Virtue and Vice and Everything …

One of the heartening things about our times has been the recovery, at least in some quarters, of the language of virtue and vice.  At a popular level, this owes much to William Bennet and his concern for the moral formation of children, and at an academic level, the smoking gun points, above all, to [Read More...]

The Promise of America’s Religious Colleges

As a new academic year gets underway, the writing is on the wall: higher education might well be lurching toward a period of creative destruction of the sort that has affected many other sectors of the economy in recent decades.  Mention of “the University of Phoenix” or “MOOCs” or “the Minerva Project” strikes fear in [Read More...]

Islam in the Christian College?

In a post 9/11 world, engaging Islam in the college classroom is more important than ever.  Unfortunately, too many evangelical schools are ill-equipped to meet the challenge.  For that reason, I am working on a grant application presently titled “Islam in the Western Classroom:  Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching about Islam in a post-9/11 World.”  [Read More...]

Human Dignity and the Image of God

Imago Dei: Human Dignity and the Image of God

The years after World War II witnessed much discussion about and reflection on the idea of human dignity.  In 1949, with the Holocaust and Nuremberg trials fresh in mind, the drafters of the new German Constitution or Grundgesetzt included in its opening article the statement that “the dignity of man is inviolable.”  A year earlier, [Read More...]

July 4, July 14, and the Religious Question

July-4

  If you have French friends, thank them for their nation’s help during our revolution and I hope you invited them over for barbeque on July 4th.  And if they invite you to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, gladly accept.  But you should not necessarily think you are celebrating the same revolutionary spirit.  This [Read More...]

The Incombustible Martin Luther

Incombustible Luther Image

  I have just returned from Europe, where, among other things, I led a 10-day study trip in search of the origins of Protestantism in the former East Germany, now among the most secular places on earth as sociologists of religion reckon.  As one Lutheran pastor put it during the twilight of the Soviet Era, [Read More...]

Protestant Reformation Approaching 500

On October 31, 2017, the Protestant Reformation will turn 500.  How ought one commemorate such an epochal, complex, and influential historical development?  While the date is still a while off, I have been thinking about the question a lot lately.  In part, because my colleague Mark Noll at Notre Dame and I received a grant [Read More...]

Two Popes Walk into a Bar …

Francis

A more accurate title for this blog would be “Watching the Papal Transition from Catholic Europe.”  But I couldn’t resist, even though I don’t have a punch line–or even a joke for that matter. But down to business. I am on sabbatical this spring semester, spending part of it as a visiting scholar at the [Read More...]

The Agony of Papal Exits

Pius VI, who died in exile from Rome

“How heavy the papal mantle weighs,” wrote Dante in his Divine Comedy.  The shepherding of some 1 billion Catholics is no simple business, so one cannot begrudge the frail Pope Benedict for stepping down.  Given the rarity of such an event, the recent media frenzy is understandable.  Much commentary has and will focused on Benedict’s [Read More...]

Reading Tocqueville in Cairo

If Alexis de Tocqueville were alive today to witness the churning unrest and revolutions sweeping North Africa and Middle East in recent years, he would observe numerous contrasts with what he saw in America in the 1830s.  But permit me to speculate on one similarity that might catch his eye.  Unlike the French Revolution, which [Read More...]


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