August 30, 2019

For some thirty years, I have written and taught about the topic of terrorism, including in my 2003 book Images of Terror. I talk about specific movements and actions, but more broadly about the larger issues of interpretation that are so vital in determining official responses. Centrally, how do we know what we think we know about terrorism? We presently stand at a critical turning point in attitudes to terrorism, although the core issues at stake are receiving nothing like… Read more

August 29, 2019

As a teenager, I twice went to Young Life’s Saranac Lake summer camp. These were amazing weeks. Worship, fun and games, and talks by hip young speakers. The ostensible reason for the camp was evangelism. The talks culminated in an invitation for people to confess their sins to God and invite Jesus Christ into their lives as Lord and Savior. If we were already Christians, we should more fully devote ourselves to Christ. On the final night each year, the… Read more

August 28, 2019

How a conservative missionary came to question the American missionary enterprise Read more

August 27, 2019

By abrogating the constitutional provisions that granted the state of Kashmir a measure of autonomy, India has placated its own Hindu nationalists while provoking predominantly Muslim Pakistan, which like India possesses nuclear weapons. The volatility in this region of the world is worrisome, to say the least. To understand why, one must have some grasp of the rise of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics in recent decades. Here is an article on it, “The Dangers of Hindu Nationalism,” that I… Read more

August 26, 2019

On the 45th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s death, Chris considers what the pilot’s last days reveal about his “spiritual, but not religious” beliefs. Read more

August 23, 2019

When I am in conversations about American religious history – and specifically issues concerning teaching – I am surprised to find how many well informed people seem not to know one really fine source, and resource. I am referring to Harold Frederic’s The Damnation of Theron Ware (1896), a superb novel that is a treasure trove for many aspects of American religious life in that era. Through the 1920s, it was commonly regarded as one of the great American novels,… Read more

August 22, 2019

When I was conducting oral history interviews for my current book project about Hmong refugee resettlement, I had the opportunity to meet a vivacious woman named Dorothy, who lived in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants and the daughter of a Lutheran minister, Dorothy was born in her church’s parsonage and maintained a deep commitment to church involvement throughout her entire life. At the same time, she was intensely curious about the other ethnic and religious groups that… Read more

August 21, 2019

I am obsessed with habits. Particularly the spiritual formation potential of habits. I don’t remember exactly how it got started—I think a few book recommendations on the topic from friends. But soon, I was converted. As a historian, I make my living with my mind and spend a lot of time in my head. So, ironically, it took reading philosophical explanations of the power of habit to convince my mind that my life is shaped as much by what my… Read more

August 20, 2019

Though mainline Protestants are often seen as theologically and politically progressive, many of those Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others continue to support Donald Trump. Read more

August 19, 2019

Although I have some reputation in the academic world, my real glory and fame stem from one simple fact: that I am one of the diminishing band of individuals who remembers watching the first ever episode of Dr. Who on British television in 1963, the same weekend that JFK was assassinated in Dallas. And yes, I remember exactly where I was at that time. (I will sign autographs on request). My acquaintance with science fiction, broadly defined, goes back a… Read more

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