The Most Influential Theologian You’ve Never Heard of

Who is Josef Kleutgen (1811-1883)?  The name is not a household name, except in my household!  I’ve recently completed a book manuscript—The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age—and Kleutgen figures quite prominently in it.  He was arguably the ablest student of Thomas Aquinas in the [Read More…]

Dispelling Darkness: A Christian Paradox

Tis the season. Christmas music is everywhere. I’m not a complete Grinch when it comes to Christmas music, but really… “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? So much wrong with this… I do sing Rudolf and Frosty with my kids, and I actually enjoy listening to my daughter pound out carol after carol from her beginning piano [Read More…]

Indiana’s Other Claim to 2016 Fame

A big day is nearly upon us.  Not as big as Christmas, but not small either.  December 11 marks the 200th birthday of the state of Indiana.  Some Hoosiers have been celebrating all year already, but the rest of the country might whoop it up too. If you weren’t thinking that a state bicentennial was [Read More…]

Education: What is It?

For a “think tank” of sorts, I find myself writing a white paper on education (yep, the whole shebang) and its current aspirations and ailments. It’s a tough assignment, for how does one make sense of such a large category. Here’s my first swipe at defining “institutional parameters.” I welcome feedback! I. Institutional Parameters “Education” [Read More…]

“Bulgarian Horrors”

In the long history of conflict between “Islam and Christendom,” there have been many flashpoints. The Battle of Poitier (732), the fall of Constantinople (1453), and the Battle of Lepanto (1571) are three notable examples from the premodern era. Well before the conflicts and confusions of our own time, the modern age witnessed its own [Read More…]

Pantsuits and Politics

At one point in the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Trump was asked what he meant by a remark that Clinton did not have a presidential “look”.   To be sure, it already is common knowledge that women’s looks are of interest to this candidate.  Furthermore, nearly all elements of the possibility of [Read More…]

An Open Letter to the ESV Translation Committee

I’m not a biblical translator, or even a biblical scholar. I’m a historian. As a historian, I was intrigued when I heard the news that “the Permanent Text of the ESV Bible” had been released. (The English Standard Version, for those not in the know, is an “essentially literal” translation of the Revised Standard Version.) [Read More…]

Counting Down to the Reformation at 500

There’s an African proverb, I am told, that goes like this: “If I don’t beat my own drum, who will?” In this spirit, permit me to make known to Anxious-Bench readers two publications of mine. The first is recently out; the second will be out in a matter of weeks. It has been a delight [Read More…]

Birth Advice from Leo Tolstoy

Popular notions about baby-making, religious or not, often have been peculiar.  The soon-to-be-in-theaters Warner Brothers’ film, Storks (“In the beginning…storks delivered babies”) underscores this afresh.  Unlike the stork story, some of these notions do better than others in appraising the life-sustaining, life-changing, life-giving work women do in nine months’ worth of bearing with.   Tolstoy [Read More…]

Trump and Modern Ethical Theory

We are still many weeks away from early November and I’m already wondering if there is anything left to say about this election, which the Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse memorably described as a “dumpster fire.” (I confess that I didn’t know that this was a phrase until I looked it up and learned that it [Read More…]