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...]

A Muslim, an Evangelical, and Jesus Walk into a Bar …

It might well be that Jesus is the only one who would place an order. American Evangelicalism has longed harbored a strain of teetotalism while the Qur’an strictly forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol. Jesus, of course, turned water into wine, according to the Gospel of John. Relations between Christians and Muslims have been on my [Read More...]

An Infallible, Liberal Pope?

First Vatican Council, 1869-70

Pope Francis has been back in the news. Most recently, because the Vatican confirmed that he will visit the United States next year, but earlier because of the much-discussed extraordinary synod on the family. At this gathering, some prelates drafted a document evincing an unprecedented welcome to gays and divorced Catholics before it was criticized [Read More...]

The Axe that Severed the Bishop’s Head

Saga

. . . also brought the Protestant Reformation to Iceland. Recently I’ve had a chance to travel to Iceland for the first time. The small island republic in the middle of the Atlantic is best known for its beguiling landscape: a plethora of active volcanoes (one now erupting), glaciers, lava beds, waterfalls, thermal baths, geysers, [Read More...]

From Oxford to Malibu

Apologies in advance, for this is going to be a short post. I have been on the road quite a bit, most recently to the UK to give a talk on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of World War I. The particular topic of the conference was Theology, Culture, and World War I. Even [Read More...]

Bonhoeffer’s “Who am I?”

Much attention has been directed to the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer lately due in part to the popular biography by Eric Metaxas (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy) and, more recently, the more scholarly approach of Charles Marsh (A Strange Glory: The Life Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer). For most American Christians, the best known of Bonhoeffer’s works [Read More...]

Satan, that Insidious Whisperer

It goes without saying that Islam and “the West” have had a distressed relationship in recent decades. One can be forgiven for clinging to the hope of improved relations in the decades ahead and for inroads of genuine democracy in Muslim-majority Middle Eastern states. But this hope should be tethered to a sober historical understanding, [Read More...]

What’s Right with (Christian) Higher Education

Many things are wrong with higher education today, to be sure.  But let’s not overlook the bright spots.  One of these is the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts seated at Valparaiso University.  (Full disclosure: I was a postdoctoral fellow at this program from 1997 to 1999). I write about it now [Read More...]


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