August 17, 2023

I have a long-standing admiration for the very influential scholar Ronald L. Inglehart. A couple of years ago, I posted at this site about Inglehart’s book on Religion’s Sudden Decline.  My blog raved about the book, and Inglehart’s editor said he would pass it along to the great man himself, who would be pleased – not realizing that sadly, Inglehart had died just the previous day. That story has nothing directly to do with a recent media piece about Inglehart’s... Read more

August 16, 2023

George Marsden explains that Jonathan Edwards preached other sermons. Read more

August 15, 2023

Icons, pictures, and mosaics of the “Three Holy Hierarchs”, also called “the Cappadocians”, are common in churches throughout the east—three theologians immortalized as wise figures with books in hand. Indeed, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa deserve admiration for many of their contributions to the church: they aided in the theological formulations that led to the Creed at Constantinople (known as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed), created one of the first welfare hospitals (the Basiliad), and combated the... Read more

August 14, 2023

I have been at work on a book project, Modern Christian Theology: An Intellectual History, for Princeton University Press for about six years now, and I have finally made it to the twentieth century! Trying to capture the Barthian revolution in modern theology in about thirty pages (a summertime task) presents challenges, to say the least. But I’ve been immensely aided by reading Christiane Tietz’s biography Karl Barth: A Life in Conflict. First published in German in 2018, the work... Read more

August 11, 2023

Perspiration, gathering into rivulets, slid into the folds of my clothing as I gazed at a faded headstone beneath the mottled shade of an aging tree. The incessant chirping of cicadas and the drone of passing cars on the I-35 freeway reverberated loudly against the silence of the stones. It was a blistering July afternoon in the middle of a Texas heat wave when I found myself at the First Street Cemetery in Waco, the city’s oldest place of internment,... Read more

August 10, 2023

Do you remember the Star Child? If I were to choose the single fictional work that influenced me most, ever, it would be 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The astronaut, Dave Bowman, encounters the alien species that originally, millions of years ago, elevated humanity to its dominant species on the planet. They then use him as the basis for another and still greater evolutionary leap that wholly transcends the human, and moves to an interstellar dimension. The final image shows... Read more

August 9, 2023

In the wake of WWI, a brilliant woman in search of an income found herself in a quandary. Here she was, a woman in a man’s world, and therefore unable to become a professor—a path she would have likely pursued, had she been born half a century later. She was, nevertheless, someone prone to live inside her head, dwelling less comfortably with people than with her intense and deep ideas about so many topics, from the Greco-Roman Classics to Dante’s... Read more

August 8, 2023

A perennial challenge for historians, who are Christians, is the challenge of finding acceptance and approval from the wider academic community. Christians practicing history qua the historical science are often criticized for failing to approach their discipline from an objective, empirical, and critical viewpoint. George Marsden discusses this unique challenge throughout The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship.[1] The secular historian, Bruce Kulick, echoes this concern as well, while dispelling the notion that critical historians operate solely from an empirical basis... Read more

August 7, 2023

Everyone’s life is a Venn diagram of overlapping identities and roles. In my case, I am the only child of a preacher and a grandson of immigrants, an American from New York living in South Carolina, a Calvinist-educated Pentecostal Christian teaching at a Southern Baptist university, a history educator and an administrator, an ordained minister, part of generation X, and an African American (or a mixed race, depending on the context) man in an interracial marriage with a white woman.... Read more

August 3, 2023

My husband Tommy just turned fifty. For the last 5 years he has planned to celebrate this milestone by going with a group of friends as “bicigrinos” or bicycle pilgrims along the Camino Primitivo in Northern Spain. It took a great deal of organization and for a couple years during the pandemic we weren’t sure the pilgrimage was going to happen. But on July 8 we completed the 308 km with a total of 11 people, including 3 teenagers. We... Read more

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