July 21, 2019

Are food photos on Instagram a kind of mealtime prayer? Chris thinks about the meaning of table graces. Read more

July 19, 2019

People often change their religious identity, shifting from one faith or denomination to another. They vary a lot in how they regard the religion they leave. Sometimes, converts have a benevolent view of their old world, and they maintain excellent relations with their family and friends who chose to remain. In other cases, they become the deadliest enemies of that former faith, and even seek to combat or even persecute it. In the history of religious conflict and persecution, this… Read more

July 18, 2019

Every so often, I remind myself that academia (at least in the discipline of History) is not a meritocracy. At the end of this post, I’ll explain why this reminder is important. This is true at every step of an academic career, from applications to graduate school to publishing to seeking a new job. For now, I will concentrate on the intersection between the job market and the world of university-press publishing. Almost everyone finishing graduate school has some sort… Read more

July 17, 2019

In this collection of personal narratives, forty Jews of diverse backgrounds tell a wide range of stories about the roads they have traveled away from a Zionist worldview. Read more

July 16, 2019

Fifty years after Apollo 11 began its historic journey to the surface of the moon, Chris considers how observers at the time attached different religious, metaphysical, or moral meanings to the Space Race. Read more

July 15, 2019

Not much more needs to be said on the conflict between Oberlin College and Gibson’s Bakery and on the court decision that settled it.  Something remains to be said about a former Oberlin president’s read of this series of events. The basics of the recent case: the treatment of three African-American students in a 2016 Gibson’s Bakery shoplifting incident generated ferocious protest from Oberlin students, supported by the school’s administration, alleging that the bakery was racist. Gibson’s sued. Last month a… Read more

July 13, 2019

When I read the excellent reviews offered by the Wall Street Journal, I always enjoy pieces by the versatile, well-informed, and wide-ranging Barton Swaim. I say that before disagreeing with him in a major way on his most recent offering, a highly critical reading of John Barton’s important new book A History of the Bible. While acknowledging much that is positive about the book, Swaim launches a basic attack on the historical critical method that it exemplifies. His complaint is… Read more

July 12, 2019

Last time I talked about the second century philosopher Peregrinus, whom we know who went through a ruthless satire written by Lucian of Samosata in the 150s. Part of Peregrinus’s bizarre career involved a Christian phase, and the exact wording of that account is quite surprising. I plead ignorance here, but I am not sure if the full implications for early Christian history are as well known as they should be. (Jan N. Bremmer has a fine essay on “Peregrinus’… Read more

July 11, 2019

Today we welcome Hilde Løvdal Stephens to the Anxious Bench. Hilde is a Visiting Associate Professor of English at the University of Southeastern Norway. She holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Oslo. Her first book Family Matters: James Dobson and Focus on the Family’s Crusade for Christian Home will we published by the University of Alabama Press in the fall of 2019 as part of the Religion and American Culture Series.   It’s not often that Swedish… Read more

July 10, 2019

I am so happy to have a post today from one of my favorite graduate students. Taylor Sims is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Michigan, specializing in late medieval and early modern European and women’s history. She holds an MA in History from Baylor University and is writing a dissertation on gender and lay practice across the English Reformation.  Last week, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram when a targeted ad caught my attention. Usually, I just scroll right… Read more

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