January 6, 2021

I ended my Baylor graduate course last semester with a one-two punch of books on modern American evangelicals and politics. The first, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, by fellow Anxious Bench contributor Kristin Kobes Du Mez, traces the rise of a brash “militant” version of masculinity within large swaths of White American evangelicalism and its effect on evangelical political and social behavior. Specifically, it contributed to embracing combative foreign and domestic… Read more

January 5, 2021

“All my writing—and yours,” claimed one composition instructor, “is autobiography.” So I’ve often wondered the extent to which my forthcoming biography of Charles Lindbergh is actually an autobiography of Chris Gehrz. Lindbergh would tell me to expect that. As he started work in 1938 on what became his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), the famous pilot decided that one reason he should tell his own story is that any “biographer must base his writing on his own… Read more

January 4, 2021

You have undoubtedly seen yard signs like this around the place. The sentiments listed vary from the indisputable to the (in the context) somewhat controversial, but one in particular is – well, nothing like as straightforward as it looks. I know and respect what the people who put up the signs mean to say, but the raw statement that “science is real” is tendentious at best, dangerous at worst, and especially for anyone who considers themselves on the left or… Read more

January 1, 2021

I am happy to announce my forthcoming book, due out from Oxford University Press this coming Spring. It is Climate, Catastrophe, and Faith: How Changes in Climate Drive Religious Upheaval. I have described this project in past blogs but here, quite soon, we will have the actual book. The cover is gorgeously apocalyptic. Is it just me, or do I see shades of Great Cthulhu amidst the Noah’s Ark theme? Here is the description: Long before the current era of… Read more

December 31, 2020

“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men,” Jesus condemned the scribes and the Pharisees, “but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” As in every other year, lots of scribes and Pharisees around in 2020. Lots of hypocrisy. Two groups of 2020 hypocrites come to mind immediately. In the first camp are politicians who preach fidelity to public health restrictions but then transgress them when they think no one is looking. Examples are legion. There are the… Read more

December 30, 2020

During the final weeks of this year of extreme partisan polarization, a few more of my friends told me that they have decided to leave evangelicalism because of politics.  After an election in which approximately 80 percent of white evangelical voters once again cast their ballots for Donald Trump, perhaps it is not surprising that a number of progressive Christians who believe that misogyny, structural racism, and xenophobia are some of the greatest evils facing the nation finally decided that… Read more

December 29, 2020

Before we all say good riddance to 2020, Chris reveals our most popular posts and reflects on what they say about our response to a uniquely challenging year. Read more

December 28, 2020

Mark Juergensmeyer, God at War: A Meditation on Religion and Warfare. Oxford University Press, 2020. 107pp Since 9/11, a veritable industry has arisen in the academy seeking to explain “religious violence.” A new journal, the Journal of Religion and Violence, seeks to study the topic indepth. Hefty reference tomes such as The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence (2011) and the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence (2015) reflect the trend, as do numerous conferences, courses, and symposia held on… Read more

December 25, 2020

Christmas is a time to look back on the year almost passed by, and the findings and discoveries of that year. So what was new or unexpected? In 2020, the short answer was: a huge amount of the unexpected, and virtually none of that good. As Charles Dickens said, it was the worst of times, it was the … oh wait, no, it was just the worst of times. Having said that, on a personal level, I have a literary… Read more

December 24, 2020

For many of us, this is a Christmas without family celebrations, mall Santas, rousing performances of Handel’s Messiah, and Christmas Eve candlelight services. All is not lost, however. Starbucks has come through with a lovely selection of red-and-green holiday cups, one of which contains the word “merry,” thank goodness. Because of course in the midst of everything, we can once again say “Merry Christmas,” and as a reminder, feel free to secure your own (free, with a $45 donation) ornament… Read more

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