February 7, 2013

A few months ago, our Thomas Kidd praised Catherine Brekus’s just-released Sarah Osborn’s World as an especially compelling religious biography. I recently had the chance to read Sarah Osborn’s World along with a class of students at George Mason University.  I came away just as impressed. I recommend it to anyone interested in the historical development of evangelicalism in the United States. Brekus recovers Osborn’s role in the mid-eighteenth-century awakenings, makes her voluminous writings accessible to contemporary readers, and uses… Read more

February 6, 2013

Guest post from Miles S. Mullin II, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies: John Fea’s recent Anxious Bench post, “Where Are the Studies of Twentieth-Century Black Evangelicalism?” raised an excellent question, one that confronted me over a decade ago as a graduate student in Dennis Dickerson’s Religion and the Civil Rights seminar.  At that time, works on twentieth-century African American religious history and the “black church” were readily available.  Works on twentieth-century American evangelicalism could also… Read more

February 5, 2013

Over at the Old Life website, our friend D.G. Hart has a piece, “Between Whitefield and the Vatican,” which argues that George Whitefield (the greatest evangelist of the eighteenth century, and the subject of my current book project) focused too much on the Spirit and personal experience, while Roman Catholics focus too much on the institutional church. Confessional Protestants (like Hart) represent the best balance of Word and Spirit, ordinances and godliness, Hart contends. It is nothing new for Hart to… Read more

February 4, 2013

If Alexis de Tocqueville were alive today to witness the churning unrest and revolutions sweeping North Africa and Middle East in recent years, he would observe numerous contrasts with what he saw in America in the 1830s.  But permit me to speculate on one similarity that might catch his eye.  Unlike the French Revolution, which pitted freedom against religion, he would notice that forces of religion and freedom, in the early American republic and across the Arabic world today, were… Read more

February 1, 2013

As a Cambridge undergraduate in the 1970s, my emphasis (major) was in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, a peculiar product of that university. Essentially, ASNC was about the Dark Ages in the British Isles and Scandinavia from roughly 400 through 1100AD, studied from a broad interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on history, literature, languages, art history and archaeology. (By the way, scholars of the period hate the term “Dark Ages,” but I’ll use it here for convenience). The department now has a fun… Read more

January 31, 2013

Although one could find fuller treatments of the subject elsewhere, I was very intrigued by Anne Applebaum’s thoughtful treatment of religion in Eastern Europe in the first decade after the end of WWII. [See the first part of this review of Applebaum’s The Iron Curtain here]. First of all, Applebaum allows for a healthy measure of gray instead of merely creating religious villains (collaborators / compromisers) and heroes (those who defied the Stalinist regimes). Naturally, totalitarian regimes cannot tolerate the… Read more

January 30, 2013

A couple of weeks ago I asked; “Where Are the Studies of Twentieth-Century Black Evangelicalism?”  I was working on an article on evangelical political engagement and wanted to say something about the role of Black evangelicals, but I was unable to find any good stuff on the subject. Thanks to the readers of The Anxious Bench and my own blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home, I was able to find just what I needed.  Miles Mullin suggested the work… Read more

January 29, 2013

Melanie Kirkpatrick’s disturbing yet riveting Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad tells a story the desperate souls who try to flee totalitarian North Korea, and the few who make it. Those who succeed often receive aid from Christians, both Asians and westerners, who are courageous laborers in what Kirkpatrick describes as a new underground railroad. It is difficult for outsiders to comprehend just how abominable North Korea is, with its abysmal living conditions and absolute lack… Read more

January 28, 2013

I have recently been posting about the end of the church in Roman Britain, mainly as a case study in how churches die. Just to recap, the old church disintegrated after 450 or so, at least in the south and east of the island – that is, southern and Eastern England – but it survived and flourished in the north and west: in Wales, the West Country, and Northwest Britain. When we look at the survival of the faith in… Read more

January 27, 2013

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Andrew Sullivan on blogging Fifty-four inaugural addresses and American history From the college classroom to writing novels and teaching high school students Is Obama the “Reagan of the Left?”  And here. An 1864 antislavery children’s book Garry Wills on the South Rare color photos from the 1930s and 1940s Read more here Read more

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