This week I wrote about the religious implications of life on other planets and received the first advance review of my Lindbergh biography. Elsewhere:
• Philip Jenkins did me the great honor of writing a sequel to my extraterrestrials post, filling in some important, esoteric context to help explain why an English devotee of Eastern religions would have been looking for a messianic figure on the planet Altair in 1927.
• Saving this op-ed by Minnesota historian Annette Atkins for the next time I teach public history in our Intro to History class: “If a historical society is not ’embroiled in a huge amount of controversy,’ it is failing in its duty to its citizens.”
• Steven Mintz might suggest that that course should also include units on indigenous history and “counterhistories.”
• If infrastructure is more than roads and bridges, does America need to invest in rebuilding local news?
• The big news of the week, if you’re my geography-loving son: there’s now a fifth ocean.
• But I suppose a case could be made that the ProPublica investigation into billionaires avoiding income tax is rather significant, too.
• Does the United States have a fertility rate problem?
• Thucydides really does explain everything, including “the dark heart of political breakdown.”
• In typology news, I’m apparently a “#3” or “#4” evangelical and a resident of “Smart” America.
• What’s at stake in the coming week as the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Nashville? And do the fissures in that denomination herald a larger split in evangelicalism?
• Despite the Biden administration’s support for LGBTQ equality, the Justice Department insists that it can defend the religious exemption to antidiscrimination laws.
(Though one progressive legal analyst suspects that the government is actually trying to keep the leading Christian college group from taking the lead in arguing the matter in court.)
• Cuts to humanities programs continue, even at so significant a Christian liberal arts college as Calvin.
• I don’t have nearly the profile of Karen Swallow Prior, but she’s absolutely right: “My public life is not what feeds the desires of my heart. It is not the vision I had for myself. My public life is the things that happened along the way while I set out to do different things: read, study and teach.”