Then & Now
Religious historians take on the present
Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry explained that if he could do it all over again, he would major in “comparative religion.” Were it not for a Supreme Court decision 50 years ago, this might not have even been possible.
When President Obama argued for U.S. strikes on Syria, he used a familiar trope: When, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. Yet his proposed Syria policy put him in new political territory: against the views of a majority of African Americans.
When commemorations are only read about or considered from an armchair, they are often cleansed of the visceral. Space and place are always contested, open to multiple interpretations.
If you look closely, Jesus makes an important cameo appearance in the American Film Institute’s best movie of 2012, Silver Linings Playbook. Most of our attention goes to the bipolar Pat (dreamy Bradley Cooper) and the grieving Tiffany (sultry Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence). They jog, bicker, fanatically root for the Eagles, and dance in the most eyebrow-raising of ways. But one constant amid the family chaos is a framed image of Jesus.
Don’t be fooled by the news out of Detroit: cities are cool again. One of the big takeaways from the 2010 census was that, after a century-long love affair with suburban subdivisions, affluent Americans are jumping back on the (worldwide) urbanizing bandwagon. For a new generation of hipsters, yuppies and retirees, city living is not only aesthetically and culturally preferable. It is an essential piece of a progressive lifestyle. This sensibility springs from a degree of historical consciousness.