That Was The Week That Was

A very Christmasy first week of December for me, as I extended a special Christmas offer for my Lindbergh bio — then received the gift of a great review! — and joined with Anxious Bench colleagues to suggest some other gifts for history buffs. Elsewhere:

• If you needed any more reason to order a copy of my book directly from me (or an independent store) rather than the world’s largest bookseller, just read this New York Times report on the current state of the Amazon Bookstore.

• It’s Festival of Christmas week at Bethel, so I suggested that my TA (a bell-ringer and singer herself) put together a profile of some students in our department who also perform in musical ensembles. The two-part result is terrific: another reminder of why it’s such an honor and pleasure to teach at a Christian liberal arts college.

• Christmas carols are some of the most enduring entries in the Christian musical canon… which just underscores the transient popularity of most contemporary worship songs.

• And if this is all too much Christmas and too little Advent, read Victoria Reynolds Farmer’s moving essay about the God to whom Mary sings the Magnificat: “the God who stretches labels, inverts hierarchies, sees strength in what the world calls weakness, and adopts all of us into his family as dearly beloved sons and daughters.”

• Or shift to a different winter holiday: Nadya Williams followed up on one of her Anxious Bench gift ideas and explained what the “Mensch on the Bench” says about the Americanization of Hannukah.

• Some sad news from one of the best-known evangelical pastors in the United States:

• I’m impressed that an evangelical theologian as conservative as Russell Moore would have a regular podcast feature called “Tell Me Where I’m Wrong.” I’m even more impressed that he would invite Kristin Du Mez for one such episode dedicated to gender and Christianity.

• As the Supreme Court considers a landmark abortion case, it’s a good time to look back at the varied landscape of religious views on that issue before Roe v. Wade.

• “How did we reach a point,” asked historian Dan Williams, “where defenses of ‘human dignity and value‘ and condemnations of violence are more likely to come from pro-choice politicians than from those who call themselves pro-life?”

• The Christian Century issue with my book’s review also includes a timely column from Philip Jenkins, bridging his longstanding interest in global Christianity and his recent research into the religious consequences of climate change.

• This RNS article wasn’t from Philip, but it’s also right up his alley: the strange phenomenon of Bible fanfiction.

• What if vaccine hesitancy is less about science illiteracy or religious objections, and more “reflects a transformation of our core beliefs about what we owe one another“?

• And when the unvaccinated appeal to freedom, they may be using that word as it was redefined by an unlikely group: realtors.

• Finally, the Olympics may face a difficult future, even if the U.S. and other countries don’t engage in a full boycott of the Winter games in Beijing.