The Issue of our Day

This week I read a news article that broke my heart and called me to repentance. In the midst of the fight over the budget and debt ceiling, in the midst of the ongoing saga of the “Bling-Bling Bishop” in Germany, and in the midst of football season, most of us (myself included) have been [Read More...]

Slavery: America’s Original Sin?

[This week's post is from my archives at Patheos.] The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has a touring exhibit entitled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” At the front of the Smithsonian display stands a life-size statue of Jefferson, backed by a panel listing the known names of about 600 slaves who worked for Jefferson [Read More...]

ARTEMISIA COMES TO CHICAGO

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Some months back I described how the Bible’s Deuterocanonical books had inspired so many artists through the centuries. I particularly mentioned the wonderful Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656), who among other things was celebrated for her gory portrayals of Judith beheading the enemy general Holofernes. The Wall Street Journal recently did a piece on a [Read More...]

WHAT IS A GOSPEL?

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I have been working on the fate of alternative scriptures in the millennium or so following the early Christian era – say, between 500 and 1600. My argument is that, in that long period, many or most of the old alternative texts that were so popular in the early church continued to thrive and to [Read More...]

Elizabeth Smart’s Story

Most visitors to the internet this week have probably noticed that Elizabeth Smart has just released a memoir of her horrific ordeal. Ten years after her rescue, she details her abduction and captivity and explains how she transcended the evils she experienced. My review is here. Warning: the book induces nightmares, especially when you have [Read More...]

The Puritans as Masters of Reform

My history graduate students and I recently read David Hall’s A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (2011), a remarkably admiring portrait of early New England Puritans and their participatory society. While progressive critics, following Nathaniel Hawthorne, have often caricatured the theocratic rule of the Puritan fathers, Harvard’s Hall – one [Read More...]

THE GREEN MAN AND THE KING OF SALEM

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Christians who delve into the Qur’an will be surprised how many old friends they find there, including Jesus and Mary, of course, and a lengthy roster of prophets and patriarchs. Exploring the Qur’an can be an excellent way of understanding the Christian and Jewish worlds of Late Antiquity, roughly the sixth and seventh centuries BC. [Read More...]

THE CAVE OF TREASURES

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Throughout history, both Jews and Christians have been extraordinarily prolific in producing alternative scriptures, which we conventionally divide into Old and New Testament apocrypha (or pseudepigrapha). Some texts, though resist such neat divisions. While apparently expanding on Old Testament events and personalities, they actually present Christian doctrines so strongly that they certainly belong alongside New [Read More...]

Billy Graham’s Legacy

If evangelicals are those who like Billy Graham, I’m in the club. I attended two Graham crusades, one in Rochester, NY, ca. 1990, and the other in Louisville near the end of Graham’s public ministry. At the first, I came forward to (re)dedicate my life to Christ. [Like many of us, I have done that [Read More...]

Rock the Desert: Evangelical Activism in Texas and Sudan

Rock the Desert

In 2001, just one month before 9/11, 32,000 evangelical youth invaded Midland, Texas. Drawn to a Christian music festival called “Rock the Desert,” they clapped and danced to the rock anthems of Newsboys and Skillet. Festival organizers also highlighted a social and diplomatic crisis in Sudan, then a war zone with one of the worst [Read More...]


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