I’m a Historian, Not an Expert

I’ve only half-followed the recent Twitter dust-up between historians Thomas Kidd and John Fea and journalist Jonathan Merritt. You can get caught up to speed with this morning’s Anxious Bench post from John Turner. Throw in editor John Wilson (who rose to the historians’ defense), and you’ve got several of my favorite Johns/Jonathans sparring over what it meant … More I’m a Historian, Not an Expert

How Much Do Politics Matter to Evangelicals?

This will push into next week my long-gestating post on whether it’s possible to write persuasively for an evangelical audience, but I wanted to think aloud about one question that’s probably bigger than that post: Just how much do politics matter to evangelicals? That first came to mind last month, while I was reading Alec Ryrie’s Protestants: … More How Much Do Politics Matter to Evangelicals?

Quit Social Media?

More than at any time in the last five years, I’ve been thinking of quitting social media. A lot of this is driven by the unpleasant experience of the presidential campaign, and the immediate aftermath of the election. Far from creating a more robust kind of democratic discourse, in which a broader array of citizens … More Quit Social Media?

What’s Coming Up This Fall at the Conference on Faith and History

I was honored this past spring to be elected to the executive board of the Conference on Faith and History, the leading professional society for Christian historians. As luck would have it, my first meeting with that group will take place at the CFH biennial meeting this October 20-22 in Virginia Beach, Virginia — on the other … More What’s Coming Up This Fall at the Conference on Faith and History

Announcing My New Blogging Gig: The Anxious Bench

I’m happy to announce that, starting next week, I’ll be a regular contributor at The Anxious Bench, a group blog on the Patheos Evangelical channel. I’ll be filling the Tuesday slot occupied by Bench co-founder Thomas Kidd, who will be blogging for The Gospel Coalition when he’s not churning out award-winning books about 18th century American religious history. Even … More Announcing My New Blogging Gig: The Anxious Bench

The Benedict Option

The conflict of the Present and the Past, The ideal and the actual in our life, As on a field of battle held me fast, Where this world and the next world were at strife. For, as the valley from its sleep awoke, I saw the iron horses of the steam Toss to the morning air their plumes of smoke, And woke, as one awaketh from a dream. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Monte Cassino“ Almost fifteen hundred years ago a hermit in flight from Rome — “disgusted,” wrote Longfellow, with that city’s “vice and woe” — settled on a mountain in the Abruzzis, forming a community and writing a rule that would make him the father of Western monasticism. … More The Benedict Option

10 Blogs by Christian Historians You Should Be Reading

I’ve complained a couple of times that Christian Piatt’s recent (very popular) exercise in identifying “25 Christian Blogs You Should Be Reading” gave short shrift (both in the readers’ and editor’s versions) to academics — in particular, my fellow historians. To a significant extent, this is the fault of our guild; I’m afraid that Sam … More 10 Blogs by Christian Historians You Should Be Reading

Apolitical Churches

I was struck at the end of last week by a pair of quite different articles that shared two themes: church growth and decline, and conclusions relating those trends to how political or apolitical a church is. First, historian Thomas Kidd’s Patheos column on “The Rise and Fall of American Methodism.” Kidd begins by recapping … More Apolitical Churches

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Or, technically, Happy Washington’s Birthday, since as Thomas S. Kidd points out (more from him in a few lines), “Presidents’ Day” is a marketing invention, not a Federal holiday. I’ll admit to being an infrequent celebrant of this particular holiday, mostly because it’s been nearly twenty years since I was part of an educational institution … More Happy Presidents’ Day!