October 23, 2020

Last time I talked about a remarkable book published by Thomas Bayly in 1650 under the title of Worcester’s Apothegmes, which is a fine source for Early Modern social and religious history. Let me offer some more stories, focused on the Protestant-Catholic struggles of that era. The author, Thomas Bayly, was accompanying the great aristocrat the Marquess of Worcester, in the 1640s. In each case, he reports an encounter or incident in which the Marquess was involved, and notes the… Read more

October 21, 2020

Sleep No More was different. You didn’t just watch a show or read a book or even write a blog. You got to participate. You got to touch people. You got to go inside a magical world, discover symbolic connections, find meaning. Almost unanimously, the superfans I interviewed cited the power of living … in an enchanted place: a world where everything, even the design of a room or the arrangement of dead flowers or the cards on a table,… Read more

October 21, 2020

This past Saturday morning, we spent an hour driving around our small Kentucky town taking photographs of signs. Read more

October 20, 2020

Ten days ago Saturday Night Live — of all places — served as the platform for a Christian call to repentance, thanks to the intersection of pandemics past and present. It started with country singer Morgan Wallen, who was supposed to be SNL’s musical guest on October 10th, only to be disinvited after video surfaced of him partying in a crowded bar without a mask. Because of that COVID-era transgression, singer-songwriter-guitar hero Jack White had to fill in on short notice…. Read more

October 19, 2020

A few years ago, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch that poked fun at the colorful cast of characters who commonly appear at a church service: the nervous organist who botches the opening chords of every hymn, the choir soloist who is a little too extra, the overzealous lector who does the reading with the dramatic flourishes of a first-time competitor in a high school forensics tournament. But my favorite part of the sketch came toward the end, when the… Read more

October 16, 2020

I have been posting about the world of the seventeenth century, an exceedingly significant era for religious history (just think Puritanism, and the Mayflower of 1620). There is one source that I first explored many years ago but which still gets used remarkably little in the scholarly literature. It takes the form of a readable collection of stories and sayings published in 1650 under the slightly daunting title of Worcester’s Apothegmes, which I will explain shortly. The book illuminates the… Read more

October 15, 2020

In 2012, Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King made international news with a “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” She had translated a scrap of papyrus whose Coptic text included a statement by Jesus which began with the words, “My wife.” King noted that the fragment in no way proved that the historical Jesus had a wife. However, she used the fragment to assert that relatively early communities of Christians – say, late-second century – believed that he had married. This pointed… Read more

October 14, 2020

Today’s guest post is by Benjamin Leavitt. Ben is a History PhD student at Baylor University and an advisee of Anxious Bench contributor Andrea Turpin. His Baylor MA thesis was on competing definitions of the Christian college in the early twentieth century United States, and his current research focuses broadly on the intersection of religion and institutional identity in American higher education. The COVID-19 pandemic has had enormous effects on American higher education. Last week, Chris Gehrz (with contributions from… Read more

October 13, 2020

Chris talks to Jay Phelan about his new book, Separated Siblings: An Evangelical Understanding of Jews and Judaism. Read more

October 12, 2020

When modern people read about Christian history, most find it very hard indeed to understand why bygone eras cared so much about religious issues – about things that we might dismiss as “just theological.” Were such things really worth the cost of anyone’s life or liberty? We need to understand why some things that seem so innocuous to us today were so explosive in other eras. The whole story also has a strong contemporary relevance, for understanding modern religious change… Read more

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