Britain’s Pagan Twilight

I have been writing about the long-standing British fascination with the idea of a continuing rural paganism, ideas that in the 1960s grew into the genre of Folk Horror. But why did the ideas of witch-cult theorist Margaret Murray attract such a wide and credulous following? Looking at the writings of such mainstream figures as [Read More…]

How a Dissertation Becomes a Book

The first book of most academic historians is a strange creature: a dissertation that has become a book. How and when should newly minted Ph.D.’s transform those dissertations into books? It is one of the most important and — often — most perplexing moments in an academic career. This is the first in a series [Read More…]

Notes to First-Year Students on Mystery and the Liberal Arts

Today’s post comes from a talk I gave several years ago at Asbury University, where I teach history. After welcoming nearly 400 new students to campus for orientation, we didn’t waste any time starting up academic conversations. All incoming students read G.K. Chesterton’s mystery thriller The Man Who Was Thursday for their liberal arts seminar, [Read More…]

Could the U.S. Finally Get a Significant Christian Democratic Party?

Is American politics finally ready for a Christian democratic party like those that have long played key roles in European and South American politics? [Read more…]

Trump and Modern Ethical Theory

We are still many weeks away from early November and I’m already wondering if there is anything left to say about this election, which the Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse memorably described as a “dumpster fire.” (I confess that I didn’t know that this was a phrase until I looked it up and learned that it [Read More…]

Wood Magic

I have been posting about pagan survivals into Christian times, not in terms of actual continuities so much as modern romantic reconstructions of those matters. As I noted, scholars like Margaret Murray used such a vision as the basis for a whole recreation of a supposed ancient paganism surviving in modern times in the form [Read More…]

The Crisis of Corporate Evangelicalism (Part 3 – where did it come from?)

[You can also read previous posts in the series] Imagine a world where families operate like corporations. Parents are management, but efficiency and profitably determine all aspects of family life. Children are both assets and employees; resources are allocated according to potential. And if things don’t work out with a troublesome teen or toddler? Well, you can [Read More…]

Etiquette for Graduate Students

Next week I will meet with our new Baylor History graduate students for orientation. I am pretty certain that no one will be late. I am also pretty certain that no one will fall asleep. This will be one of their first official graduate meetings, afterall, and they will want to make a good impression. [Read More…]

St. Ephrem, the Syrian Refugee: A Church Father on War and Lament

One of the greatest writers of the Early Church, Ephrem the Syrian was a refugee whose laments offer a helpful model to this day [Read more…]

Witches in the Village

In 1945, English villager Charles Walton was gruesomely murdered in what sensationalist media decided was a sinister “witch murder,” even a human sacrifice, in the community of Lower Quinton. That story, as described by detective Robert Fabian, became the foundation of a whole genre of fantastic fiction, Folk Horror, and this spilled over into the [Read More…]


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