Abram Van Engen on the Christian Reformed Church and Betsy DeVos

What’s the relationship between the Secretary of Education’s views and the religious denomination in which she was educated? In a Religion and Politics post, Abram Van Engen takes aim at simplistic news stories which draw a straight line between the Christian Reformed Church (Calvinism! predestination! capitalism!) and Betsey DeVos. It’s a good introduction to why you need to know more than the bullet points about a religious group to explain how it has shaped someone:

That’s the thing about religious traditions: They can be highly formative without yielding predictable results.

Abraham Van Engen — “Advancing God’s Kingdom: Calvinism, Calvin College, and Betsy DeVos

The Programming Historian calls for digital history argumentation

The Programming Historian has sent out a call for contributors to write several proposed new lessons. If you have expertise in one of these areas, one of these tutorials would be great to write. The Programming Historian has an excellent collection of widely-used tutorials, with a well-thought out open peer-review process.

I hadn’t quite realized until my colleague Stephen Robertson pointed it out to me that what unites these proposed lessons is a call for historical argumentation. The Programming Historian is exactly right to think that there is a big gap between data analysis methods and making historical arguments, and that what computational historians need to do is hammer out what that process of historical thinking looks like.

From their blog post:

But gathering data isn’t research in its own right. We need analysis. And that’s where we believe the The Programming Historian needs to go next. We’re looking to move beyond the gathering stage, because you know how to get the data (thanks to our authors), and you’ve cleaned it to a brillian shine (thanks again to our authors!). But what do you do with it next? How do you perform the types of analyses that lead to publishable historical research articles and monographs? How do you do digital research?