That Was The Week That Was

This week I considered 2020 as the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, reflected on the complicated emotions bound up in Veterans Day, and shared a digital preview of my Lindbergh biography. Elsewhere:

• Even though the outcome of the election is clear, Donald Trump probably never will join the great American tradition of politicians delivering concession speeches.

• In the key battleground states, the margins were narrow enough that any number of small shifts could have proved decisive. But especially in the Midwest, one difference-maker may have been a softening of Trump support among evangelicals and, more importantly, Catholics.

• Joe Biden won less than 500 American counties, to Donald Trump’s 2400+, but they account for 70% of the U.S. economy.

• Biden’s former boss is publishing his presidential memoir, a venerable and sometimes dull genre in American literature.

The first great presidential memoir came from Ulysses S. Grant, who wrote as he was dying of cancer in 1885 — Library of Congress

• Meanwhile, the most moving thing you’ll read today is this WWII soldier’s letter to the son he hadn’t yet met.

• As usual, I’ll be sharing some Christmas book shopping recommendations around Thanksgiving. I’m sure that post will include the book I just started: my Anxious Bench colleague John Turner’s new history of the Pilgrims, which just received a favorable review in Christianity Today.

• New historical research may confirm that Alexander Hamilton, who supported an antislavery society, owned slaves himself.

• If, like me, you enjoy both maps and alternate histories, you’ll love this BBC article.

• Did you know that the single largest church in the world is in the African nation of Ivory Coast? (I didn’t, nor that it’s not even in the country’s largest city.)

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace – Creative Commons (BNDDLPDY)

• Bethel doesn’t have “an honors code” in way that my undergraduate alma mater did, but I wonder if the provisions about honesty in its Covenant for Life Together lead to the same reduction in student cheating that some find with honors codes.

• Just under 80% of Americans wish they had taken more humanities classes.

• Like Michial Farmer, I’ve sometimes included the word “elegance” in rubrics for evaluating student writing. Unlike Michial, I’ve never written an essay digging into the meaning of elegance.

• Like Rosanne Cash, I’ve written about the pioneering Pentecostal singer-guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Unlike me, Rosanne Cash really knows what she’s talking about.

• There’s a lot to like about the Netflix chess miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, including its depiction of community.