That Was The Week That Was

This week I shared a preview of the “virtual travel course” on World War I that I’m teaching this summer and explained why I considered starting my Lindbergh biography with an event that never happened. Elsewhere:

• If you want to know why I’m spending the weekend devouring Beth Allison Barr’s The Making of Biblical Womanhood, listen to her interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin.

• I’ll say more about Beth’s book in my next Anxious Bench post, which happens to coincide with the official release date. John Piper will feature prominently… though maybe not as prominently as one of his sons did this week in the New York Times.

• Maybe the highest compliment I can pay an author is to say that I’m still thinking about their argument a day later: so it is with this piece on plausibility and information curves by Christianity Today publisher Timothy Dalrymple.

• While religious “nones” tend to be younger, whiter, and more progressive than other Americans, there’s still significant demographic and political diversity in that segment of the population.

• On this topic, see Russell Moore’s long, thoughtful reflection on the mounting evidence “that a significant amount of secularization is accelerated and driven not by the ‘secular culture,’ but by evangelicalism itself.” 

Licensed by Creative Commons (Sam Cox)

• About two million Americans have no access to clean water… while almost 60 million others have perfectly healthy tap water, yet never drink it.

• Uh, were we supposed to wear masks outside even when there was no chance of sustained interaction with other people?

• That said, Minnesota is cold enough that I’ve been wearing my mask as an extra layer of protection on the walks between my office and the Bethel parking lot. I’m sure that climate is the main reason why Minnesota ranked just 24th in a YouGov poll on the states. But ya know, what’s more Minnesotan than to want to be right in the middle?

• I was able to get my first COVID shot two weeks ago because there were so many open appointments at a clinic in northern Minnesota… which may hint at one of biggest challenges facing public health leaders: persuading rural Americans to get vaccinated.

• We just started a unit on historical commemoration in Bethel’s Intro to History class. When we turn to debates over Confederate statues on Monday, I’ll be sure to mention the long history of African Americans protesting such memorials.

• Meanwhile, this month in our World War II class I’ve been talking about conscientious objectors. But some Christian pacifists object even in peacetime, by refusing to pay taxes that support the military.

Conscientious objectors working as firefighters in California in 1945 – Creative Commons (Jon Harder)

• While “intercollegiate athletics remains extraordinarily popular,” wrote historian Steven Mintz, “its future is highly problematic.”

• It’s not just evangelical schools… Another Lutheran college announced program eliminations and sweeping faculty cuts.

• Last fall Jerry Falwell Jr. sued Liberty University. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

• In other Christian higher ed-meets-American litigiousness news… one especially conservative Christian college went to court to challenge a Biden administration directive it claims would require the school “to place biological males into female dormitories and to assign them as females’ roommates.”

• For a more sober take on the tension between expanding LGBT protections and protecting religious freedom, see Houghton College president Shirley Mullen’s first piece for Current.