Hating One’s Enemy in Early America

1755 was one of the bleakest years in the history of Britain’s American colonies. That year, Britain launched a massive campaign to stop French aggression in the Ohio river valley, in the early stages of the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War). Benjamin Franklin tried to warn British General Edward [Read More...]

HISTORY IN MAPS

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I was recently looking at some older maps of Africa in the colonial period. Now, maps can be quite deceptive in telling stories, but one in particular struck me forcefully. This is a c.1913 map of the African religious scene. The Muslim regions are quite familiar, and the mapmaker has done his/her best to show [Read More...]

Bonhoeffer Biography a Masterpiece

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Charles Marsh’s Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has received much attention since its release several months back, partlyfor two reasons. First, Marsh discusses Bonhoeffer’s apparently homoerotic relationship with Eberhard Bethge at considerable length. For a figure beloved by many American Christians themselves uneasy with same-sex attraction, this is controversial terrain. Second, Marsh’s biography [Read More...]

You Body and God

I recently had the privilege of pre-reading Rob Moll’s forthcoming book, What Your Body Knows About God (November 2014, IVP).  In it, Moll distills difficult scientific research, making sense of it in light of historic Christian practices–particularly those targeting personal transformation.  Moll’s own ministry experience and anecdotal accounts season the chapters, adding personal interest to this smoothly-written [Read More...]

A Family Guide to Visiting Philadelphia

There are few better cities in America for a history-themed visit than Philadelphia. We recently returned from a week and a half visit to Philly and Princeton, where I was a faculty leader for a wonderful Witherspoon Institute seminar. (I highly recommend their excellent seminars, which range across topics in law, history, and religion.) Whenever [Read More...]

ENDING THE DRAFT

For obvious reasons, historians concern themselves with writing about things that happened, rather than others that did not exist, or that ceased to happen. In one instance though, we can learn a lot about modern America from tracing the long-term cultural impact of something that finished over forty years ago, namely the military draft. Odd [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR: A WORLD ON THE CROSS

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In my book The Great and Holy War, I write at some length about the propaganda imagery of the war, and how thoroughly it drew on Christian imagery, especially Christ himself, and the Crucifixion. Posters and cartoons depicted whole nations as the victims of crucifixion. Usually they were depicted in the form of women, and [Read More...]

A Time to Mourn

Yazidi Temple in the Sinjar Mountains

There are so many things that compete for our attention. Gaza, Ukraine, and Ebola, deservedly so. Celebrity cheating rumors, royal baby rumors, not as important as wars and rumors of wars. Perhaps as it need be, most of us are consumed with our own jobs, our own families, and our own churches. For a short [Read More...]

Scripture as Usable History II

GodsGloryBible

In my last post I described the pushback from some American evangelicals against God-and-country Bibles like the Patriot’s Bible or the Bicentennial Bible. Another woefully understudied, but potentially significant, source of dissent is global evangelicalism. To my knowledge Mark Noll is one of the few to analyze foreign perspectives on America’s treatment of Scripture. In [Read More...]

How Violent Was American Slavery? Colonial Slave Codes

Last week I wrote about the challenges colonial American missionaries faced when trying to evangelize slaves without fundamentally challenging the institution of slavery. Starting in the eighteenth century, growing numbers of Christians began to express concerns about the immorality of slavery, at least slavery as practiced in the Americas. But when they turned to Scripture, [Read More...]


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