In Memoriam: Dale A. Johnson (1936 – 2014)

Neil Brake/Vanderbilt

Feeling a vocational calling to teach, I completed all of the graduate school application necessaries in the fall of 2000.  I secured recommendations letters, practiced and sat for the GRE, wrote essays, ordered transcripts, and made contact with potential supervisors at the schools to which I considering applying.  Fatigued from the process and the other [Read More...]

Writing in the In-Between

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Beth Allison Barr, Associate Professor of History at Baylor University. She writes on women, gender, and religion in late medieval England, and is the author of The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England. She tweets at @bethallisonbarr. I intended to write 1000 words yesterday. I began at 8:15 in [Read More...]

On the Selfie and the Self

IMAG0654

This summer a relative put aside resistance and got his first smartphone, soon after sending us a picture of himself taken with his phone, captioned: “My First Facie.”   Initial mirth over this mistaken terminology—“facie” instead of “selfie”—gave way to conviction that his was, in fact, the much better word. That strange new-ish cultural form the [Read More...]

How Violent Was American Slavery? Colonial Slave Codes

Last week I wrote about the challenges colonial American missionaries faced when trying to evangelize slaves without fundamentally challenging the institution of slavery. Starting in the eighteenth century, growing numbers of Christians began to express concerns about the immorality of slavery, at least slavery as practiced in the Americas. But when they turned to Scripture, [Read More...]

Satan, that Insidious Whisperer

It goes without saying that Islam and “the West” have had a distressed relationship in recent decades. One can be forgiven for clinging to the hope of improved relations in the decades ahead and for inroads of genuine democracy in Muslim-majority Middle Eastern states. But this hope should be tethered to a sober historical understanding, [Read More...]

Evangelicals and Immigration–1940s Style

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! These words, ascribed on a bronze plaque affixed to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, were penned by American [Read More...]

Did you remember to celebrate Slovak Day?

I was the only kid I knew whose family packed an accordion to go to the amusement park. It happened once a year.  My ordinary life was passed in upstate New York, but summers included at least one visit to my grandparents in Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh in a 1970s summer: hot, grimy, noisy, stirring.  Pittsburgh, a [Read More...]

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...]


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