Finding a Subject

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Beth Barr, Tommy Kidd and myself have all been posting on the subject of writing and publishing, particularly of academic books. All of us trod lightly on one of the most important aspects of all, namely how someone goes about choosing a topic in the first place. In some cases, it’s easy. You might for [Read More...]

ENDING THE DRAFT

For obvious reasons, historians concern themselves with writing about things that happened, rather than others that did not exist, or that ceased to happen. In one instance though, we can learn a lot about modern America from tracing the long-term cultural impact of something that finished over forty years ago, namely the military draft. Odd [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR: A WORLD ON THE CROSS

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In my book The Great and Holy War, I write at some length about the propaganda imagery of the war, and how thoroughly it drew on Christian imagery, especially Christ himself, and the Crucifixion. Posters and cartoons depicted whole nations as the victims of crucifixion. Usually they were depicted in the form of women, and [Read More...]

WARS HOLY AND UNHOLY

(c) The Highlanders' Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I have been posting a lot recently on the topic of holy war and crusade in the context of the First World War. In that context, I read a piece by Donald R. McClarey posted at the American Catholic. It includes a quote that demands a “discuss!” following it. The piece is called “Benedict XV, [Read More...]

CONSTRUCTING A CATHOLIC CRISIS

Jason Berry is a journalist who works on Catholic issues and clergy sexual abuse. He has recently published an article on abuse issues, in which he attacks my work. He is quite at liberty to make such a criticism, but he cannot do so on the basis of an outrageous mis-representation of what I actually [Read More...]

STICKING UP FOR JEWS?

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Over the past few years, we Anxious Bench bloggers have dealt with many and sundry topics. As I look back, though, I am surprised to see one big omission, both my myself and my colleagues, which is that of Jews and Judaism, and Christian-Jewish relations. If we have touched on it, we have not said [Read More...]

THE BREAKING OF IMAGES

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In a recent Times Literary Supplement, David Motadel reviewed James Noyes’s 2013 book The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam. The review, and the associated scholarship, raises important questions about how we conceive of the Reformation, how we teach it, and, significantly, how we will commemorate the [Read More...]

THE FLIGHT OF THE DINGBATS

Robert Spencer just published an extraordinarily inaccurate piece about my work. I would not normally dignify Spencer with a reply, but his piece appeared at jihadwatch, which has among its followers a significant number of folks who feel the need to send hate-filled screeds against those who meet their displeasure. While such dingbat mail is [Read More...]

BUCHAN’S POWER HOUSE

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I have been posting on some books that appeared during the First World War – books by Wells, Moore, and Machen – but one contribution from that time was one of the most daring and, we might even say, prophetic. Amazingly in light of his later reputation, the author in question was John Buchan. His [Read More...]

FREEMASONRY AND BLACK HISTORY

I have been posting a lot recently on the very diverse impact of Freemasonry on all sots of unsuspected aspects of culture. The British GUARDIAN just did a terrific piece on the relationship between Freemasonry and jazz – particularly Black Masonry of the Prince Hall tradition. I quote: “Start digging into the history of freemasonry [Read More...]


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