Archives for December 2012

Have a Counter-Cultural Christmas This Year

From the Fox News Archives–Christmas Eve, 2010–JF “Dad, why do people who are not Christians still celebrate Christmas?” This is the kind of insightful question that can only come from the mouth of a nine-year-old. My daughter wonders why people who do not attend church still have Christmas trees, bake Christmas cookies, put colored lights [Read More…]

Christmas in 1776

From the Patheos archive: ‘Tis the season to argue about religion. Or more specifically, to feud about whether to say Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings…to call it a Christmas Village or a Holiday Village…or to allow a crèche or menorah to stand on public property. What would Americans at the time of our nation’s founding [Read More…]


Last week, a guerrilla war was under way in the well-kept streets of Santa Monica, CA. Recently, Santa Monica has been at the forefront of the secularist war against the public commemoration of religious holidays. While normally portrayed as a “War on Christmas,” the campaign has also affected other holidays such as Hanukah. After years [Read More…]

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Geoffrey Best loves his books Should social studies be abolished? Jackson Lears on Jared Diamond William Hogeland discusses his latest book: Founding Finance An English professor goes home Who needs the Constitution? The pro-life legacy of Roe v. Wade Read the rest here. [Read more…]


Two recent sets of readings have set me thinking about sane, moderate politics. During the 1960s and 1970s, two very different attitudes towards the Soviet Union prevailed in the United States. Extremists advocated flat-out opposition and confrontation, on the basis that the system was so rotten that it would collapse if seriously challenged. However counter-intuitive [Read More…]

The Human and the Divine

It is always a pleasure to open good books after many years. I’ve recently been thumbing through Richard Wightman Fox’s Jesus in America and Stephen Prothero’s American Jesus, which appeared nearly in tandem nearly a decade ago. Both are incredibly helpful to understanding both the diversity of American religious experience and the centrality of Jesus [Read More…]

Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture

I have been a fan of James H. Moorhead’s work since I read his American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War as a graduate student.  As the Mary McIntosh Bridge Professor of Church History at Princeton Theological Seminary and the longtime senior editor of the Journal of Presbyterian History, Moorhead has had a stellar [Read More…]

The “Regulated Freedom” of James Henley Thornwell, Antebellum Southern Presbyterian

Sunday was the 200th birthday of James Henley Thornwell, the South Carolina Presbyterian pastor and professor whom Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese called the antebellum South’s “most formidable theologian.” Thornwell was a great champion of what he called the “regulated freedom” of antebellum slave society. Historian George Bancroft once described Thornwell as “the most learned [Read More…]

God and Google

 “Dad, we can just Google it” is the reply I often hear from my children when I’m stumped by questions they ask.  Recourse to this high-tech oracle did not avail itself to me as a kid, so this reality represents yet another novum for parenting in our hyper-digital age. As most of us have discovered, [Read More…]

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Presidential houses Serendipity and used bookstores John Turner’s book of the year Charlotte Allen reviews Adam English, The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus. A Noah’s Ark theme park David Reynolds reviews John Stauffer and Zoe Todd, The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the [Read More…]