That Was The Week That Was

This week I responded to the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, asked if that event would bring about a kind of epiphany for Trump-backing evangelicals, considered the history of pastor-politicians like new Georgia senator Raphael Warnock, shared some of the autobiographical subtext for my biography of Charles Lindbergh, and wrapped up my Christmas devotional series. (Why no, I’m not teaching this J-term. Why do you ask?)


• Bad as everything seemed on Wednesday, it could have been so much worse.

Licensed by Creative Commons (Tyler Merbler)

• If you wonder why I was thinking about evangelicals and Trump after Wednesday afternoon, here’s Emma Green on the religious context of those hours.

• One of the people forced into action when the Capitol was invaded: the new chaplain of the House of Representatives.

• Was the invasion of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob an example of sedition? (What about the rhetoric of Trump himself, or Republican legislators who continued to question Joe Biden’s election?) The New York Times investigated the complicated historical context of a loaded term.

• That word brings to mind the Civil War, but the period immediately after that conflict also seems very relevant right now.

“Tilden or Blood” — a Thomas Nast cartoon from February 1877, as the country debated the results of the presidential election eventually won by Rutherford B. Hayes (Library of Congress)

• Or the years before 1861… did you notice whose portrait was in the background of that much-shared photo of a man carrying a Confederate flag through the halls of the Capitol?

• If it seemed like the Capitol Police responded somewhat passively to the Trump rally, that might fit a pattern.

• Finally, if you want to feel hopeful after Wednesday, read columnist David Brooks on those events as “an inflection point, a step back from madness.” Or if you want to worry more, read Timothy Snyder on what the history of fascism can tell us to expect.

In other news…

• The COVID pandemic has affected people differently, but one silver lining for me has been the way it’s drawn our family even closer together.

• If you need some more help making meaning of a pandemic, maybe try one of the most enigmatic books in the Bible.

• Congress’ latest COVID relief bill includes a provision that affects especially well-endowed colleges and universities.

• A Christian women’s college in Alabama announced that it received enough end-of-year giving to stay open for spring 2021.

• Like everyone who watched the last couple episodes of The Mandalorian, my son and I wondered why Imperial stormtroopers are the worst fighters in the Star Wars universe. Here’s the answer.

• It was bittersweet to watch the final episode of Alex Trebek hosting Jeopardy!, which closed with a funny, touching montage. And if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye, read about the academic significance of all Trebek’s mid-show conversations with often-terrified contestants.