African American Texas History in Houston

The best research projects are ones that can reasonably be accomplished.  Since I enjoy archival research and travel funds are limited, I recently began considering what projects I might pursue locally.  With a strong interest in African American religious history and the recent historiographical turn towards grassroots activism during the Civil Rights era, focusing on Houston-area [Read More...]

Looking for a Good Hermit

The Swiss city of Solothurn is advertising for a hermit.  The location is a handsome, snug hermitage nestled in rock over St. Verena gorge.  Job qualifications: must be outgoing, good with people, willing to dispense wisdom to passersby.  A winsome Wall Street Journal piece this Thursday broadcast the opening to an even broader pool, though [Read More...]

Have Visions Ceased?

luther-tischreden

In his published account of his first visionary experience, Joseph Smith reported that a Methodist preacher reacted to his report of his vision with utter contempt: “he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in [Read More...]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 1

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  The first part will run today, the second will run on Saturday, June 7th.  Relevant updates [Read More...]

Why is that church so ugly?

Though America’s religious history is lively and contains record of fidelity, courage, even sanctity, previous generations of Christians here—even recent ones—built some awful-looking churches. Churches that look like gymnasiums or strip malls, churches made of corrugated steel or dun-colored brick, churches crusted with decoration or lurid with lives of the saints: they make us ask [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...]

Should Christians Date Online?

Our friend (and one of the fabulous Baylor history Ph.D. students) Paul Putz has a fascinating piece over at the Religion and Politics blog on the deep history of Christian matchmaking in America. After discussing the intriguing “matrimonial bureau” of Omaha pastor Charles Savidge in the early 20th century, Putz reflects on the contemporary relevance and challenges [Read More...]

Anniversary Penance

This will not be Patheos’s best anniversary post. For starters, I just double-checked the guidelines and now see that anniversary posts were supposed to reach you between May 5 and May 7. I am late. Moreover, I have not prepared a video to upload for you to enjoy. This, however, is perhaps a blessing. A [Read More...]

Making Saints of Two Popes

This weekend’s big event, the first-ever double papal canonization–two living popes making saints of two towering twentieth-century ones—wears its historical significance on its sleeve.   In a New York Times article covering the event, Jim Yardley quotes 54-year-old Kansan Mary Ellen Watson: “This is a moment in the history of the church that has never happened [Read More...]

Embryos Unbound

April’s First Things boasts not one but two worthy articles on embryos.  I agree with much in each.  One, “The Ancients on Abortion” by Sarah Klitenic Wear, gives a history lesson on ancient embryology to observe that Greeks then—not unlike Americans now—debated whether souls were present before or after birth.  The other, Jennifer Lahl and [Read More...]


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