What Are The Most “Important” Topics in American History?

I recently spoke at the annual conference of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, as part of a panel on “What in American history is most important for teachers to pass on to our students?” The audience was largely from private Christian schools, including administrators and history teachers. I found the exercise quite challenging [Read More...]

King Jesus

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A classic book can change your life. Oddly, on occasion, a much lesser and truly flawed work can have a similar effect. Over forty years ago, I read Robert Graves’s daring 1946 novel King Jesus, which a later publisher’s blurb characterized as “one of the most controversial historical novels of all time.” Not once was [Read More...]

Apples, Oranges and Nephites

Neil Rappleye is a Book of Mormon apologist. He recently did a piece about me at his blog, under the title The Goose and the Gander, and he is fully entitled to take issue with me on anything and everything. I don’t intend to respond to every criticism or comment he makes, but I am [Read More...]

Scripture and Sedition

The Hasmonean rulers of the independent Jewish kingdom (165 BC – 63 BC) were the subject of many writings, usually in the form of veiled pseudo-prophecies. Taken together, they provide us with a strictly contemporary commentary on a critical period. The ruling Hasmonean dynasty had many enemies, and from various perspectives. Originally aligned with the [Read More...]

Early Christian and Medieval Heavens

In Giotto's Last Judgment (1306), not all of the saints gaze toward Jesus Christ. Some look at each other. Still, heaven is strictly hierarchical and static.

Two weeks ago, I began a discussion of Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang’s Heaven: A History, in which they trace two millennia of Christian ideas about the afterlife. To what extent does human community persist in heaven? Does the hereafter, moreover, take place on earth or in heaven? Last time, I discussed M&L’s discussion of [Read More...]

An Honest Anabaptist Named Jacques

For all their humility and reputation for being “the quiet in the land,” Mennonites sure do get a lot of press. This past week during the Mennonite Church’s biennial convention in Kansas City, they made news for passing a document entitled “Forbearance in the Midst of Differences” and passing a resolution against drone warfare. “Weird [Read More...]

Should Evangelicals Embrace the “Benedict Option”?

Rod Dreher has been blogging about the need for traditional Christians to embrace the “Benedict Option” of retreat from and engagement with post-Christian society. In a recent post, he commented that It is retreat in the sense that it requires a) an honest and sober recognition of the condition of our post-Christian culture, and the relationship of [Read More...]

The Book of Mormon, Revisited

No, that’s not a reference to the musical. In recent weeks, I have posted several items concerning the historicity or literal veracity of the Book of Mormon, and have had some exchanges with Dr. Bill Hamblin at his blog (a debate that he suggested and initiated). You can see my latest (lengthy) contribution here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/enigmaticmirror/2015/07/03/jenkins-16-argument-turned-upside-down/ [Read More...]

Pseudo-Prophets and Real Kings

The independent Jewish kingdom of the second and first centuries BC – the Hasmonean state – had a turbulent and bloody history. That story is extensively commemorated in various pseudo-scriptures, although we can’t be exactly sure about the correspondence between historical events and literary representation. But some of these texts exercised enormous power over later [Read More...]

The Quick Triumph of Same-Sex Marriage

From the 2013 Anxious Bench archives… About a decade ago, the historian David Chappell wrote a thoughtful book about religion and the civil rights movement, titled A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow. Among other ideas, Chappell presents the argument that the supporters of civil rights, ultimately, had religion on [Read More...]


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