July 26, 2019

I recently wrote about Nicodemism, the Reformation and Early Modern practice of keeping one’s real religious views secret in an age of potential persecution and violence. As I will explain, that Nicodemite idea was linked to the theme of lost and rediscovered scriptures, real or bogus, which was a major theme of the time. The veracity of documents was a paramount concern in the Renaissance era, and even more so in the Reformation, when scripture supposedly marked the path to… Read more

July 25, 2019

Today we welcome Monica L. Mercado to the Anxious Bench. Monica is Assistant Professor of History at Colgate University, affiliated with Women’s Studies and Museum Studies. She will spend the 2019-2020 academic year in residence at Harvard Divinity School as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and North American Religions in the Women’s Studies in Religion Program. Monica is currently at work on her first book, The Young Catholic: Girlhood and the Making of American Catholicism.   In the introduction to Brett… Read more

July 24, 2019

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but shortly after I began teaching American history, I learned to love the bomb. More accurately, I learned to love teaching about the nuclear bomb. Maybe it was the day I suddenly realized that none of my students knew what USSR stood for (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics!)—because they were all born after the Cold War. Maybe it was the day I realized I had shown the “Duck and Cover” film enough times… Read more

July 23, 2019

Check out a map of our most recent and popular blog posts! You might find that your summer travels will bring you close to important, but relatively unknown historical sites… Read more

July 22, 2019

Call it a guilty secret of Christian history: a secret about secrecy. As I have been describing over several recent posts, a great many Christian believers have held their faith in secret, even to the point of denying that they were really Christians. On the one hand, we think of the martyrs who stood up and proclaimed their faith at risk of torture and death, but there were also plenty of others who remained private and clandestine. In the modern… Read more

July 21, 2019

Are food photos on Instagram a kind of mealtime prayer? Chris thinks about the meaning of table graces. Read more

July 19, 2019

People often change their religious identity, shifting from one faith or denomination to another. They vary a lot in how they regard the religion they leave. Sometimes, converts have a benevolent view of their old world, and they maintain excellent relations with their family and friends who chose to remain. In other cases, they become the deadliest enemies of that former faith, and even seek to combat or even persecute it. In the history of religious conflict and persecution, this… Read more

July 18, 2019

Every so often, I remind myself that academia (at least in the discipline of History) is not a meritocracy. At the end of this post, I’ll explain why this reminder is important. This is true at every step of an academic career, from applications to graduate school to publishing to seeking a new job. For now, I will concentrate on the intersection between the job market and the world of university-press publishing. Almost everyone finishing graduate school has some sort… Read more

July 17, 2019

In this collection of personal narratives, forty Jews of diverse backgrounds tell a wide range of stories about the roads they have traveled away from a Zionist worldview. Read more

July 16, 2019

Fifty years after Apollo 11 began its historic journey to the surface of the moon, Chris considers how observers at the time attached different religious, metaphysical, or moral meanings to the Space Race. Read more

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