January 23, 2020

Last week, journalist Sarah McClure published an investigative report in Cosmopolitan—yes, Cosmopolitan—on the prevalence of sexual abuse among the Amish. Based on a year-long investigation, the report contains disturbing details that are difficult to stomach; I’d call it shocking if we didn’t already have a history of similar reports of abuse in Amish and Mennonite communities going back years. McClure discovered “52 official cases of Amish child sexual assault in seven states over the past two decades,” but the full… Read more

January 22, 2020

This is from my Anxious Bench archives. I am working hard on book chapters, but never fear I will be back soon. I wanted to post this again for two reasons. First–it is one of my favorite local history posts (that probably many of my readers haven’t seen, since it is from 2016), and I thought it was poignant given Wayne Grudem’s recent public change on his stance on divorce. He just admitted that divorce is probably okay in the case… Read more

January 21, 2020

Given current trends, mainline denominations may virtually disappear by the year 2050. If so, Chris hopes that the historic best of mainline Protestantism will survive, finding new expressions in a renewed church. Read more

January 20, 2020

The Economist just published an article that on its surface said nothing about religion or religious trends, but the implications for that topic are huge. Let me put the argument out there for discussion. The article is called “Free Exchange: Economists Grapple With Rising American Mortality” (January 9, paywalled). The main topic is “deaths of despair,” as “A growing share of middle-aged white Americans, especially those without college degrees, are dying from suicide and drug and alcohol use.” This is… Read more

January 17, 2020

I have written a lot related to the centennial of the First World War. One of my main themes has been the stunning juxtaposition in those years of radical modernity – in the form of tanks, aircraft, gas weaponry, and mass industrial warfare – and the truly ancient religious ideas that people used to comprehend what was going on around them.  The visual record of the war years is awash with images of angels and Armageddon. People spoke the language… Read more

January 15, 2020

Nathaniel Hawthorne and Arthur Miller firmly tethered puritan to hypocrisy, self-righteousness, prudery, and the irrational execution of alleged witches. The term still resonates. It is easy for critics to apply the label puritan to evangelicals or Catholics who want to ban pornography. And it’s also common for conservatives to use the same label against progressive politicians and administrators. Many people want purer communities and a purer society, but nobody wants to be called a puritan. Does anyone want to know… Read more

January 15, 2020

Does the Mennonite Game promote a close or closed community? Read more

January 14, 2020

What does it mean to call someone a heretic? Guest blogger Joey Cochran surveys the history of heresy — and wonders if the word now functions as anything more than “name-calling.” Read more

January 13, 2020

Greetings from Dry January. This special season, introduced a few years back, invites men and women to take a month-long break from alcohol in order to feel better and get control of their intake. Too bad American evangelicals never thought up something so cool as abstaining from alcohol in service of better health and social good. A British group, Alcohol Change UK, initiated in the trend 2013 with a few thousand participants. Dry January counted a few million Brits by… Read more

January 10, 2020

Today I have one substantial post, about American Anglicans, but also a shorter note on a wholly unrelated topic, namely a remarkable scandal in the academic world of religion scholarship. My main post is about American Anglicans, of whom I am not one: I am an Episcopalian, from another and (somewhat) competing branch of the tradition. If one word of the following emerges as critical or uncharitable, I certainly do not intend it that way. My intention is rather to… Read more

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