Reblogging in entirety from Alan Jacobs‘s tumblr:
In the domain of religion and science, decisions, actions, attitudes, practices, and conflicts of the present moment require careful assessment for what they mean now and how they may affect the future. Conservative Protestants today, for example, offer many reasons for leaning against or actively combating the consensus of modern scientists concerning evolution. Some of those reasons concern narrowly defined issues of physical evidence or the interpretation of specific biblical passages, while others range to broader issues of theology, philosophy, ethnicity, family order, public education, or government. To offer historical explanations for the standoff, which this paper tries to do, is not the same as explaining the individual motives of those who engage such issues today. But it is a good way to see that contemporary stances represent an amalgamation of discrete attitudes, assumptions, and convictions, and that the components of this amalgamation all have a history.
The purpose of this paper is to specify fifteen of these attitudes, assumptions, and convictions, to indicate when they rose to prominence, and to suggest how they relate to affect contested issues of science and religion.
Says Jacobs: Anyone who wants to understand, rather than just pontificate about, the strange attitudes many American evangelicals have towards science should read this concise, clear, and authoritative essay by Mark Noll. (PDF)
Says me: I can’t wait to read this. I know it’s gonna be good. If you read it, I’d like to hear your comments.
OK, now that I’ve got the attention of all the Danny Kaye fans (yes, the headline quotation comes from the wonderful movie The Court Jester) . . .
Watch this space tonight for a brief review – part of a “blog tour” – of Jennifer Woodruff Tait’s fascinating book The Poisoned Chalice. All I’ll say now is that it’s about the 19th-century shift in American Methodism from wine to grape juice in the Eucharist. And if that seems a small or limited topic, you won’t believe how many other things come spilling out when Jennifer pulls that thread (or that cork?).
Colonial Williamsburg parish church
This week PBS is airing a new six-part documentary called “God in America.” I missed the first two parts last night because for some odd reason I wanted to watch Brett Favre throw more interceptions.
The third and fourth parts air tonight (8 and 9 pm CST) while I am teaching (drat), and are described by TV Guide: “The first hour recalls how slavery split the U.S., and Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders both used the Bible to support their positions. Also examined is Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual journey, which was fed by the carnage of the Civil War and the death of his young son. The second hour details how modernity challenged traditional faith during the 19th and early 20th centuries via the establishment of Reform Judaism and the 1925 Scopes evolution trial.” Continue reading
A couple of articles about the imminent change in history and social studies textbook standards in the state of Texas. Here’s MSNBC‘s take, and here’s the Christian Science Monitor‘s.
What do you–sorry, y’all–think?
And here is some further outraged commentary.
Historic D.C. church lands on most-endangered list
The crumbling church, dedicated in 1886, has hosted notable civil rights figures and statesmen but now faces a repair bill of about $11 million, which it cannot afford.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The glorious stained-glass Episcopacy Window has been removed, its empty frame high above M street now covered with sheets of plastic.
Water has damaged the plaster walls near the oak-and-pine pew where abolitionist Frederick Douglass sat. And the ceiling that collapsed not far from where the body of civil rights icon Rosa Parks rested is concealed by planks and scaffolding.
Although the curving pews of Washington’s Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church still embrace the memory of those who hallowed the structure, on Wednesday it is scheduled to be named among the nation’s most endangered historic places.
More than a century after it was dedicated in 1886, the red brick edifice at 1518 M St. NW, which has hosted presidents, statesmen and some of the greatest figures in the nation’s struggle against racial oppression, is crumbling.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation plans to announce that the church is included on its 2010 list of the country’s most endangered historic sites.
Another recent review in Religious Studies Reviews, on a biography of the founding figure behind modern-day Adventism:
GOD’S STRANGE WORK: WILLIAM MILLER AND THE END OF THE WORLD. By David L. Rowe. Foreword by Mark A. Noll. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008. Pp. xii + 249; plates. Paper, $24.00.
Rowe has given us the first critical biography of William Miller (1782 – 1849), father of Adventism. Though this is a biography and not a study of Adventism, it illumines the American evangelical obsession with the end-times. Rowe takes us through the particular mix of Baptist populism, deist rationalism, and evangelical pietism that led Miller to read his Bible intensively and find in it a clear end-time scheme revealed by a rational God who orders every part of the Biblical account so that even an uneducated layperson can understand it. Particularly revelatory are the important contribution to Miller’s thought of sentimentalism (Adventism is usually treated in rationalist categories) and the tension between Miller’s anti-Finneyite/anti-mission sympathies and his willingness to capitalize on his message’s ability to convert people. Rowe does tend to assume readers have prior knowledge of Adventist history, so this feels at points like an insider account. However, he uses psychological, economic, political, and other contextualizing insights to great effect. He also does not hesitate to call Miller out on such culpable traits as his passivity as leader and his fudging, in the face of opposition and prophetic set-backs, of earlier teachings. In the end, this has the feel of a historiography in progress—definitive in the sense not of articulating airtight interpretive formulations, but rather of being the most probing exploration of Miller to date.
Chris R. Armstrong
Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Christian Century Jason Byassee’s got a good answer to Hauerwas and other doomsayers. See his blog entry about the continued viability of the black church, here. It explains why he thinks that “the church – mainline, black, and much farther afield still than either – probably has a bit more left in the tank than headline grabbers like to let on.” It also contains links to interesting reflections on the current state of the black church in America.
Stanley Hauerwas continues his long-time screed against the American church as “too American.” What do you think? Does he go too far here? Not far enough? What is the value and what are the dangers of such categorical critique?
Truth in advertising: (1) I certainly recognize the syndrome he describes; (2) I deny that the church in America has entirely lost its mission, selling its spiritual heritage for a mess of nationalist pottage; (3) I feel Hauerwas’s sweeping critique is excessive and counterproductive. It stands to discourage American Christians and deter us from participating in our churches more than it helps us to participate well.
Feel free to call me out on this. I’m always ready to learn and be corrected.