The Anxious Bench at the Conference on Faith and History

Where you can hear Anxious Bench contributors at next month’s 30th biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History [Read more…]

When The Backwardness Came Back

In a recent post, I referred to economic pressures, and particularly oil prices, as a factor driving social change. Over my next few entries, I will expand on that point with a focus on a particularly critical era, namely the 1970s. Economic crisis – specifically, the oil crisis – drove social changes, and radically reshaped [Read More…]

Black Church, White Jesus

Jesus and I were the only white people in the room. When I was twenty years old, I went to Washington for an unpaid summer internship. The nonprofit arranged for me to stay in a small cottage behind a lawyer’s house in one of the area’s affluent suburbs. In the cottage, there was no air [Read More…]

Mother Teresa, Eastern Kentucky, and Transnational Charity

The canonization of Mother Teresa on September 4 was a global affair. The coronation occurred at the Vatican in front of 120,000 people. The people in her homeland of Macedonia rejoiced. So did the members of the Missionaries of Charity, the blue-and-white robed religious order she founded in 1950. At the original site of the [Read More…]

Beyond Books: Hymns as Christian Writing

Do we overstate the influence of books and underestimate the importance of other types of Christian writing? First in a series: the power of hymns. [Read more…]

Only Yesterday: On Teaching Very Recent US History

I wrote recently about the problems of defining the major themes in recent American history. That actually gets to a much bigger issue, namely how do we teach that “Late Modern” era in universities and colleges. If I can borrow the title of the classic 1931 book by Frederick Lewis Allen on the 1920s, how [Read More…]

The Best 100 Films, and the Rest

I recently blogged about recent European films about faith and religion. That post was in my mind as I looked at the listing of the 100 best films of the current century, since 2000. That’s an impressive list, but with some odd absences. Of course that’s subjective, but I do see a real and rather [Read More…]

Writing the 21st Century

Last time, I discussed the issues involved in trying to write the very recent history, namely the years since 2000. (Do check out that post as the essential background for the present posting). I won’t detail my planned chapter outline in too much length, but let me just give you the main subheadings to see [Read More…]

Crisis of Corporate Evangelicalism (Part 4 – The “Other” Evangelicals)

In July 1925, America was gripped by a spectacle of the sort that reality TV would later perfect. The small hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee hosted a trivial court case that town leaders puffed into a media circus. The contest was whether evolution should be taught in public schools. At the prosecutors’ table sat the one-time [Read More…]

The Divorce of a Pastor’s Wife in 1860 Texas

I went to a perfect wedding last weekend. It was deep in the rural heart of Central Texas. Wide open fields dotted with cattle and the occasional John Deer tractor were broken by scattered farm houses. The roads were narrow and dusty; population signs for the small towns counted inhabitants by the hundreds; and notices [Read More…]