Rome, for Protestants

Most people today ooh-and-aah when they experience or envision a trip to Rome. It was not always so. Until the era of modern tourism, trips to Rome were rare, undertaken only by the wealthy. For devout Protestants, encountering Catholicism’s Eternal City could often induce more revulsion than admiration. Prior to Italian unification in the 1860s-1870s, [Read More...]

Good advice for those who are ABD

From The Anxious Bench Archive.  Originally posted October 8, 2014. “It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take.” -Alanis Morissette, “Ironic,” Jagged Little Pill (1995). As my graduate school days appear further and further in my rear view mirror, there are certain events, discussions, and conversations that remain crisp and clear in my memory–just as if they [Read More...]

This is not about abortion

In case you were unaware of your need for a book titled A History of Pregnancy in Christianity, University of Oslo religious history professor Anne Stensvold’s new release, consider this. Every person on the planet exists because of a reproductive act (sex, usually) and a nine-month period of a care by a particular woman, inside [Read More...]

Snake Handling and Religious Freedom

Snake Handling

Snake handling churches are back in the news after a Kentucky man died from a rattle snake bite at a recent worship service. If this piece of news failed to show up during your daily Internet browsing, your sources might be insufficiently cosmopolitan. If there is any religious practice in America that receives smirks from [Read More...]

How we view the fetus

Recent release of video footage showing Planned Parenthood official Deborah Nucatola describing collection and costs of fetal tissue has attracted attention and controversy.  With this controversy playing out in background, the Wall Street Journal published a new report on the overuse of ultrasounds. The Journal article argues that low-risk pregnancies do not need the average [Read More...]

Islam in the Christian College?

(The conference mentioned below in this previous post has been funded and will take place on the campus of Gordon College on September 21, 2015. For more information, write to cfi@gordon.edu or go to http://www.gordon.edu/islamintheclassroom) In a post 9/11 world, engaging Islam in the college classroom is more important than ever. Unfortunately, too many evangelical [Read More...]

Looking Back to Think Ahead: Baptists and Obergefell v. Hodges

A committed evangelical, today I write out of and to my narrower ecclesiastical tradition (Baptist) as I address the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.  All others are welcome to listen in or ignore me as they see fit.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last Friday (June 26, 2015) should surprise no one who has been paying attention.  In [Read More...]

Napoleon and Christianity

The 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s well-known defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 has recently been marked in Europe and elsewhere. In addition to commentary on the battle itself, much attention has focused on Napoleon’s politics, diplomacy, and military skills. It is for his actions in these areas that most of us know the [Read More...]

Southern Baptists: Cooperative Autonomy?

20150614_195936 (1)

In my first outing as an official representative of Hannibal-LaGrange University, I have spent the past few days at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center attending the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In the past, controversy stalked each meeting as Southern Baptists both fought internecine battles and made unpopular public proclamations addressing cultural [Read More...]

Road Trip, with Manasseh Cutler

sign of cutler

‘Tis the season for the road trip, not just for getting from point A to B, but for attending to history and geography along the way.  On the Old Bay Road going toward Ipswich, Massachusetts, now 1A North of Boston, a roadside marker identifies the site where the first covered wagon set off from Massachusetts [Read More...]


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