• My Anxious Bench colleague Nadya Williams (whose Jewish grandmother survived the German invasion of the Soviet Union) reflected on the Holocaust for the day set aside for its remembrance.
(With impossibly bad timing, a school board in Tennessee chose this week to remove an acclaimed graphic novel about the Shoah from 8th grade classrooms.)
• A new exhibit in New York considers how “monument making and monument breaking have been shaping our national dialogue and public landscape for centuries.”
• Learn from his latest biographer about Ulrich Zwingli, the Protestant reformer who “has long been cast as a lesser man than Martin Luther and as the warm-up act for John Calvin.”
• Meet the American missionary, French politician, English soldier, and other figures who revived archeological interest in Jerusalem.
• “Even as presidents have had to prove religious bona fides to elements of their electoral coalitions,” wrote Jacob Lupfer, “these commitments have been, almost without exception, easy to align with the demands of the office, of American civil religion, and of an ever more diverse country.”
• The hot new investment for unscrupulous venture capitalists: prayer apps.
• “Even though decline is happening,” says one sociologist, “religion remains, by world standards, very vibrant in the U.S.”
• What’s the difference between secularism and atheism?
• It’d be hard to think of another prominent scholar more vocally pro-life than Karen Swallow Prior, who has been having “a hard time with a lot of folks who are on my side of the aisle on this issue, yet inexplicably fail to apply the same logic to the precautions asked for during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
• What will it look like when the COVID pandemic, like all pandemics, finally ends? One epidemiologist tried to explain.
• In a new psychological study of a recurring issue in STEM fields, “participants were consistently more likely to describe a discipline as a ‘soft science’ when they’d been led to believe that proportionally more women worked in the field.”
• It took about sixteen months to get our 2019 taxes processed… and the problems with the IRS are not going away as Americans prepare to file their 2021 returns.
• I’ll be handing out syllabi for spring courses on Monday. I can guarantee you that I will not be hiding a $50 reward in the fine print of those increasingly lengthy documents.
• A historic Jeopardy! contestant finally saw her winning streak end. Well, it ended months ago — we just finally saw that episode air. It’s remarkable the lengths that she and other champions have had to go to keep their success a secret.
• I’m still waiting for my Jeopardy! call, so in the meantime, I’ve hopped on the Wordle bandwagon…
…Perhaps the fact that I play — or the way I play — says something about me, but I think this writer’s take was closer to true: “It’s just a word game. It doesn’t have to be more than that. It’s fun because fun amounts to the discovery of familiarity in novelty.”
• Finally, did you know that old music now makes up 70% of that market, or that the two hundred most popular new songs get only 5% of streams? (I didn’t.)