December 23, 2020

On December 14, 2016, I published this post as The Peace of Christmas During the Pain of Life. It was a critical moment for me. If you decide to read my forthcoming book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, you will read about this moment in the introduction. It is the moment I affirmed my belief in the Gospel. It is the moment I admitted my complicity in perpetuating oppressive systems that run contrary… Read more

December 23, 2020

One year ago, in my post God’s Christmas Gift to Women, I reflected on how a nativity sermon written by the late medieval preacher John Mirk reveals the significance of God choosing Mary. As I wrote, “the Christmas story tells women we are more. Because God used Mary to be the mother of Jesus, God made sure that women would always have a seat at the Christian table. Because of Christmas, women can never be written out of God’s story.” … Read more

December 22, 2020

While less than 1% of the Japanese population followed Christ when John Hersey’s account of Hiroshima was published in 1946, Chris is struck that three of his six eyewitnesses were Christians. Read more

December 21, 2020

This is another in my posts on “reading” churches and their denominations to find what they can tell you about local and regional history, with a strong emphasis on ethnicity. Although I will focus on one area, namely in Central Pennsylvania, a lot of what I say (I think) has much wider application. When I was growing up in Wales, churches supplied me with a very large part of my education. These were the long lost days before the dark… Read more

December 18, 2020

Through the years, I have posted repeatedly at this site on religious images in art, and what they can tell us about ideas and debates in earlier eras. Scholars still pay insufficient attention to the incredible resources that lie in such visual imagery: we can be a very text-bound lot. As an example, I offer William Hogarth’s astonishing picture of religious fanaticism in eighteenth century England, his 1762 response to the Methodist Revival – and every point applies to the… Read more

December 17, 2020

Aaron Griffith is assistant professor of history at  Sattler College and the author of God’s Law and Order: The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America, just published by Harvard University Press. Thank you, Aaron, for stopping by The Anxious Bench to discuss matters that are both persistently relevant and timely. Let’s start with some big-picture questions, and I apologize for  the deluge! The United States has a prison and jail population of more than two million people and the world’s highest incarceration rate…. Read more

December 16, 2020

As the “Make America Great Again” movement demonstrates, the need for resistance remains. Read more

December 15, 2020

How do we celebrate Christmas during a pandemic? Chris looks back to December 1918, when Americans made merry in between waves of influenza. Read more

December 14, 2020

When Irving Berlin wrote that he was “dreaming of a white Christmas,” he was writing about snow, not about racial representation. But the reality is that so many Christmas films—especially the romantic comedies that I confess that I adore—continue to be about white people. The Christmas Prince trilogy offers a useful example: a sweet (white) girl, a handsome (white) man, a romance that blossoms amid freshly fallen (white) snow, and, if there is baking to be done, an adorable mess… Read more

December 11, 2020

I have been posting about how some religious movements and “cults” show a strong overlap with the worlds of show business, entertainment, and popular culture. Tracking such ideas or memes can be an enlightening way of understanding how themes originate on the cultural margins before being accepted quite widely. Often, these ideas have a strongly religious or mythological quality. Never underestimate the role of science fiction and fantasy in driving innovation on the religious margins. Here is a case in… Read more

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