THE ART OF MISSION

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Visual art can be a terrific source for the history of religion, and that is especially true when we look at Christian missions through the centuries. Those visuals don’t just reflect our idea of a topic, they do much to shape it. For many people today, the word “missionary” is faintly ludicrous, and conjures up [Read More...]

American Pseudobibles (and the Book of Mormon)

American-Zion

Americans during the Revolutionary era and the Early Republic lived in a world suffused with the Hebrew scriptures. That reality, already charted by many historians (including Mark Noll, who once termed the Old Testament (“the common coinage of the realm”), is only the backdrop to Eran Shalev’s remarkable American Zion: The Old Testament as a [Read More...]

Unexpected Sites of Christian Pacifism: Holiness Edition

pentecostal-holiness-statements

Jay Beaman, a sociologist at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon, likes to do historical experiments. After extensive research he sends emails to members of Ancestry.com, telling them that he has found a relative of theirs who claimed religious objection on their World War I draft card. These relatives were members of holiness and Pentecostal [Read More...]

Tocqueville’s Uncanny Vision

Last week I had the privilege of leading my History of American Thought class at Baylor through Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. This is one of the most intriguing, and in some cases most chilling, analyses of the American republic ever written. Composed by the visiting French aristocrat in the 1830s, Democracy in America [Read More...]

WELSH AMERICA, AMERICAN WALES

Mobile_1953_Madoc_plaque

I recently posted about the sizable and often under-appreciated presence of Welsh people in America. As with many immigrant groups, the relationship between home country and new land was complex and remarkably long-lived. Generally, people did not just up and move to America, immediately losing all interest in their older countries. For one thing, it [Read More...]

WELSH ROOTS

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March 1 marks St. David’s Day, the great national celebration for Welsh people throughout the world. Through the years, I have worked extensively on different aspects of Welsh history, including the Welsh in America. That American heritage is in fact very substantial, especially in the religious arena, although few Americans seem to appreciate it. The [Read More...]

Birmingham Revolution

Birmingham Revolution

For the February 2014 Patheos Book Club With the publication of Birmingham Revolutionon the occasion of the Birmingham Campaign’s fiftieth anniversary last year, IVP Books provided a readable, well-informed, and smartly packaged work that can serve as either an introduction to those unfamiliar with the seminal events of spring 1963 or a refresher for those [Read More...]

The Anabaptist Judith

One of Lucas Cranach's several renderings of Judith.

Things were not going well in Münster (in present-day northwestern Germany) as of June 1534. The previous year, local Anabaptists, their ranks swollen by arrivals from the Netherlands and elsewhere, seized full control of the city. In February, a prophet named Jan Matthias had taken charge, whereupon Catholics and most Lutherans were stripped of their [Read More...]

What to Publish, and When?

In response to one of my recent newsletters, a friend and former student asked, from the perspective of a Ph.D. student, “With seminar papers, conference papers, book reviews, and journal articles, there is a lot to think about. How to prioritize these? How to find time to work on long-term projects when the daily tasks [Read More...]

TERROR AND MASSACRE BEGAN

I have been writing recently about the methods by which a government really can destroy or eliminate a faith, no matter how strongly we believe that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” In particular, I described the extraordinarily efficient combination of terrorism and secret policing by which seventeenth century Japan destroyed [Read More...]


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