Scripture as Usable History II

GodsGloryBible

In my last post I described the pushback from some American evangelicals against God-and-country Bibles like the Patriot’s Bible or the Bicentennial Bible. Another woefully understudied, but potentially significant, source of dissent is global evangelicalism. To my knowledge Mark Noll is one of the few to analyze foreign perspectives on America’s treatment of Scripture. In [Read More...]

Why Study History

why study history

As the Civil War ground to an end in early 1865, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address. It was a gracious meditation. He noted that both the North and South read the same Bible and prayed to the same God. Invoking the mystery of God’s ways, he declared, “The prayers of both could [Read More...]

The Bible, Slavery, and Sin

I have been reading Molly Oshatz’s thought-provoking new book Slavery and Sin: The Fight against Slavery and the Rise of Liberal Protestantism. Oshatz argues that the theological difficulties surrounding antebellum slavery gave rise to beliefs that became “hallmarks of liberal Protestant theology: God’s revelation unfolded progressively through human history, moral action had to be considered in [Read More...]

The Politics of Faith during the Civil War

Timothy L. Wesley has just published a book called The Politics of Faith during the Civil War (LSU Press, 2013). I have no vested interest in this, except that Dr. Wesley is attached to the History Department at Penn State, which was my former academic home. I cite it here because it might be of [Read More...]

Dying the Modern Death

Republic of Suffering

Welcome to this fourth installment of Death Wednesday here at the Anxious Bench. In my last post I described the nostalgic appeal of Trappist caskets and old-time burial practices at the bucolic Abbey of Gethsemani. For me and my students, Gethsemani seemed awfully appealing as we contemplated the likelihood of our own deaths in an [Read More...]

“An Army of the Living God”: Stonewall Jackson’s Death and Southern Memory

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the tragic death on May 10, 1863, of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson from wounds sustained at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Along with Robert E. Lee, Jackson occupies a special place of veneration in the memory of the Confederate cause. It is hard to say how many southern boys [Read More...]

The “Regulated Freedom” of James Henley Thornwell, Antebellum Southern Presbyterian

Sunday was the 200th birthday of James Henley Thornwell, the South Carolina Presbyterian pastor and professor whom Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese called the antebellum South’s “most formidable theologian.” Thornwell was a great champion of what he called the “regulated freedom” of antebellum slave society. Historian George Bancroft once described Thornwell as “the most learned [Read More...]

Beechers in the Backyard

We are still in the thick of Civil War commemorations— perhaps Americans never are far from  them–and entering a fresh phase with the release of Lincoln on the big screen.  For Georgetown, Massachusetts, where my family lives, Civil War memory has two primary foci: the Massachusetts 50th Volunteer regiment, Company K, a fellowship of town [Read More...]

“Thenceforward, and Forever Free”: Remembering Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation

This week marks the 150th anniversary of two of the most significant events of the Civil War: the Battle of Antietam (Sept. 17) and the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (Sept. 22). The contrast between these two events remains poignant a century and a half later: the most deadly single day of battle in American history signaled [Read More...]


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