This Week in Links: An eclectic collection of news and views from the past week or so on faith, language, and literature, as well as other topics of interest.

Ever wondered what its like to be a bureaucrat and a poet? The recent discovery of thousands of documents written by Walt Whitman during his work as a government clerk may shed light on the subject. Check out the details in Jennifer Howard’s “In Electric Discovery, Scholar Finds Trove of Walt Whitman Documents in National Archives” at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lutherans and Sexuality: Nearly two years after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America affirmed homosexual marraige and the ordination of practising homosexual ministers, its Canadian counterpart – the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) -looks poised to take the same steps at its convention this summer. By contast, the Lutheran Church of Canada (LCC), which is also holding its national convention this summer, is expected to pass resolutions affirming the historic position of the Church on the subject of sexuality. You can read about it here at The Canadian Lutheran Online.

In another Lutheran-focused article, Robert Benne provides his take on divisions in American Lutheranism. His article “The Trials of American Lutheranism” appears in First Things, and suggests the “exiles” of the 1960s-70s theological wars in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod were instrumental in steering the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to its eventual split in 2009.

Prominent Saskatchewan poet Gary Hyland passed away just over a week ago. Hyland was instrumental in founding or helping found a number of cultural organizations, including the Saskatchewan Festival of Words and publishing house Couteau Books. He died at the age of 70 from Lou Gehrig’s disease, reports The Leader-Post.

A commentary piece for The Globe and Mail suggests that Canadian evangelical affinity for the Conservative Party is less about issues of sexuality or abortion, and instead more about the party’s defense of religious freedom (at home and abroad). Referencing a publication by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the article suggests that “the story of evangelical voting in the 2000s is not one of evangelicals flocking to the Conservatives but how the Liberal Party drove them away by mocking of Stockwell Day and making anti-evangelical statements.” By contrast, the author says, the Conservatives still enjoy “strong evangelical support because [Harper’s] party has shown that it gets evangelicals as a group, in a way that the Liberals – and much of the media – don’t.” An interesting take on the relationship between faith and politics in Canada.

In an article this past Wednesday, The Guardian tells the story of Nuumte Oote, a dying language whose last two speakers refuse to talk to each other. Like so many other langauge stories, this one seems destined to a tragic ending: previous attempts at language revitalization have petered out and died. The article – “Language at risk of dying out – the last two speakers aren’t talking” – also includes a link to UNESCO’s full list of endangered languages.

Finally this week, in Poland they recently began construction on the biggest statue of Jesus in the world. But don’t think this is a great national artistic project; from the sounds of it, the work is being done primarily by volunteers from the local town and prisoners on day release from the local jail. When asked about the reason for the statue, project founder Father Sylwester Zawadzki replied simply: “”It was Jesus’s idea: I was just the builder.” Read the full story in The Guardian‘s article “World’s biggest statue of Christ symbolizes church’s power in Poland.”