Thursday, 31 January 2013

Faculty Job

Cleveland State University

Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Religious Studies

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Position: Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Religious Studies, full-time, one-academic year
Start Date: August 19, 2013
Duties: A teaching load of 16 credit hours/four courses per semester. The successful candidate will be expected to teach courses in both departments.
Minimum: Ph.D. in Philosophy or Religious Studies with demonstrated competence in the other discipline (such as a Master’s degree, documented successful teaching record, and/or documented published scholarship in the other discipline). Applicants must complete their Ph.D. by July 1, 2013 to be considered for appointment. Evidence of teaching achievement.
Preferred: Master’s degree in non-Ph.D. field and/or broad range of teaching experience in Philosophy and Comparative Religion.
Applications: Send letter of application, current c.v., graduate level transcript, evidence of teaching achievement, and three letters of reference (sent under separate cover) to Sonya Charles, Chair, Search Committee, Philosophy Department, Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115. To ensure full consideration all materials should be submitted by March 15. Review of applications will begin March 15 and continue until the position is filled. Hiring is contingent on maintaining existing levels of funding from the State.
Salary: Commensurate with qualifications.
For more info:
Cleveland State University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity institution committed to nondiscrimination. M/F/H/V encouraged. Hiring is contingent on maintaining existing levels of funding from the State.

Jonathan Edwards, Jr.

Why isn't there very much scholarship on Jonathan Edwards, Jr? I'm doing research on Edwards the Younger as part of a book-length project, and I am amazed at how little has been written about this influential minister and theologian. Robert L. Ferm's Jonathan Edwards the Younger, 1745-1801: A Colonial Pastor (1976) is the only major modern work published on Jr. The next best source (and in many ways a more thorough analysis of Edwards Jr. within his cultural context) is Ken Minkema's 1988 PhD dissertation, "The Edwardses: A Ministerial Family in Eighteenth-Century New England," which is divided into three sections on Timothy Edwards, Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), and Edwards, Jr. As Minkema shows in his thesis, there are numerous manuscript sermons from Jr. that scholars can use to study his thought.

His life would also make an interesting story. He was raised at Stockbridge, MA, learned the local Native American dialect (publishing a work on the Mahican dialect), pastored a church at New Haven where the politician Roger Sherman attended, experienced the tragedy of his first wife drowning in 1782, and was an ardent supporter of Federalism. There are also all kinds of similarities with his father that could be explored, including  his dismissal at New Haven, his desire to seek literary fame, and the fact that he finished his career as the president of a school (Union College in Schenectady, NY).

Given the number of books and articles on Jonathan Edwards, Sr., someone writing on Jr. could stand out by breaking away from the pack and bringing to light this neglected figure.

Faculty Job

Millsaps College

Christian Studies

 MILLSAPS COLLEGE, Religious Studies Dept., announces a one-year Teaching Fellowship in Christian Studies beginning August 2013 for a postdoctoral or ABD scholar-teacher. The teaching load of 4 courses for the year will allow the recipient to strengthen teaching skills while also working on professional publications. The Fellow will be expected to engage actively in the intellectual life of the college and department and will have opportunities to participate in teaching colloquia and writing workshops and to be part of a collegial department. Specialization should be in some area(s) of Christian Studies; secondary areas of interest may include Gender or Women’s Studies or other areas. Courses will be taught in the departmental curriculum and Humanities core. Teaching experience is a plus, and ability to engage undergraduates vital. We offer a competitive salary including health and other benefits, a travel and research stipend of $2000, and reimbursement for moving expenses. Employment will be contingent on complete background verification. Send letter of application and C.V. via email to James E. Bowley at Have graduate school transcript and three letters of reference sent via email or post to Prof. James E. Bowley, Chair, Religious Studies Search, Millsaps College, 1701 North State St., Jackson, MS 39210. Review of applications will begin on 22 February 2013. Millsaps College is a nationally-ranked liberal arts college in the capital city of Jackson, Mississippi. Included in Colleges that Change Lives, Millsaps is committed to academic excellence and pedagogical innovation. Millsaps is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from minorities. For more information about Millsaps see

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

How Much Should You Publish?

I often ask myself the question: How much should I publish? There seems to be a variety of opinions on how much a professional, or aspiring, academic should publish. Answering this question is vital for PhD students and academics who are looking for a tenure-track job.

When it comes to research-based institutions, the answer seems obvious: the more publishing, the better. In fact, you can be denied tenure if you don't publish enough. But how much is enough? Do you need to publish a book to receive tenure? Does your book need to be with a university press? Are certain university presses valued more than others? What about journal articles? Do you need to write a book if you have published a certain number of journal articles? Do all your journal articles need to be peer-reviewed to count towards tenure? These are important questions.

Answering these questions becomes more complicated when you factor in liberal arts colleges and regional state schools. How important are publications when compared to teaching experience? The standard answer is that research-based schools care more about publishing than teaching. But what about liberal arts colleges and regional state schools?

There seems to be no universal answer to what liberal arts colleges want in a professor. I know of cases in which people have actually taken publications off their cv when applying for faculty positions at liberal arts colleges in order to show that they care more about teaching than research. Supposedly, committees at liberal arts colleges can be suspicious of applicants with lots of publications because that can mean a) that person will spend most of his or her time researching and not teaching b) that person is a better writer than teacher c) that person will only take the job as a last resort and intends to move on to a R1 institution. Analyzing this information is fascinating, if you think about it.

In my experience, when I taught at various liberal arts colleges, several of the faculty were content not to publishing anything other than the occasional book review. Yes, they could say that they were "working on" such and such project. But, of course, that "project" would never come to fruition. Why wouldn't professors at liberal arts colleges want to publish? In many cases, I believe there is a simple explanation: they teach a 4-4 (or higher), have committee/advising/club work, and, most importantly, are not required/encouraged/expected by their chairs and/or administrators to publish. If you don't need to publish anything for tenure (or very little), and you are not rewarded for your productivity (recognition, promotion, reduced teaching load, etc.), why would you want to teach a heavy load during the day and spend your spare time in the evenings, away from your family, working on publications? If you teach a heavy load and are not encouraged to publish, wouldn't you only do research if you wanted to leave your school for an institution that did not require as much teaching and valued a higher level of productivity? Or, are there faculty at liberal arts colleges who work on writing projects simply out of intellectual curiosity (or perhaps duty)? Of course, there are liberal arts colleges that are very concerned about publications of their faculty members, and even require them to publish heavily despite a high teaching load.

