What You Might’ve Missed in 2015

It’s just like a historian to live in the past, but… Before we get too far into 2016, I thought I’d look back once more at 2015:

Not to the most-read posts of the year, but to those that were barely noticed.

Most of them were announcements: new podcasts or webisodes, speaking engagements, etc. But for whatever reason, even some regular-length posts on otherwise popular topics couldn’t muster more than a relative handful of views.

Let me suggest five that may be worthy of a second look:

Am I “Making Religious Believers” Out of My Students?

Actually a two-part post, in response to a passing remark from historian-college president Michael Roth about teaching: “At best, all I could have done is to spawn a variety of the ‘dead orthodoxy’ that we Pietists contrast with the living faith of Luther’s definition…” (March 4 & 10)

Sign for the old train depot at Moravia, IowaExpectation and Joy: A Benediction for Easter Monday

If you want your post to go unread, publish it on or near a major holiday: “…we spend much our lives living in something more like Easter Monday than Easter Sunday: not unaware that the resurrection has happened or unmoved by it, but already turning away from that reality to confront — wearily, fearfully — the more immediate, seemingly more urgent concerns of our world. A world that — to most outward appearances — seems almost entirely, troublingly unchanged by what happened on Easter morning.” (April 6)

Pietism as Instincts, or It’s More Than Old Churches in Rural Iowa

If you want a mini-preview of our in-progress book on Pietism, this mid-summer post actually ended up providing a lot of material for the draft introduction Mark and I submitted to the publisher: “These aren’t even settled beliefs, just impulses or inclinations. Presented with a new situation, for example, a Pietist would probably think or feel one or more of the following, even if they couldn’t explain their response….” (July 14)

Americans Love the Past, Not History

Inspired by a trip with my kids to a model railroad museum, and by my continuing work to develop a proposal for a book meant to bring history to the general population: “It’s an article of faith among most historians I know that the average American doesn’t adequately understand, value, or enjoy what we do for a living. And that may all be true, but I think historians’ feelings of pique sometimes cause us to forget that the discipline of history is just one way of engaging with the past and making meaning of it.” (July 28)

The Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum

Tack O Gud (Thanks to God)

While an earlier post on another Swedish Pietist hymn was one of my most popular in 2015, this one (written on Thanksgiving during a break in meal prep) never found an audience: “… if the act of thanksgiving is an act of remembrance — of what God has done in the distant and recent past and is doing in the fast-vanishing present, it is also an act of anticipation — of what God will do in the unknowable future.” (November 26)

Okay, enough living in the past. Happy New Year, and look for new posts starting on Monday!

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