IMAGINING COMMUNITIES

indonesia_pol_2002

I have been posting recently about how societies and groups construct their memories, and through that process, define their identities. When I say “constructing,” that need have no implication of deceit or forgery: rather, it means that multiple memories are available, and we choose to emphasize some rather than others. History is always being rewritten, [Read More...]

Apostles of Unreason

Worthen 9780199896462

Molly Worthen’s Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism is a sobering encounter with an old friend. At first glance, one’s friend seems to have left some of his old ways behind. He’s more sophisticated, and more well-heeled than in his younger years. He thinks he’s changed a great deal. But when [Read More...]

Shattering the Illusion, Part 2

Marshall Keeble

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.     ~Martin Luther King, Jr. When Martin Luther King, Jr. first drafted those now-famous in [Read More...]

“Experts” and Evangelical Subculture

In my recent post on platforms and publishing, I noted that certain “experts” seem to be mostly platform and little substance, and that evangelicals have a special fondness for these sorts of pop experts. Matthew Lee Anderson subsequently asked me to address the question “Why do you think evangelicals are especially vulnerable to ‘experts’?” I am [Read More...]

ESTABLISHED SINCE RECENTLY

I recently posted about the construction of historical memory, and the debate over whether such histories were onions or olives – that is, whether such ideas arose from a genuine core, or if they were wholly imagined. Obviously, that can be a controversial issue, particularly in religious terms, but it is helpful to address it. [Read More...]

Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity

I recently had the pleasure of reading Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (Oxford, 2013). My review is up on the Books & Culture website — I characterize Mormon Christianity as “brilliant, provocative, and occasionally maddening.” The maddening, from my vantage point, is what I consider a rather [Read More...]

ZOMIA AND ISRAEL

James C. Scott is a distinguished scholar who works on multiple topics and diverse eras. At Yale, he holds the intriguing title of Sterling Professor of Political Science, Anthropology, Forestry, and Environmental Studies. Even he might be surprised, though, to find himself cited on matters of Biblical history and archaeology. He may well offer a [Read More...]

Evangelicals and the Death Penalty

Santoro

Anthony Santoro’s Exile and Embrace: Contemporary Religious Discourse on the Death Penalty features one of the more arresting book covers I’ve seen in recent years. A pierced and bloody Jesus sits in an electric chair, wearing a crown of thorns and a waistcloth. The photo is of a wax sculpture by Paul Fryer, who offers [Read More...]

Shattering the Illusion, Part 1

Rosa Parks

  When authorities in Montgomery, Alabama arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white patron on December 1, 1955, African Americans in the city formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) in order to organize a direct action campaign.  Led by twenty-six year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., the MIA launched a boycott [Read More...]

Howell Harris and Wales’s Great Awakening

January 23, 2014 marks the 300th birthday of the remarkable but troubled Welsh revivalist, Howell Harris. Harris was one of the foremost preachers of the Great Awakening in Britain, and a close friend (for a time) of George Whitefield (the subject of my current book project), who was born later in the same year, 1714. Whitefield [Read More...]


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