My original motivation for becoming a professor was to teach. I enjoy interacting with college students and teaching subjects in my field. But I came to believe that I needed to publish to secure a job, whether that would be at a liberal arts college, regional state school, or R1 institution. As I worked on various publications, I developed a love for research in addition to teaching so that now I get anxious if I am not working on a writing project. But even with more than five years of teaching experience, I still don't know how much an academic should publish and how productive a candidate applying for a faculty position should be in order to land the elusive tenure-track job. And, is it possible to publish too much? Perhaps you can enlighten me by answering these questions.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Faculty Job

Brown University/Religious Studies

Postdoctoral Fellowship in International Humanities

Brown University's Deparmtent of Religious Studies invites applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the area of "Religion, Secularization, and the International." The fellow will collaborate closely with the Religion and Internationalism Project. We welcome applicants from across the humanities and social sciences, provided they have a strong background in the academic study of religion. We are particularly interested in candidates with critical and historical perspectives on the construction of domains such as "the religious," "the secular," and "the political" as well as on the formation of international political regimes. The fellow is expected to pursue research and publications and is required to teach one course each semester. The fellow is also required to participate in the academic life of the department as well as in the Fellows' Seminar of the Cogut Center for the Humanities. The fellowship is offered through the Cogut Center for the Humanities and its Postdoctoral Fellowships in International Humanities. Fellows receive stipends of $52,000 and $54,080 in their first and second years, respectively, plus standard fellows' benefits and a $2,000 per year research budget. Applicants must have received a Ph.D. from an institution other than Brown within the last five years. The appointment will begin July 1, 2013. A letter of interest (including a research statement), a statement of proposed courses, a curriculum vitae, a brief writing sample, and three letters of recommendation should be submitted online at Review of applications will begin on February 15, 2013. Please send general inquiries to Nicole Vadnais, Academic Department Manager ( Brown is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

Faculty Job

Right down the road from me...

The Department of History, Political Science, and Humanities at Lee University seeks applications for a tenure-track position in American history at the Assistant or Associate level beginning August 2013. The ideal applicant will be an excellent teacher, passionate about history, highly competent in American history, and adept at mentoring students. Specialization areas are open but the course load will include history surveys as well as upper level classes. Applicants should have an earned doctorate in American history and have demonstrated proficiency and commitment to undergraduate education and the Christian liberal arts.

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until position is filled but priority will be given to applications submitted by March 1, 2013.  The application is available on the Lee University website  Send letter of application, curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, a personal statement of Christian faith, and a statement describing the integration of Christian faith and discipline of expertise to: Randy R. Wood, Chair, Department of History and Political Science, Lee University, Cleveland, TN 37320-3450. For additional information call (423) 614-8137.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Teaching Nathan Cole

Today, in my "Faiths of the Founding Fathers" class, I had the privilege of reading an excerpt from Nathan Cole's Diary while putting up on the projector screen images that I had taken of the diary last summer while doing research in New England. I love the way that the diary begins. At the top of the first page, Cole writes, "I was born Feb 15th 1711 and born again octo 1741--"

"The Spiritual Travels of Nathan Cole" has been published in a WMQ article by Michael J. Crawford and in Richard L. Bushman's edited volume on The Great Awakening, but it was fun to write my own transcription and then use an excerpt from it for my forthcoming book, Early Evangelicalism: A Reader (now in the production stage). Below is my introduction to the Cole excerpt.

During George Whitefield’s fifteen-month tour of the American colonies, thousands gathered to see him. Arriving at Delaware on October 30, 1739, he preached in and around Philadelphia and New York before making his way southward until he reached Savannah on January 9, 1740. While in Georgia, he oversaw the foundation of an orphanage, which he named Bethesda, before sailing to Newport, Rhode Island in September 1740. Soon after disembarking, he preached to unprecedented crowds in Boston and then moved inland, reaching Northampton where he delivered four sermons in October 17-20 at Jonathan Edwards’s Congregational church. Throughout Whitefield’s time in New England, colonists packed into towns where he was scheduled to speak, hoping to hear the man who could reportedly bring an audience to tears simply by pronouncing the word Mesopotamia. A farmer named Nathan Cole (1711-1783) recorded in his journal how he and his wife raced to hear Whitefield preach at Middletown, Connecticut on October 23, 1740 to an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people. Convicted of sin by the Grand Itinerant’s message, Cole wrote in his journal of a lengthy spiritual struggle that culminated in his assurance of salvation. Cole’s journal offers a rare glimpse of a common American who was deeply touched by the leading evangelist of the Great Awakening.

Faculty Job

FRANKLIN & MARSHALL COLLEGE's Department of Religious Studies invites applications for a one year sabbatical replacement position in American Religions, area of specialization open, for 2013-2014. Ph.D. in hand or near completion; teaching experience required. Teaching load is 3/2. Candidates should send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, graduate transcripts, a teaching statement, teaching evaluation forms, if available, and three letters of recommendation to Annette Aronowicz, Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Franklin & Marshall College, P.O. Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604-3003. Deadline for application is March 1, 2013. Franklin & Marshall College is committed to having an inclusive campus community where all members are treated with dignity and respect. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, the College does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, family or marital status, or sexual orientation.

Application Information

Postal Address: Professor Annette Aronowicz, Chair
Religious Studies
Franklin & Marshall College
P.O. Box 3003
Lancaster, PA 17604-3003
Phone: (717) 291-3916
Fax: (717) 291-4369

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Ezra Stiles Biography

As an addendum to my previous post, I want to highlight an outstanding biography on Ezra Stiles by the great American historian, Edmund S. Morgan. I remember seeing a footnote in Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life in which he cites Morgan's book on Stiles as a model of how to write a good biography.

I read The Gentle Puritan when I began working on my PhD. It is truly an amazingly thorough and interesting account of Stiles's life.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Theological Historians

Back in August 2009, I wrote an article for the ESRH blog entitled, "Where are the Historians of Theology?

