November 27, 2020

Last time I posted about the overlap between entertainment, performance, and new religious movements – as I put it, how some entrepreneurial leaders straddle the worlds of the circus tent and the revival tent. Today I will discuss a book that not only explores that idea, but which is in itself a magnificent and woefully under-used resource for American religious history. Elmer Gantry is a classic American film released in 1960, the title character of which (played magnificently by Burt… Read more

November 26, 2020

It’s easy to sort out the actual history of what nineteenth-century Americans began calling the “First Thanksgiving.” There is only one source, but it’s a great one: a letter written by Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow in December 1621. In it, Winslow narrated that “our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together.” For the next week, there was plenty of food to enjoy. The settlers at… Read more

November 25, 2020

  During this pandemic semester, I had the privilege of teaching a graduate seminar on Women and Religion. Since we couldn’t do everything I usually do, we did some new things I thought would be beneficial to graduate students entering a more social-media and virtual-oriented job market. We learned how to discuss scholarship and connect with scholars on social media, through our #5320women Twitter discussions on Tuesday afternoons (just search for our hashtag). We practiced giving virtual conference papers and creating academic… Read more

November 24, 2020

Looking for gift idea for the Christian history buff in your life? Chris has some books to recommend, starting with a devotional hitting shelves next Monday. Read more

November 23, 2020

Jacob S. Dorman has a really fine new book out on the historic Black religious sect called the Moorish Science Temple of America, MSTA: the enticing title is The Princess and the Prophet: The Secret History of Magic, Race, and Moorish Muslims in America. That is an important topic in its own right, but it also points to a larger issue in the making of new religions, and one that I don’t think ever gets much coverage, namely the overlap… Read more

November 20, 2020

Last time I wrote about George Herbert’s poem “The Church Militant” (published posthumously in 1633), with its famous lines about true faith fleeing from Britain to America: Then shall Religion to America flee: They have their times of Gospel, ev’n as we. That seems an appropriate topic during our current commemoration of the Mayflower landing in November 1620. But as I noted, this poem has some oddities, as Herbert was a high Anglican, who at least appeared to be celebrating… Read more

November 19, 2020

Today we welcome Abram Van Engen to the Anxious Bench. Van Engen is Associate Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of Sympathetic Puritans and City on a Hill (see the Anxious Bench Q&A here). In today’s guest post, he reviews Alan Jacobs’s Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind. Seems that’s precisely what many of us need in 2020. In 1931, the president of the American Historical Association, Carl Becker, declared that all people are historians. If history is “the… Read more

November 18, 2020

In the wake of another election in which evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, what do we make of cosmopolitan evangelicalism? Read more

November 17, 2020

Fourteen years ago, an evangelical Republican named David Kuo called on fellow believers to fast from politics from two years. It didn’t happen then, but could it happen in 2020, in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat? Read more

November 16, 2020

        Today we welcome Amar D. Peterman to The Anxious Bench. Amar is a graduate student at Princeton Theological Seminary, focusing his studies on American religious history. He is a featured writer at Ideos and his research has been published in Sojourners, Faithfully Magazine, Fathom, and more. Amar also holds a B.A. in Theology from Moody Bible Institute. You can follow his work on his website or on Twitter: @amarpeterman         Over the past several… Read more




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