Giving Thanks for The Anxious Bench

Giving Thanks for The Anxious Bench November 28, 2019

Knowing that most of our readers — and several of our contributors — have the good sense not to be on Twitter, let me share here a version of a thread I just tweeted.

One of the blessings of my professional life is that I get to be colleagues with two sets of historians. While I’m regularly given chances to thank my co-workers in the Bethel University Department of History, this Thanksgiving I want to express my gratitude for my co-bloggers here at The Anxious Bench, in approximate order of when they started blogging here.

• First, I’m grateful for John Turner, the least humorless Presbyterian I know. Writing with nuance and craft, John knows that historians rarely have simple stories to tell — about Pilgrims or anyone else.

• Second, our other remaining founder: Philip Jenkins. I’m trying to think of a representative Philip post, but since his hallmark is prolific, eclectic brilliance, I’ll just invite you to dive down the rabbit hole that is his Anxious Bench archive.

• Speaking of founders… Let me give retrospective thanks for Tommy Kidd and John Fea, who have gone on to bigger and better things. As historians, I know that they appreciate change over time — but also continuity. So I hope that The Anxious Bench remains true to their original vision, even as it moves in new directions.

• Next, I’m grateful for the team of Agnes and Tal Howard. That neither has a Twitter handle speaks to their prudence — one of Tal’s favorite intellectual virtues. (See his chapter in this collection, which I’ve often assigned to students.) But the Howards never fail to surprise me, as when Agnes uncovered the religious history of nudist colonies.

• Even before we blogged together, I learned to appreciate David Swartz’s desire to tell the transnational story of contemporary evangelicalism. But he’s as good local as global, as when he explained why kids in Kentucky didn’t celebrate today’s ostensibly national holiday.

• I’m thankful for the leadership of Beth Allison Barr. Not only at Anxious Bench, but as president of the Conference on Faith and History, Beth shows Christian historians how to serve the church by challenging it — not only to affirm, but empower women.

• I’m just grateful that Kristin Kobes Du Mez finds time to write for Anxious Bench. Until she debuts on the New York Times bestseller list, I’m glad we can offer a small platform to an uncommonly insightful scholar, my favorite kind of historical revisionist.

• I also owe Kristin thanks for adding Melissa Borja to our roster of bloggers. Month after month, Melissa’s impeccably researched posts expand our perspective on religious history to encompass everything from the streets of Hong Kong to, well, Sesame Street.

• Almost everyone in this thread started as a guest blogger for The Anxious Bench, so let me pause to thank everyone who volunteers for a guest post or interview. Most recently, that impressive list has included Anna Wells, Barry HankinsLynneth Miller Renberg, Angela Denker, and Otis Pickett & Brian Franklin.

• Last but not least: Andrea L. Turpin. I’d be grateful to Andrea if all she did was continue my education in the history of higher education. But as an educator herself, she also takes blog readers inside her classroom — as when she had her grad students at Baylor write “rules of life,” or this most recent post…

Finally, thanks to Patheos for providing us with a platform — and Phil Fox Rose for both championing our writing and helping us address occasional technical issues. And thanks to everyone who reads and comments on our posts.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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