I have been thinking again about some of the comments that I made in this post after recently rereading George Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life. I was struck again, not only by the fact that Marsden is an outstanding writer, but also by his very thorough analysis of the complex ideas in Edwards's Freedom of the Will, A History of the Work of Redemption, and Original Sin. This is theological history at its best--contextually rich, sympathetic, eloquently written, and theologically astute.

What other books would you nominate as excellent examples of theologically-rich historical narratives? 

Faculty Job

Religion: Franklin & Marshall College's Department of Religious Studies invites applications for a one year sabbatical replacement position in American Religions, area of specialization open, for 2013-2014. Ph.D. in hand or near completion; teaching experience required. Teaching load is 3/2. Candidates should send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, graduate transcripts, a teaching statement, teaching evaluation forms, if available, and three letters of recommendation to Annette Aronowicz, Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Franklin & Marshall College, P.O. Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604-3003. Deadline for application is March 1, 2013. Franklin & Marshall College is committed to having an inclusive campus community where all members are treated with dignity and respect. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, the College does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, family or marital status, or sexual orientation.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Opportunity to Publish

For those of you looking for an opportunity to publish, the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University has recently announced that it is sponsoring a forthcoming book, A Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia, which will include some 450 entries that will be published by Eerdmans.

Take a look at the link to find out if you qualify as a potential author, and then scan the list for a topic that interests you. If you see an unassigned topic that looks appealing, contact for permission to write that specific article.

This is a great opportunity for those interested in American religious history, and Jonathan Edwards in particular, to publish an article and make a contribution to scholarship.

Faculty Job

Central Michigan University
General Statement of Duties: Central Michigan University seeks a scholar of religion who specializes in social ethics, religion in America, or religion and society. Must be prepared to teach an introductory general education course entitled "Religion, Race, and Discrimination in America." Load: 3 courses (9 hours) per semester plus other assigned duties.
Required Qualifications: Ph.D. in an appropriate field completed by June 2013; ability to teach "Religion, Race, and Discrimination in America;" demonstrated teaching ability.

Application Information

Contact: Central Michigan University
Online App. Form:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Note Bene

When I was working on a ThM thesis at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C., I remember being frustrated as I attempted to keep track of the notes that I was taking for my research. It was then that I came across a powerful software program called Note Bene, which helped me when I began my PhD program.

Note Bene allows you to take notes on manuscripts, articles, books, and such that you are reading for your research and then formats these according to your specifications (MLA, APA, Chicago Manual, etc.). If you hate the tedious work of inputting footnotes in the right order, and in the proper format, you will appreciate Note Bene. It also will run searches using key words. So, if you can't remember what book or article you took notes on that relates to the Scottish Enlightenment and Adam Smith, for example, you can easily run a search to find the exact reference that you had in mind.

I now have over 1,400 entries on Note Bene. Although I admit that it is an expensive program, Note Bene has saved me hours of time over the past few years.

New Course on Jonathan Edwards

It's hard to believe, but it is already time to put requests in for courses that I will be teaching next fall at UTC. Initially, I thought that I would offer a course on Global Christianity, and so I spent the bulk of my Christmas break reading books by Philip Jenkins, Lamin Sanneh, and Miriam Adeney. But after reading on this topic, I realized how much of a significant undertaking it would be to design such a course in light of my current research plans and other teaching responsibilities.

I ultimately decided to offer a course that I've entitled, "Jonathan Edwards's Life, Thought, and Legacy in American Religious Culture." I plan on using George Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life; A Jonathan Edwards Reader, edited by John Smith, Harry Stout, and Ken Minkema; and Joseph Conforti's Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition, and American Culture. I may also add Gerald McDermott's and Michael McCylmond's The Theology of Jonathan Edwards if I determine that it would not be too much to integrate this book into the class.

I'm excited to teach a course on Edwards. I have been working on a research project on Edwards, and so I hope that such a course will help me flesh out some of my ideas.

Faculty Job

Job Description: Arkansas State University-Beebe is seeking applicants to fill a faculty position in the areas of World History and Comparative Religion. The position may require teaching evenings, weekends and online classes. This is a nine-month, tenure-track eligible position that would begin mid-August 2013.

Qualifications: Minimum qualifications include a Master's degree in History or Comparative Religion with at least 18 graduate hours in the other area. Strong communication and organizational skills are needed. An earned doctorate is preferred as well as five years of post-secondary teaching experience and online teaching experience.

A criminal background check will be required on the final candidate.

Application Process: Please send a resume, cover letter, unofficial copies of transcripts, a list of four references with contact information and a completed ASU- Beebe Employment Application.

Or, email to .

To obtain an ASU-Beebe Employment Application, go to our website at or phone 501-882-4469.
Only complete applications will go on to the search committee.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Evolution of Jonathan Edwards Studies

In corresponding with Ken Minkema, the executive editor for the Works of Jonathan Edwards, and director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, on a project that I am working on, he alerted me to a recent article that he and Wilson Kimnach published in the William and Mary Quarterly in October 2012 entitled, "The Material and Social Practices of Intellectual Work: Jonathan Edwards’s Study." This is a brilliant, and incredibly detailed, and, dare I say, intimidating article on Edwards's writing habits, his interest in the collection of books, and the furniture that aided his study.

Here is the abstract:

By examining the objects in the room(s) that comprised the study of Jonathan Edwards, the eighteenth-century preacher, revivalist, and theologian, we can see the material world of an intellectual through the means by which he forged, preserved, and communicated ideas. We can also see the products of his labors through a new perspective, that of material and visual studies. The books he acquired, the writing implements, the homemade notebooks and hand-stitched manuscripts, and the customized furniture he utilized all helped to shape the texts Edwards left behind. He largely fabricated the environment in which he worked and the tools he employed, using technologies at his disposal in his provincial setting. An examination of a writer’s study, such as Edwards’s, does not only reveal the work habits and compositional methods by which that writer operated. A close study of the objects in the room(s), and how they changed over time, allows a reconstruction of the ways that social and material practices contributed to intellectual production.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Faculty Job

Religious Studies Program
New York University

The Religious Studies Program in the Faculty of Arts and Science at New York University invites applications for an appointment as an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow. The appointment will be for one year beginning September 1, 2013, subject to renewal for up to two additional years, pending administrative and budgetary approval. Candidates must have completed a Ph.D. no earlier than three years before the date of appointment, have a strong commitment to teaching and participating in the interdisciplinary Program's activities. We seek applicants whose area of empirical research lies in the history of Christianity in America (United States). The ideal candidate will demonstrate a combination of historical depth with an awareness of contemporary issues in American public life. An ability to analyze religion alongside other fields of difference, such as gender, race, and sexuality, is a plus. The candidate should be prepared to teach Theory and Methods in the Study of Religion (an introductory course on anthropological, sociological, and phenomenological approaches to the study of religion), as well as two other courses, the nature of which will in part depend upon her/his qualifications.

