Anti-Catholicism: The Defining Religious Principle of Early America?

I have been reading Owen Stanwood’s excellent book The Empire Reformed: English America in the Age of the Glorious Revolution, which has taken me back to my own doctoral research and first book (now a cult classic!) The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism. Stanwood shows just how much weight “anti-popery” carried in early English America, and [Read More...]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 2

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  This is the second part.  The first part ran Wednesday, June 4th.  Relevant updates and emendations [Read More...]

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

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Following on from my book The Great and Holy War, I have been working on the religious and apocalyptic aspects of the First World War, and have recently posted on some major popular culture items from that time. I find myself concentrating on 1916, the year of Mr Britling Sees It Through and The Brook [Read More...]

The Papers of a Prophet

The Joseph Smith Papers Project website (josephsmithpapers.org) is one of the very best electronic resources pertaining to the history of religion in the United States. It is a companion to the printed volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers, which have set an outrageously high standard for documentary editions because of their clarity of transcription, extensive [Read More...]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 1

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  The first part will run today, the second will run on Saturday, June 7th.  Relevant updates [Read More...]

What Can Stop Southern Baptist Decline?

In anticipation of the 2014 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources issued its annual report on church statistics, and for the seventh straight year, the SBC’s overall membership declined. (Here’s my coverage of the 2013 report and annual meeting for WORLD Magazine.) The University of North Carolina’s Molly Worthen, [Read More...]

TECTONIC FAITH

In my new book The Great and Holy War, I argued that the catastrophe of the First World War transformed the world’s great religions. I continue to think through some of the implications of this story, for what it might tell us about the history of religions more generally. (I have already posted a couple [Read More...]

THE BROOK KERITH

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I recently published the book The Great and Holy War, about the religious and apocalyptic dimensions of the First World War era. Looking at the best-selling books of those years gives us a sense of the strong and diverse religious interests of that time, and the results are often surprising. Who for instance would think [Read More...]

Dancing with Jesus

Anna Vetter grew up amid the poverty of the Thirty Years War. After marrying, she gave birth to seven children. Around the age of thirty, she grew ill and nearly died. Her husband abused her. A daughter died shortly after birth. Then her visions began. Anna Vetter saw God, angels, and Jesus Christ. In one [Read More...]

“Then I Shall Be a Wicked Child, and the Great God Will Be Very Angry with Me”

New England primer

One beautiful spring afternoon four years ago, I came across a horrifying scene in my living room. One of my two-year-old sons was standing on the back of the couch with his legs spread and his arms outstretched. My other two-year-old son stood facing him with an imaginary hammer in his hand and a determined [Read More...]


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