That Was The Week That Was

In spare moments between grading, I passed along the story of Bethel’s soon-to-be first Digital Humanities graduate and took note of a proposed culture war compromise involving evangelical colleges. Then over at The Anxious Bench, I suggested that no historian writes about the past “as it actually happened” without imagining the past as they think … More That Was The Week That Was

The Future of Civil War Reenactment

Yesterday a colleague reminded me of a New York Times article that I had noticed this summer, but not read closely. Alongside striking photographs by Daniel Arnold, Bryn Stole reported on the 155th commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg, at which 6,000 people reenacted the roles of Union and Confederate soldiers, nurses, surgeons, chaplains, and even nuns. If … More The Future of Civil War Reenactment

What Is the Freedom That Americans Celebrate Today?

I know that, no matter how many times I get a chance to preach, I’ll always sound like a professor in the pulpit. But I’ve learned enough about sermon-writing to leave out several academic references in this past Sunday’s message on “Freedom in Christ.” To contrast Christian freedom with the American civil variety, I instead … More What Is the Freedom That Americans Celebrate Today?

A New Song (Psalm 96)

Thanks to Brad Bergfalk, pastor of First Congregational Church in Litchfield, Connecticut, for inviting me to preach yesterday. It’s always a pleasure to preach in other churches, but especially in one as historic as FCC Litchfield. That congregation was organized in 1721, and the current building dates to 1829. My favorite radio station is called … More A New Song (Psalm 96)

On Charlottesville: “This Is Not My Country”

“This is not my country.” That’s what I wanted to believe yesterday, as I stumbled back from a week-long vacation in the Rocky Mountains into the ugly events transpiring in Charlottesville, Virginia. Having intentionally tried to avoid the news in order to savor time with my family, it was bewildering to check social media in … More On Charlottesville: “This Is Not My Country”

“By the Rivers of Babylon”: Thoughts on Exile for the 4th of July

Invited to Rochester, New York to speak in July 1852, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass asked if his listeners meant ” to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?” After all, he said, “This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” Being asked to celebrate a slaveholding country as a former slave brought to his … More “By the Rivers of Babylon”: Thoughts on Exile for the 4th of July

Public Uses of Romans 13 in American History

Last Friday I took issue with Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy, in part because he exhorted graduates to “Follow the chain of command without exception. Submit yourselves, as the saying goes, to the authorities that have been placed above you.” His allusion to Romans 13:1-2 (or 1 Peter 2:13-14) got … More Public Uses of Romans 13 in American History