That Was The Week That Was

This week I started a new series of devotional reflections on the daily lectionary and considered how evangelicals might react to President Trump’s reportedly dim view of military service. Elsewhere:

• Ron Sider, Rich Mouw, John Perkins, Brenda Salter McNeil, Joel Hunter, and Richard Foster were just some of the pro-life Christians who this week endorsed Joe Biden.

• I can’t get back the time I wasted on the first presidential debate, but I do think often of the stark contrast it showed between the two leading candidates as fathers.

• I mailed in my absentee ballot this afternoon. Of course, all I’m really doing is helping to elect the electors, not the president himself. Whatever you think of that controversial system, historian Jonathan Wilson noted that “the electoral college has never worked as intended by its creators. This is partly because they did not make clear what their intention was.”

• I continue to hope that a sweeping defeat of Trump will help preserve democratic norms in this country, but a new study by two Yale scholars finds that most Americans don’t really care that much about democracy itself — at least, not by comparison to more partisan interests.

• I’ve noted this before, but in the wake of President Trump himself contracting COVID-19… it’s worth looking at a part of the world that has been much more successful than the United States in stopping the spread of that disease.

• I had the honor of interviewing my Anxious Bench colleague Kristin Du Mez about gender, war, religion, and politics for one of my Bethel classes. If you found Kristin’s book, Jesus and John Wayne, as compelling as I did, you’ll want to check out her suggestions for follow-up reading.

• Christianity Today reported new sexual misconduct allegations against the late Ravi Zacharias.

• As one Episcopalian writer struggles “through week after week of coronavirus-induced isolation, connecting with fellow Christians only on screen or by phone, I wonder if contemporary Christianity’s emphasis on personal religious experience has more to do with Ameri­can individualism than it does with the Bible or with Christian tradition. I also wonder if the inclination on the part of many busy Christians to skip church and go it alone is a catastrophic mistake.”

• If you admire the theology of the Church Fathers, maybe consider how their mothers and sisters shaped their thought.

Scheffer, St. Augustine and St. Monica
Ary Scheffer’s famous 1858 painting of Augustine and his mother, Monica – Wikimedia

• With the release of Marilynne Robinson’s newest novel in the Gilead series, one critic finds her “still trying to convince the rest of us that her habit of looking backward isn’t retrograde but radical, and that this country’s history, so often seen now as the source of our discontents, contains their remedy, too.”

• But that doesn’t mean that it’s the job of historians to teach their students to love that country.

• Thirty years ago last month, Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War debuted on PBS. According to one Civil War historian, it’s long past time for that version of the story to be revised.