That Was The Week That Was

This week I wrote a commencement address for the Class of 2020 and recorded the final episode of our Pandemics and the Liberal Arts podcast. Elsewhere:

• There’s been a lot of attention paid to the success Asian countries like Taiwan and South Korea have had in responding to COVID-19. But what about two African countries with low death tolls?

• Why were the death tolls from COVID so different in this country’s two largest states?

It’s not a good enough reason to hold the Minnesota State Fair, but my kids are sure going to miss Pronto Pups

• The country’s biggest and best state fair will take 2020 off because of the coronavirus.

• Could it be two years before we can safely sing in a choir again?

• A perfect supplement to our podcast on art: an art dealer’s realization that “there could hardly be a better moment to reflect upon the importance of art — or, better still, culture itself — than in the face of its almost complete physical absence.”

• Should colleges and universities reopen this fall? Anthony Fauci answered questions from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

• “In more senses than one,” concluded Marilynne Robinson, in a long essay on what COVID is revealing about economics, education, government, anthropology, and more, “we are living through an unprecedented experiment, an opportunity it would be a world-historical shame to waste.”

• Part of Robinson’s complaint is that the American university has given in to the values of capitalism. If you doubt that, read this scathing assessment of the administration of America’s first research university from one of its own history professors.

• As expected, Ruth Graham had the most nuanced report on the deathbed confession from Norma McCorvey (the Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade) that she supported the pro-life movement because she was paid to do so.

• It’s hard to think of a more worthy recipient of the Templeton Prize than Francis Collins.

• Meet the Mennonite couple that plays music as part of a “ministry of presence” in Chicago.

• Is Martin Luther to blame for Christians ignoring Paul’s greeting to a female apostle?

• As a Christian historian who does tend to take a dim view of some Enlightenment figures, I appreciated Scott Culpepper’s nudge to look beyond “the mechanistic stereotypes we often cast on them.”

• Watching the ESPN documentary series The Last Dance helped Paul Putz rediscover a tension in his views on elite athletes like Michael Jordan.

• I need to take lessons from David Swartz when it comes to titling blog posts

• And thanks to Alan Jacobs for reminding me why each and every one of my rare attempts at Twitter threads would have been better as a blog post.