CREDULITY, SUPERSTITION, AND FANATICISM

449px-William_Hogarth_-_Credulity,_Superstition,_and_Fanaticism

I have posted several times on religious images in art and what they can tell us about ideas and debates in earlier eras. I think scholars often pay insufficient attention to the incredible resources that lie in such visual imagery – we can be a very text-bound lot. As an example, I offer William Hogarth’s [Read More...]

AMERICANS UNITED FOR WHAT?

I was thinking about how the media report religious controversies, and particularly how they decide to identify particular individuals as key generals in the ongoing culture wars. (Yes, I know the “culture wars” are usually assigned to the 1990s, but you know what I mean). Recently I read a Christian Century piece about a familiar [Read More...]

Thanksgiving Edition

It’s Thanksgiving. My plan was to plug my review of Tracy McKenzie’s The First Thanksgiving before stuffing myself with eel and turnips. Alas, it’s hard to feel thankful when one’s co-bloggers interrupt one’s plans by both reviewing the same book. But if I also write a hearty endorsement of Tracy’s book, visitors to the Anxious [Read More...]

Flipping the Bird: Reflections on a Thanksgiving Fraud

McKenzie

Americans generally view Thanksgiving as an idyllic affair. Kind Indians wearing paper feathers teaching black-and-white clad Pilgrims to survive in the New England wild. Sitting down to eat tryptophan together. And celebrating, if Rush Limbaugh is to be believed in his just-released book Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, that “capitalism and Scripture saved the [Read More...]

Review of R. Tracy McKenzie’s The First Thanksgiving

Over at Christianity Today, I reviewed Robert Tracy McKenzie’s excellent The First Thanksgiving. Here’s a sample: In 1623, Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford proclaimed the first Thanksgiving. “The great Father,” he declared, “has given us this year an abundant harvest…and granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.” He directed the Pilgrims [Read More...]

Clergy Housing Allowances Ruled Unconstitutional

Last week came the news that, in the latest legal success for secularist advocacy groups, a federal judge ruled that clergy’s tax-exempt “housing allowance” is unconstitutional. It is difficult to know exactly what the Founders would have thought of this issue, because a) there was no federal income tax until the early 20th century and [Read More...]

THE SIGN OF JONAH

Joshua-Commanding-the-Sun-to-Stand-Still-Upon-Gibeon-1816-

For many Christians, Biblical literalism is a fraught subject. My own theory is that one can be conservative to different degrees about such matters, but absolute 100% literalism is impossible, because there are at least a few Biblical verses that nobody can accept in pure literal form. The obvious example is Joshua 10.12-13, which assumes [Read More...]

Mormon Handcart Pioneers

C.C.A. Christensen, Handcart Pioneers, 1900

One of the most poignant times in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came in the fall of 1856, when two companies of Mormon handcart pioneers became trapped in winter storms and endured roughly two hundred deaths before their rescue and November arrival in Salt Lake City. The self-sacrificial perseverance [Read More...]

Blue Crabs and Evangelicals – Part 2

Oriole

Aside from getting to feast on some great crab cakes and see a beautifully crafted ballpark, I have had the opportunity to listen to several very good papers while attending the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Baltimore, MD, today. This morning, I was privileged to moderate a panel of three solid presentations [Read More...]

“A New Birth of Freedom”: The Gettysburg Address

November 19, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, his most famous speech and one of the most famous in American history. He delivered the speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, four months after the conclusion of the Civil War’s decisive battle. The renowned orator Edward Everett was the main [Read More...]


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