September 17, 2018

I have been describing the amazing churches and religious buildings of the city of Ravenna. Art historians devote whole careers to comprehending such works, but my goal here is rather different. I will rather suggest what we can learn from such places about how Christians for long centuries thought, believed and acted, and how visual arts featured in their lives and their devotion. Just what did all those art treasures mean to them? When we look at something like these… Read more

September 14, 2018

I recently fulfilled a lifetime ambition with a visit to the city of Ravenna, one of the world’s greatest centers of Christian art. I am still floored by the experience, so excuse me if I try to process it by means of writing. If you have ever opened a book about early Christian or medieval history, at least some of the illustrations were likely taken from a Ravenna location. In this column I will describe the city and just why… Read more

September 12, 2018

The most famous chain of events during what Americans came to call King Philip’s War began on February 10, 1676, when Nipmucs, Narragansetts, and Wampanoags attacked the Massachusetts town of Lancaster. About fifty settlers were either killed or taken captive. Of the latter, Mary Rowlandson earned lasting renown with her autobiographical The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, published in 1682 some six years after her redemption. Joseph Rowlandson, Lancaster’s minister, was in Boston at the time of the raid. When… Read more

September 12, 2018

That evangelicals are pro-family is one of the ironies of American religious history Read more

September 11, 2018

Chris reviews a popular children’s collection of biographies that largely neglects the role of religion in both restricting and inspiring girls and women. Read more

September 10, 2018

Why do we need someone else to tell us who we are? And if we do, why would we choose a “lucrative global corporation” to tell us? What extrovert doesn’t know she is one? What introvert doesn’t know he is one, even before the label is heard? Merve Emre’s new book about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) refreshes persistent doubts about the test’s scientific validity. Emre calls the test a “flagship product of a lucrative global corporation, one whose interests… Read more

September 7, 2018

Some years ago, I wrote a book titled Jesus Wars, about the Christological controversies of the fifth century, focusing on the famous Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451). My recent travels in Italy have involved many encounters with that world of the fifth century, which is so critical for making later Christian life and thought, and especially art and culture. My next couple of blogposts describe these travels through the fifth century, which have stirred so many thoughts about… Read more

September 6, 2018

Is evangelicalism a political movement? There’s been a lot of talk about how to define evangelicalism of late, much of it centering around this quesion. I’ve been guilty of contributing more than my share to this seemingly endless (and to me, endlessly fascinating) conversation. (In recent months, I’ve considered evangelicalism’s problem of whiteness, examined the changing linguistic meaning of the term, and posed the idea of thinking of evangelicalism as an imagined religious community.) Today I want to consider  “Hobby… Read more

September 5, 2018

It is difficult to achieve a full-time faculty appointment in History. A 2017 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education ran with the straightforward title: History Jobs Flat: Teaching jobs for historians are down, but data suggest their opportunities outside the professoriate are on the rise. 1145 history doctorates were awarded in 2015-2016 for the 571 full-time job positions sent to the American Historical Association. Sobering. Of course, the article reminds, while chances of getting a university job are poor,… Read more

September 4, 2018

Since the dawn of aviation, certain pilots have turned to poetry to express the inexpressible aspects of flight. Chris introduces us to two: both the children of pastors, and one a pastor himself. Read more

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