Application deadline is February 15, 2013. To apply see the NYU Religious Studies Program web site at and click on the "Employment" link to submit a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, a 20-page writing sample, a sample syllabus, and the names of three referees.

NYU is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

The Plymouth Brethren

I'm slowly making my way through the current issue of Books and Culture. Last night I read a wonderful article by Robert Gundry on F. F. Bruce. Gundry's review of Tim Grass's F. F. Bruce: A Life brought back memories of my ThM thesis at Regent College on the ecclesiology of the Plymouth Brethren.

I wanted to study the Plymouth Brethren because of my church background. While growing up in Toledo, Ohio, I attended a non-denominational church that did not have a pastor. The Christian Fellowship of Toledo was led by a board of elders and rotated in a group of speakers, some of whom were elders and others were professors at nearby universities and seminaries. When I later found out from my parents that our church was modeled on congregations affiliated with Open Brethren churches, I decided to research the ecclesiology of the Plymouth Brethren in order to understand my church heritage.

While studying the Brethren I learned that Regent College has deep connections with the Brethren. The principal founder, James Houston, along with former NT professor Ward Gasque, church historian and cultural theologian John Stackhouse, and current president Rod Wilson all come from Brethren backgrounds.

Many people mistake the Plymouth Brethren as being a church movement of sectarians that were united under John Nelson Darby, the nineteenth-century clergyman who popularized the idea of the "rapture" and dispensationalism. Darby was only one of the early leaders of the Brethren. His group broke off from the more "open" Brethren to form "closed" Brethren communities which did not allow Christians outside their circle to participate in the Lord's Supper. The Open Brethren, by contrast, were much more inclusive and ecumenical in dealing with other Christians. Some of their most famous leaders include the missionary Anthony Norris Grove and George M├╝ller, who famously ran an orphanage funded by faith-based giving. F. F. Bruce came from the Open Brethren tradition. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Plymouth Brethren, there are some excellent  scholarly books on this movement, including Tim Grass's Gathering to His Name, Neil Dickson's The Brethren in Scotland, Roy Coad's A History of the Brethren Movement, and my favorite, Harold Rowdon's The Origins of the Brethren. Other related books that would be of interest include Timothy Stunt's excellent From Awakening to Secession and Ernest Sandeen's The Roots of Fundamentalism.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Global Evangelicalism Lecture

Mark Hutchison, of the University of Western Sydney and author of A Short History of Global Evangelicalism (2012),  will be giving a public lecture at Wheaton College (IL) on January 17, 2013.

His lecture, “Writing a Global History of Evangelicalism: Lessons Learned Too Late?”, will be delivered in Blanchard Hall, room 339, for those that are in the area.

A brief description of the lecture:

How does one try to capture the expansion and development of an ever-diversifying and evolving worldwide evangelical movement?  Dr. Mark Hutchinson, co-author (along with Dr. John Wolffe—the Open University, UK) of the recently published A Short History of Global Evangelicalism (Cambridge, 2012) will discuss some of the historiographic and conceptual challenges involved in undertaking this sprawling task, as well as some of the insights he gained in the process. A ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­historian at the University of Western Sydney in Australia, Mark Hutchinson is the former director of the Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity at Macquarie University, and the author and editor of several books including (along with the late Ogbu Kalu), A Global Faith: Essays on Evangelicalism and Globalization (CSAC, 1998). 

Look for a summary to follow shortly after his lecture.

Faculty Job

Trinity College Dublin

Assistant Professor in Early Christianity (5 year contract)

Applications are invited for a five year appointment based in the Department of Religions and Theology, within the Confederal School of Religions, Theology and Ecumenics, from candidates with a Ph.D. in the field of Early Christianity.
Applicants should have expertise in New Testament Studies and in the cultural and philosophical contexts of its reception in late antiquity up to the early third century. The ability to teach and research in original languages from the period is highly desirable.
Obligations will include teaching and supervision from undergraduate to postgraduate levels as well as sharing in the administrative duties in the life of the Department and the School. The successful candidate will have a track record in, and current plan for, research at the intersection of biblical and religious studies, antique philosophy and theology, and show evidence of creative and effective teaching.
Further information for this position can be obtained at:
The closing date for receipt of completed applications is
12 Noon, Friday, March 1, 2013.
Further information on the Department and the School can be found on the websites,

Monday, 14 January 2013

Thomas Kidd Reviews "The Indian Great Awakening"

 Thomas Kidd has recently reviewed Linford Fisher's The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America on the Books and Culture website.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

We Need Educated Pastors

I recently heard a sermon that reminded me of the need for more educated pastors in America. One of the frustrations I have had attending various churches over the years is that many pastors do not seem to spend very much time preparing their sermons. Many pastors today seem to concentrate on the literal, common-sense, reading of scripture without showing evidence of any deep, contextual knowledge on a particular subject. A message I recently heard on Romans 13:1-7 reminded me of this problem.

Wanting to salvage a previously poorly-worded sermon in which he offended certain people in the congregation with Democratic political leanings, the pastor who I heard tried to offer a balanced perspective on religion and government from Roman 13, arguing that God has made allowances for current forms of government to exist and so we have an obligation to pray for our elected officials to enact legislation wisely. So far so good. But then he added the curious comment that Christians must be subservient to the current political administration since it has been put in place by God. From his reading of Romans 13, he suggested that Paul did not want the church to be affiliated with the radical zealots of the land who were advocating armed resistance against Caesar and his government.

