The Minaret and the Bell Tower

I’ve recently returned from some travels to the Andalusia province in Southern Spain. Under Muslim Rule in part or in whole from the arrival of “the Moor” in 711 until the completion of the Reconquista in 1492, the region has a special claim on our attention today in light of present-day misunderstandings and conflicts between [Read More...]

Handling Rejection in Academic Writing

Today’s guest post is by Dr. Beth Allison Barr, Department of History, Baylor University. You can follow Dr. Barr on Twitter at @bethallisonbarr Recently I wrote an odd sort of thank-you note. It was to a journal editor who had rejected one of my articles. The careful critique he had provided helped me reconceptualize my argument [Read More...]

Is This the Kind of Lent I Desire? The Fast and the Cleanse

fish pic

  When Lent begins early, as it did this year, calls to prayer and fasting come right up against the New Year’s barrage of juice-cleanse ads promising atonement for holiday indulgence. From pulpits and religion blogs Lent brings annual reminders that “it’s not about” giving up chocolate or beer. Just skipping chocolate for six weeks [Read More...]

The First English-Speaking, Modern, Overseas Baptist Missionary?

Engraving of William Carey (Public Domain)

Timelines of evangelical history generally mark 1792 as the birth of the “modern missionary movement.”  That year, catalyzed by the exhortations of William Carey, one if its members, the Northampton Minister’s Association birthed the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen.  Thankfully, it most often went by its shorthand name, [Read More...]

Asexual Reproduction?

Carl Djerassi, the chemist and writer who died last week, was among the few men with claim to the title “father of the Pill.”  Djerassi imagined how contraception and IVF could work together to change the world even more.  His September 2014  essay in the New York Review of Books anticipated “The Divorce of Coitus [Read More...]

American Sniper, Blue Bible

American-Sniper-Movie-Poster

Spoiler Alert: In the post below, I disclose some of the details of the plot of American Sniper (2014).  Most people already know how the story turns out, but for those few who may not, I offer this alert. When I went to see American Sniper (2014) last week, the showing was sold out and [Read More...]

Moors, Saracens, and Turks: Islam and Europe’s Deep History

Several years ago I was being interviewed by a journalist from Switzerland when the topic came to Islam in Europe. The interviewer identified herself as a fastidiously progressive and secular person, and insisted that she held nothing against Islam as a religion. Nonetheless, “when I see a mosque in Switzerland,” she confessed, “I have an [Read More...]

New Year, Old You

Many of us already have bound ourselves to resolutions this year.  After fitness the most popular ones include resolutions to learn something. Pick up a new language, Rosetta Stone ads implore.  The Teaching Company touts Latin 101 as its top-rated course. Resolutions to better the body may have obvious appeal (or not: this husk is [Read More...]

The Best of 2014: My Favorite Posts of the Year

Happy New Year’s Eve! Yesterday, blogmeister Tommy Kidd graciously posted the top posts from each of the individual contributors who blog under his guidance here at the Anxious Bench.  In keeping with the spirit of the season, I have compiled my own list. First, although my Great Aunt Iris might have shared “The Religion of [Read More...]

A Muslim, an Evangelical, and Jesus Walk into a Bar …

It might well be that Jesus is the only one who would place an order. American Evangelicalism has longed harbored a strain of teetotalism while the Qur’an strictly forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol. Jesus, of course, turned water into wine, according to the Gospel of John. Relations between Christians and Muslims have been on my [Read More...]


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