That Was The Week That Was

This week I surveyed the history of evangelical responses to capital punishment and reflected on joining historians, philosophers, and political scientists in a single department. Elsewhere:

• With Independence Day approaching, Christianity Today ran several thoughtful essays suggesting how American Christians can think about this holiday, including John Wilsey reviewing a new book on patriotism and Daniel Hummel one on nationalism; Bonnie Kristian distinguishing between the two ways of relating to one’s country; and Amy Julia Becker calling for Christians to take the lead in adopting “practices of repair within American culture to bring beauty out of our collective brokenness.”

Licensed by Creative Commons (Lee Coursey)

• Meanwhile, democracy scholars from South America to Sweden are worried about the U.S.A. For while this country is nearing its 250th birthday, “if you use a more modern definition of democracy, one that includes voting rights for women and minorities as a prerequisite, then we are one of the world’s younger democracies.”

• And European history doesn’t augur well for countries that start adopting “memory laws.”

• David Brooks warned that people don’t just need “the kind of knowledge we acquire through reason, logical proof and tight analysis,” but a common story that provides the “moral framework from which to see the world.”

• Charlie Camosy thought that there was “common ground” for both sides of the abortion debate: caring for expectant mothers.

• In my Tuesday morning post on capital punishment, I noted the resumption of federal executions under Donald Trump. A couple days later, the Biden administration suspended that practice.

• Meet the Michigan state legislator who led the inquiry that found no evidence of conspiracy or significant fraud in last November’s election. He’s not only a Tea Party Republican, but the music director at a Baptist church affiliated with Bethel’s denomination.

• C-SPAN came out with an updated ranking of all American presidents. Before you click through, try to guess (a) the three men who ranked even lower than Donald Trump, and (b) the lowest-ranked president to complete two terms in office.

• Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, best known for the 1619 Project, was offered tenure at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill after all.

• What would it look like to view medieval history from the perspective of Africans?

Two of the more surprising sides in the tournament, Switzerland and Wales, met in group play last month – Creative Commons (

• One effect of COVID times is that my son and I have become pretty devoted fans of European soccer, whose championships tournament has felt both religious and feverish to observers.

• But baseball is still our favorite sport. For one Christian writer, baseball cards brought to mind the allure of the mythical past — for churches and denominations, like other groups.