March 24, 2023

Occasionally when I speak and write on race, someone will ask what I think about reparations. Since I now try to be very consistent in narrating the history of race as a history of greed and exploitation, my answer to whether or not we should seek/advocate for reparations is probably pretty obvious: as a moral question, “yes” is the only proper response. I’m sure there are some folks willing to argue about whether or not they are appropriate, but I... Read more

March 23, 2023

A couple of recent encounters have reshaped my understandings of the ancient world, and specifically of Christian origins. The specific topic is Roman roads. Like everyone, I have always known that the Romans built such things, but these discoveries have really helped me grasp their importance as never before, and I am still processing the implications. In a couple of ways, Roman roads are suddenly back in the news. The first is an excellent  series of radio programs or podcasts... Read more

March 22, 2023

On the demography of global Christianity Read more

March 21, 2023

Last week I stood in the early Christian catacombs. Just feet below some of the busiest streets of Rome, third and fourth century followers of Jesus buried their dead. Original paintings still decorate the walls–including what seems to be the earliest visual depiction of Madonna and Child. Many of the people once buried in the niches around me lived before Christianity was legalized, some even before Origen died or Arius had begun teaching his heretical ideas. The vibrancy of their... Read more

March 20, 2023

In my last post, I argued that the histories of the U.S. Black Church and Brazilian Protestantism have points of contact that could be fruitful for constructing a hemispheric Afro-descendant Christianity. I said that these points of contact could be revealed in at least two ways: 1-via stories of Black religiously informed resistance in Latin America that resemble moments in the histories of the U.S. Black Church and, perhaps paradoxically, 2-by revealing overlaps between the religiously informed White supremacies that... Read more

March 17, 2023

“Los San Patricios” (Pino Cacucci, 2015) “Have you heard of the San Patricios?” a student asked me a few years ago during an evening Modern Latin American history class; being in ROTC, he was a military history enthusiast and often shared interesting historical tidbits during discussion. I was lecturing on the War of North American Invasion – what we in the U.S. call the Mexican-American War – and we had paused to consider the implications of learning about this conflict... Read more

March 16, 2023

I have just read a very good book that throws major new light on the history of religion(s), the making of Scripture, and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. It has substantially changed my mind on points on which I have long held quite different views. The book is Stephen J. Shoemaker, Creating the Qur’an: A Historical-Critical Study (University of California Press, 2022). Among other things, Shoemaker is a leading scholar of the apocryphal and alternative gospels of the Virgin... Read more

March 15, 2023

In a gloomy prison about 1,820 years ago, a young nursing mother, desperately missing her baby, concludes the journal that she has been writing over the previous few weeks. Tomorrow she will die. She had never written anything like this journal before. But then, she had never faced a challenge like this one before either. Raised in a sheltered home before her marriage, her life seemed so ordinary, so unexceptional for her place and time. Until she met Jesus. Over... Read more

March 14, 2023

On the 10th of February, 1675/6, natives allied with the Wampanoag leader, King Philip (Metacom), attacked the village of Lancaster and besieged the home of the town minister, Joseph Rowlandson. This was one of a dozen raids that entirely razed whole British colonial townships during the terrifying King Philip’s War. Fundamentally, this war was an attempt, by a league of native tribes, to reclaim the wilderness from the British who had been domesticating and subduing it. The natives’ chief aim... Read more

March 13, 2023

It’s been just over a year since I found my beloved colleague of 20 years dead in his home. He hadn’t shown up for his Monday classes and didn’t answer his phone, so since we live near one another, I volunteered to stop by his house. His door was open and he was in his living room where he had apparently died of a cardiac event. It was his last semester of teaching before he had planned to retire in... Read more

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