Did Medieval Christians Accommodate Paganism?

The Roman Pantheon is awesome. And I mean “awesome” in the sense that my good-English-professor-friend would approve: it evokes feelings of awe and wonder. I caught my first glimpse of this 2000 year-old building after stepping from a stone-paved street into the Piazza della Rotonda. We were on our way back from the Roman Forum and, [Read More…]

The Modern Roots of “Pagan” Easter

In the late nineteenth century, a Cambridge scholar sat at his desk and wove a brilliant story about comparative religious practices. “ALL over Europe,” he argued, “the peasants have been accustomed from time immemorial to kindle bonfires on certain days of the year, and to dance round or leap over them. Customs of this kind [Read More…]

The Christian History of “Pagan” Easter

I bought Easter candy for my students. It was a mistake. Although the students made a valiant effort to eat as much as possible, they left a few Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (a particular weakness of mine) in the candy basket. Needless to say, they didn’t last long. Reese’s eggs are just one of many [Read More…]

The Thin Blue Line

A thin blue line runs through the nave of Durham Cathedral in England. Made from marble and marked with a center cross, it stretches twenty-five feet across the westernmost part of the nave. Medieval legend proclaims the line as a physical barrier protecting the sacred space of the clergy from the polluting presence of women. [Read More…]

1647: The Year Christians Cancelled Christmas

Well, I am overstating a bit. No one can really cancel Christmas, as the Grinch so famously discovered. But the public celebration of Christmas can be cancelled, which is what happened in England during the seventeenth-century Civil War. Here’s the story in brief–as related by Diane Purkiss in The English Civil War: While Charles I [Read More…]

Because Xmas really is Xpian…

I literally stumbled across St. Bride’s church in London this summer. Walking down Fleet Street toward St. Paul’s Cathedral, I was considering eating at Ye Olde Chesire Cheese when I looked up and saw the wedding cake spire designed by Christopher Wren. It wasn’t until I saw the sign “The Printer’s Church” on the gate, [Read More…]

Thinking Medieval about “Masculine” Christianity

“God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” I remember when John Piper said this at a pastor’s conference in Minneapolis, 31 January 2012.  I wasn’t there. But I read the statement as quoted by the press; I read the elaboration on the Desiring God website; and I read the continued responses throughout social media. And [Read More…]

Halloween–More Christian than Pagan…

I carved pumpkins with my kids this week. My son is finally old enough to wield his own knife, but my daughter had to settle for a marker. I, of course, had to clean out the insides. The effort was well worth it (even with the mess on my patio) when we lit the candles [Read More…]

The Measure of a Woman: Donald Trump and St. Margaret’s Dragon

“Women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” So Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina responded to Donald Trump at the Second G.O.P. Debate (Wednesday, September 16, 2015) after a moderator reminded how Trump had previously used Fiorina’s physical appearance to criticize her political aspirations. “Look at that face! Would anybody vote [Read More…]

The Mormon Jesus and the Garden of Eden

As a corollary to my current interest in the Latter-day Saint understanding of Jesus, I’ve been attempting to get some limited handle on the diverse ways that Christians of all sorts have understood, experienced, and depicted Jesus over time. The very best thing I’ve done to that end is to pick up a copy of [Read More…]