About Philip Jenkins

The 1970s and the Revenge of God

In my last blogpost, I discussed the political and cultural transformations of the 1970s, a global shift not just to conservatism but particularly to religious traditionalism. In different forms, we see such a pattern in the US, but also in countries like Israel, Iran and India, and across the Islamic world. In the words of [Read More…]

When The Backwardness Came Back

In a recent post, I referred to economic pressures, and particularly oil prices, as a factor driving social change. Over my next few entries, I will expand on that point with a focus on a particularly critical era, namely the 1970s. Economic crisis – specifically, the oil crisis – drove social changes, and radically reshaped [Read More…]

Only Yesterday: On Teaching Very Recent US History

I wrote recently about the problems of defining the major themes in recent American history. That actually gets to a much bigger issue, namely how do we teach that “Late Modern” era in universities and colleges. If I can borrow the title of the classic 1931 book by Frederick Lewis Allen on the 1920s, how [Read More…]

The Best 100 Films, and the Rest

I recently blogged about recent European films about faith and religion. That post was in my mind as I looked at the listing of the 100 best films of the current century, since 2000. That’s an impressive list, but with some odd absences. Of course that’s subjective, but I do see a real and rather [Read More…]

Writing the 21st Century

Last time, I discussed the issues involved in trying to write the very recent history, namely the years since 2000. (Do check out that post as the essential background for the present posting). I won’t detail my planned chapter outline in too much length, but let me just give you the main subheadings to see [Read More…]

American History: Writing the Present?

Now here is an interesting challenge. If you were writing a history of the United States in the 21st century, what would you include, and how would you tell the story? And yes, there is indeed amply enough of this century already for it to demand a substantial history. That is a problem I face [Read More…]

The Place Called Dagon

I have been posting abut the modern mythology that tried to understand witchcraft as an authentic underground survival of ancient paganism, and how those myths of witchcraft and devil worship evolved into the modern farrago of Satanism. Throughout, I stress the role of academics, and of fiction-writers, whose ideas came to be believed as sober [Read More…]

European Films on Faith

My colleague Chris Gehrz recently did a valuable blogpost on films that treat religious topics well, basing his findings on a non-scientific survey of reader suggestions. The resulting list of the top seven films is very good, in the sense that they are all well worth seeing, although everyone will have their complaints about omissions. [Read More…]

Up on the Downs

I have been posting about the creation of modern myths about paganism, human sacrifice and other dark rural deeds in twentieth century Britain. Throughout, I have emphasized how artificial these ideas are, in the sense of being literary or artistic creations, commonly reinforced by the growth of sensationalist tabloid media. Many of the works in [Read More…]

Britain’s Pagan Twilight

I have been writing about the long-standing British fascination with the idea of a continuing rural paganism, ideas that in the 1960s grew into the genre of Folk Horror. But why did the ideas of witch-cult theorist Margaret Murray attract such a wide and credulous following? Looking at the writings of such mainstream figures as [Read More…]