About David Swartz

Bethel at War: A Digital History

Courtesy -- Bethel at War

I’m pleased to present a guest post from Fletcher Warren, a recent graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Read this fine essay, but more importantly, check out the impressive digital history project, created by Warren and Chris Gehrz on which it is based. –David *** Bethel at War is a locally-rooted history of [Read More...]

The Global Context of InterVarsity and #BlackLivesMatter

Part of InterVarsity’s response to the #BlackLivesMatter controversy has been entirely predictable. In part, the organization is negotiating the intricacies of evangelical politics. A statement released on December 31, 2015, in the wake of controversy read: “InterVarsity does not endorse everything attributed to #BlackLivesMatter. For instance, we reject any call to attack or dehumanize police. [Read More...]

InterVarsity and #BlackLivesMatter in Historical Perspective

Urbana 2006

In the last month, Franklin Graham called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration. Polls seemed to show considerable evangelical support for Donald Trump. Jerry Falwell declared, “If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.” Graham and Falwell represent a particular strain of Christianity. [Read More...]

Christmas, Augustine, and the Fornication of Demons

Nothing conjures up good Christmas cheer like St. Augustine. Consider this line from his Sermon 191 (out of an estimated 8,000 in his lifetime) delivered on Christmas Day: “He likewise made His Church a virgin by ransoming her from the fornication of demons.” This quote appears in an Augustinian meditation on the miracle of the [Read More...]

Raising Victorian Children in China

If you can’t tell already by my many posts (here, here, and here), I’ve been fascinated by Jane Smith’s 1984 book about women missionaries in turn-of-the-century China. In this final post, I want to delve into Smith’s description of childrearing by missionary mothers. According to archival records, this was one of the most anxious and [Read More...]

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...]


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