The Desecration of Indian Corpses

In February 1850, Mormon settlers began a brief but bloody campaign against several bands of Ute Indians in Utah Valley. On February 13, the Mormons captured a group of Indians, promising them their lives and safety. They lied. "[W]e shall deal with them in the most summary manner as soon as another day favors us with its light," militia commander Daniel H. Wells informed Young. The next morning, the soldiers disarmed and shot the male Indians. Jared Farmer has an excellent account of the Mormon … [Read More...]

Mandates from the Masses and the Call to Courageous Christian Scholarship

Today's guest post comes to us from Scott Culpepper, Associate Professor of History at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. Culpepper teaches courses on the early modern Atlantic World and Religion in American Culture. He holds a Ph.D. from Baylor University and is the author of Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence (Mercer, 2011). I am pausing to reflect on the fickle fate of kings as I prepare to unleash the French Revolution in my undergraduate civilization class.  January a … [Read More...]

Seeking God in The Holocaust

PARIS -- As we pass the halfway mark of our travel course on the history of World War I, I'm starting to think more about the spring course I'll be teaching on World War II. To help me with that preparation, I've been reading Peter Fritzsche's new book, An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler.A … [Read More...]

When did “Interreligious Dialogue” begin?

It is hard to find today a major city that does not have an “interfaith” or “interreligious” council or a university that does not sponsor some sort of “dialogue” among world religions. But when and where did “interreligious dialogue” begin? Most scholars would point to Chicago in 1893 when the fir … [Read More...]

And the Non-Stories

Recently, I write about some of the megatrends that have shaped American religion over the past few decades. Let me also add some trends that would likely have been forecast and expected in earlier decades, but which have not in fact occurred. It is interesting why expectations have been wide of the … [Read More...]

A New Moral Vision

If you clicked on this link because you're desperately seeking a new moral vision, this might not be exactly what you're looking for. But perhaps you can find here a new vantage point from which to pursue this quest...In her new book A New Moral Vision: Gender, Religion, and the Changing … [Read More...]

Make a Good Impression at Academic Conferences (Please!)

It was sunny and warm today in Texas without a snow cloud in sight. I wore short sleeves and left all my coats and scarves at home. And, most importantly, I didn't have to worry about slipping on a sludgy sidewalk. For me, a native Texan, the almost 80-degree weather was a relief after spending 4 … [Read More...]

Lewis, Tolkien, and the Shadow of War

OXFORD — "By 1914," observed Paul Fussell, "it was possible for soldiers to be not merely literate but vigorously literary." So not only are students on our World War I travel course reading healthy amounts of poetry and prose as they seek to understand the people who fought the Great War, but we spe … [Read More...]

Branching Paths and Alternate Histories

I have long valued Rick Perlstein as an excellent scholar of recent American history, chiefly working on the 1960s and 1970s. Based on his recent writings, I also see that he must be a superlative teacher. Please bear those comments in mind when I express some disagreement with him on the theme of … [Read More...]

Forty Years On: American Megatrends

I am presently preparing some courses that I will teach at Baylor on “Late Modern” US history, defined as the era since 1975 or so. As I have asked before in a different context, what are the broad themes that we would expect in that era?What are the most significant changes that have occurred in … [Read More...]

John Knox and His Women

Jane Dawson begins and ends her biography of John Knox with touching, familial scenes.The first is the 1557 baptism of Knox's son Nathaniel in Geneva. Dawson writes that "Knox was standing beneath the pulpit proudly cradling his newborn son in his arms." Knox stood next to his ministerial friend … [Read More...]

Studying Islam as a Christian Historian

Today I'm pleased to introduce Anxious Bench readers to my colleague Amy Poppinga. An expert on Islamic studies, Amy teaches an introductory course at Bethel University on the History of Islam, as well as upper-division classes on Muslim Women in History and the Modern Middle East. She has also playe … [Read More...]

Teaching the Great War Where It Was Fought

"You have the best job."So said an acquaintance at the Minnesota Historical Society earlier this month. Now, I happen to think that designing museum exhibits would be pretty cool, but I couldn't argue. Not only did I have a sabbatical all fall, not only did I spend it with my wife, children, and … [Read More...]

Lessons from a Portrait Project

Welcome, new year! By the end of 2016 it had become a little too fashionable to express relief that that wretched year was over.  But just turning a calendar page is cheap satisfaction, since lots of the trouble we carried in the previous year comes sloshing over into the new.Among those tr … [Read More...]

Finding Jesus’s Mother

Over the Christmas season, we naturally hear so much about Jesus’s mother, Mary, and in conversations, I am always a bit taken aback (not to mention amused) to find how many of the popular stories circulating her actually derive from ancient apocryphal sources. Sorry, no, she wasn’t a Temple Virgin, … [Read More...]

Fear No Evil: Christian Witness in a Time of Darkness

A truck plows into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market. Heart-wrenching images from Aleppo disquiet us on a daily basis. A young white man is convicted in the horrific killing of nine African American worshippers. The fourth anniversary of Sandy Hook comes and goes. Stories of police violence … [Read More...]

A Tale of Two Pastors: Mark Driscoll and A (Medieval) New Year’s Proposal for the 2017 Church

This is a story of two pastors.The first was a vicar in the deanery of Salisbury, England, in 1412. His name was Alexander Champion. He was accused of abusing his ecclesiastical authority by sexually exploiting the women in his care. His parishioners claimed he had slept with five of … [Read More...]

Changes Coming in 2017 at The Anxious Bench

As is often the case with group blogs, change is a constant at The Anxious Bench. Just six months ago John announced that I was taking Tommy Kidd's place, after which I got to tell you that Kristin and Tim would be sharing Thursdays with John.Now it's my turn to pass along news of two more chan … [Read More...]

Christmas and Epiphany, Birth and Baptism

You may have noticed an interesting theological debate currently under way among evangelicals. Critiquing the New Testament evidence for the Virgin Birth, Atlanta megachurch pastor Andy Stanley ventured the opinion that “Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of … [Read More...]

The Magi and the Cave of Treasures

As any Bible reader knows, the infant Jesus was visited by Magi, who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and a cold coming they had of it. But where did they actually get these gifts from? However arcane and speculative such a question may seem, the resulting curiosity generated a vast body of … [Read More...]