we Minnesotans might assume.

• Whether or not you agree with Klobuchar in backing the Green New Deal, you probably shouldn’t compare it to the decision to go to the Moon, the building of the federal interstate system, or other enormously ambitious government initiatives that had the backing of at least some experts.

Lauck et al. (eds.), Finding a New Midwestern History• John Wilson reviewed a new collection of essays on Midwestern identity, one that breaks with the “toxic mix of neglect, dismissive condescension, and compensatory boosterism” that he often finds attached to discussions of this part of the country.

• Why one Desiring God‘s writer’s “zeal to distance himself from the objects of his bigotry requires the construction of mile-high walls around his masculine identity, lest even skinny jeans slip through.”

• Does America have room for three or four more football leagues? (Most intriguing, how one of them is being pitched as a social movement and all are embracing legalized sports gambling.)

• Overall, I’m not sure the results of this Gallup survey are all that encouraging for the state of higher ed. But it is striking that smaller schools and the liberal arts come off much better than their alternatives in student opinion.

• A federal judge ruled that the University of Iowa couldn’t take away the recognized status of a Christian group that denied a leadership position to a gay student.

• What margarine has to do with the history of academic tenure.