Lost Christian Nubia

A spectacular recent find in northern Africa throws new light on early church history, but at the same time it also points to the existence of a vast and forgotten Christian kingdom, and just how the faith – or indeed, any religion – fades and dies. The story makes for highly appropriate reading in the [Read More…]

American Violence: Honor and the American Difference

At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States was an exceptionally violent country, which really stood alone among advanced nations. I have been trying to account for this American Difference. As an illustration, let me take a series of events that occurred in the late 1890s, and which actually happened about a block [Read More…]

American Violence: Things Fall Apart

I have been posting about the extreme violence that characterized US life around the turn of the twentieth century, roughly between 1877 and 1917 – all the private armies and paramilitary activity, the massacres and ethnic wars, the prevalence of political murder and assassination. These currents set the US far apart from most other parts [Read More…]

American Violence: Western Mythologies

I posted on the extreme violence that characterized the United States around the turn of the twentieth century. Many of the examples we might think of from that era concern the so-called Wild West, but we should be very careful in applying that label. Often, those conflicts mimicked exactly the same kind of ethnic and [Read More…]

American Violence: The Long Civil War

I know the American Civil War happened, but I’m not too sure when, how, or whether it ended. That question was in my mind recently when I visited Georgetown, Kentucky, with its lovely old main street. Near the courthouse stands a monument to the trial of people accused in a sensational event of the era, [Read More…]

What Has Technology Ever Done For Us?

This may seem like a silly question, but how much influence has modern communication technology had on us? That is actually a surprisingly hotly debated issue right now. The implications are vast – for society, politics, religion, and dare I say, for human consciousness. It is widely acknowledged that real incomes in the US have [Read More…]

The Great War, and the Futile War

We are hearing a lot this year about the centennial of the First World War, and time and again, we hear what a “futile” and “meaningless” struggle that was. Obviously, then, by extension, US entry into that war – which we commemorate next month – must have been a tragic blunder. This is for instance [Read More…]

The Forgotten History of “Christian” Political Activism

Across the political spectrum, most Americans would automatically describe the country’s religious heritage as “Judeo-Christian.” Rarely, though, do they think about the origins of this term, or how exceedingly odd it would have appeared before the 1950s (and still does to many non-Americans). In fact, the Judeo-Christian concept has a highly political origin, and was [Read More…]

Forgetting American Terror: The Christian Front

Imagine American cities under siege by extreme Right-wing movements and paramilitary groups calling for armed violence, and actually attacking Jews and other minorities in the streets. You might think that such horrors would be hard to conceal, and the resulting soul-searching would give abundant material to later historians. But here is a mystery. The situation [Read More…]

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…]