About David Swartz

Eating Eel: Your Guide to an Authentic Thanksgiving

Yesterday Tommy Kidd praised Tracy McKenzie’s book for its “entertaining retelling of a seminal moment in American history.” I agree. In fact, I assign it to my Study of History course (which covers the methods and philosophy of history) at Asbury for several reasons. First, it unpacks some of the mechanics of good historical research. [Read More...]

Was Missionary Work Liberating for Women?

It depended. “Multiple freedoms and multiple opportunities reinforced each other,” writes historian Jane Smith in The Gospel of Gentility, “and [female missionaries] described themselves as “fulfilled,” “found,” and “happy.” “My face is so red and rosy I look like I had had an over dose of paint,” wrote Jessie Ankeny after arriving in Fukien. “I [Read More...]

Upsetting Gender Roles in Turn-of-the-Century China

Moving to China often upset the sharply separated gender spheres of Victorian America. Given the strangeness of the Chinese context, the husbands of female missionaries often became more domestic. As historian Jane Hunter notes her book The Gospel of Gentility, “Both husband and wife relied on homelife as a refuge in a strange land.” This [Read More...]

From “Mannish Woman” to Missionary

Sarah Goodrich, a missionary to China, begged her family and friends back at home in the United States not to picture her as “a mannish woman.” That she had to issue such a plea reflected a common American judgment of female missionaries at the turn of the twentieth century. The single woman missionary, writes historian [Read More...]

“You Know Where Else They Have May-Day Military Exhibitions?”

DSC_0155 Feb 16, 1968

Wes Craven wasn’t the only rebel at Wheaton. Many students in the 1960s and 1970s echoed his cultural critique. Much of the dissent centered on the mandatory ROTC program at the college. Support for ROTC weakened in the mid-1960s, as did support for the elaborately staged annual Veterans Day chapel services and the regular features [Read More...]

Nightmare at Wheaton: Wes Craven Encounters the Fundamentalist Harvard

Imagine Wes Craven, the Hollywood provocateur who died last week, as a student at Wheaton College in the 1960s. This was a Wheaton that was easily as pietistic and fundamentalist as it was evangelical. President Raymond Edman, a gentle devotional writer, died while delivering a chapel sermon entitled “In the Presence of the King.” His [Read More...]

The American Exceptionalisms of Foner and the Cheneys

I’m pleased to present a guest post by John Wilsey, an assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of the forthcoming American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea, which will be published by InterVarsity Press Academic. I had the privilege of reading [Read More...]

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Secular Hymnody

Abbey 1

In 1345, on a cold Tuesday night just before Easter, a miracle happened in Amsterdam. A dying man, given the Eucharist, vomited it right back out. His caregivers were amazed to see that it had reemerged from his mouth whole. They threw the host on a fire, perhaps thinking that this was the least sacrilegious [Read More...]

A Report from Mennonite World Conference 2015

Mennonite World Conference doesn’t happen every day. In fact, it’s held only once every six years, and it rotates among five continents. That means that the event is located in North America only once every thirty years. So our young family with four young children went to great lengths to attend the international assembly several [Read More...]

Repressed Mennonites in Little Black Dresses

The image of Mennonites in popular culture is typically flattering. They are often seen as upright, conscientious, trustworthy, hard-working, frugal characters who can be forgiven their lack of patriotism because of their biblical earnestness. To some they have even become quintessential, pioneering Americans. This despite the fact that many Mennonites themselves seek to distinguish themselves [Read More...]