Publishing without Perishing

Several of my co-bloggers have commented on aspects of dissertation writing and academic publishing. Perhaps for some gifted individuals, books come forth with ease. For most of us, however, they are laborious endeavors, filled with stretches of angst and exhaustion. What follows are a few thoughts on how to minimize publishing stress and how to [Read More...]

The Ransom of the Soul

Brown Ransom

What causes changes in the way Christians understand God, salvation, or the afterlife? Peter Brown reminds us that as much as historians seek to understand and explain change over time, it is no easy task. In The Ransom of the Soul, his most recent topic is how and why Christian understandings of the afterlife (and [Read More...]

Under God — since When?

Kevin Kruse’s One Nation Under God: How Corporate American Invented Christian America has received considerable attention since its release earlier this year. Deservedly so. I recently reviewed the book for Christianity Today and agree with some of the cautionary notes our Philip Jenkins sounded several months back. Philip suggests that reviewers’ excessively exuberant praise for [Read More...]

Early Christian and Medieval Heavens

In Giotto's Last Judgment (1306), not all of the saints gaze toward Jesus Christ. Some look at each other. Still, heaven is strictly hierarchical and static.

Two weeks ago, I began a discussion of Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang’s Heaven: A History, in which they trace two millennia of Christian ideas about the afterlife. To what extent does human community persist in heaven? Does the hereafter, moreover, take place on earth or in heaven? Last time, I discussed M&L’s discussion of [Read More...]

Evangelical Oats

Quaker_Oats_advertisement_1905

Reuben Torrey and Henry Crowell are the two key figures in Timothy Gloege’s outstanding Guaranteed Pure. In his book, Gloege develops a rich analogy between the rise of corporate advertising and the rise of American fundamentalism. Crowell grew up in a Presbyterian family, then was taken with Dwight Moody’s revival encouragement to “dream great things [Read More...]

Corporate Evangelicalism

Recently, Kevin Kruse’s One Nation Under God has generated considerable attention for its claims about the way that the 1930s and post-WWII alliance between politically conservative businessmen and evangelicals created modern ideas about “Christian America.” According to the book’s self-description, Kruse “reveals how the unholy alliance of money, religion, and politics created a false origin [Read More...]

The Counterintuitive Art of Promoting Books

Everyone seemingly wants to be an author, and most authors want to promote their books. We want to sell copies, of course, but we also want to promote the ideas within our books. The best piece of advice I can offer regarding book promotion is that if you wait until your book is published to [Read More...]

Lone Star Religion

Rough Country - Wuthnow

Review of Robert Wuthnow, Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State (Princeton University Press, 2014). I grew up in Texas in the 1970s and 1980s. During my childhood, Texas was a purple state. Both major parties represented us in the Senate, and the governorship oscillated between Democrats and Republicans. Things have changed quite [Read More...]

The Kirtland Temple

Kirtland Temple, 1934, from the LOC Historic American Buildings Survey collection

Every year tens of thousands of people visit the Kirtland Temple, dedicated in 1836 by what was then the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The vast majority of those visitors are members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they come in part to see where Joseph Smith and Oliver [Read More...]

Evangelical Anti-abolitionists

Robert J. Breckinridge, ca. 1845

Even in slaveholding states, many white Americans were uneasy about the morality of black slavery in the decades that preceded the Civil War. However, there were two things such Americans disliked far more than slavery: black people and abolitionists. According to Luke Harlow’s recently published Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, those double [Read More...]


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