July 30, 2021

I have been writing a book called The Global History of the Cold War, which is due out next year. In my next few blogposts, I will be describing some of the key points that emerged for me in this work, and particularly how they are affecting the way I might teach the topic, and the period. In a sense, that “global” element in the title is obvious. Many Cold War conflicts happened across the Global South, and the underlying… Read more

July 29, 2021

Today’s post is another guest feature from my wife, Nadya Williams, professor of ancient history at the University of West Georgia.  Nadya’s current research includes a substantial focus on the ancient North African church, which, as she argues in this post, has a lot to teach us about how we can practice love toward our neighbors during a pandemic.   It was a news-worthy event. In the middle of a pandemic, one pastor of a large urban church plant assembled… Read more

July 28, 2021

I hate to come down hard on leaders trying to move their tradition away from toxic aspects of evangelical culture, but . . . Read more

July 27, 2021

Today I’m happy to welcome to the Bench Clay Sidenbender, a freelance journalist based in Edwardsburg, MI. Last month Anxious Bench contributor Daniel K. Williams imagined an evangelicalism where Northern evangelicalism was at the center instead of its Southern counterpart. This phenomenon actually happened in the mid to late-19th century, when Northern Baptists were the leaders in the denomination. In Thoughtful Christianity: Alvah Hovey and the Problem of Authority within the Context of Nineteenth-Century Northern Baptists (Pickwick, 2021), Matthew Shrader of Central Baptist Seminary (MN)… Read more

July 26, 2021

After a painful and exhausting year that found Asian Americans reeling from a surge in anti-Asian racism and violence, the arrival of Season Two of Mindy Kaling’s acclaimed comedy Never Have I Ever was a long-anticipated moment of joy. Especially for Asian American women, who have experienced the lion’s share of anti-Asian attacks during the Covid-19 pandemic, the opportunity to watch a television show created by Asian American women and about Asian American women was a moment to celebrate. Not… Read more

July 23, 2021

It would be hard to find a more universally popular figure than Francis of Assisi. Christians and non-Christians alike commonly recall him as a wonderful figure of holiness, fully in tune with the animal kingdom, and the environment. It’s odd then to recall a time when Francis was the centerpiece of what we can best call a dreaded messianic cult, which the Church suppressed with a great deal of bloodshed. This was one of the gravest political and spiritual crises… Read more

July 21, 2021

What exactly does the University of Iowa have against student religious groups? It’s hard to know. One might guess that the university objects to these organizations’ opposition to same-sex marriage and related issues. But it’s also possible that university officials simply dislike “conservative” religious groups in general and evangelical groups in particular. At the very least, they’ve done their level best to strip such groups of their standing at the university. The origin story: In 2017, the university deregistered Business… Read more

July 21, 2021

I spent last week researching in the Southern Baptist Convention archives, located within the denomination’s headquarters in downtown Nashville, TN. It was a bit surreal because I had been blogging about the SBC for the last two months (here and here), and then finally found myself actually there on the ground for the first time. The archives are beautifully maintained, with friendly staff, and open to all researchers. I was researching the denomination’s Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) for my book… Read more

July 20, 2021

Chris pays tribute to theologian Clarence Bass, who died earlier this month at age 98. Read more

July 19, 2021

Through most of human history, people interpreted climate events and natural disasters as signs of supernatural power, commonly of God or the gods being angry and needing to be appeased in some way. Depending on the circumstances, that might mean hunting down religious dissidents, or launching revivals or apocalyptic movements. But quite recently in historical terms – sometime in the nineteenth century – that attitude changed, or at least for educated elites in Western societies. I offer one literary commemoration… Read more

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