Thoughts on That Last Thin Mint

Cookie Poster

This week closes Girl Scout cookie season in Massachusetts.  (There are people out there who politely beg off buying a box with the excuse that they still have some of last year’s in the freezer: that’s just wrong.) The Girl Scouts have successfully avoided much of the controversy dogging the Boy Scouts, although they have [Read More...]

Hispanic America Is Our America

Good timing: January brought another round of Washington debate over immigration policy, and I found myself again in opening weeks of teaching a U.S. history survey course—1492-1846—just when Felipe Fernández-Armesto’s Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States was released. By location, I could get away perfectly well with an eastern history of the [Read More...]

Waiting for the Christmas Witch

santa climbing window

After twelve days of feasting the Christmas Witch sneaks in to slip coal or candy into stockings. What? Not in your country? Perhaps you should be living in a different Nativity. The Nativity sets most us probably just packed away originate with St. Francis of Assisi, credited with making them part of Christian seasonal observance.  [Read More...]

On Pilgrimage in Advent

On his pilgrimage to Rome in 1263 Peter, a priest from Bohemia, stopped in the ancient Etruscan-Roman city of Bolsena.  He celebrated Mass at the lakeside church of Santa Cristina. Peter had been doubting transubstantiation, doubting the reality of Christ’s presence in Eucharist: was He really there, given as food for sinners, in the bread [Read More...]

When death comes before life

Martin Luther, mindful of the trials and blessings of family life, offered balm to women suffering one of its sorrows: the death of a child before birth.  He counseled pastors “not to frighten or sadden such mothers by harsh words because it was not due to their carelessness or neglect that the birth of the [Read More...]

Giving Cotton Mather his due

Cotton Mather

This year marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of Cotton Mather (1663-1728).  Descendant of leading Puritan ministers, defender of colonial liberties, esteemed pastor of a large Boston congregation, and enlightened proponent of science, Mather is an important figure in American colonial history.  Despite all his works—or maybe because of all his works—Mather has received [Read More...]

Should Christians mind how babies come to be?

Is in vitro fertilization (IVF) a moral issue? Jennifer Lahl, in a recent post at Christianity Today’s her.meneutics, ponders the new Pew survey revealing most Americans think it’s not. Lahl, President of The Center for Bioethics and Culture, is concerned that Christians are not more concerned about reproductive technologies, IVF, and surrogacy.  Some Protestants’ too-ready [Read More...]

Burning importance of women’s rights?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

  Last month I visited the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York, around the anniversary of the town’s most famous event, the 1848 women’s rights convention. Called by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and colleagues, the meeting convened in hot July at the Wesleyan Chapel.  This was a seminal gathering, drawing together [Read More...]

Whither Luther?

Hilary Sherratt, an alumnae of Gordon College and a guest blogger for this post, was a participant on Professor Tal Howard’s recent trip to sites of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.  His own reflections on this trip appeared in an earlier blog, “The Incombustible Martin Luther.” Whither Martin Luther? Whither Christian Unity? – Ecumenical Purpose [Read More...]

Blessing upon Childbirth–Royal and Otherwise

The imminent birth of an heir—Prince William and Duchess Kate’s baby due within a few weeks—recalls the potential of royals to (re) set expectations about birth. When anesthesia was pioneered in the nineteenth century, its appeal in obstetrics was obvious.  Chloroform, applied to a cloth and held over the nose and mouth of the laboring [Read More...]