The Anxious Bench Half-Year in Review

Presenting our most popular posts halfway into a turbulent 2017. (Plus a few you might have missed the first time.) [Read more…]

No Religion Higher Than Truth; or, Why Theosophy Matters

Theosophy is (a) a fringe esoteric/religious movement founded in the 1870s, one of many such marginal sects; or (b) the indispensable key to understanding Western culture in the early twentieth century. I can make a case for either of these extreme statements, but the arguments for (b) are much stronger than you might think. I [Read More…]

The Democrats Have a Religion Problem. But They’re Not the Only Ones.

So, you’ve probably heard by now: The Democrats have a religion problem. Historian Daniel K. Williams certainly isn’t the first to make this case, but in light of Jon Ossoff’s defeat in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District last week, Williams thought it an opportune moment to consider anew the Democrats’ problem. In a New York Times [Read More…]

Wonder Woman and Complementarianism

I found myself thinking about complementarianism while watching the new Wonder Woman movie. [Read more…]

Christian Responses to Lindbergh: “The Recrudescence of Paganism”

Christians debated how to respond to Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. To some, the ensuing hero worship smacked of “paganism.” [Read more…]

Alternative Scriptures: Theosophy and the Esoteric Tradition

I have been posting about the widespread knowledge of alternative gospels and scriptures that existed in Western culture over a century ago, roughly between 1870 and 1930. Whether we are looking at Gnostic and esoteric views of early Christianity, feminist interpretations of the role of Mary Magdalene, or the influence of Essene doctrine, very few [Read More…]

Bernie Sanders, Anti-Evangelical Bigot?

Senator Bernie Sanders opposed the nomination of Russell Vought as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget because of the way Vought supported his alma mater in its firing of Larycia Hawkins. Vought wrote the following for The Resurgent: Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because [Read More…]

This Thai Is Not Like the Others

My research on the antitrafficking movement in Thailand primarily tracked American Christian networks. As I suspected, the many missionaries and humanitarians I interviewed represented remarkable diversity. Some, horrified by sex trafficking, emoted like the passionate evangelicals they were. Others articulated the structural causes of trafficking with considerable sophistication. Some prescribed spiritual conversion. Others recommended more [Read More…]

A Brief History of Vacation Bible School

Keep in mind that VBS is one of those traditions in American Christianity that is well-established, but not as old as you might think. [Read more…]

Alternative Scriptures: Melville’s “Lost Gnostic Poem”

In 1891, Herman Melville published his final book, a collection of poems entitled Timoleon. I want to focus on one of these poems, which initially seems quite mysterious. But it can be understood, if we appreciate the prevailing historical views of the time about heresy and sectarian religion. I also want to touch on a [Read More…]