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Faithland: What’s the Most Highly Religious Part of America?

13 Feb

Faithland map of religious adherence in America

via Faithland: What’s the Most Highly Religious Part of America?

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Embrace the Pain: Living with the Repugnant Cultural Other

5 Feb

When my son was quite young, I took him to our family doctor for a regular check-up, and during the examination the doctor said “Now I need to look for bruises.” I was instantly offended and alarmed: I don’t hurt my child! “No, no,” he said. “I want to see bruises. Because if he doesn’t have a few bruises, that means that he’s not taking the physical risks that he needs to take to develop as he should.” If playing too recklessly can lead a child into trouble, timidity can create its own, very different, troubles.

I have often reflected on what Dr Judge said that day, and even now I apply it to myself – not in terms of physical risk, physical development (that ship has sailed, for me), but in terms of intellectual risk-taking. I see too many people my age, indeed younger than me, who have ceased to take any chances, who have settled into complacency, whose outlook on the world can never receive any bruises because it is never risked on the playing field. I don’t want to be like that – not now, and not ever.

And here we arrive at the heart of the matter: I want to argue – with considerable trepidation, I admit – that the task of the undergraduate student is to embrace this kind of bruising, such pain, and the task of teachers and administrators is, if they can, to structure the game in such a way that that pain doesn’t escalate into harm. If we can manage that, then it’s good for students, good for the university, and good for the society at large. Let me unpack this argument.

If you want to see how Alan Jacobs of Baylor University unpacks this, you can read his entire address here.

 

 

World War I: American Jazz Delights the World

24 Jan

In the afterglow of the armistice in 1918 that ended World War I, Europe, and particularly the city of Paris, exhibited a wild exuberance. In mid-January 1919, future civil rights pioneer and American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) officer Charles Hamilton Houston encapsulated the mood and sounds of European joy: “Paris is taken away with [jazz] and our style of dancing,” he wrote in his diary. “The girls come after the boys in taxis and beg them to go to the dance. Colored boys are all the go.”

So begins Ryan Reft’s post at the Library of Congress. You may read the rest of his post here.

A sandwich in space …

9 Jan

This replica sandwich in acrylic would never fall apart in zero-gravity.

JOHN YOUNG, WHO DIED LAST Friday at the age of 87, was the longest-serving astronaut in NASA history. Since his first flight in 1965, Young spent 835 hours in space and walked on the moon. By all accounts, he had a stellar career.

But it was almost derailed by a corned beef sandwich.

So begins Anne Ewbank’s Atlas Obscura story on a sandwich in space. You may read the entire post here.

 

 

The Library of Congress rethinks archiving Twitter

3 Jan

In 2010, Twitter bestowed its entire archive of public tweets on the Library of Congress, which the library called “an exciting and groundbreaking acquisition.” The collection began on March 21, 2006, when the company’s co-founder and C.E.O., Jack Dorsey, typed “just setting up my twttr,” and has been expanding significantly each day since (approximately six thousand public tweets are now posted every second). Private and deleted tweets are not included, and neither are images or embedded videos. Everything else, though, is immediately churned into an ever-thickening text archive, to be preserved by the library for all of eternity.

So begins Amanda Petrusich’s New Yorker reflection on the Library of Congress and archiving Twitter. You may read the rest of the reflection here.

There is a history to “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays”

22 Dec

It’s the most wonderful fight of the year: the annual tussle between Christians who bravely defend “Merry Christmas” and the godless liberals who want to impose “Happy Holidays” on all of us. Or so the story goes on talk radio. But while President Trump promises to restore “Merry Christmas” to American life, those who insist on using the phrase as a sort of flag for conservative Christian culture misunderstand its history. Rather than religious, its origins are secular and commercial, even profane.

So begins historian Neil J. Young ‘s historical recounting of some of the history of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” in America. You can read his entire Los Angeles Times op-ed here.

 

Can “Evangelicalism” Survive Trump?

14 Dec

Photo: Lisa Svelmoe

In fact what we call “evangelicalism” is made up of a vast number of different churches and organizations from around the world that are mostly disconnected with each other, even though they share a number of basic common features (notably, “biblicism,” “conversionism,” “crucicentrism,” and “activism,” as defined by David Bebbington). And if we start our thinking about “evangelicalism” by recognizing this fundamental diversity, that invites a second thought experiment: what if we thought first of “evangelicalism” in the light of its many majority world manifestations, instead of first through an American lens?

So writes historian George Marsden on evangelicalism. To read his entire post at the Anxious Bench, click here.

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