India Today and Hindu Nationalism

After traveling in the United States, G. K. Chesterton famously described America as “a nation with the soul of the a church.” Something akin to this could be said of India, but to church one must quickly add Buddhist stupa, Jain mandir, Sikh gurdwara, Parsi dar-e mihr, Muslim mosque, and, not least, Hindu temple. Indeed, [Read More...]

The Popes and America

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Pope in America: Implications, Collaborations, Challenges. Read other perspectives here. In September 22-27, Pope Francis will visit the United States, making stops in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. Most discussion in anticipation has focused on the Pope’s attendance at the World Meeting [Read More...]

Rome, for Protestants

Most people today ooh-and-aah when they experience or envision a trip to Rome. It was not always so. Until the era of modern tourism, trips to Rome were rare, undertaken only by the wealthy. For devout Protestants, encountering Catholicism’s Eternal City could often induce more revulsion than admiration. Prior to Italian unification in the 1860s-1870s, [Read More...]

Snake Handling and Religious Freedom

Snake Handling

Snake handling churches are back in the news after a Kentucky man died from a rattle snake bite at a recent worship service. If this piece of news failed to show up during your daily Internet browsing, your sources might be insufficiently cosmopolitan. If there is any religious practice in America that receives smirks from [Read More...]

Islam in the Christian College?

(The conference mentioned below in this previous post has been funded and will take place on the campus of Gordon College on September 21, 2015. For more information, write to or go to In a post 9/11 world, engaging Islam in the college classroom is more important than ever. Unfortunately, too many evangelical [Read More...]

Napoleon and Christianity

The 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s well-known defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 has recently been marked in Europe and elsewhere. In addition to commentary on the battle itself, much attention has focused on Napoleon’s politics, diplomacy, and military skills. It is for his actions in these areas that most of us know the [Read More...]

On Scripture and Tradition

I’ve just returned from a conference at Georgetown University exploring the legacy of the Second Vatican Council (1963-65). 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of this epochal Council’s closing. The conference was quite large and the organizers were perhaps only half joking when they said organizing the conference felt a bit more like re-convening the original [Read More...]

Show a Bishop some Hospitality

On Monday, April 20, Boston’s Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, visited Gordon College, where I teach. It was an instructive time for the entire college community. His talk was entitled “Our Common Concern for the Least among Us.” Recognizing abiding differences between Catholics and Protestants, he nonetheless enjoined all Christians to pursue what we might call [Read More...]

The Minaret and the Bell Tower

I’ve recently returned from some travels to the Andalusia province in Southern Spain. Under Muslim Rule in part or in whole from the arrival of “the Moor” in 711 until the completion of the Reconquista in 1492, the region has a special claim on our attention today in light of present-day misunderstandings and conflicts between [Read More...]

Moors, Saracens, and Turks: Islam and Europe’s Deep History

Several years ago I was being interviewed by a journalist from Switzerland when the topic came to Islam in Europe. The interviewer identified herself as a fastidiously progressive and secular person, and insisted that she held nothing against Islam as a religion. Nonetheless, “when I see a mosque in Switzerland,” she confessed, “I have an [Read More...]