Paul Winter: Of Anti-Catholics, Anti-Semites, and Nazis

This post concerns an authentically frightening figure in US history, and one whose career speaks powerfully to contemporary debates about religious and ethnic prejudice. If our history had traveled in somewhat different directions, he might have become very powerful indeed. Be very grateful that you have never heard of Paul Meres Winter. A hundred years [Read More…]

Where is John the Baptist’s Head?

When I ask students to read and generate questions about the Gospel of Mark, someone always asks about the beheading of John the Baptist? What sort of mother asks her daughter to ask her father for a prophet’s head? (I can also count on a question about the fig tree, for which I never have [Read More…]

Margaret Mead: Christian, Pro-life Feminist

Today we are pleased to welcome Elesha Coffman to the Anxious Bench. Elesha is an Assistant Professor of History at Baylor University. Her first book, The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline, was published by Oxford UP in 2013 and her current book project is a spiritual biography of Margaret Mead.  “These [Read More…]

Temperance after Prohibition

While Prohibition is a byword for failed legislation, temperance concerns survived the ratification of the 21st Amendment. But in recent years, more restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol have been disappearing. [Read more…]

The Benedict Option, New England Edition

Ian Lovett’s recent Wall Street Journal essay traces a growing trend among traditional Christians to move to remote locations, often near a monastery, to recreate a kind of life that recalls Christian devotion in an earlier time, like the Middle Ages.  In Oklahoma, California, Texas, and Arkansas, Lovett finds new outposts of Catholics who prefer [Read More…]

Blood From The Sky

I have not read this yet, but I just came across a book that looks exactly my kind of thing. This is Adam Jortner, Blood from the Sky: Miracles and Politics in the Early American Republic (University of Virginia Press, 2017). Here is the description: In the decades following the Revolution, the supernatural exploded across [Read More…]

Spreading the Faith: Immigrant Religion and Ethnic Religion

I wrote about the relationship between immigration and religious change, and the enormous impact of successive immigrant movements in shaping American religious patterns. Immigrant churches or congregations generally share certain characteristics and habits that provide useful tools for analysis and prediction. But that gets to some thorny issues of definition, and specifically about how we [Read More…]

Still Searching for Christian America

“At times of crisis it is a natural human reaction to turn to the past for support.”[1] These words were written by evangelicals, to evangelicals. In 1983. Wait—1983? But Ronald Reagan was president at the time. What could possibly have been the source of evangelical angst back then? In fact, the causes were many. The [Read More…]

Did Medieval Christians Know Jesus?

Recently I was made aware of an online church history curriculum.  At first glance, it seemed promising (at least from my perspective as a medievalist). It dedicated two weeks to the Medieval Church (five if you include the three weeks of Reformation), and it began the lesson for the High Middle Ages with this disclaimer: [Read More…]

The Christian History of “America First”

While many Christians have criticized the Trump administration’s embrace of an “America First” policy, the pre-WWII movement that made that phrase famous had the support of a wide array of American Christians. [Read more…]