That Was The Week That Was

This week I remembered the death of a friend and colleague and celebrated the release of a COVID vaccine by revisiting the story of the polio vaccine. Elsewhere:

• With unemployment still high and new stimulus still being negotiated, more Americans are stealing food and other necessities.

• Add Dave Ramsey to the list of prominent evangelicals not taking COVID seriously enough.

• A local priest has come up with a new way of hearing confession in the middle of a pandemic.

• I don’t normally think of the Book of Job as an Advent text, but maybe it suits December 2020.

One of William Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job – Wikimedia

• Did a public health crisis in his time make William Shakespeare change the ending to one of his greatest tragedies?

• Philip Jenkins’ Anxious Bench series on QAnon has been fascinating. This week it connected the conspiracy theory to a science fiction novel and alternate-reality gaming.

• Meanwhile, here in the world of reality, it seems that at least one pillar of constitutional democracy is holding up.

• Teams of conservative, libertarian, and progressive legal scholars wrote new versions of the U.S. Constitution. Not surprisingly, they disagreed about many details — but also agreed on some key ideas.

Howard Chandler Christy’s depiction of the signing of the Constitution in 1787- Wikimedia

• Can Christian academics “act as ideological bridge-builders” in a deeply polarized society?

• One such scholar made a thoughtful argument for hesitating to rank Donald Trump too low too quickly in the rankings of American presidents.

• I’m not sure I’ve ever read a complete presidential memoir before, but Trump’s predecessor is such an interesting writer (and so interested in writing) that I picked up a copy of A Promised Land.

• In researching her new book, Elizabeth Jemison realized that “white Christians after the Civil War invented many of the arguments that are now used by Christian Trump supporters.”

• America’s first modern research university revealed that its namesake owned slaves.

• While women like the vice president-elect are making inroads in political leadership, that’s less true of religion. Only one in seven churches has a woman as pastor, and those tend to be small congregations.