That Was The Week That Was

This week I curated some advice from fellow historians about how parents can help their home-bound kids learn history, reflected on the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, and recorded podcasts about sports journalism and the psychology of pandemics. Elsewhere:

• I haven’t formally announced it until now, but I don’t think it will surprise anyone that Pietist Schoolman Travel will not be offering even a shortened sports history tour this summer. Even if Major League Baseball does restart by July, the idea of taking my son on two plane trips is mildly horrifying at this point.

1934 painting on the wall of Fenway

• Even if their congregations begin to gather in person again, pastors like Angela Denker will need to wrestle with the idea of worship minus singing.

• Smaller churches are at greatest risk of closing because of COVID, reported Ruth Graham, with many not only seeing lower giving but struggling to access the payroll protection funds available from the federal government.

• A “spirituality of quarantine” might start with two of the most important Christian figures of the Early Middle Ages.

• Both Christian and Muslim doctors talked about how they’ve been experiencing the pandemic.

• How is the rest of the world interpreting the United States’ uneven response to the coronavirus: with pity, or horror?

• But for all the news attention given to those protesting stay-at-home orders, opinion polls continue to find that Americans overwhelmingly support such measures.

• Could a “digitally omnipresent” Joe Biden not just win the 2020 election? The former manager of a rival campaign thinks the presumptive Democratic nominee could change presidential campaigning.

Outka, Viral Modernism• There’s been so much attention suddenly paid to the history of the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic that it can be hard to understand why the memory of that crisis seemed so faint in the 1920s — “seemed” being the operative word, according to one literary scholar.

• For once during the pandemic, a story with no connection to COVID topped the news: the belated arrest of two white men who shot dead a black jogger in Georgia. Even if you don’t want to watch the appalling video, you should read Malcolm Foley’s explanation of why “Ahmaud Arbery was undeniably lynched” and how Christians can respond.

• Earlier this year Land O’Lakes (based just a couple miles from where I work) announced that it was removing the famous image of a Native American woman from its packaging. This week, the son of the Ojibwe artist who created that image explained why his father’s work was not a stereotype.

• I hadn’t given much thought to the importance of Phyllis Schlafly in American political history until I read Jill Lepore’s discussion of her in These Truths. According to historian Emily Johnson, the new Hulu miniseries Mrs. America “takes a more nuanced view” than “to dismiss Schlafly and her supporters as women working against their own interests, too naïve or too stupid to see the benefits of feminism.”

• This spring my Intro to History students have been reading John Fea’s Why Study History? For their final essay, on the Christian vocation of historians, I think I’ll also have them read John’s terrific piece on education and calling for Sojourners.

Turek, To Bring Good News to All the Nations• Meanwhile, Lauren Turek’s interview with David Swartz, about evangelicalism, human rights, and U.S. foreign policy, gave me lots of ideas as I prepare to teach my Cold War history class again this fall.

• And perhaps I should have my spring 2021 World War II students read historian Adam Tooze’s piece on a peculiar quality of how the West remembers history’s bloodiest war, “as a moment of collective organization and mobilization—but with the violence taken out.”

• As a professor at a relatively small, private, religious university, I feel like I should preface any comments about teaching plans for 2020-21 with “We’ll see what happens…” And it’s not just Protestant colleges and universities that are nervous about the future.

• “What do Quaker values have to do” with an elite private preK-12 school “taking out a loan intended for struggling small businesses?”

• Ordinarily, this announcement from Calvin University would be big news in the Christian college world, where Calvin has become relatively unusual in its religious expectations for faculty.

• The Department of Education finally made official long-expected changes to Title IX regulations pertaining to on-campus sexual assault.

• As someone who’s repeatedly written about the value of the humanities in particular and the liberal arts in general, it’s absolutely true that “The idea that college faculty and their allies have somehow failed to ‘make the case’ for the value of their work is one of the hoariest clichés of higher ed commentary—our equivalent to the legendary ‘since the dawn of time’-style opening for undergraduate papers.”