About David Swartz

“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...]

An Honest Anabaptist Named Jacques

For all their humility and reputation for being “the quiet in the land,” Mennonites sure do get a lot of press. This past week during the Mennonite Church’s biennial convention in Kansas City, they made news for passing a document entitled “Forbearance in the Midst of Differences” and passing a resolution against drone warfare. “Weird [Read More...]

The Thee Decade: The 1970s Was More Than Bad Hair

The decade of the Seventies has a rather dismal reputation. In his creatively titled book The Seventies, Bruce Schulman chronicles the horrors: bad hair, vapid dance music, a rootless youth culture, Ford’s mysteriously exploding compact car called the Pinto, hostages in Iran, defeat in Vietnam, double-digit inflation and stagnant economic growth (called stagflation). The American [Read More...]

The Past and Presence of Progressive Evangelicalism

Brantley Gasaway’s new book on progressive evangelicalism opens with a striking story. In 1985 evangelical activists marched through the streets of Washington, D.C. As the demonstration began, a spokesperson declared, “We’re showing that we are willing to pay the price, to sacrifice, to go to jail, if necessary to draw attention to all the assaults [Read More...]

Five Reasons Carter Wasn’t So Bad

Carter has been maligned for being a weak, ineffective, micromanaging president. Randall Balmer begs to differ. To be sure, Carter had his weaknesses (and in his biography Redeemer, Balmer acknowledges them, including a sordid account of race-baiting during his gubernatorial campaign of 1970). But he points out that Carter’s presidency was sabotaged by events quite [Read More...]

Doing Bad to Do Good: Carter’s Race-Baiting Election of 1970

In 1970 Jimmy Carter ran a sordid campaign for governor of Georgia. Courting the support of segregationist George Wallace, Carter used Wallace’s slogan “our kind of man,” which was a barely veiled appeal to the laboring classes who opposed integration. Carter’s campaign workers, who called themselves the “stink tank,” found a photograph showing Carter’s liberal [Read More...]

The Guy Who Killed the Guy Who Killed Lincoln

150 years ago this past Sunday, Boston Corbett killed the assassin John Wilkes Booth at a farm in Virginia. According to this terrific piece in the Washingtonian, the backstory of the guy who killed the guy who killed Lincoln is suffused with religion. Corbett’s life began innocuously enough. He made hats for a living and [Read More...]

The United States of Freberg

I cringe a bit when my children break into show tunes while in public. Selections from Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat are fine (though they’re still stumbling through the “red and yellow and green and brown/And scarlet and black and ochre and peach/And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve . . .” part). My [Read More...]


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