Rome or Death

I’ve just returned from a month of travels in Italy—Orvieto, Ravenna, Rome, Naples.  (The life of a scholar is sometimes tough, but someone has to do it.)  One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to work in the Vatican archives for the first time; I read there the correspondence from the nineteenth [Read More...]

Martin Luther, Erich Honecker, and China’s Xi Jinping

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece on China’s new leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to shore up party loyalty by having government officials watch a new film about the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Produced by a retired Chinese major general, the six-part documentary points a finger at Mikhail Gorbachev, not the communist system [Read More...]

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...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X