October 17, 2018

The same afternoon Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, one of my friends sent me a link to a devotional series for married couples from Desiring God. My heart just sank. This is how it was tweeted on October 5, 2018: “She submits. He sacrifices. She follows. He leads. She affirms. He initiates. They both reflect Jesus.” The devotional book, Happily Ever After: Finding Grace in the Messes of Marriage, was a free digital download last weekend. I don’t… Read more

October 16, 2018

Historians often celebrate the value of empathy. But a recent talk about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church leads guest-blogger Elesha Coffman to consider the importance of disgust and lament as well. Read more

October 15, 2018

Statistics interpret the world we see, and they make the world we know. When we discuss social problems, we measure them by figures purporting to describe how they grow and fall, how they become “epidemics.” Statistics are inevitably cited when we discuss such issues as homelessness, inequality, sexual abuse, harassment, rape, drug abuse, terrorism, or hate crime. Similarly, we measure religious trends through numbers – growing or shrinking congregations, processes of secularization or revival. Much of my career has involved… Read more

October 12, 2018

I write a lot about alternative non-canonical scriptures, and the diverse Christianities they represent. One idea I challenge regularly goes something like this: for long centuries, Christians believed there were only the scriptures we know in the New testament. Then, suddenly, a series of amazing discoveries in the mid-late twentieth century (like the famous Nag Hammadi finds in Egypt) transformed our understanding. From the 1970s onward, we began to realize just how diverse and effervescent early Christianity was. These lost… Read more

October 11, 2018

I do not attend very many conferences. There are several reasons for this. Mostly, I like staying home. My university does not have a very generous travel budget, and while I can get a surprising amount of work done in airports and on airplanes, I can write more at home. Preparing conference presentations, moreover, sometimes detracts from larger projects. There are several exceptions to this rule, because there are several conferences that I love to attend (there are many other… Read more

October 10, 2018

Three more reflections from the 2018 meeting of the Conference on Faith and History consider the calling of historians and their relationship to the larger church. Read more

October 9, 2018

Days after returning from Grand Rapids, I’m still digesting all the speeches, papers, and conversations I heard at the 2018 meeting of the Conference on Faith and History. With five plenary addresses and more than fifty panels and roundtables taking place at several buildings on the campus of Calvin College, it’d be impossible to encapsulate so wide-ranging a program — one organized by our friend John Fea and featuring several members of The Anxious Bench. My time at the conference, for… Read more

October 8, 2018

The Puritan logic of the Sabbath does much better than our current advice to guard something important about human life from the insidious grasp of the world of work. Read more

October 5, 2018

I have blogged a great deal on a variety of topics we can loosely call esoteric – on Gnosticism, Theosophy, and alternative scriptures. I have recently been working on how progressive thinkers used those related topics in the first great wave of feminist militancy, between about 1880 and 1912. The resemblances to today are quite convincing. It’s fascinating to see how comprehensively those early feminists mined quite advanced scholarship on the New Testament and early Christianity to make their arguments,… Read more

October 4, 2018

So, it turns out close to half of all white evangelicals think Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault are true. (An NPR/PBS NewHour/Marist poll conducted last week, 48% of white evangelical Christians believed he should be appointed to the highest court regardless; an additional 16% were unsure, leaving only 36% of white evangelicals who would apparently have a problem with an unrepentant perpetrator of sexual assault serving on the highest court of… Read more

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