Candles, Prayers, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Nicolaikirche_Leipzig

Last weekend, Germany celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the end of the East German government’s blockade of its own citizens. In November 1989, amid considerable political confusion, East German security forces did not prevent crowds from crossing the border and scaling the Berlin Wall. It was not the first moment in which East German soldiers [Read More...]

Where the Wind Leads

For the May 1st-15th Patheos Book Club In early 1979, Hoa Chung had a dream.  Although plans were coming together to leave communist-ruled Vietnam for a better life elsewhere, this dream was not a daydream of hope, but a vivid sleeping-dream.  In it, her husband Hoa and their eight children fell dead in the middle [Read More...]

Martin Luther, Erich Honecker, and China’s Xi Jinping

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece on China’s new leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to shore up party loyalty by having government officials watch a new film about the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Produced by a retired Chinese major general, the six-part documentary points a finger at Mikhail Gorbachev, not the communist system [Read More...]

International Evangelicals and Cold War Non-Alignment

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

In the mid-twentieth century the world underwent geopolitical reorientation. Decolonization carved the imperial-colonial divide into a new landscape, and World War II left only two major superpowers: the Marxist Soviet Union and the liberal democratic United States. Once allies against Nazi Germany, ideological differences rapidly turned them into foes. Each side began to “recruit” allies [Read More...]

The Cold War Origins of World Vision

Bob Pierce and Korean orphans in the 1950s

World Vision, known best for its child sponsorship programs, has become the largest and most significant evangelical relief and development agency. The organization’s Wikipedia page vaguely describes its humanitarian origins. Its official website features a similarly vague history, preferring to tout its culturally appropriate development work. But its story is much more vivid than these [Read More...]

Religion behind the Iron Curtain

Father Szaléz Kiss

Although one could find fuller treatments of the subject elsewhere, I was very intrigued by Anne Applebaum’s thoughtful treatment of religion in Eastern Europe in the first decade after the end of WWII. [See the first part of this review of Applebaum's The Iron Curtain here]. First of all, Applebaum allows for a healthy measure [Read More...]

Anne Applebaum’s The Iron Curtain

iron-curtain-20882-20130113-95

Oftentimes the most powerful accounts of “religious history” are found in books addressing much broader topics. Such is the case in Anne Applebaum’s convincing and eloquent The Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 (Doubleday, 2012). Focusing on events in East Germany, Poland, and Hungary, Applebaum uses both archival sources and oral interviews to [Read More...]


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