Changes Coming in 2017 at The Anxious Bench

As is often the case with group blogs, change is a constant at The Anxious Bench. Just six months ago John announced that I was taking Tommy Kidd’s place, after which I got to tell you that Kristin and Tim would be sharing Thursdays with John. Now it’s my turn to pass along news of two more changes that you’ll [Read More…]

A Very Not-So-Merry Christmas: How Protestantism Nearly Killed St. Nick

Relics and indulgences weren’t the only casualties of the Reformation. So was Christmas. Christmas was an important feast and saint day in the centuries leading up to the Reformation. Its saint, Nicholas, the bishop of Myra in the early fourth century, loomed large in the Middle Age imagination. In fact, according to Gerry Bowler, Nicholas [Read More…]

You Might Be a Mennonite If…

Ervin Beck, a folklorist at Goshen College, recalls growing up in a Mennonite congregation where his bishop once said from the pulpit, “People ask me why I never smile. The Bible never says that Jesus smiled. It says that ‘Jesus wept.’” Given the decidedly unfunny persecution narratives that have characterized Mennonite history in the last [Read More…]

I Thought Hillbilly Elegy Was Just about Kentucky

My university—located on a relatively conservative campus in the very red state of Kentucky—was subdued this morning. In the run-up to the election, there was little to no public support for Trump. And today numerous students, looking a bit traumatized, are walking into classes with puffy eyes jarred by the unexpected result. None of the [Read More…]

Election Day Reading Material from The Anxious Bench

Whether you want to read more about the 2016 election – or find something to distract you today… Here are some of our most popular posts from the summer and fall. [Read more…]

Homeless: The Evangelical Left in 2016

2016 would appear to be the perfect moment to launch a revitalized evangelical left. Donald Trump, the most secular candidate in American history, has a special talent for violating standards of Christian virtue on issues ranging from sexual fidelity to welcoming the immigrant stranger. Many observers predict the fragmentation of an old religious right. Most [Read More…]

The Culture Wars and Evangelical “Evangelism”

Christians, who are people of the Book, follow political scripts as well as biblical scripts. The Right preaches small government and identifies with the Republican Party. The Left preaches an interventionist government and identifies with the Democratic Party. There are almost exact religious analogues. The public face of the Christian Left matches the Democratic Party, [Read More…]

Hey White Evangelicals, Welcome to Anabaptism

After centuries of relying on sky-high Amish birthrates for church growth, Anabaptism has exploded in just several months. The surprising converts include a lot of conservative white evangelicals who are not known for their pacifism, simple living, or belief in the separation of church and state. Nonetheless, many are suddenly preaching the limits of partisan [Read More…]

Mother Teresa, Eastern Kentucky, and Transnational Charity

The canonization of Mother Teresa on September 4 was a global affair. The coronation occurred at the Vatican in front of 120,000 people. The people in her homeland of Macedonia rejoiced. So did the members of the Missionaries of Charity, the blue-and-white robed religious order she founded in 1950. At the original site of the [Read More…]

Notes to First-Year Students on Mystery and the Liberal Arts

Today’s post comes from a talk I gave several years ago at Asbury University, where I teach history. After welcoming nearly 400 new students to campus for orientation, we didn’t waste any time starting up academic conversations. All incoming students read G.K. Chesterton’s mystery thriller The Man Who Was Thursday for their liberal arts seminar, [Read More…]