How Much Do You Need To Read Before Writing?

A reader and friend asked me recently about a key issue in the writing process: I feel like I need to read everything, then write, and even then, I’m unsure of when to have outlined and when to have allowed my new research to impact whatever working outline I may have going. I would love [Read More…]

How Not to Market a Book

John Turner had an excellent post last week on book marketing for academics. I have also written here before about the counterintuitive art of promoting books. Many academic historians (and other professors) range somewhere between squeamish to clueless on how they might actually reach out to a general audience. But our lack of outreach often [Read More…]

Why I Joined Marco Rubio’s Religious Liberty Advisory Board

Many of you have heard that I have joined Senator Marco Rubio’s Religious Liberty Advisory Board. Many have congratulated me; a few have denounced me! I can imagine some readers asking, why would I join such a board for a presidential campaign? I have written often about how politics is not ultimately the answer to [Read More…]

Donald Trump and the Crisis of American Populism

In the 1960s William F. Buckley famously quipped that he’d rather be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone book than by Harvard’s two thousand faculty members. I still agree with Buckley, but events of 2015 have made my populist leanings waver. We are waiting to see whether Donald Trump’s enormous [Read More…]

Christmas in 1776

From the Patheos archive: ‘Tis the season to argue about religion. Or more specifically, to feud about whether to say Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings…to call it a Christmas Village or a Holiday Village…or to allow a crèche or menorah to stand on public property. What would Americans at the time of our nation’s founding [Read More…]

Top Five Books on Benjamin Franklin

What are the best books on the ever-fascinating founder Benjamin Franklin? As I have been writing a religious biography of Franklin for Yale University Press, I have been getting to know the vast literature on Franklin. Here are my suggestions for where to start. 1) The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. A no-brainer, as this eminently readable [Read More…]

Ben Franklin, Anti-Catholicism, and the Founding of the University of Pennsylvania

Historians have generally cast the founding of the University of Pennsylvania (or the College of Philadelphia) in 1755 as a step toward secular education in America. While the early college met in the great evangelist George Whitefield’s preaching building, Ben Franklin was the brains behind the school. As I noted in an an earlier post, [Read More…]

This Thanksgiving, Stop Idolizing the Pilgrims

A couple of years ago at Christianity Today, I reviewed Robert Tracy McKenzie’s excellent book The First Thanksgiving. Here’s a sample: In 1623, Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford proclaimed the first Thanksgiving. “The great Father,” he declared, “has given us this year an abundant harvest…and granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.” [Read More…]

Islam: Inherently Violent?

The jihadist attacks in Paris have grieved and frightened the world again with the reality of Muslims committing violence in the name of Islam. Again we face the question – is Islam inherently violent? Are Muslims required to commit violence as a religious obligation?  There is no doubt that unsettling numbers of Muslims would not [Read More…]

The Origin of “In God We Trust”

The national motto “In God We Trust” has a complicated and contested history. Even though the phrase first appeared on American coins during the Civil War, it was only officially adopted as the national motto in 1956, during the Cold War era. Where did the phrase come from before the Civil War? There seems little [Read More…]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X