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

August 3, 2023

I am not sure how much people read Mark Twain these days, but one work of his has never really got the attention it deserves, even when he was at his most popular. This is his Following the Equator (1897), which is an endlessly quotable account of the world of high imperialism. Although the book is often very funny, I’ll focus here on a couple of examples that are anything but funny, but which do speak powerfully to our current... Read more

August 2, 2023

This past week, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation establishing the new Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Monument, a symbolic move that one can only hope is indicative of further action. Moments like this are often bittersweet in my mind. I am deeply thankful that the memorial exists. Yet monuments best express aspirational pursuits: often, a monument portrays through an imposing physical presence the person/people that you want to be. This monument has the potential to communicate the opposite: instead... Read more

August 1, 2023

Today’s post is from a guest contributor, my colleague Dr. Katherine Cooper Wyma. Dr. Wyma is an Associate Professor of English at Anderson University in South Carolina. She teaches several courses on CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Her primary academic interest is in late medieval and early modern lay piety and devotional literature. Currently, she is writing a monograph on theolocal anthropology, the Inklings, and behavior in digital spaces. As a university professor during the Covid epidemic, there were many... Read more

July 31, 2023

It has been just over a year since Charles Marsh’s memoir Evangelical Anxiety was published. And while there have been positive reviews in Rolling Stone and Christian Century, this imaginative, important book warrants more conversation within evangelicalism. Perhaps it got a bit lost in the spate of evangelical memoirs of the last few years, from exvangelicals and almost exvangelicals to fundamentalists to Beth Moore herself. But this one is different. Combining staggeringly personal disclosure with a critique of evangelicalism’s relationship... Read more

July 28, 2023

We have the pleasure of inviting Dr. Paul Gutacker to the Anxious Bench today. Gutacker is the Executive Director of the Brazos Fellows. He earned his Ph.D. from Baylor University, and this post is adapted from chapters three and four of The Old Faith in a New Nation: American Protestants and the Christian Past, published in February 2023 by Oxford University Press. If you would like to learn more about this publication, you may listen to Gutacker’s recent Conference on... Read more

July 27, 2023

Last time I wrote about the English novelist Rose Macaulay (1881-1958), arguing that she was a far more significant figure than her reputation as a comic writer might suggest. I particularly praised her book Crewe Train (1926), which was the subject of my recent Christian Century column. But Macaulay wrote over twenty other novels, several of which demand attention. One in particular here is a powerful historical document for the religious thought of the mid-twentieth century. Christian conversion – specifically,... Read more

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