Mapping the Relevance of Religious History for Today

Mapping the Relevance of Religious History for Today July 23, 2019

One of my favorite digital tools is My Maps from Google, which lets anyone play cartographer. I’ve used it for a variety of purposes: to show what our department’s graduates have done with their History majors; to illustrate how the people of one Christian college experienced modern warfare; to preview future tours for my new travel company; and to help readers of this blog explore the surprising religiosity of the Upper Midwest. (It’s also useful for teachers: I’ve had students collaborate on these maps as a way of reviewing historical geography.)

So it occurred to me that My Maps might also provide a unique way for people to experience the breadth and depth of our writing at The Anxious Bench. I went back through twelve months’ worth of AB posts — plus a few older highlights — and tried to map as many as possible.

Sometimes there was an obvious site to include: the statue of a Native American leader that John blogged about in a post on monuments and memory; the church in Vancouver that made Beth think about differences between Baptists in Canada and the United States; one of the government offices in Hong Kong where, as Melissa explained, protestors sang a Christian worship song. Others required a bit more imagination, and some posts simply don’t map neatly.

And again, it primarily reflects just one past year of blogging. So this isn’t by any means a comprehensive map of our work here at Anxious Bench. But it might give some of our newer — and older — readers a chance to find some posts they might have missed before. Or to get a clearer sense of how the history we write about took place in space and time.

Or think of this as our 2019 summer travel post!

Last year we shared some of our favorite historic spots in Europe, after doing the same for the United States (from one shining sea to another) in 2017. By this point in the summer, you probably already have travel plans made. But wherever you’re headed, check the map above: you might find that you’re passing by a site related to religious history and have a chance to consider anew its relevance for today.

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