As a religious historian, I couldn't help but wonder what this pastor thought about the Glorious Revolution, when English Whigs invited William and Mary to invade the country and replace James II. Or better yet, what might he think about the American Revolution, in which Christian patriots rallied the nation to rebel against George III? These are complicated questions that deserve serious thought that is based on research and a proper understanding of the biblical context.

As every historian knows, history is complex, making it especially unwise to use simplistic arguments that utilize scripture passages out of context to make a point that fits one's agenda. Yet religious pundits use this methodology quite regularly. I do not envy today's pastors who carry the burden of delivering weekly relevant messages that intend to offer truth from a biblical perspective. But if you are called to the ministry, I pray that you would commit to lifelong study of the Bible that entails reading beyond a commentary by Chuck Swindoll.

One of the reasons why Paul's message in Romans 17 at the Areopagus was effective had to do with his understanding of Greek philosophy. He had read the works of the Stoics and other philosophers and so could relate with his audience and offer them a message that made sense in that particular environment. How foolish it would have been if Paul had delivered a sermon from a strictly Jewish perspective to a Gentile audience. Paul knew, not only the Bible, but also was well-versed in the philosophy and culture of his day.

Puritan ministers in England and America prided themselves on their knowledge of scripture in addition to reading the latest philosophical, theological, and scientific works. They studied the deists and other early Enlightenment authors in order to understand how they might offer a counter-voice to the prevailing heterodox theories that were permeating the Atlantic world. While I do not agree with the hermeneutics of all their messages, I can appreciate the Puritan commitment to spend multiple hours in the week studying the relevant literature at that time. I wonder what would happen if American pastors read works of literature, history, theology, and philosophy as well as a range of opinions in biblical studies. Perhaps we would hear sermons that we could trust as coming from someone who carefully weighed all the relevant information before offering an application.

Friday, 11 January 2013

History and Hollywood

So there's been a lot of discussion the last few months about Spielberg's Lincoln.  We've been so busy that the only movie I have had time to see in the last two months is Skyfall, which I highly recommend.  I had planned on withholding any comments on Spielberg's latest until I had seen the movie and read the commentary, but I felt like I had to say something after watching an interview with Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner on the Bill Moyers show the other night in which Kushner said Lincoln had no black friends.  My jaw dropped at that comment because, as many of you know, Lincoln was friends with (and influenced in his abolitionist views by) Frederick Douglass.  Did any one else see this episode of the Moyers show?  Were you shocked as well?

I also plan on seeing Django Unchained in the coming weeks and have been equally shocked (which QT would no doubt like) by Quentin Tarantino's disparaging remarks of the miniseries Roots (1977) regarding its inaccurate portrayal of slavery.  Though I'm less concerned with the repeated use of the "N" word in the film (QT uses it liberally in all of his films, though, of courses, its used much more in Django), I'm primarily concerned, from the clips I've seen, with the revenge/retribution motif that runs through the film.  Though some will no doubt feel satisfied by QT's revenge motif, the idea completely undercuts the real story of African Americans in this country, which is that most have learned to love this nation despite slavery and the way in which the American government and her people continue to victimize African Americans in the present.  There is much to be said about AA's and the victim motif--I'm happy to have a longer conversation about this--but my main contention is that QT's film, while meant as a piece of entertainment--though he has claimed it is much more--hinders rather than helps the discussion of race in America.

My two cents.

-Andy Tooley

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Edwards's "Crazy" Grandmother Reconsidered

Marital drama, murder, and madness are often themes that permeate a good novel. Interestingly, they also relate to the non-fictional account of Jonathan Edwards's extended family. In Ava Chamberlain's new book, The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards, she produces a groundbreaking microhistory that is inspiring in its meticulous research.

Elizabeth Tuttle was the paternal grandmother of Jonathan Edwards, historically remembered for her promiscuity and mental instability. Her husband Richard Edwards obtained a divorce from Tuttle in 1691, remarrying Mary Talcott, but not before he fathered several children with his first wife, including Timothy Edwards, the father of America's most famous theologian. Chamberlain seeks to rewrite the history of the Edwards family by giving proper attention to Tuttle and revising the unfavorable account given by her husband Richard Edwards. This is an extraordinarily well-researched microhistory that scholars and laypeople alike will no doubt enjoy.

After an introduction chapter, Chamberlain examines the Tuttle family and their emigration from the English Midlands. Prosperous middling landowners, the Tuttles lived in Northamptonshire, making a living by farming and raising cattle. After the death of the family's patriarch Simon Tuttle in 1630, his three sons and  their families emigrated to New England in the spring of 1635. The two older boys, Richard and John Tuttle, climbed the social ranks of society in Boston and nearby Ipswich while the youngest son William took longer to make his mark. At first living in Charlestown, outside of Boston, William relocated to New Haven where he benefited as one of the town's founding proprietors. He was one of sixty-three men to sign the "Fundamental Agreement" on June 4, 1639 which set in place the town's civic and religious order. Slowly, he built up his estate by purchasing land in the area. But importantly William was limited in the height that he could climb socially because he never became a member of the New Haven church, which suggests that he failed to provide a convincing conversion narrative to his strict pastor, John Davenport, and his congregation. Elizabeth Tuttle was the seventh child of William and Elizabeth Tuttle. Since her mother was a member of the church, young Elizabeth was able to be baptized at the New Haven church and later allowed to participate in communion. An important point that Chamberlain makes at the end of this chapter is that the so-called notorious Elizabeth Tuttle had no record of wrongdoings until her sex scandal that led to her marriage.

In chapter two, Chamberlain explores Richard Edwards's family and their migration from England to America. Richard was the second son of William Edwards and his wife Agnes, and the grandson of Richard Edwards and his wife Anne. The latter grew up in East Smithfield, later moving to the dingy parish of Whitechapel, outside of London. The daughter of a prosperous cooper, Anne married a university-educated man named Richard who had trained to be a clergyman, but made a living as a schoolmaster. The future looked bright for Anne and Richard until a devastating plague struck the area in 1625, killing more than 3,500 people including her husband and possibly some of her children. Within the family, only Anne and her son William survived. Anne quickly remarried a widower named James Cole who was a barrel maker like her stepfather. When Cole fell into debt, he fled the area, relocating at Warwick to escape prison while his wife and children endured the shame of his sins in London. In order to gain a fresh start, Cole and his family moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1639 where coopers and other craftsmen were in high demand. Despite his meager status, young William managed to wed an affluent widow named Agnes Spencer who was much older than him. Tragically, William squandered his wife's inheritance and eventually relinquished control of his estate to his wife since he realized that he was ill-equipped to manage the family's financial affairs. A hot-tempered man, William brought many cases to court against his neighbors, but lost three times more cases than he won. William and Agnes produced Richard Edwards, the grandfather of Jonathan Edwards.

