Soviets and Sassenachs: My Two Favorite Historical TV Series

In the first two posts in this series, I’ve suggested that historical movies — and TV shows, for that matter — might best be judged by asking four questions: Are they entertaining? (understanding that there are multiple meanings to the verb “entertain”) Are they truthful? (but in terms of “verisimilitude” more than “accuracy”) Are the makers genuinely interested in the past [Read More…]

Fertility, Faith and Politics

I have been writing on the global demographic revolution marked by collapsing fertility rates and shrinking family sizes. In particular, I have focused on the religious implications of these changes. For a variety of reasons, lower fertility shows a close correlation to secularization, and the rapid decline of organized religion. Some social issues in particular [Read More…]

Fertility, Faith and Islam

I have been posting about declining fertility rates around the world, specifically about their impact on religiosity and secularization. Beyond that, those rates also serve as excellent indicators of trends in gender roles and relationships, and a wide range of social and cultural themes. Tell me a country’s total fertility rate (TFR) and I will [Read More…]

How Donald Trump Is Prompting a Debate about the Practice of History

Should historians be taking sides in the 2016 election? Does our discipline give us any special insight into a candidacy like Donald Trump’s? [Read more…]

America’s Public Bible

Many historians have observed that early Americans lived in a culture drenched in scripture. Through the nineteenth century, Americans’ oral and written speech dripped with biblical allusions that we might miss if we are not familiar with the language of the King James Bible. We might also note that whereas Old Testament narratives and texts resonated deeply [Read More…]

Trump, Evangelicals, and the Democratic Party

White evangelicals have become such an entrenched bloc in the Republican Party that four out of every five of them plan to vote for Trump. [Read more…]

What Makes for the Best Historical Movies? (part 2)

Two more questions to ask of historical films: Are its makers actually interested in the past on its own terms? Are they provoking historical thinking? [Read more…]

Sacred Violence in Early America

In 1637, English forces and their native allies encircled a Pequot village and burned alive some five hundred men, women, and children. John Mason termed it a “fiery oven” and declared: “It was the LORDS DOINGS, and it is marvelous to our Eyes.” William Bradford, then governor of New Plymouth, allowed that “it was a [Read More…]

The Terror Attack in France

I don’t normally post two items in a day, but this is a special circumstance. I am of course utterly horrified at last night’s appalling terror attack in France. It made such a personal impact because the specific method is one I have discussed through the years. Just last week, I published an article for [Read More…]

Fertility and Faith, Continued

I have made the case that fertility and faith are intimately linked. Very generally, falling fertility rates correlate with declining support for organized religion, and growing secularization. (This is the total fertility rate, TFR). The key marker is the “replacement” rate, when a typical woman bears 2.1 children during the course of her life. When [Read More…]