December 19, 2018

We all give thanks that the excesses of the Reformation didn’t kill Christmas in the end. Read more

December 18, 2018

Chris reviews the stunning new World War I documentary by Peter Jackson, a filmmaker better known for battle scenes involving orcs and elves. Read more

December 17, 2018

A noble impulse lurks in the heart of the young when they take “capitalism” to task in the name of “socialism.” Certainly many aspects of a free-market economy merit criticism, as no less a figure than Adam Smith trenchantly recognized. I only wish these criticisms today came with more discerning historical knowledge about the miserable record of real-existing socialism, especially the Marxist species: the USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, and, more recently, Venezuela. How many times can Marxism be said… Read more

December 14, 2018

History never looks like history when you are living through it. John W. Gardner I have just completed a book titled Rethinking a Nation: The United States in the 21st Century. Yes, that’s 21st, not 20th. The whole project raises some interesting questions about just what history is, how we define it, and how we separate it from (for instance) journalism or political science. This has important implications for how we define and study contemporary religious history, the kind of… Read more

December 13, 2018

  It’s December, the month for feasting on latkes and Buche de Noel, lighting menorahs and Advent wreaths, and singing “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” and “Deck the Halls.” For interfaith Christian-Jewish families, though, the merry-making can be unusually complicated. Which holidays do they celebrate? Which traditions do they observe? And how do decisions about Christmas and Hanukkah relate to broader questions about identity, belief, practice, and pluralism?     To understand how interfaith families have handled these issues, I interviewed Dr…. Read more

December 12, 2018

Today we welcome Regina Wenger to the Anxious Bench. Regina is a doctoral student in the Baylor History department, currently studying with Barry Hankins and Elesha Coffman. This post was born in her seminar paper for my graduate course, and I asked her to share it with our readers.  I want to share the story of two siblings: George R. Brunk II and Ruth Brunk Stoltzfus. They were a brother and a sister whose lives paralleled each other, but whose… Read more

December 11, 2018

Historians often say that they study the past “as it actually happened.” But they can’t help but think about the past “as it should have happened.” Read more

December 10, 2018

The Washington Post recently ran a story with stunning implications for the history of Christian missions. The story suggests that such missions could have very positive “ghost” effects in the long term, even many years after they had officially ended. Journalist Andrew van Dann reported a scholarly analysis of the long term impacts of the Jesuit missions in the land of the Guarani people in what is today the nations of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. These missions – the Reductions,… Read more

December 7, 2018

On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I am thinking about a writer whose reputation has gone through astonishing shifts through the years, in large part because of the events of that December 7. For much of the early and mid-twentieth century, Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) had a stunning reputation. When Edward Abbey quoted Jeffers, he wouldn’t bother to name him, but he just called him The Poet, and literate people knew who he meant. Jeffers was the favorite poet of Charles… Read more

December 5, 2018

At this fleeting moment of civil (in two senses of the word) religion while Americans mourn and mark the death of President George H. W. Bush, the bitterness politics has had a brief pause. That alone is good reason for the pageantry. The first President Bush was the first candidate I voted for, back in 1992, the first of many times my preferred candidate did not win the Oval Office. I cannot remember why I voted for him, though I… Read more

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