June 21, 2024

On the eve of mental health awareness month, a clip of John MacArthur made its way around the website formerly known as Twitter. In it, the pastor of Grace Community Church in Southern California denied the existence of such mental disorders as PTSD, OCD, or ADHD. He claimed that these diagnoses were simply “noble lies” that Big Pharma used to give psychologists license to medicate people, stating that mental illness was, in reality, the result of an inability to cope... Read more

June 20, 2024

If you study the historical background of the Old Testament, you will very soon come across the Sea Peoples. According to a widely told narrative, these were ferocious barbarian peoples who erupted into the civilized worlds of the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean around 1200 BC. They posed a deadly threat to Egypt and were likely responsible for destroying other great states of the day. Among their ranks were the Peleset, the Philistines, who settled in Palestine, and ultimately gave the... Read more

June 19, 2024

The stories they tell follow a formula that has been produced, reproduced, and adapted by dozens of NGOs, each aware of the power of narrative. Read more

June 18, 2024

“Didn’t Augustine have a weird theology of sex?” This question was posed to me by a friend at dinner last week, after a discussion about the Confessions, and not unfairly. Augustine, she pointed out, claims that virginity is better than marriage and argues that succumbing to physical desire, even with a spouse, was sinful in some capacity. When we look at examples like this—and examples abound—we might question how the early church viewed the body and sexuality. At the very... Read more

June 17, 2024

Hi! I am a cultural sociologist on a tour of Texas Megachurches. Check out my first post here! It’s the dog days of summer in Texas and I’m wilted. I hope things are better where you are. Over Memorial Day weekend, I revisited Westover Hills Assembly of God, one of the original five megachurches I intended to visit on my tour. For readers primarily interested in Christian Nationalism, I’ll offer that Westover Hills unabashedly observed the Memorial Day holiday. I realize... Read more

June 14, 2024

I nosed my Camry slowly towards the Palos Verdes Peninsula on a bright afternoon this week, my three children squeezed into the back seat along with boxes and bags of our belongings. We had just popped in “Meet Kirsten,” an audiobook of historical fiction from the American Girls collection. The day before we had finished the last story in the Josefina collection, which detailed the life of a 9-year-old in 1824 New Mexico, and it had resonated powerfully with us... Read more

June 13, 2024

I have been writing about the sequence of books I had published in an earlier phase of my career on the construction of social problems and panics. The constructionist approach I used still seems to me to be very valuable. So might I ever go back to writing and research in that sizable area? What follows is is an intellectual exercise rather than an actual game plan, but I hope that addressing that question might be of some interest. Mainly... Read more

June 12, 2024

One of my first public posts ever declared my first experiences of reading literature from Latin America especially from my father’s country Costa Rica. Sometimes I think about why I am constantly writing about literature. It seems every other essay I write I am advocating about reading fiction. Perhaps this because as someone tasked with teaching history, I have to convince myself that it is okay to escape to the world of fiction. Still, and it is not the point... Read more

June 11, 2024

A group of Palestinian kids in Gaza huddles around a phone screen. Their beaming smiles contrast with the utter destruction surrounding them. But they are transfixed by a just-released music video by an American rapper from Seattle, Washington, protesting Israel’s war on Gaza. The song calls for a ceasefire and invokes the name and story of Hind Rajab, a six-year old Palestinian girl from the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City. The story of Hind’s death still haunts me. I... Read more

June 10, 2024

Donald Trump’s May 30th conviction by a jury of his peers on 34 felony counts inspired countless pundits to declare that America had entered a “new era.” For example, a Wall Street Journal editorial called the verdict the beginning of a “new and destabilizing era,” and Al Mohler called it “a major turning point in American history.” Even the response to the verdict has been declared a turning point. Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic claimed that Republicans’ denunciation of the... Read more

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