On November 19, 1667 Richard Edwards wed Elizabeth Tuttle. Chamberlain calls this an unlike match for Richard was young to marry (age 20) and below Elizabeth's social status, who came from a more prominent New England Family. Almost a year later, the couple was called before the Hartford magistrates and fined 5 pounds for a child named Mary born out of wedlock. Chamberlain informs her readers that "Although premarital sex was for puritan New Englanders a serious sin, it was a sin easily remedied. Public repentance and punishment allowed the couple to reenter the godly community without stigma, and a hasty marriage ensured both mother and child a means of financial support" (55). Here's where Chamberlain's story begins to heat up, for Richard denied paternity of Mary, claiming that another man had impregnated his wife. Nevertheless, the court ruled that Richard was the father and the couple was forced to uphold their marriage vows.

In the third chapter, Chamberlain tells the story of a brutal murder by Elizabeth's brother Benjamin who killed his sister Sarah in cold blood in 1676. Chamberlain argues that this event is crucial for understanding the subsequent unraveling of the Edwards family. From Chamberlain's research, she shows that Elizabeth was not the only Tuttle with a checkered past. Her siblings were indicted for attending "disorderly" meetings, drinking alcohol, smoking, foul language, and sexual sins. Thus, Chamberlain wants her readers to understand the context and normalcy of these kinds of behaviors among Puritan youths. What was not usual was the murder of Sarah Slauson by her brother Benjamin Tuttle on November 17, 1676 while her husband John Slauson was keeping watch for the town. Benjamin had been living with his sister's family because he was unmarried and required by law to be governed by an adult family. Apparently, Benjamin resented his sister's status and one night received a severe scolding. Storming out of the house in anger, Benjamin returned to the house with an ax and proceeded to savagely bash in the scull of his sister while her four children watched in horror. This was a rare murder for New England, and Benjamin paid the price of this crime with his life, being hanged at Hartford on June 13, 1677. After four years, John Slauson finally remarried and began rebuilding his fractured life. Important to her story, Chamberlain points to this murder as the impetus for further problems in the Tuttle family.

The bloodshed continues for the Tuttle family in chapter four. One of the Tuttle boys, David, is pronounced a lunatic by the courts and is required to live under the supervision of others. But more tragically, another shocking murder is performed by a Tuttle. This time it is Mercy who in 1691 brutally murdered her son Samuel, using the family weapon of choice, an ax. Mercy gave birth to four children by the age of thirty, but Chamberlain notes that she ceased having children after 1679, which was suspiciously close to the date of her sibling's deaths by murder and hanging. On the morning of June 23, 1691, Mercy performed her daily chores of starting a fire and letting the cows out for pasture and then proceeded to strike her seventeen-year-old son with an ax repeatedly until her husband managed to wrestle away the weapon from her grip. Through detailed research and analysis Chamberlain plausibly argues that Mercy had been traumatized by the death of her siblings years before and determined that the world looked bleak for her children, and thus wanted to spare them from growing up in such an environment. "At seventeen, he was at an age when the temptations of youth increased," Chamberlain writes, "and as he entered adulthood the young man would assume the responsibilities of an independent household head" (98). Thus, the murder was an altruistic filicide "committed out of love." In the spring of 1693, the courts determined that Mercy was not out sound mind and so she was not executed. No record exists of where she was kept, but presumably she remained incarcerated the rest of her life.

Chapter five forms the heart of the book since it centers on the divorce of Richard and Elizabeth, granted by the Connecticut General Assembly in October 1691. Chamberlain reminds her readers that Puritans, unlike Anglicans and Catholics, viewed marriage as a civil contract, and not as a sacrament, and so allowed divorces under certain circumstances (desertion or adultery). Richard Edwards first attempted to divorce his wife in 1689, after twenty years of marriage and raising five children, the oldest of which was twenty-one. For eight or nine years, the couple lived without any public disputes. But Chamberlain argues that Benjamin's murder of Sarah set a chain of events in motion that led to Elizabeth withholding sex from her husband, which reminded Richard of his wife's adulterous past. Unfortunately, only Richard's divorce petitions are extant; there is no record of any kind of defense by Elizabeth. Chamberlain cautions that Richard's petitions "must be read with suspicion... Because they provide our only window into the lived experience of this marriage, we must peer through it, ever mindful that the image it discloses of our unhappy couple is a fragmentary reflection of the husband's frustrations and desires" (116). Richard complained that his rebellious wife withheld sex, which would have been viewed by Puritans of this period as a violation of the marriage contract. Richard further claimed that his wife admitted to him that she had sex with another man before they were married. Siding with his father, Timothy Edwards testified that his mother withheld intimacy from his father. Adding spice to this already zesty story, there is evidence that Richard sought sexual satisfaction elsewhere rather than endure abstinence. He apparently had an adulterous affair with a woman named Mary Talcott, who he later married after his divorce. Eventually, Richard convinced the courts to grant him a divorce, perhaps because Mercy's murder occurred about a month before her brother resubmitted his domestic grievances. Chamberlain suggests that "Mercy's shocking murder of her son gave urgency to Edwards's professed fear that his wife's uncontrolled passions would drive her to kill" 135). At the end of the chapter, Chamberlain returns to her central thesis: "A brutal murder dealt a life-threatening blow to the flourishing Tuttle family. This sudden death was too much for some to bear. David and Mercy developed debilitating mental illnesses. Elizabeth withdrew from her marriage, apparently unwilling to bring more children into the world. The festering sexual crisis that afflicted this union from the outset reemerged with renewed force" (136-37).

