The Christmas Truce and the Meaning of Peace in “No Man’s Land”

I’m pleased to feature a guest post from Bradley Strait, a senior history major at Asbury University. This is based in part on a paper he wrote for the class “Seminar on War, Peace, and Faith.” *** One hundred-years ago, almost to the day, in 1914, a Christmas story emerged out of the trenches. As [Read More...]

George Whitefield’s Christmas, 1739

As we observed George Whitefield’s 300th birthday last week, here’s a post on his 1739 Christmas travels and preaching, from the Anxious Bench archive: In December 1739, George Whitefield was completing a treacherous overland trip from Maryland to South Carolina, and he stopped for Christmas in New Bern (“Newborn”), a relatively new parish in North [Read More...]

Sons of Light and Sons of Seth

I discussed Dylan M. Burns’s book Apocalypse of the Alien God, an account of the influential early Gnostic sect called Sethians. Burns’s arguments resonated because of work I have been doing recently on the origins of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, and the influence of the sectarian Judaism we know from Qumran and the Dead Sea [Read More...]

Teaching American Religious History

15 weeks for the history and present of religion in the United States. “American Religious History” or “Religion in America” is a bread-and-butter course for me (and for several of my co-bloggers, and probably for some readers). I’ve taught it perhaps five or six times, in both a history department and a religious studies department. [Read More...]

Give the Gift of Spiritual Formation and Neuroscience for Christmas

I admit it.  I like to go Christmas shopping.  I really enjoy finding a special gift for someone else.  Some years, my Christmas shopping goes exceedingly well.  But, like many others in academia, end-of-the-semester festivities such as writing exams, grading essays, marking papers, entering grades, etc. too often derail my plans for shopping and other [Read More...]

Happy 300th Birthday George Whitefield!

The day is finally here – the 300th birthday of George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist of the eighteenth century, and the best known person in colonial America prior to the Revolution. I have been waiting for this day for a long time, but I started getting serious about writing a Whitefield biography in time for [Read More...]

Seth and the Alien God

Plotinos

The origins of Gnosticism are normally discussed in terms of debates within Christianity. However, one richly informative conflict occurred beyond the familiar realm of church history. One of the great minds of Late Antiquity was the Egyptian-born philosopher Plotinus, the leading figure of Neoplatonism, and a younger contemporary of Origen. Around the year 263, in [Read More...]

Babylonian Baptists

I have been posting about the emergence of Christianity in Iraq/Mesopotamia, and its possible inheritance from sectarian Judaism. Other continuities from the older Jewish world lay beyond the realms of orthodox Christianity, and these likewise tell us much about the importance of those Mesopotamian lands. During the third century, Mani founded a Dualist-Gnostic religion that [Read More...]

The Silence Exercise

I’ve been trying of late to incorporate more diverse assignments and methods of instruction in my teaching. Each semester now in my World Civilizations course, I ask students to write a short paper on what I call the “silence exercise.” As odd as it may seem, merely maintaining silence for a while can be a [Read More...]

Do You Need a Literary Agent?

I routinely get asked about using a literary agent in securing book contracts. Is this something that authors, academic or non-academic, should consider? It depends on what type of publishing you wish to do. For most academic publishing, you don’t need a literary agent, because academic publishers are not generally engaged in “trade” publishing, meaning [Read More...]


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