Interpreting Demonic Possession

My graduate course recently read Brian Levack’s The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West (Yale, 2013). Levack, the author of a number of important books on witchcraft and possession in early modern Europe, notes from the outset that “demonic possession is a methodological landmine for historians.” That’s the truth! It is relatively easy [Read More...]

Slavery: America’s Original Sin?

[This week's post is from my archives at Patheos.] The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has a touring exhibit entitled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” At the front of the Smithsonian display stands a life-size statue of Jefferson, backed by a panel listing the known names of about 600 slaves who worked for Jefferson [Read More...]

The Puritans as Masters of Reform

My history graduate students and I recently read David Hall’s A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (2011), a remarkably admiring portrait of early New England Puritans and their participatory society. While progressive critics, following Nathaniel Hawthorne, have often caricatured the theocratic rule of the Puritan fathers, Harvard’s Hall – one [Read More...]

Five Great Books on George Washington

Last week saw the opening of the long-awaited George Washington National Library at Mount Vernon. Washington himself seems to have had such a project in mind at the end of his life, when he wrote in 1797 that “I have not houses to build, except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security [Read More...]

Paleo Evangelicals and the Plight of Prisoners

It’s tough to get people to stand up for prisoners. Disproportionately poor, black, and Hispanic, America’s prisoners typically lose whatever minimal public influence they once had when they vanish into our country’s vast detention system. What’s more, they (generally) vanish by their own fault, forfeiting whatever sympathy the public might have had for them. Republicans [Read More...]

When the United Nations Did Good: Os Guinness and Religious Liberty

Baylor recently welcomed Os Guinness, one of the seminal Christian apologists of the past half-century, for a public conversation with our president, Judge Ken Starr. Guinness spoke about his new book The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity. [Video of the event is available here.] Guinness offers a [Read More...]

The Roots of Evangelical Opposition to Syrian Intervention

Last week I wrote about “Paleo Evangelicals and Syria,” explaining why many traditional evangelicals will not support intervention in Syria’s civil war. Evangelicals are hardly the only Christians opposing intervention; indeed, the Syria question has become one of the most remarkably unifying issues for progressive, Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical Christians that I can ever recall. [Read More...]

Paleo Evangelicals and Syria

I have written on a number of occasions about paleo evangelicals, those who are theologically and culturally conservative, and who feel out of step with the Republican Party at critical junctures. One such juncture is escalating American involvement with Syria. I find myself in disagreement with most of President Obama’s domestic policies, but I am [Read More...]

Duck Dynasty’s Cultural Christianity

I hesitate to add my two cents about “Duck Dynasty,” at the risk of revealing just how lowbrow I am, and at the risk of commenting on a show that probably has “jumped the shark,” as they say. (I cannot imagine that this season’s premiere will not be the high point of the show’s popularity.) [Read More...]

Rod Dreher’s Little Way of Ruthie Leming

I recently read Rod Dreher’s remarkable book The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. My expectations for the book were extremely high, as the near-universal praise of reviewers has been effusive, and Dreher is one of my favorite bloggers and writers. Reading his earlier book Crunchy Cons was uncanny: it explained a great deal of me to myself (why do [Read More...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X