THE HERETICS’ BIBLE

I recently posted about the enduring influence of Dualist versions of Christianity, the idea that the material world is a diabolic creation, from which Christ came to free us. These views were widespread and enduring in the early and medieval church, and flourished somewhere in all eras prior to the fourteenth century – even later in [Read More...]

The Mormon Image in the New York Times

The New York Times was not especially kind to either Mitt Romney or his faith during last year’s presidential election. Every so often, however, the gray lady runs a fascinating piece that pertains to the ways that Americans view Latter-day Saints. Four years ago, the paper ran a story about how returned Mormon missionaries make [Read More...]

Dying the Modern Death

Republic of Suffering

Welcome to this fourth installment of Death Wednesday here at the Anxious Bench. In my last post I described the nostalgic appeal of Trappist caskets and old-time burial practices at the bucolic Abbey of Gethsemani. For me and my students, Gethsemani seemed awfully appealing as we contemplated the likelihood of our own deaths in an [Read More...]

Hope for Revival in Britain?

My family and I just returned from two weeks in the U.K., and while we were there, several major British religion news events transpired. First, on a day we happened to be in Edinburgh, Church of Scotland delegates voted to allow gay ministers. Then, when we returned to London, came the appalling murder of a [Read More...]

“No Purely Feminine Woman”

Margaret Fuller

“While women sometimes wished to be men in order to partake of their freedoms and opportunities, ‘men never.’”   This statement appears in Megan Marshall’s new biography of  Margaret Fuller (1810-1850).   The quotation continues: men never “in any extreme of despair, wished to be women,” Marshall summarizes, since there was nothing enviable in women’s lot, [Read More...]

MAMELUKES AND JANISSARIES

La+carga+de+los+mamelucos

I recently wrote a piece for Realclearreligion on the Genízaros, native militias that the Spanish used to control the old Southwest. Their name is sometimes translated as “Hispanicized Indians,” and you can buy T-shirts today proclaiming “Genízaro New Mexico: Native Pride.” Oddly, though, the group offers a sidelight on early versions of globalization. It even [Read More...]

DUALIST CHRISTIANITY

cathars

I have been writing on the persistence of alternative forms of Christianity through the long Middle Ages. In my next couple of postings, I will be focusing on one remarkable and powerful movement that flourished in South-Eastern Europe, namely the Bogomils, and their truly ancient ideas. When we look at the alternative Christian worlds of [Read More...]

Christians on Campus

“Christians are ousted wherever possible on campus,” complained Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) founder Bill Bright a few years before his 2003 death. With some regularity universities make news for de-recognizing student campus ministries that require their leaders to adhere to certain religious criteria (most often a statement of faith). This, a number of high-profile [Read More...]

Recovering the Ars Moriendi*

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”  – Luke 24:5b NRSV According to the accounts found in the Synoptic Gospels, the female disciples that travelled to Jesus’s tomb the first Easter morning expected nothing spectacular.  They merely intended to finish preparing the corpse for its [Read More...]

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

The Boston Marathon bombings and the faiths of the Tsarnaev brothers have renewed the debate about the nature of Islam, so this week I am reposting my review of Miroslav Volf’s Allah: A Christian Response, from the Patheos archives. – President George W. Bush created a boiling controversy amongst evangelicals in 2003 when he declared that [Read More...]


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