About Philip Jenkins

Of Slavs, Slaves, Vikings, and Genetics

I recently had a DNA test to help trace my ancestry, and the result surprised me. The larger story might shed light on one of the grimmest and most forgotten horrors of European history, an era of brutal slave trading. By way of background, my known genealogy is very straightforward indeed. It shows close to [Read More…]

And Battles Long Ago

I have often posted on themes of history, memory, and forgetting, and some recent news stories brought that home to me powerfully – especially on all we have forgotten beyond hope of recovery. This issue of lost worldly glories seems appropriate for the Easter season. Earlier this year, Egyptian archaeologists made a spectacular find, a [Read More…]

Lost Christian Nubia

A spectacular recent find in northern Africa throws new light on early church history, but at the same time it also points to the existence of a vast and forgotten Christian kingdom, and just how the faith – or indeed, any religion – fades and dies. The story makes for highly appropriate reading in the [Read More…]

American Violence: Honor and the American Difference

At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States was an exceptionally violent country, which really stood alone among advanced nations. I have been trying to account for this American Difference. As an illustration, let me take a series of events that occurred in the late 1890s, and which actually happened about a block [Read More…]

American Violence: Things Fall Apart

I have been posting about the extreme violence that characterized US life around the turn of the twentieth century, roughly between 1877 and 1917 – all the private armies and paramilitary activity, the massacres and ethnic wars, the prevalence of political murder and assassination. These currents set the US far apart from most other parts [Read More…]

American Violence: Western Mythologies

I posted on the extreme violence that characterized the United States around the turn of the twentieth century. Many of the examples we might think of from that era concern the so-called Wild West, but we should be very careful in applying that label. Often, those conflicts mimicked exactly the same kind of ethnic and [Read More…]

American Violence: The Long Civil War

I know the American Civil War happened, but I’m not too sure when, how, or whether it ended. That question was in my mind recently when I visited Georgetown, Kentucky, with its lovely old main street. Near the courthouse stands a monument to the trial of people accused in a sensational event of the era, [Read More…]

What Has Technology Ever Done For Us?

This may seem like a silly question, but how much influence has modern communication technology had on us? That is actually a surprisingly hotly debated issue right now. The implications are vast – for society, politics, religion, and dare I say, for human consciousness. It is widely acknowledged that real incomes in the US have [Read More…]

The Great War, and the Futile War

We are hearing a lot this year about the centennial of the First World War, and time and again, we hear what a “futile” and “meaningless” struggle that was. Obviously, then, by extension, US entry into that war – which we commemorate next month – must have been a tragic blunder. This is for instance [Read More…]

The Forgotten History of “Christian” Political Activism

Across the political spectrum, most Americans would automatically describe the country’s religious heritage as “Judeo-Christian.” Rarely, though, do they think about the origins of this term, or how exceedingly odd it would have appeared before the 1950s (and still does to many non-Americans). In fact, the Judeo-Christian concept has a highly political origin, and was [Read More…]