What to Publish, and When?

In response to one of my recent newsletters, a friend and former student asked, from the perspective of a Ph.D. student, “With seminar papers, conference papers, book reviews, and journal articles, there is a lot to think about. How to prioritize these? How to find time to work on long-term projects when the daily tasks [Read More...]

Recovering Lemuel Haynes: Patriot Hero, African American Pastor

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the implications of “all men are created equal” for America’s slaves was uncertain, at least to the delegates to the Continental Congress, many of whom (like Jefferson) owned slaves themselves. There was no doubt about the Declaration’s meaning to many free and enslaved African Americans, however. Lemuel [Read More...]

How to Stop Fiddling Around and Start Writing

A friend recently asked me about my writing practices – in particular, how do I keep track of notes as I am preparing to write? This allows me to make a recommendation that I hope you won’t find too peculiar: When writing, don’t take notes. Don’t make outlines. Just write. Let me clarify. What I [Read More...]

So You’re Thinking of Homeschooling…

A friend and parent of preschoolers recently asked how my wife and I made the decision to homeschool our kids. As I have written previously, homeschooling is not for every family. There are any number of reasons parents might decide not to homeschool, including a simple lack of passion for doing it. But even for [Read More...]

“Experts” and Evangelical Subculture

In my recent post on platforms and publishing, I noted that certain “experts” seem to be mostly platform and little substance, and that evangelicals have a special fondness for these sorts of pop experts. Matthew Lee Anderson subsequently asked me to address the question “Why do you think evangelicals are especially vulnerable to ‘experts’?” I am [Read More...]

Howell Harris and Wales’s Great Awakening

January 23, 2014 marks the 300th birthday of the remarkable but troubled Welsh revivalist, Howell Harris. Harris was one of the foremost preachers of the Great Awakening in Britain, and a close friend (for a time) of George Whitefield (the subject of my current book project), who was born later in the same year, 1714. Whitefield [Read More...]

Antebellum African Missions and the Evangelical South

I recently read Erskine Clarke’s remarkable By the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey, which tells the epic chronicle of John Leighton Wilson and Jane Wilson, antebellum southern missionaries to west Africa. Clarke is one of the most gifted historians of American religion, with particular mastery of the antebellum southern Christian mind. By the [Read More...]

Of Platforms and Publishing

In my recent post on publishing, I noted that “To publish a book with an established press, you ordinarily need a “platform” from which to write a book – in the world of religious history, the most common such platforms are an academic position or a pastorate,” and that “Platform is a much bigger issue, increasingly [Read More...]

New Year’s Resolution: Read More Books!

[Today's post is from my Patheos archive] Happy New Year! I have routinely resolved at the New Year that I’d like to read more, and to read more intentionally. (Of course, a major part of my job as a history professor is reading, and much of that reading is pleasurable, but I am talking about [Read More...]

Was Christmas in Revolutionary America a Drunken Bash?

Our modern American Christmas is an anxious affair—and not just because of “those” relatives you don’t want to see. We so constantly remind ourselves to focus on Christ during Christmas that “The reason for the season” has become an American Christian mantra. In light of our annual December anxiety, I find it strangely comforting that [Read More...]


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