When did “Interreligious Dialogue” begin?

It is hard to find today a major city that does not have an “interfaith” or “interreligious” council or a university that does not sponsor some sort of “dialogue” among world religions. But when and where did “interreligious dialogue” begin? Most scholars would point to Chicago in 1893 when the first “Parliament of the World’s [Read More…]

The Most Influential Theologian You’ve Never Heard of

Who is Josef Kleutgen (1811-1883)?  The name is not a household name, except in my household!  I’ve recently completed a book manuscript—The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age—and Kleutgen figures quite prominently in it.  He was arguably the ablest student of Thomas Aquinas in the [Read More…]

Education: What is It?

For a “think tank” of sorts, I find myself writing a white paper on education (yep, the whole shebang) and its current aspirations and ailments. It’s a tough assignment, for how does one make sense of such a large category. Here’s my first swipe at defining “institutional parameters.” I welcome feedback! I. Institutional Parameters “Education” [Read More…]

“Bulgarian Horrors”

In the long history of conflict between “Islam and Christendom,” there have been many flashpoints. The Battle of Poitier (732), the fall of Constantinople (1453), and the Battle of Lepanto (1571) are three notable examples from the premodern era. Well before the conflicts and confusions of our own time, the modern age witnessed its own [Read More…]

Counting Down to the Reformation at 500

There’s an African proverb, I am told, that goes like this: “If I don’t beat my own drum, who will?” In this spirit, permit me to make known to Anxious-Bench readers two publications of mine. The first is recently out; the second will be out in a matter of weeks. It has been a delight [Read More…]

Trump and Modern Ethical Theory

We are still many weeks away from early November and I’m already wondering if there is anything left to say about this election, which the Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse memorably described as a “dumpster fire.” (I confess that I didn’t know that this was a phrase until I looked it up and learned that it [Read More…]

Will the EU Go the Way of Yugoslavia?

The Brexit vote, the attacks in Nice, and the attempted coup in Turkey have a made it a rocky period for Europe. The example of Brexit and the Nice attacks (which brings to 242 French deaths by terrorism this year), in particular, betoken the further destabilization of the European Union and raise questions about its [Read More…]

On Theology and Wild Boar

This post will not be about Easter bunnies, but it will be about animals. In the Christian tradition, animals possess a rich symbolic significance. Ask most Christians whether they would prefer being a goat or sheep in the eyes of the Lord and you will quickly baa-baa. From Genesis through Revelation, animals are regularly invoked [Read More…]

Secularization or Religious Pluralism?

What is the “big story” that scholars should tell about the relationship of religion to the modern world? For many decades, social scientists believed that modernization led ineluctably to secularization. Modern goods such as science, democracy, technology, social mobility, and the free market meant that, sooner or later, religion was destined to swoon and irreligion [Read More…]

Deciding about College

The season has arrived when many graduating high-school seniors and their parents begin to make decisions about college for next fall. Certainly, many considerations go into a decision of this magnitude, and no simple formula applies to all. Even so, as someone in the academic world, permit me suggest ten questions that thoughtful Christian (or [Read More…]