I frequently come across interesting websites, blog entries, videos, or documents on the Internet, and thought it might be fun to start a semi-regular feature called “Internet Knickknacks,” a combination of history, Christianity, and pop culture.
Lots continues to be made, and rightly so, of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. I’ve argued it might be a turning point in the history of guns in America … or not. You might also want to check out the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s look at guns in the United States or read The New Yorker‘s reflection on the meaning of the Second Amendment, which is rapidly becoming a hot topic.
Under the category of history, there’s a great new/old historical journal you should all read–it’s Contemporary Church History Quarterly. I happen to be the managing editor, along with 15 colleagues, many of whom are among the top scholars of the history of Christianity in Nazi Germany. One of my favourite blogs, The Pietist Schoolman, discusses what a Charles Dickens Christmas dinner might have tasted like. But just what goes into a traditional Christmas? Oh, if we could only go back to the good ol’ days of a traditional Christian Christmas … or not? If you’re looking for a good gift for that reader in your life, here are five well-written religious biographies for you to consider.
I watched an interesting man vs. nature film the other day–those usually aren’t my favourites, and I usually watch only because my wife Colleen wants to, but she picked a winner in North Face (Nordwand). It’s the story of German and Austrian climbers trying to scale the treacherous north face of the Eiger, perhaps the most difficult mountain in Europe. The film is set in 1936, and the Nazi German press eagerly watches the climbers, hoping to report on the triumph of the Aryan race conquering nature. Speaking of the Second World War (well, almost), there’s a site where you can find out if your street in London was bombed during the Blitz. Another interesting map site examines world history through the lens of maps and then looks at how we view the world through Google Earth. Those maps probably provide a clearer view than the new History Channel series, Mankind: The Story of All of Us, which received a harsh review on The Historical Society blog.
On the religious front, there’s a new Pew Forum study on the demographics of the major religions of the world, as of 2010. Anyone in the religion business might want to check it out. And a book that looks quite interesting, to me at least, is T. M. Luhrmann’s When God Talks Back. She’s a Stanford University anthropologist and the book is an examination of evangelical prayer practices. Here’s an National Public Radio interview with her.
Finally, no video I’ve seen lately comes close to the artistry, wit, and whimsy of Spike Lee’s short warm-up to the new Brooklyn Nets-New York Knicks basketball rivalry. It’s such a rich piece, from the way he dresses to the rhythm of the dialogue, and a wonderful nod to the complexity of history and identity, which plays out in New York like almost nowhere else. Don’t believe me? Check out the NBA’s cool documentary The Association Brooklyn Nets, and you’ll get a fascinating look into both the borough itself and the significant boost having its own sports team will be.