That Was The Week That Was

Some of what I was reading last week:

• As a historian, I often wrestle with the pull of nostalgia. As Michial Farmer explained, it might be that such longing for the past has its uses.

• It was 250 years ago that British soldiers killed five colonial protesters in Boston. “Such commemorations offer opportunities to assess who we have been and where we want to grow as a people,” wrote Scott Culpepper of American memories of the Boston Massacre. “Our times seem dominated by passionate souls on all sides of the spectrum whose noise and zeal drown out the quieter voices of sober reflection.”

• Not surprisingly, the frightening spread of a novel coronavirus has put many in mind of the worst pandemic of the 20th century, the influenza that killed tens of millions in 1918-1919 — including the grandfather of our current president.

(I’ll be writing about the impact of the “Spanish flu” on churches this Tuesday at The Anxious Bench. Meanwhile, churches in 2020 are trying to limit the spread of coronavirus among their congregants. And a Willow Creek leadership summit in Germany ended early when a participant became ill with COVID-19… leaving the pastors of America’s largest megachurch quarantined. Back to history links…)

Dorothea Lange, “Migrant Mother” (1936) – Wikimedia

• To the right is one of the most iconic images of the Great Depression. Called “Migrant Mother,” Dorothea Lange’s photo is more complicated than I realized.

• The president and chief advancement officer of Washington state’s largest community college lost their jobs, after the latter official altered a campus mural to remove a reference to the role of local businessmen in the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

• Some of the most hotly contested questions in the history of the Holocaust have to do with the role played by Pope Pius XII and other Catholic leaders. Will new access to the Vatican archives help historians answer more of these questions?

• At this point, it doesn’t look like Bernie Sanders is going to get the Democratic nomination. But if he did, it doesn’t seem like younger voters would care all that much about what he said and did during the Cold War.

• Some of the last letters C.S. Lewis ever wrote have come to light.

RIP Edith Blumhofer, a pioneering historian of evangelicalism and Pentecostalism who contributed two religious biographies to the series that will eventually include my Lindbergh book.

• More and more Americans without a college education are dying of drug overdoses, alcoholism, and suicide — with “deaths of despair” rates soaring for those under 50.

• As he enters the last months of a nearly-forty year career as a professor and administrator at Christian colleges, John Hawthorne reflected on where such institutions have been and considered where they might be headed.

• John warned against “alarmist” predictions of mass closures in Christian higher ed, but he shared this post from a friend who is “far less sanguine” about the future of the same sector.