MASONS AND CATHOLICS

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I have been posting on the pervasive influence of Freemasonry in Anglo-American culture. Usually, that tradition was very wide-open and generous in terms of its racial and religious attitudes, but there is one enormous exception to that rule, and that concerns Roman Catholics. Indeed, much of European and American politics over the past two centuries [Read More...]

WHY MASONS MATTER

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Recently, John Turner did an important post on the theme of American Religion and Freemasonry. My own interests in the topic go back a long way. My first academic article ever, back in 1979 (!) was on Masons. (I was seven at the time). I specifically discussed the overlap between Jacobites and Freemasons in eighteenth [Read More...]

SEEING IT THROUGH

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Here’s a question. I am going to quote a passage published in 1916 by a famous British novelist. Who was it? Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a 
man has found God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, he works to no end. He may have [Read More...]

LIVING THROUGH A REVOLUTION

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I was reading a fictional account in which a gay man asks a pastor, a long-time friend, to perform his same-sex wedding. Although the pastor tries to keep his cool, the prospect  appalls him. He warns that if this event did occur, he would avert his eyes in disgust if the two men kissed in [Read More...]

BY SCHISMS RENT ASUNDER

Over the past twenty years, I have taught an introductory World Religions survey course. Obviously, it’s difficult to say too much about these diverse traditions in such a limited time, but I usually find myself stressing one theme in particular. As you look at the different faiths, they have many divisions and competing schools of [Read More...]

An Interview with Philip Jenkins on The Great and Holy War

My Baylor colleague and fellow Anxious Bench blogger Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Co-Director of the Program on Historical Studies of Religion at Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. He is the author of many books, including The Lost History of Christianity, Jesus Wars, and The Next Christendom. He has published articles and op-ed pieces [Read More...]

THE GREAT AND HOLY WAR

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Not long since, I posted about my current book project on the First World War, and especially its supernatural and apocalyptic dimensions. That grew out of a long-standing fascination with the period roughly between 1890-1920, and a host of writers I loved – from Conrad, Joyce and Kipling through Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood, Jack [Read More...]

WALKING ON THE WATER

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I recently posted on Jesus’s Resurrection appearance in John 21, where the disciples meet him at the Sea of Galilee. I argued that this scene, or something like it, was the very oldest version of the Resurrection story as it would have been known, for instance, to Paul around 50AD, and that it long predated [Read More...]

MERCY – SHUT UP!

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Easter is a time for sober reflection on matters of death and Resurrection, and not, one would think, an occasion for humor. Throughout history, though, some Christians at least – including major cultural figures – have so relished the news of Christ’s triumph that they cannot contain their glee in declaring the good news. Without [Read More...]

MARK’S ENDING

The final chapter of John’s gospel reports the risen Christ meeting his disciples at the Sea of Galilee. I suggested that this might in fact have been the oldest version of the Resurrection story, predating the more famous encounter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the Jerusalem garden. Some scholars have also raised the possibility [Read More...]


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