L is for Lazarus

John’s Gospel tells the unforgettable story of a family who lived at Bethany: Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, while his sister Mary anointed Jesus, and washed his feet with her hair. As I have discussed in earlier columns, John’s story has many similarities to versions in other gospels, but also differs substantially in detail. [Read More…]

Perishing While Flourishing

A few years ago, I went through the painful process of winnowing down the stacks of books and journals in my office. I was moving, and it would cost too much to move everything. Most of the academic periodicals I could simply access online as needed, so many went into the recycling box. Books went [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…]

Saying Farewell to Books and Culture

Forgive a second post from me in the same morning, but I’m reeling from some news I woke up to find in my inbox, at the end of editor John Wilson’s e-newsletter for the Christian review Books & Culture: The November/December issue of B&C will be at the printer by time you are reading this newsletter, and [Read More…]

A Dispatch from Trump Country: The Past and Politics

For my fall sabbatical, my family has been blessed with the opportunity to spend four months living in one of the most beautiful parts of the country: the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. It’s an area I know fairly well; my parents moved here from Minnesota twenty-three years ago. (The other reason for this move: [Read More…]

The Problem with Protecting our Wives and Daughters

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad many evangelicals are lining up to condemn Trump’s vulgar behavior, revealed most recently (and incontrovertibly) in the appalling video tape released by the Washington Post last Friday. Jerry Falwell Jr., a staunch Trump supporter, had this to say about the video: “…it was reprehensible. We’re all sinners, every one [Read More…]

Jesus’s Anointings

Last time I posted about the New Testament passages describing the anointing of Jesus. Here, I will explore the implications for approaches to Scripture, literalist and otherwise. Each of the four gospels has a scene in which a woman uses costly oil to anoint Jesus, with the suggestion that this is in preparation for his [Read More…]

The Perfumed Gospel

Whatever its undoubted spiritual power, the Gospel of John is one of the most intriguing and sophisticated literary texts you are likely to encounter in any religious tradition. Although the text as we have it is the product of multiple layers of composition and editing, you can see so many literary devices and strategies that [Read More…]

The Crisis of Corporate Evangelicalism (Part 5 – Born Again)

How corporate evangelicals remade themselves in the Great Depression and after. [Read more…]

The Modern Roots of Pagan Halloween

I remember trick-or-treating when I was small. The night air was crisp and cool (we lived in the northwest at the time). My little sister was batman, my older sister a ballerina, and I a clown. My dad held our hands as we walked through the neighborhood, returning home only when our plastic pumpkins brimmed [Read More…]