That Was The Week That Was

This week I tried to excite incoming Christian college students about academics, announced my participation in an ecumenical conversation about Jesus (more on that here next week), launched a launch team for my next book (two or three spots still open!), recorded a podcast about the politics of the Olympics, and asked whether it’s possible that mainline Protestantism was actually growing. Elsewhere:

• I don’t often get to see my friends profiled in the Washington Post, but then it’s the rare academic who writes a book that becomes a genuine cultural phenomenon.

• Karen Swallow Prior used the sexual revolution to explain how “one need not embrace critical race theory — I certainly don’t — in order to recognize that systemic racism exists and has ongoing ripple effects that can’t always be identified or contained.”

• Why do some younger evangelicals “completely leave their faith while others try to reform their faith from within”? One scholar shared some of her research.

• Using the same data that I considered in my post on mainline Protestantism, PRRI researchers found evidence that “white evangelicals make up a higher share of the population in counties where [COVID] vaccination rates are low.”

• In that post on the mainline, I quoted some research from political scientist Ryan Burge, noting that he’s also an American Baptist pastor. In a separate piece, he shared a more personal, poignant reflection inspired by the latter role.

(If you want to read more about the future of non-evangelical Protestantism… Bill McKibben was somewhat optimistic; Samuel Goldman, less so.)

• In our Olympics podcast, I asked Chris if it might be possible that the U.S. and other nations would boycott the Winter games in Beijing. If so, it’ll probably result from further evidence coming to light that what’s happening to the Uyghur people is genocide.

• Remember when “the Soviet cause and its culture seemed quite attractive, and even, dare I say,  relatively cool”? Philip Jenkins does.

Soviet leaded Nikita Khrushchev visiting the U.S. in 1959 – Wikimedia

• Did the United States face a “Reichstag moment” after last November’s presidential election? Its highest-ranking military officer reportedly thought so.

• “This isn’t the first time,” wrote Jamelle Bouie, “the United States has struggled to hold insurrectionists accountable for their actions.”

• Elsewhere on the New York Times opinion page, Ross Douthat imagined an alternate history of the French and Indian War. (Progressives loathe Douthat, but I appreciated the exercise for the way he thought through what it means to study — and appreciate — the complex, contingent past.)

• No, I think I’ll continue to talk about victims and survivors of the Holocaust this fall, thanks all the same.

Van Vleck Hall at Hope College in Holland, MI – Creative Commons (rossograph)

• One Christian college wants to do away with tuition and instead ask graduates to make annual donations… but will need to add a billion dollars to its endowment over the next decade to make the plan work.

• Have “master’s degrees… essentially become an enormous moneymaking scheme” at many colleges and universities?

• David Smith contemplated an unlikely metaphor for Christian scholarship: “weaving and unraveling a burial shroud, an ongoing exercise in intentional deferral of completion.”

• Finally… in my six years as a church chairperson, I always spent part of July brushing up on Robert’s Rules, never sure what might happen at our annual meeting. Turns out, Robert was a Baptist who developed those guidelines precisely because of his experience with church polity.