June 14, 2021

I am very pleased to announce that a book that I have worked on for a quite a while is finally out: The Faiths of Others: A History of Interreligious Dialogue (Yale University Press, 2021). Here is the cover description: The first intellectual history of interreligious dialogue, a relatively new and significant dimension of human religiosity. In recent decades, organizations committed to interreligious or interfaith dialogue have proliferated, both in the Western and non-Western worlds. Why? How so? And what… Read more

June 14, 2021

In coming decades, we are going to hear a great deal about climate refugees, those people fleeing climate-driven environmental changes that have made their original homelands intolerable. Commonly, we associate them with the Global South, as Africans or Asians. But such a concept should not be so strange to Americans, as quite similar motives drove the migrants who laid the foundation of their country, and of their religious systems. I spend part of my life in Central Pennsylvania, and I… Read more

June 11, 2021

Chris Gehrz just did a blogpost that I found extremely rewarding, under the surprising title of The Religious History of Extraterrestrial Life. Not wishing to quibble with a word of his argument, I will use his post as a basis to explore some arguments that have long been floating in my mind. Briefly, Chris described the work of British imperial administrator Sir Francis Younghusband, who in the 1920s became a leading advocate of Theosophy and “Oriental” mysticism. In 1927 –… Read more

June 10, 2021

Zachary Schrag is Professor of History at George Mason University. He is the author of several books, including a fantastic history of the Washingon, DC, metro system. We are pleased to welcome him to the Anxious Bench to discuss his most recent, The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots Over the Soul of a Nation, just released by Simon & Schuster. The book is a sobering reminder that nativism, religious bigotry, and uncertainty about the most effective and appropriate response to… Read more

June 9, 2021

It sat at the end of our counter for almost a week. Beginning of school notices for carpool and parent meetings, along with the odd mail that never seems to have a place, piled on the stapled manila pages. Occasionally, I would pick it up, shake off the mail, and look at it. It was from Brazos Press. We had been discussing a new book project for several months, tentatively titled The Making of Biblical Womanhood, and this was the… Read more

June 8, 2021

Two-thirds of Americans now think that intelligent life may exist on other planets. It’s an old idea, reports Chris, with extensive religious implications and overtones. Read more

June 7, 2021

I have been posting about the links between demographic change and religion, of fertility and faith, and what I argue is the very strong correlation between the two. I’d just like to outline  an idea here that at first sight represents something of an exception to my argument, and it really is something that I would very much like to explore as a future project. Here is the issue. What everyone knows is that fertility rates and large families were… Read more

June 4, 2021

Scholars speak of micro-histories, very specific and local instances that potentially reveal a much larger world. But sometimes, a single object can open many doors, and to quite unsuspected realms. Here is the story of an amulet that was worn by a Protestant soldier in the sixteenth century Wars of Religion – who carried into battle a (Jewish) Qabalistic charm. I have been working on the history and reception of Psalm 91, which has an impressive career as a talisman… Read more

June 3, 2021

The news that the Supreme Court has recently agreed to review an abortion case for the first time in years thrilled many pro-life Christians.  With the court now more conservative than it has been at any point in the past 75 years, some wonder if this case, which will review the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, could be the opening salvo in the long-anticipated overturn of Roe v. Wade.  From… Read more

June 2, 2021

Can Pentecostal spirituality and Mennonite peace move together as a great river flowing with justice for the oppressed? Read more




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