I’m pleased to welcome Doug Rossinow, a professor of history at the University of Oslo, to the Anxious Bench. In 1998 he wrote one of my all-time favorite books, a model piece of scholarship entitled The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christianity, and the New Left in America. A beautifully written, close study of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Texas at Austin, it illuminates broader trajectories in the New Left and of the 1960s. He is also… Read more

Chris reviews Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, in which John Fea explains how evangelical instincts for fear, power, and nostalgia led them to support Trump. Read more

This summer marks the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical from Pope Paul VI in 1968 confirming Roman Catholic rejection of birth control. The decision was important for both American Catholics and Protestants. For many of the former, it presented a crisis of conscience, exacerbating tensions among tradition, reason, and authority. It became a significant cultural marker for the latter too, though they were not bound by it–and indeed, earnest evangelicals whose sexual morality resembles Roman Catholic expectations often… Read more

It’s hard to ignore the Inklings. They are a huge force both in high culture and popular culture, and the works of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien have generated income for their estates at a mind-bogglingly vast level that either of those two authors would have found hilarious. My own personal favorite among that group remains Charles Williams, who many consider a modern-day Anglican saint, besides being a major and under-acknowledged influence on canonical figures like T. S…. Read more

New Testament passages about honoring and praying for secular authorities, argues Chris, shouldn’t have led to the Southern Baptist Convention hosting a Mike Pence stump speech for Donald Trump. Read more

  Today we are pleased to welcome a new contributor to the Anxious Bench, Melissa Borja. A specialist in Asian American studies, religion, and migration, Melissa is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan in the American Culture program. Her first book, Follow the New Way: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and Practice of American Religious Pluralism, “explores the religious dimensions of American refugee care—how governments have expanded capacity through partnerships with religious organizations and how refugee policies have shaped the religious… Read more

A carved image, about two feet tall, stands alone in a glass case in the Cluny Museum in Paris. At first it seems a typical image of the Madonna and Child. Both look straight ahead, holding the gaze of the viewer. Their matching golden robes fade so  easily into the golden background that it is easy to miss how mother and child are seated on an elaborately carved throne. Only the red apple loosely held in Mary’s hand stands out…. Read more

For many of us, summer is a time to leave home and explore other places. Last year we shared several of our favorite historic travel destinations in the United States. Today, we’re teaming up to suggest a few must-see sites in Europe. (See also David’s recent post about Iceland and Tal’s essay inspired by a trip to Italy and Istanbul.) Embed from Getty Images Some of the absolute best places to see in the United Kingdom are in Wales, the… Read more

I have been posting about the 1668 novel The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus, by Johann von Grimmelshausen, a wonderful source for understanding the Early Modern period. Oddly, it also has a lot to say about contemporary global Christianity, in the sense that there are some remarkable parallels between the social and cultural worlds of Europe then, and portions of Africa (for instance) today. One striking parallel involves the whole business of literacy and learning to read, and how that affects… Read more

Today we have a guest column. Some time ago, I referred to the Book of Acts, and began an intriguing correspondence with Mr. Jesse Elison. Focusing especially on one key phrase, Mr. Elison made a strong case for showing how Luke was drawing directly on secular Greek literature, and moreover that he might even have been using the work of Euripides as a model for the story he was trying to tell. After all, did not his play The Bacchae… Read more

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