Archives for November 2012


I want to share an enthusiasm about one of the best available sources for the state of Christianity worldwide. I have already described my admiration for religious commentator John Allen. Although his main emphasis is Roman Catholicism, he is a wonderful source on global religious trends generally, as they affect Christians of all traditions. You [Read More…]

From St. Nicholas to Santa Claus

It’s a striking image: a man climbing up the side of a house and tossing three gold coins into the room of three poor young women. The funny thing about it is that the gift giver is missing his customary bright red suit and hat, white beard, and accompanying reindeer.St. Nicholas of Myra comes to [Read More…]

Albert Mohler on Leadership

I did a 2011 podcast interview with Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,  about my biography of Patrick Henry. I’ve done a lot of interviews, but I cannot recall doing one more academically rigorous, or where the interviewer knew so much about my books. I bring this up because, for me, it validates [Read More…]

Beechers in the Backyard

We are still in the thick of Civil War commemorations— perhaps Americans never are far from  them–and entering a fresh phase with the release of Lincoln on the big screen.  For Georgetown, Massachusetts, where my family lives, Civil War memory has two primary foci: the Massachusetts 50th Volunteer regiment, Company K, a fellowship of town [Read More…]


One of the really impressive books I have read on the subject of Global or World Christianity is Lamin Sanneh’s autobiography, Summoned from the Margin. The book has any number of reasons to recommend it, but I was struck by one remarkable passage he quotes from Winston Churchill. While nothing can dim Churchill’s overall achievement, [Read More…]

Giving Thanks

Professors tend to be a grumpy lot. The pay is not exactly stratospheric. University bureaucracies can be a nuisance. My own personal gripe is that I have to pay for the privilege of parking. I would understand if I had to pay some sort of fine for because I bring such an eyesore of a [Read More…]

The Forgotten Virtue of Gratitude

Nothing new from me this week, but here is an article on gratitude that  I wrote in 2008.  It originally appeared at Inside Higher Education.  Happy Thanksgiving! –JF It was a typical 1970s weekday evening. The sky was growing dark and I, an elementary school student, was sitting at the kitchen table of a modest [Read More…]

Not All Turkey and Touchdowns

My Thanksgiving column, from the Patheos archives: The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony weren’t the first Europeans to settle in North America, nor were they the first permanent English colonists. But because of our annual celebration of Thanksgiving, and our hazy images of their 1621 meal with Native Americans, the Pilgrims have become the emblematic colonists [Read More…]


I’m reading a biography of one of my favorite authors, whose work has impressed and excited me for over forty years now. This is Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011), subject of a dazzling new book by Artemis Cooper. The problem in describing Leigh Fermor’s work is that it is so diverse, and so impressive, you don’t [Read More…]

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Benjamin Franklin: Self-made man? So much for going down to the river The humanities are under fire in Florida Dick Cavett and Ali  New website at the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience More  here. [Read more…]