Was Missionary Work Liberating for Women?

It depended. “Multiple freedoms and multiple opportunities reinforced each other,” writes historian Jane Smith in The Gospel of Gentility, “and [female missionaries] described themselves as “fulfilled,” “found,” and “happy.” “My face is so red and rosy I look like I had had an over dose of paint,” wrote Jessie Ankeny after arriving in Fukien. “I [Read More...]

Warlords and Holy Men

I steal my title from a classic book on early Scottish history by Alfred P. Smyth. My defense in doing so is that the phrase does offer useful light on large stretches of Jewish history, particularly during the Second Temple era. As I have posted on this period of Jewish history in recent months, especially [Read More...]

Do We Pay Too Much Attention to Radical Islam?

Judging by media coverage over the past few years, it would be easy to assume that the West is locked in a death struggle with radical Islam. Against that view, I want to make two arguments. Although the first is (or should be) strictly non-controversial, the second may be surprising. To begin, let us agree [Read More...]

Martin Luther, Erich Honecker, and China’s Xi Jinping

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece on China’s new leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to shore up party loyalty by having government officials watch a new film about the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Produced by a retired Chinese major general, the six-part documentary points a finger at Mikhail Gorbachev, not the communist system [Read More...]


How many good films have ever been made on the subject of Christian missions and missionaries? For many years, I have dearly loved the 1944 film The Keys of the Kingdom, based on the 1941 novel by A. J. Cronin. In more recent years, though, as I studied global Christianity, it occurred to me what [Read More...]


The US State Department just released its Report on International Religious Freedom. Much of the media reporting on this study focuses on those countries identified as arousing “particular concern”, including such obvious usual suspects as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Some of those CPC’s (“Countries of Particular Concern”)  have fired back at the US accusations, [Read More...]