Chapter six is relatively brief, disclosing Richard Edwards's final wishes before his death in 1718. He had become a prominent lawyer by this time (in addition to being a cooper), having married into an affluent family and using his wife's connections to amass an estate valued at 1,100 pounds upon his death. Intriguingly, he left "Mary, the Eldest Child of my first wife," two shillings, a curious amount considering the sizable money and land he left to his confirmed children. Chamberlain argues that the pittance of two shillings was purposely designated for Mary so that she could not contest Richard's will at a later time.  The small inheritance also demonstrates that Richard continued to insist that he was not Mary's father. By comparison to Richard, Elizabeth Tuttle disappeared into obscurity after her divorce. There are no more records of her whereabouts, but would certainly not have been free to remarry. For his part, Timothy Edwards choose sides with his father, lionizing him in a memorial as a near-perfect father who overcame a "very Great and sore tryal" (the only hint that Richard Edwards had any not succeeded in living an exemplary life) to become a prominent man in New England society. Timothy went on to marry Esther Stoddard in 1694, the daughter of the legendary pastor Solomon Stoddard.

In the final chapter, Chamberlain shows how in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the eugenics movement reawakened an interest in Elizabeth Tuttle. For years, Jonathan Edwards's early biographers, including Samuel Hopkins and Sereno Edwards Dwight, either knew nothing of Elizabeth Tuttle's notorious role in the Edwards family or ignored her entirely. Many of Edwards's early biographers believed that Richard Edwards had married Mary Talcott when his first wife had passed away. But in 1930, with the publication of Henry Bamford Parkes's Jonathan Edwards: The Fiery Puritan, Elizabeth Tuttle resurfaced once again as a central figure in the Edwards family drama. Key to this renewed interest in Tuttle, Chamberlain argues, is the organization and availability of Connecticut state records. Yet despite the availability of these records, Edwards's biographers, including Ola Elizabeth Winslow, Perry Miller, and even George Marsden, continued to perpetuate the myth of Edwards's crazy grandmother without properly considering her side of the story.

I absolutely loved this book, although I must say that the title is a bit misleading as only one chapter is devoted to Elizabeth Tuttle. It would be more appropriate to highlight the veracity of the subtitle, which directs readers to some of the controversial elements that haunts Jonathan Edwards's family. Among the strengths of this book is the extraordinary research so obviously performed by Chamberlain. The many helpful footnotes of primary and secondary sources provide substantial evidence from which Chamberlain accomplishes what many scholars would consider an impossible task: to write a story of a woman who left behind no manuscript sources. Because Chamberlain does not have all the pieces to this intricate puzzle, she must fill in some substantial holes in the narrative of Elizabeth Tuttle. Yet Chamberlain's points, although at times speculative, are at least plausible given the detailed court records from which she constructs her narrative. Chamberlain's book is inspiring. At the very least, her monograph should be appreciated as a foil to the plentiful trade books that roll off the presses each year which show little or no interaction with manuscripts and primary sources, and simply repackage the same stories in a different style of prose.

Faculty Job

Thomas Jefferson Center University of Texas

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Religious Thought

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Religious Thought
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas at the University of Texas at Austin invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in religious thought, beginning August 2013. The appointment will be for one year with a possible renewal for a second year. The Thomas Jefferson Center is an interdisciplinary center for the teaching of the great books. Our academic program is centered on a 6-course certificate in Core Texts and Ideas, including courses in literature, philosophy, political philosophy, and religious thought. The fellow will teach one course each semester, including one section of our introductory course “The Bible and its Interpreters,” which includes readings from the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and discussions of them from more than one religious or philosophic tradition. The second course will be chosen by the fellow in consultation with the center.
Applicants should have a broad background in the interdisciplinary study of the great books. Their graduate studies may be in the field of religious studies, theology, intellectual history, medieval studies, political theory, or philosophy, with a concentration in Biblical, Christian, or Jewish thought. Applicants should have received their Ph.D. on or after August 1, 2006 or should complete it by August 1, 2013. They may not hold a tenured position elsewhere. The stipend is $37,500 plus benefits and the term of appointment is September 1, 2013-August 31, 2014.
To apply, please send one copy each of: a CV, a letter explaining research interests and plans, a statement of interest in teaching the great books in a multi-disciplinary setting, evidence of excellence in undergraduate teaching, and a research paper or other suitable evidence of scholarship. Three letters of reference, in envelopes signed over the seal, should be enclosed within the application. Please also fill out and include an application form available at our website: All materials should be sent to: Post-Doctoral Search, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas, 158 W 21st St., Stop C4100, Austin, Texas 78712. The deadline for applications is February 15, 2013. Please address any questions to:

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Tommy Kidd: If Erskine were alive today he would be blogging

Tommy Kidd posted a short review of Yeager's book over at the Anxious Bench and comes to a humorous conclusion about the activities of a modern day Erskine.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Jonathan Edwards Online Journal

Are you interested in Jonathan Edwards? Do you have an article on Edwards that you would like to submit for publication? If the answer to either question is yes, check out the recently established Jonathan Edwards online journal, Jonathan Edwards Studies, which features new articles on Edwards and recent publications.

The website informs readers that...
The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University supports and encourages thoughtful discussions that deal with all facets of Edwards’ fascinating body of work, including historic trajectories, early modern context, his life and thought, and global legacies, from a variety of perspectives. The online journal Jonathan Edwards Studies (JES) an interdisciplinary professionally refereed digital publication, invites graduate students, young scholars, clergy, seminarians, and other readers of Edwards to submit their articles, book reviews, notes, and documents to the editors for review and online publication. Comments on the reviewed articles will be sent to the author. Once each Spring and Fall, the editors will select appropriate items for the JES online publication.

Faculty Jobs

St. John's University

Assistant Professor, Theology – TF 14-13

Assistant Professor, Theology – TF 14-13
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Queens Campus

The Department seeks applications for one non-tenure track position. We seek a scholar with strong interest and ability in undergraduate teaching, facility in the use of technology (including distance learning) and theological specialization in contextual theology, cross cultural theology, or global Christianity. Applicants will be expected to teach “Introduction to Christianity” regularly in addition to more specialized courses. The ideal candidate will possess a terminal degree in theology by the time of the hire, evidence of teaching experience, demonstrate potential for publication in refereed journals, and be committed to St. John’s mission as a Roman Catholic and Vincentian university.
Send letter of application, resume, and three letters of reference to: Christopher Vogt, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, St. John Hall Room B26-B1. Or email:
St. John’s University is one of the nation’s largest Catholic universities with about 20,000 students and five campuses, four in the New York metropolitan area.
St. John's is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages applications from women and minorities.

