A Whale of a Tale: A Pastor’s Guide to Historical Research, Part II

In 1891, the British whaling ship Star of the East was slammed by the tale of a harpooned sperm whale somewhere near the Falkland Islands. Two of the sailors, including a man named James Bartley, fell over board. The whale soon died from the harpoons and the sailors, unable to find their capsized crewmates, began [Read More…]

A Pastor’s Quick Guide to Reliable Historical Research

A friend of mine was preparing his sermon. We happened to be at the same social function, and so he casually asked me what I knew about medieval illuminations (i.e. fireworks). To be honest, I didn’t know much. From my years of teaching world history I knew that gunpowder and fireworks had originated in Asia and [Read More…]

What Are The Most “Important” Topics in American History?

I recently spoke at the annual conference of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, as part of a panel on “What in American history is most important for teachers to pass on to our students?” The audience was largely from private Christian schools, including administrators and history teachers. I found the exercise quite challenging [Read More…]

Teaching American Religious History

15 weeks for the history and present of religion in the United States. “American Religious History” or “Religion in America” is a bread-and-butter course for me (and for several of my co-bloggers, and probably for some readers). I’ve taught it perhaps five or six times, in both a history department and a religious studies department. [Read More…]

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

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…]

THE DAMNATION OF THERON WARE

I recently described the problem of finding useful novels that could be used to teach on American religion, and particularly evangelicalism. As I remarked, some books are wonderful as sources, but they are anything but friendly to evangelical Christianity. As a case in point,  I cite Harold Frederic’s The Damnation of Theron Ware (1896), which [Read More…]

How to Teach about American Evangelicalism

This coming fall, I’m teaching a dedicated course on evangelicalism in the United States for the first time. I’ve spent a large portion of my career researching and writing about evangelical Christianity, so this should be an easy task. But I’m having a great deal of difficulty deciding how to structure the course and choose [Read More…]


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