Evangelicals and Immigration–1940s Style

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!These words, ascribed on a bronze plaque affixed to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, were penned by American poet Emma Lazarus.   Originally written to help raise money to fund pedestal construction, "The New Colossus" portrays the statue as the "Mother of Exiles" whose " … [Read More...]

Evangelizing Slaves and Colonial Christianity

I recently read Travis Glasson's excellent book Mastering Christianity: Missionary Anglicanism and Slavery in the Atlantic World (Oxford, 2012). This book details the complex relationship between enslaved people, slave masters, and the missionaries of the Anglican Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), which began a major outreach effort to the North American colonies in the early 1700s. Many of the pioneer missionaries found aspects of the lower South's slave society quite troubling, b … [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR (1)

We are presently commemorating the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Plenty of different theories allocate blame for that event to various powers, usually to Germany, with Russia as a runner up. For present purposes, though, let us set aside blame and look at how the … [Read More...]

WARS HOLY AND UNHOLY

I have been posting a lot recently on the topic of holy war and crusade in the context of the First World War. In that context, I read a piece by Donald R. McClarey posted at the American Catholic. It includes a quote that demands a “discuss!” following it.The piece is called “Benedict XV, Rudya … [Read More...]

Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham

Outsiders to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints familiar with Mormonism typically have heard something about the Book of Mormon. Perhaps they know that Joseph Smith claimed to have received golden plates from an angel.Those a bit more familiar with Mormonism might know that Smith … [Read More...]

Scripture as Usable History

The Bicentennial Bible (1975) and the American Patriot’s Bible (2009) tie scripture closely to right-wing politics. The marginal notes feature quotations from Dick Cheney and other conservative activists on the subjects of liberty and the efficacy of public school prayer and free-markets. The B … [Read More...]

Christianity, Violence, and World War I

Our friends at Religion News Service have an excellent profile of two of the best books ever written on World War I and religion, Jonathan Ebel's Faith in the Fight: The American Soldier and the Great War, and my colleague and fellow Anxious Bencher Philip Jenkins' The Great and Holy War: How World W … [Read More...]

Did you remember to celebrate Slovak Day?

I was the only kid I knew whose family packed an accordion to go to the amusement park.It happened once a year.  My ordinary life was passed in upstate New York, but summers included at least one visit to my grandparents in Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh in a 1970s summer: hot, grimy, noisy, stirring.  … [Read More...]

CONSTRUCTING A CATHOLIC CRISIS

Jason Berry is a journalist who works on Catholic issues and clergy sexual abuse. He has recently published an article on abuse issues, in which he attacks my work. He is quite at liberty to make such a criticism, but he cannot do so on the basis of an outrageous mis-representation of what I … [Read More...]

STICKING UP FOR JEWS?

Over the past few years, we Anxious Bench bloggers have dealt with many and sundry topics. As I look back, though, I am surprised to see one big omission, both my myself and my colleagues, which is that of Jews and Judaism, and Christian-Jewish relations. If we have touched on it, we have not said … [Read More...]

Phony Wars

Reform or perish. Cultural and ideological liberals have given such advice to conservative churches for years. Sometimes that advice comes from within, sometimes from outside of those communions.For example, Jonathan Rauch warns conservative Christians that “the First Church of Discrimination w … [Read More...]

African American Texas History in Houston

The best research projects are ones that can reasonably be accomplished.  Since I enjoy archival research and travel funds are limited, I recently began considering what projects I might pursue locally.  With a strong interest in African American religious history and the recent historiographical tu … [Read More...]

Five Great Books on Evangelical Christianity

My recent post "'Evangelicals' Who Are Not Evangelicals" generated quite a discussion about who's in, and who's out of the evangelical camp. The study of evangelicalism has seen an amazing renaissance in the past fifty years, so here's a list of five excellent books on evangelicals and their … [Read More...]

THE BREAKING OF IMAGES

In a recent Times Literary Supplement, David Motadel reviewed James Noyes’s 2013 book The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam. The review, and the associated scholarship, raises important questions about how we conceive of the R … [Read More...]

THE FLIGHT OF THE DINGBATS

Robert Spencer just published an extraordinarily inaccurate piece about my work. I would not normally dignify Spencer with a reply, but his piece appeared at jihadwatch, which has among its followers a significant number of folks who feel the need to send hate-filled screeds against those who meet … [Read More...]

BUCHAN’S POWER HOUSE

I have been posting on some books that appeared during the First World War – books by Wells, Moore, and Machen – but one contribution from that time was one of the most daring and, we might even say, prophetic. Amazingly in light of his later reputation, the author in question was John Buchan. His st … [Read More...]

Spirits Eat Ripe Papaya

It’s beach-reading season—and I have a can’t-miss recommendation. Spirits Eat Ripe Papaya, the debut novel of St. Mary’s College (Ind.) history professor Bill Svelmoe, is a hysterical account of the foibles of good-hearted, but sometimes naïve missionaries.I recommend the book for several reasons … [Read More...]

The “Evangelicals” Who Are Not Evangelicals

At the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim recently reviewed Steven Miller's excellent book The Age of Evangelicalism, which I also reviewed at The Gospel Coalition. In my review, I suggested that evangelicals' necessary engagement in politics has defined evangelicals by their politics and p … [Read More...]

Penn Prof: Religious Colleges Should Not Be Accredited

University of Pennsylvania professor Peter Conn says at the Chronicle of Higher Education that religious colleges (presumably meaning only conservative Christian colleges) should not receive accreditation. Conn:Providing accreditation to colleges like Wheaton makes a mockery of whatever academic … [Read More...]

FREEMASONRY AND BLACK HISTORY

I have been posting a lot recently on the very diverse impact of Freemasonry on all sots of unsuspected aspects of culture. The British GUARDIAN just did a terrific piece on the relationship between Freemasonry and jazz – particularly Black Masonry of the Prince Hall tradition. I quote:“Start dig … [Read More...]


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