Was Christmas in Revolutionary America a Drunken Bash?

Our modern American Christmas is an anxious affair—and not just because of “those” relatives you don’t want to see. We so constantly remind ourselves to focus on Christ during Christmas that “The reason for the season” has become an American Christian mantra. In light of our annual December anxiety, I find it strangely comforting that [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...]

WRITING AND PUBLISHING HISTORY

chabot-valley

I was hugely grateful for Tommy Kidd’s recent column on publishing in history. His post took so many themes that are quite familiar to academics and professional scholars, and then unpacked them for non-specialists in an extraordinarily valuable way. That was a real contribution. Like Tommy, I also lay claim to being a prolific publisher. [Read More...]

The Latter-day Saints and Anti-Polygamy Laws

Sister_Wives_TV_series_logo

One would think that with the half-decade “Mormon moment” now well past, Mormonism would now generate news only infrequently. That is not quite turning out to be the case. New missionary requirements, concerns about internet-driven apostasy, the recent statement on the priesthood ban, and now a Utah District Court decision that strikes down part (but [Read More...]

Personality-Driven Leadership in the Local Congregation

Hatch - Democratization

In my last post, I suggested that the evangelical embrace of personality-driven leadership forms the backstory to the Mark Driscoll-Janet Mefferd imbroglio over plagiarism.  Several commentators on the blog raised astute questions regarding the pervasive nature of this aspect of American evangelicalism.  After all, doesn’t personality-driven leadership characterize evangelicalism in local congregations, not just mega-ministries [Read More...]

How to Publish a History Book

As we pass George Whitefield’s 299th birthday this week, I am preparing to deliver the revised manuscript of my Whitefield biography to Yale University Press. It is a good time to review how publishing a history book works, and to give an update on where the biography stands. To publish a book with an established [Read More...]

RIGHTEOUS ENEMIES

I just returned from a visit to Italy. Traveling in Europe can often be depressing, even heartbreaking, if you know the modern history, especially of the World War II years. Italy, though, offers quite different themes, which are still not as well known as they should be. It’s an inspiring story. I don’t want to [Read More...]

A CATALOGUE OF SECTS

Catalogue_of_Sects

I recently posted about using visual materials to tell religious history. Some of the most useful images are the really hostile cartoons and satires. Not that you expect these to be in any sense fair and balanced, but they do give an idea of the issues at stake in the polemic of the time. They [Read More...]

Mormons and Race

Last week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a new, detailed statement on “Race and the Priesthood” on its “Gospel Topics” website. For those unfamiliar with the topic, during Joseph Smith’s lifetime the church ordained a number of black men into the priesthood, an expected progression for any male member of the [Read More...]

International Evangelicals and Cold War Non-Alignment

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

In the mid-twentieth century the world underwent geopolitical reorientation. Decolonization carved the imperial-colonial divide into a new landscape, and World War II left only two major superpowers: the Marxist Soviet Union and the liberal democratic United States. Once allies against Nazi Germany, ideological differences rapidly turned them into foes. Each side began to “recruit” allies [Read More...]


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