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

The Lecture Lives. I Would Know — I’m a Professor.

Okay, let’s try this again: the college lecture is neither obsolete nor fool-proof. Like anything, it can be done badly, but rightly understood, it’s still a highly important mode of teaching. Two reasons I’m thinking about a topic I’ve addressed several times before: First, Wired just offered another of its biennial critiques of the lecture. Entitled “The Traditional … More The Lecture Lives. I Would Know — I’m a Professor.

Following Up: Micah 6:8 in American Rhetoric

Last week my Anxious Bench colleague John Turner drew our attention to America’s Public Bible, a new project by Lincoln Mullen. A leading digital historian who works (like John) at George Mason University, Lincoln describes APB in this way: America’s Public Bible uncovers the presence of biblical quotations in the nearly 11 million newspaper pages in the Library of Congress’s … More Following Up: Micah 6:8 in American Rhetoric