This week I wrote about the difference between Swedish and American evangelicalism. And while I didn’t quite keep up my daily devotional pace to end October, I did reflect on Jesus as Messiah, the challenge of perfection, and the political implications of Martin Luther’s least favorite epistle. Elsewhere:
• The “state of a polarized nation” essay became a cottage industry in the week leading up to a historic election. Best of the bunch were Nicholas Kristof’s column on his childhood friends and humorist Gene Weingarten’s serious rumination.
• I’m not sure Minnesota is really in play this coming Tuesday, but both candidates came here yesterday, Biden’s rally happening just a couple miles from my house. Donald Trump’s events, meanwhile, are as mendacious as all his forms of communication.
(For example, claiming that doctors are lying to inflate COVID numbers.)
• My two favorite religion reporters continued to find interesting stories in the midst of the election: Sarah Pulliam Bailey in the rise of “Patriot Churches“; and Emma Green in the Catholic communities of Joe Biden’s home town.
• If American democracy does come through the coming weeks intact, it might reflect one important effect of a college education.
• I’d suspect that most of you have already cast your vote or made up your mind about what you’ll do on Tuesday. But if anyone’s still wavering, I doubt I could make the pro-Biden/anti-Trump case any better than Christian historian John Fea already has.
• Even if the polling holds true and Trump loses handily, don’t expect the drama to end.
In other non-election news…
• Just in time for me to lecture yesterday on the English Reformation, an archivist found Henry VIII’s detailed instructions for the beheading of Anne Boleyn.
• Not surprisingly, Bible translations have often erred when it comes to the role of women in the church.
• In both of my war-related classes this semester, I’ve pointed out that the last time that two great powers opposed each other in sustained combat was 1953. Could those same two foes find themselves at war again?
• America’s most recent generation of military veterans isn’t the social or political monolith you might expect.
• From restaurants to recording studios (and the Internet Archive), disused churches are being repurposed for all sorts of things.
• COVID-related budget cuts continue to hit higher ed — and not just in the liberal arts.
• From time to time I’ve mused that there’s something pastoral about being a professor… but I hadn’t quite thought of it in these terms.
• I always like to end with something that doesn’t fit in my usual categories… like, say, Sports Illustrated checking in on the decline of competitive Scrabble, which, in its own way, holds up a mirror to larger problems in American society.