About David Swartz

“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...]

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...]