That Was The Week That Was
November 13-19, 2022
• As a historian who teaches the French Revolution all the time, I was tickled to see a Phrygian cap named mascot of the 2024 Paris Olympics. But I get why everyone else is baffled.
• Worldwide, (non-American) football is virtually a religion in its own right. But with this year’s World Cup being hosted in a majority-Muslim country that has banned alcohol from stadiums and whose stance on LGBTQ rights has sparked player protests, reporters may need to think more closely about the relationship of Islam to sports.
• According to one Israeli scholar, Judaism as we know it only goes back to the century before Christ.
• A Catholic scholar explained the medieval roots of America’s “first thanksgiving.”
• At some point, I’ll try to dig into the just-released 2020 edition of the U.S. Religion Census. Daniel Silliman got there first, and found that nondenominational churches now make up the largest Protestant group in America.
• RIP Michael Gerson, the Bush speechwriter turned anti-Trump columnist lost his battle with cancer. Among the many celebrating his life and mourning his loss were his colleague Karen Tumulty and John Fea, who recalled Gerson as exemplifying compassionate conservatism.
• A rare example of congressional bipartisanship: twelve Republican senators joined their Democratic colleagues in supporting legislation that, in the view of at least one conservative Christian legal scholar, balances marriage equality with some religious liberty protections.
• Why did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints support that bill? A Mormon historian explained.
• Meanwhile, Donald Trump became just the fifth former president to announce a run for a second non-consecutive term. (So far, only one of them has been successful.)
• There’s not much space left on the National Mall in Washington, DC. So which topics/groups will get a museum?
• Nadya Williams wrote a thoughtful piece about cost/benefit analysis, the Imago Dei, and how humans view human life.
• Clint Smith wrote a terrific piece for The Atlantic on what Americans can learn from Germans about commemorating dark chapters in national history.
• While I know plenty of people who revere him, I still haven’t read a book by Wendell Berry, whom one reviewer described as an “American Augustine.”
• I lectured yesterday about fundamentalism and evangelicalism, a distinction that’s been playing out in recent weeks via the power battle pitting some trustees at Bob Jones University against the school’s president.
• Sadly, even the “evangelical Harvard” is now announcing program and faculty cuts.
• Could the school rankings industry be headed for the ash heap of history? I mean, when you’ve lost Harvard and Yale Law…
• How can we draw more students back to majors in the humanities? Maybe colleges should vary tuition according to programs’ costs of instruction. (History, like English and philosophy, is certainly cheap in this respect, but I think this article is making the wrong contrast: economics isn’t nearly as expensive to offer as engineering, health sciences, education, and other professional programs with extensive, complicated requirements that often have tiny student-to-faculty ratios and off-site learning.)
• Finally, I fear the sermon illustrations that will come from the news that leprosy bacteria can actually play a role in healing.
The Pietist Schoolman is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.