This week I introduced Anxious Bench readers to 1918’s version of pandemic Christmas. I failed to write anything at this blog, but in my defense, I did need some time to come up with this:
• Baseball doesn’t often make national news in December, but this decision certainly warranted attention.
• Thomas Kidd considered the difference between Christian nationalism and Christian patriotism.
• Even a Never Trump conservative like David Frum can find some redeeming outcomes in the Trump presidency — albeit most of them unintended consequences.
• One Trump accomplishment I won’t be celebrating is the revival of the federal death penalty, with ten executions in the second half of 2020.
• If you’re like me, you’ll want to add historian Aaron Griffith’s new book about evangelical prison ministries to your winter reading list after you read his Anxious Bench interview with John Turner.
• I loved David Brooks’ affectionate tribute to his PBS sparring partner, Mark Shields, a liberal Catholic who still “argues that politics is about looking for converts, not punishing heretics.”
• Young journalists at leading national publications disproportionately come from elite colleges. Combined with the decline of local newspapers, that’s having an effect on how the news is covered.
• I wouldn’t have expected to see this news story in 2020: a Cistercian community in Wisconsin has drawn so many new members that it needs to build a new monastery.
• Cathleen Falsani explained what a new Disney movie has to do with the early Christian theologian Tertullian.
• One of the most interesting essays about religion — both historical and personal — that you’ll read is McKay Coppins’ on being Mormon.
• What participating in a COVID vaccine trial taught one Christian writer about hope.
• What is the pandemic doing to our brains?
• And how has religion shaped our response to COVID?
• One effect (with a religious connection): increased gun sales.
• Overall higher ed enrollment did drop a couple percentage points this year, but there’s a lot of variation in that number — e.g., the decline in male students was seven times that for women.
• One Christian women’s college made a last-ditch fundraising appeal to avoid having to close its doors.
• And another CCCU school cut its football team.