December 17, 2012

Last week, a guerrilla war was under way in the well-kept streets of Santa Monica, CA. Recently, Santa Monica has been at the forefront of the secularist war against the public commemoration of religious holidays. While normally portrayed as a “War on Christmas,” the campaign has also affected other holidays such as Hanukah. After years of displaying Christian and Jewish symbols on public property in the holiday season(s), the city has now succumbed to legal pressure from atheist and secularist… Read more

December 16, 2012

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Geoffrey Best loves his books Should social studies be abolished? Jackson Lears on Jared Diamond William Hogeland discusses his latest book: Founding Finance An English professor goes home Who needs the Constitution? The pro-life legacy of Roe v. Wade Read the rest here. Read more

December 14, 2012

Two recent sets of readings have set me thinking about sane, moderate politics. During the 1960s and 1970s, two very different attitudes towards the Soviet Union prevailed in the United States. Extremists advocated flat-out opposition and confrontation, on the basis that the system was so rotten that it would collapse if seriously challenged. However counter-intuitive this might appear, destroying the Soviet system was in truth the path to a peaceful world. Intelligent centrists and liberals claimed to know better, and… Read more

December 13, 2012

It is always a pleasure to open good books after many years. I’ve recently been thumbing through Richard Wightman Fox’s Jesus in America and Stephen Prothero’s American Jesus, which appeared nearly in tandem nearly a decade ago. Both are incredibly helpful to understanding both the diversity of American religious experience and the centrality of Jesus (in Prothero’s case, even to many non-Christians). I found this gem of a paragraph in Fox’s introduction, shared here without adornment, other than to say… Read more

December 12, 2012

I have been a fan of James H. Moorhead’s work since I read his American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War as a graduate student.  As the Mary McIntosh Bridge Professor of Church History at Princeton Theological Seminary and the longtime senior editor of the Journal of Presbyterian History, Moorhead has had a stellar career as an American religious historian. I was thus thrilled to open my mailbox today to find a copy of Moorhead’s latest offering:  Princeton Seminary… Read more

December 11, 2012

Sunday was the 200th birthday of James Henley Thornwell, the South Carolina Presbyterian pastor and professor whom Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese called the antebellum South’s “most formidable theologian.” Thornwell was a great champion of what he called the “regulated freedom” of antebellum slave society. Historian George Bancroft once described Thornwell as “the most learned of the learned,” the epitome of the antebellum southern gentleman theologian. He graduated from South Carolina College at nineteen, and studied briefly at Harvard Divinity… Read more

December 10, 2012

 “Dad, we can just Google it” is the reply I often hear from my children when I’m stumped by questions they ask.  Recourse to this high-tech oracle did not avail itself to me as a kid, so this reality represents yet another novum for parenting in our hyper-digital age. As most of us have discovered, Google can ace the simple questions—which team won the BCS championship in 2010?—but it hasn’t quite mastered the complex ones—what is truth, goodness, beauty?  In… Read more

December 9, 2012

A few things online that caught my attention this week: Presidential houses Serendipity and used bookstores John Turner’s book of the year Charlotte Allen reviews Adam English, The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus. A Noah’s Ark theme park David Reynolds reviews John Stauffer and Zoe Todd, The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harper’s Ferry Raid. Read the rest here. Read more

December 7, 2012

Advent is one of my favorite times in the church year. For many reasons, I particularly relish the “O Antiphons,” which belong precisely to this season. They are so very rich in the lessons they teach, with implications for Christmas, of course, but also for the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and (surprisingly perhaps) for the apocalypse and the Last Judgment. You could actually present a fairly complete course in Christian theology just from these short verses! Even… Read more

December 6, 2012

‘Tis the season for list-making. My co-bloggers have given you their five favorite religious biographies and seven best books read this year, respectively. Let’s face it. There are a lot of great books about American religion rolling off the presses each year. Making lists of good books is easy work. It’s harder to pick the book of the year. I, however, am ready for such boldness. It’s not a work of history, but the best book on American religion published… Read more

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