American Violence: The Long Civil War

I know the American Civil War happened, but I’m not too sure when, how, or whether it ended.That question was in my mind recently when I visited Georgetown, Kentucky, with its lovely old main street. Near the courthouse stands a monument to the trial of people accused in a sensational event of the era, the 1900 assassination of Governor William Goebel. Now, political killings happen, and are often the work of deranged loners. On this occasion, though, the assassination was part of a p … [Read More...]

A Golden Age for Christian Colleges?

Are Christian colleges uniquely positioned to revitalize our nation’s intellectual life and contribute to cultural bridge-building in this era of political and social polarization?If you ask Christian scholars, this would seem to be the case.In Inside Higher Ed, Tal Howard argues that America’s Christian colleges and universities “are now well positioned to save not only liberalism from self-parody but also conservatism from the maw of populist demagoguery.” And in a bold assertion (recen … [Read More...]

A Reasonable Reading List for Medieval Christianity: Part 2

If you ever have the chance, visit the church of St. Bartholomew the Great in London.St. Bart's, as it is affectionately known, stands in Smithfield, just outside the old London wall.  I recommend a Sunday morning walk to it from St. Paul's Cathedral. Go about 9:45 a.m. to hear the Cathedral … [Read More...]

Great Movies About The Great War

That we still think of World War I as a murderous exercise in futility, rather than (as Philip argued Friday) a terrible, but justifiable attempt to stop the hegemonic ambitions of a German Reich, probably has much to do with the power of its cinematic interpretations. At my own blog I once … [Read More...]

What Has Technology Ever Done For Us?

This may seem like a silly question, but how much influence has modern communication technology had on us? That is actually a surprisingly hotly debated issue right now. The implications are vast – for society, politics, religion, and dare I say, for human consciousness.It is widely acknowledged … [Read More...]

The Great War, and the Futile War

We are hearing a lot this year about the centennial of the First World War, and time and again, we hear what a “futile” and “meaningless” struggle that was. Obviously, then, by extension, US entry into that war – which we commemorate next month – must have been a tragic blunder. This is for instance … [Read More...]

Defining Evangelicalism: Part 1,242…

Douglas Winiarski's Darkness Falls on the Land of Light begins with the story of two couples in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. In the winter of 1748-1749, Hannah and John Corey withdrew from Sturbridge's Congregational church, were baptized, and united themselves to a Separate congregation.The … [Read More...]

Donald Trump Did Not Win an Election on November 8, 2016

Today's guest post comes from H. Paul Thompson, Jr., Dean of the College of Humanities and Professor of History at North Greenville University. His current research and writing interests focus on evangelical Christians, the Bible, and race and diversity, after his first book, A Most Stirring and Si … [Read More...]

5 Reasons Why Christians Should Study History

It sounds better coming out of Tim Challies than me: "One of the great weaknesses of the contemporary church is its detachment from its own history." After all, it's one thing for a history professor at a Christian college to make that claim. It's another when one of the top 10 Christian … [Read More...]

Christian Colleges Meet Trump’s America

I received much feedback from a piece I wrote for Inside Higher Ed. So, permit me the liberty of reprinting it for Anxious Bench readers. The original appeared here.It has been widely hypothesized that the type of identity politics nurtured on elite secular campuses helped produce the backlash … [Read More...]

What if this had been me? A gendered analysis of the funniest video ever.

By now, I’m sure you’ve all seen this video. If you haven’t, here you go. You’re welcome. could write about all the reasons I find this video so absurdly funny, but instead I suggest you read Jonny Cooper’s “Anatomy of a Masterpiece.” Again, you’re welcome.Eve … [Read More...]

Faith in the Foxholes: Christianity and the World Wars

If you're a regular reader of The Anxious Bench, chances are good that you already know about Christian History Magazine. But if not, now's the perfect time to introduce yourself to CH: its new issue features a terrific set of articles exploring how the two world wars affected Chri … [Read More...]

The Forgotten History of “Christian” Political Activism

Across the political spectrum, most Americans would automatically describe the country’s religious heritage as “Judeo-Christian.” Rarely, though, do they think about the origins of this term, or how exceedingly odd it would have appeared before the 1950s (and still does to many non-Americans). In fac … [Read More...]

Betsy DeVos, HBCUs, and the History of Christian Higher Education

We're delighted to welcome Andrea Turpin back to The Anxious Bench. A colleague of Beth and Philip's at Baylor University, Andrea is the author of A New Moral Vision: Gender, Religion, and the Changing Purposes of American Higher Education, 1837-1917. (On that book, see her January interview with Kri … [Read More...]

A Reasonable Reading List for Medieval Christianity: Part 1

If, after my last post Did Medieval Christians Know Jesus?, you realized you had no framework for understanding the Investiture Controversy, Fourth Lateran Council, or even transubstantiation; or, while eating a stack of pancakes for dinner last Tuesday (Fat Tuesday), you realized you had no idea w … [Read More...]

The Good Death: How Do Christians Learn to Die?

Even in the evangelical, Pietist, and Baptist circles in which I move, Lent has become ubiquitous. Protestants whose parents and grandparents found the liturgical calendar extra-biblical, if not heretical, now embrace (often quite publicly) a season of disciplined, penitential reflection on death and … [Read More...]

Forgetting American Terror: The Christian Front

Imagine American cities under siege by extreme Right-wing movements and paramilitary groups calling for armed violence, and actually attacking Jews and other minorities in the streets. You might think that such horrors would be hard to conceal, and the resulting soul-searching would give abundant … [Read More...]

Paul Winter: Of Anti-Catholics, Anti-Semites, and Nazis

This post concerns an authentically frightening figure in US history, and one whose career speaks powerfully to contemporary debates about religious and ethnic prejudice. If our history had traveled in somewhat different directions, he might have become very powerful indeed. Be very grateful that … [Read More...]

Where is John the Baptist’s Head?

When I ask students to read and generate questions about the Gospel of Mark, someone always asks about the beheading of John the Baptist? What sort of mother asks her daughter to ask her father for a prophet's head?(I can also count on a question about the fig tree, for which I never have an … [Read More...]

Margaret Mead: Christian, Pro-life Feminist

Today we are pleased to welcome Elesha Coffman to the Anxious Bench. Elesha is an Assistant Professor of History at Baylor University. Her first book, The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline, was published by Oxford UP in 2013 and her current book project is a spiritual … [Read More...]