Archives for February 2013

The Mormon Jesus and the Garden of Eden

As a corollary to my current interest in the Latter-day Saint understanding of Jesus, I’ve been attempting to get some limited handle on the diverse ways that Christians of all sorts have understood, experienced, and depicted Jesus over time. The very best thing I’ve done to that end is to pick up a copy of [Read More…]

David Barton, Louis L’Amour, and the Use of Historical Evidence

NOTE:  A shorter version of this post appeared yesterday at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. The rumors are true.  David Barton’s story about children with guns in a 19th century classroom came directly from Bendigo Shafter, a Louis L’Amour novel. Readers of my blog The Way of Improvement Leads Home will recall a post [Read More…]

Calvinist Controversy at Louisiana College

The latest front in the Baptist battle over Calvinism and Arminianism has opened at Louisiana College, where the administration has decided not to renew the contracts of three faculty members – Jason Hiles, Kevin McFadden and Ryan Lister. The latter two have doctorates from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, while Hiles’s doctoral degree is from Southeastern Seminary. [Read More…]


Attending a church service can be a sobering experience, and not necessarily for anything said or sung. It’s shocking to read the birth and death dates of the various composers of the words and music of the hymns used by my own Episcopal church. We realize with horror just how short the lifespan was in [Read More…]

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Luther Spoehr reviews Robert Sullivan, My American Revolution: Crossing the Delaware and I-78. The C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience names a new deputy director. Virginia congressman wants to restore George Washington’s birthday as a national holiday. More on Dr. Ben Carson Alan Taylor [Read More…]


Material objects can evoke distant periods of history far more powerfully than even the greatest texts. Sometimes, they can also teach astonishing lessons. In the study of early and medieval Christianity, one of the most significant finds of modern times occurred in 2006, when peat diggers in Ireland’s County Tipperary uncovered a psalter from around [Read More…]

The Power of Good Biography

Especially because my colleague Thomas Kidd and I both like the genre of biography, we’ve touched on that topic periodically on this blog. This past December, he blogged about his five favorite religious biographies. I was thinking about that subject again while reading my erstwhile University of South Alabama colleague and prolific author Frye Gaillard’s [Read More…]

The United States: Christian or “Secular?”

Those who of you who thought I had gone off the deep end with last week’s critique of Dr. Ben Carson’s National Prayer Breakfast speech will probably be even more disturbed by the fact that today I will be speaking at an international conference on secularism.  (I explain my decision to accept the invitation to [Read More…]

Homeschooling: A Fundamental Human Right?

A remarkable political asylum case has raised questions about whether the U.S. government should defend the right of families to homeschool.  The case concerns the Romeike family of Germany, where homeschooling is illegal, and where families who attempt to homeschool their children can face heavy fines and even have their children taken from them. An [Read More…]

Redefining Parenthood?

This week The New York Times noted a new landmark in the transformation of parenthood.  Julie Cohn’s article follows the experience of women in a Vietnamese village who, because war in the 1970s reduced their chances of becoming brides, decided to have children anyway. One by one they asked men — whom they would never [Read More…]