“History is Hot”

Many historians have been given prominent public platforms of late. Is history “hot” right now? And if so, what does that mean for the declining number of history majors? [Read more…]

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…]


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…]