My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
I sometimes blog for two other organizations, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society and the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.
The views expressed in these blogs represent the views of the authors, and not necessarily those of any organizations with which they are associated.
“They didn’t teach me that at seminary!” is often a complaint of seminary graduates in the years following convocation. But is it a fair criticism? Can seminary really prepare people for literally every possible circumstance in life and ministry? And if they can’t, what was the point of all the books and papers?
The quick answer can be encapsulated in the aphorism “give people a fish, feed them for a day - teach people how to fish, feed them for life.”
One advantage of having a cottage with no internet (and no data plan on my phone) is that I get a ton of reading done in the evenings. In fact, I think I will stay a luddite on this issue for the foreseeable future – it is simple too much of a boon to my page count to have no electronic distractions!
My reading this summer was very eclectic, and some books were only added to the list because they were fun and cheap discoveries at the used book section of our local cottage-country store. Here they are in no particular order along with a comment or two regarding their relative merit.
I grew up hearing about the science fiction figure of Buck Rogers, but I never actually knew anything about him. All that changed a month or so ago when I found in a used bookstore an old copy of the first book in the Buck Rogers series. I quickly made the tough decision to spend the grand total of $1.50 to add it to my cottage summer reading list.
Protestants often think they are the cutting edge of Christianity. And evangelicals often tout their proclivity to adaptation and innovation. Yet can other Christian traditions claim innovation as well?
I am frequently asked about why the churches in the West are in decline. An assumption often imbedded in the question is that the churches have in some way been deficient in their practice and/or doctrine. And a concomitant assumption is that such closures are signs that God’s blessing has been lifted from the churches. Some even refer to “ichabod” (“the glory has departed”) as a chief cause of decline.
While Protestants are not prone to take advice from popes, they would do well to take heed of what Pope Gregory I had to say about the pastoral office. In fact, I find it amazing (and somewhat surprising) that I could be trained and ordained and never been required to read his Pastoral Rule.
Wars are never static. Domestic and battlefield conditions constantly evolve due to both anticipated and unexpected exigencies of conflict. In fact, wars can lead to changed conditions to such a degree that what seemed to be clear at one time now seems, at best, murky.
And that fluidity makes it hard for Christians to think rightly about a conflict – in this case my focus is the war in Ukraine, but my point basically applies to any conflicts dragging on over a year.
What I find interesting is that for many Protestants there is an instinctive return to aspects of monastic life as a way of dealing with the shifts and setbacks of the church in western society.
This month marks the 78th anniversary of the end of the war against Nazi Germany in Europe (the war in Asia against the Japanese Empire ended in September).
The devastation of the war was global, with flattened (and two irradiated) cities, destroyed infrastructure, and ruined economies throughout Europe and Asia. The death toll was staggering, with over 75 million deaths of all sorts including the horrors of mass civilian casualties due to starvation, disease, famine, bombings, and genocide. Civilian deaths outnumbered military deaths by roughly 3 to 1.
My current research for a book chapter on Canadian Protestant churches and the Korean War has led me to wade through commentary on the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. And that commentary has reminded me of how the upcoming Coronation of King Charles III is set in a very different world from that of his mother.
The Queen’s Coronation on 2 June 1953 was a major event and not surprisingly it drew significant attention from various Protestant denominations. Most of the reporting was positive, but, as will be seen, some were concerned about an excessive focus on events.