Archives for December 2012


Every five years, the US intelligence community issues a projection of what the world will look like in the near future. The most recent offering is Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, which you can download full text, and it amply repays your reading. (I should here declare an interest, in that I have in the [Read More…]

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week:   Thoughts on the history of reading Jack Rakove reviews Kevin Phillips’s 1775: A Good Year for a Revolution Alan Jacobs: “A Christmas Thought About Guns“ How to show them you want the job Christmas in 1776 and 1739 Writing fiction vs. writing non-fiction   [Read More…]


If it didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent the New York Times. Today’s paper has an interesting and fair-minded piece by Amy O’Leary about various emerging church ventures in big cities, and how they are trying new tactics to reach younger markets. All fair enough. The title of the article, though, is a jaw dropping Building [Read More…]


I have just read Rupert Shortt’s impressive new book Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack. I should explain that I got my copy direct from the UK, and I don’t know exactly when it will be available officially on this side of the Atlantic. Very soon, I hope, as it is just an excellent study of [Read More…]

Why College?

Leon Wieseltier is the literary editor of The New Republic.  If you do not read him regularly you should.  Sometimes Wieseltier will make you angry, but he will always make you think. In the December 31 issue of the magazine he extolls the virtue of a college education while at the same time attacking the [Read More…]

George Whitefield’s Christmas, 1739

In December 1739, the great evangelist George Whitefield was completing a treacherous overland trip from Maryland to South Carolina, and he stopped for Christmas in New Bern (“Newborn”), a relatively new parish in North Carolina, which was also one of the newer southern colonies. He had already seen phenomenal crowds attend his outdoor meetings in [Read More…]

Ready for Christmas?

As this posting falls on December 24 it seems virtually impossible to make it a workaday one rather than a seasonal theme.  The relationship between work days and Christmas was handled memorably in the early years of colonial America by the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford.  His band of Pilgrims being low church and high [Read More…]

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Professors:  Stop the gloom and doom Dan Richter reviews Bernard Bailyn, The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675.  Graham Hodges reviews it here. Fall 2012 Cushwa Center Newsletter Is the life of the mind billable? Robert George reviews [Read More…]


Most modern readers find it hard to identify with ancient or medieval saints’ lives, written at times  when people had such very different expectations of sanctity. We may or may not believe that Saint X healed lepers or foretold dynastic changes, but it’s hard to identify with the situations. What do the concerns of those [Read More…]

Brutal Presbyterian Disunity

There is a very useful but very sobering chart partway through James H. Smylie’s A Brief History of the Presbyterians. It documents the various strands that became American Presbyterianism and the many schisms that emerged from those stands (some of which later merged back into the larger Presbyterian churches): the Old School and the New [Read More…]