That Was The Week That Was

This week I looked at the religious biography of a Minnesotan who was known for technological innovation and died on Hawaii. Not Charles Lindbergh, but Medtronic founder Earl Bakken.


• For Reformation Day, a Lutheran meditation on the importance of singing in church.

• Two years after Rachel Held Evans died, her last book is coming out.

• There may be more support for the separation of church and state than you (well, I) might think.

• Meanwhile, America’s second Catholic president met with Pope Francis, continuing a tradition that goes back to Woodrow Wilson.

• The Biden Administration’s nominee for ambassador-at-large for religious freedom is a Muslim praised by Christians, and its new head of election security is a Republican praised by Democrats.

• Heading into Election Day 2021, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to warn, as this joint progressive-conservative statement does, that “liberal democracy itself is in serious danger” in the United States.

(Of course, from a longer historical perspective, “normal politics” is less the rule than the exception in America.)

• One threat: a group of right-wing intellectuals who are “not just espousing typical conservative policy preferences, but standing against liberal, constitutional democracy in the traditional, nonpartisan sense.”

• “Instead of theological affinity for Jesus Christ,” wrote pastor-political scientist Ryan Burge, “millions of Americans are being drawn to the evangelical label because of its association with the G.O.P.”

• Jokes cease to be funny as soon as they’re analyzed, but it’s worth thinking about how a familiar joke about Christians and prayer is being used to explain evangelical antipathy to vaccination.

• Guess which part of the United States leads the country in COVID vaccination rates. (Hint: it’s not a state.)

Creative Commons (Puerto Rico National Guard)

• Homeschooling in general has surged during the pandemic… especially in Black families.

• Even if John McWhorter is right that anti-racism taken on almost religious status on the political left, I’m pretty sure it’s silly to call Wheaton “woke.”

• A rare case of historiographical debate reaching a broad audience…

• Finally, the longest article I’ll link is both essential and troubling: a ProPublica investigation into how Liberty University handles sexual assault on campus.