Finlandia University seeks to fill a tenure-track appointment at the Assistant Professor level, beginning August 2013.  An earned doctorate in religion, philosophy or related field is required.  ABDs are encouraged to apply.
We seek a generalist who can support and deliver a religion/philosophy curriculum that reflects Finlandia's vision of accompanying the whole student.  Area of expertise is open.   Candidates should be committed to engaged and excellent teaching in introductory classes for the broader student body as well developing and strengthening upper-division offerings.  Other responsibilities include advising/mentoring students and contributing to program development.  Professional development and service are also expected.  A background in church-related trends in religion/philosophy curricula and service learning would be desirable.  Candidate will have the willingness to collaborate with other ELCA colleges and/or seminaries on programmatic initiatives.
Finlandia University is in Michigan's Upper Peninsula just minutes from the southern shore of Lake Superior.  Natural beauty, mining and immigrant history, a thriving arts community, and year-round outdoor recreation opportunities are plentiful in this region known as the Copper Country.  For more information, please visit
Applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, statement of teaching philosophy, names and contact information of four professional references, graduate transcripts (copies of transcripts are acceptable for early stages of the interview process), and supporting materials (i.e. teaching evaluations, teaching portfolio) to: Dr. Christine O'Neil, Dean, Suomi College of Arts & Sciences, 601 Quincy Street, Hancock, MI 49930,
Review of applications will begin February 1, 2013, and continue until the position is filled.  For questions regarding the position, please contact Dr. O'Neil at 906.487.7328 or
Finlandia is sensitive to the needs of dual career couples.  A list of all openings can be found at
Finlandia University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex/gender, age, disability, religion, veteran status, familial status, height, weight, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, genetic information, or any other category protected by applicable law in admissions, employment, athletics, programs, and activities.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Its Been A Long Time

Greetings to the millions of ESRH blog readers! 

I realize that its been about two years (or longer) since I last contributed a post on this blog.  Because its been such a long time, I realize that a re-introduction to our readers is in order.  While our other blogmeister, Jonathan Yeager, has been working his tail off producing a second book, I completed an edited volume on evangelicals and the early church, was a USTA tennis instructor in Grapevine, TX, moved three times (managing all the while not to misplace a single book or file crucial to my research!), and have now, at last, managed to turn in my PhD thesis at the University of Stirling, Scotland, to David Bebbington.  After a brief year and a half in Texas we are now back in Wheaton, IL, where my wife has just finished her first semester as a tenure-track faculty member at Wheaton College.  I, in addition to tennis instructing and full-time parenting, happily begin teaching at Northern Seminary, the once proud home of Carl F. H. Henry and Don Dayton, this January.  By writing on this blog again, I am able to complete one of my new year's resolutions, which is to no longer get a phone call or email from Jon asking me if I'm ever going to contribute to this blog again!

Among posting reviews of Mark Hutchison and John Wolffe's A Shorty History of Global Evangelicalism (Cambridge, 2012) and Leigh Schmidt and Sally Promey's American Religious Liberalism (Indiana University Press, 2012), I plan to blog about a number of things in the coming year, from nineteenth-century evangelicalism to religion, politics, and race in the present day. 

Looking forward to an eventful 2013.

-Andy Tooley

Faculty Job

Religious Studies: Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Religious Studies Department, Marywood University, Scranton, PA 18509. The Marywood University Department of Religious Studies seeks an Assistant Professor in Religious Studies for a tenure-track appointment beginning August 2013. Qualified candidates will possess a doctoral degree in Religious Studies or Theology with specialization in World Religions and secondary areas of specialization in Bible and/or Catholic Systematics. Applicants with prior college teaching experience are preferred. Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate core curriculum courses and undergraduate majors. Student advisement, commitment to scholarly activities, and participation in university, professional, and community service are expected. Review of applications will begin January 31 and will continue until the position is filled; to assure fullest consideration, all materials must be received by January 31. To apply, submit a letter of application, a teaching philosophy statement, curriculum vitae, copies of graduate and undergraduate transcripts, a writing sample, and names and contact information for three professional references to: Laurie Cassidy, Ph.D., Search Committee Chair at It is preferred that the application materials be sent electronically but may also be posted to Search committee chair at Marywood University/Department of Religious Studies, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509. Marywood University is a comprehensive Catholic university sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Additional information about Marywood University is available at Marywood University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Day 3 at AHA

On my last day at the AHA/ASCH conferences, I attended a Conference on Faith and History session in the morning on Darren Dochuk's recent book, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservativism. Daniel Williams of the University of West Georgia and Molly Worthen of UNC-Chapel Hill commented on Dochuk's book, offering high praise for this groundbreaking piece of scholarship.

Williams pointed out how Dochuk has opened the door for further scholarship and analysis of lesser-known 20th-century evangelicals, besides the usual suspects of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson. Williams further highlights that Dochuk has shifted the study of 20th-century fundamentalism from beyond the Midwest and South to include the role of Southern California. Worthen, for her part, pondered why Dochuk did not spend much time analyzing the theology of evangelicalism at any great length, wondering if he should have summarized specif beliefs such as premillennial dispensationalism and Holiness teachings.

While both commentators had the opportunity to critique From Bible Belt to Sunbelt, Dochuk himself provided the harshest criticism of his book. He submitted that the final chapters were not as thorough as his earlier chapters, and that he perhaps should have interacted with the small, but important, rising contingent in the evangelical left. It was a good session, and I enjoyed talking with other CFH members before the panel discussion at the breakfast reception.

The second and final session I attended was the presidential address for the ASCH conference given by Laurie Maffly-Kipp of UNC-Chapel Hill on "The Burden of Church History." Laurie challenged the society to expand its membership beyond white Protestants to include Catholics and Mormons, as well as non-American scholars. I look forward to hearing Bruce Hindmarsh's presidential lecture next year.