That Was The Week That Was

When I wasn’t researching the history of a much-loved children’s hymn, I was reading the following posts and articles:

This Methodist church in Bodmin, England was closed in 2006 and sold for redevelopment – Creative Commons (Tony Atkin)

• Last week I mentioned the local Methodist church that received national attention for its supposed plan to expel older worshippers. That story inspired Emily McFarlan Miller to report on the larger challenge of “restarting” declining churches.

• Also in my home state, Pope County, MN just approved a refugee resettlement plan… after voting overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016.

• I hope Amanda Carpenter is right that there’s a meaningful role left for Never Trump Republicans — e.g., Peter Wehner, who continues to find Christian arguments for Trump thoroughly unpersuasive.

(And if you don’t believe Wehner, maybe you’ll find this evangelical pastor who ran for Congress as a Republican more convincing.)

• Of course, I also hope that something happens to make the Democratic Party more hospitable to Americans who believe that there should be restrictions on abortion rights. So I’m maybe not the best predictor of politics in this election year.

• In the wake of Mark Galli’s editorial against Trump, his successor at Christianity Today promised to occupy the “extreme middle.”

• David Albertson agrees with the religious right that “there is indeed an ascendant paganism afoot in our country today. It threatens the social and moral fabric of American public life and contends directly against the voice of Christian truth.” He just thinks they’re looking for the wrong paganism.

• On both right and left, most pundits and scholars looking at religion and politics focus on Protestants. But in Iowa, Joe Biden is making much of his Catholicism.

Then-vice president Biden visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in 2012 – White House Archives

• Speaking of prominent Catholics… I knew little about the faith of Kobe Bryant, who attended Mass just hours before the helicopter crash that took his life.

• Bryant’s death got one philosopher thinking about the social norms pressuring us to “pretend that the recently deceased were good or better than they really were.”

• Does social media make us less likely to change our minds? (If so, I wonder if blogging is any different…)

• I dabble in Instagram for the sake of maintaining our department’s account. But the world of Christian influencers like Sadie Robertson and, um, Tim Tebow is a mystery to me.

• What will happen to the non-Christian faculty and students of a Nashville art school that merged with a Christian university in that city?

Creative Commons (EVula)

• A Chinese-American graduate student looked to Martin Luther for some help in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, centered in the province where her grandparents still live.

• Immigrant churches in the Midwest are reviving and revising the legacy of Luther (at least in worship).

• One of the lesser-known legacies of World War I: it helped inspire the civil rights movement.

• As we start teaching our sports history course tomorrow, I know that Chris Moore and I will realize just how much we have to learn about… sports history. For example, I had no idea that a group of African American investors tried to start the first black-owned and operated NFL franchise in 1971. They meant to call it the Memphis Kings, three years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in that city.

• Guess how many minutes of actual football action are on screen in a typical football broadcast.

• No, it won’t stop me from watching the Super Bowl in a few hours. But learning more about the public health history of football just deepened my uneasiness with being a fan of that sport.