Tag Archives: American Christianity

15 reasons why evangelicals attack evolution


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.

The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon!


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?).

The King James Bible in America–


Cover of "The Bible in English: Its Histo...

A goldmine on the KJV in America

Overwhelmingly, the King James Version has been the “Bible of America”–and although there are plenty of other versions to choose from now, this is a relatively recent phenomenon. In other words, American language, religious thought, and literature, where it has derived from an English Bible, has derived almost exclusively from the KJV.

[On the KJV in African American Churches, see here.]

No one has chronicled this better than David Daniell, in his 900-page doorstop of a book (and I mean that in a good way), The Bible in English: Its History and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003). The following are some glimpses into the goldmine of research Daniell has given us in that book, into how the KJV rose, proliferated, and dominated in America.

“The Bible the settlers brought with them, even some years after the King James Bible was first issued in 1611, was far more likely to have been a version of the 1599 annotated Geneva Bible than, to coin a phrase, the marginally challenged Bishops’ [Bible].” (409)

But although the Pilgrims and Puritans of the mid-1600s brought with them their beloved Geneva Bibles, this was not to be the translation of the future in the New World, any more than it was in the Old World. No, the future belonged to the King James Version–and this became clear with the printing of the very first Bible on American soil: Continue reading

“God in America”: First looks at the new six-hour PBS documentary


 

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

Poverty and racism: What would Charles Sheldon, “Mr. WWJD,” do?


In researching the man who originated the phrase “What would Jesus do” for Patron Saints for Postmoderns, I discovered something exciting. This novelist, whose In His Steps immortalized the idea of asking oneself “What would Jesus do?” before making any major decision, was no starry-eyed dreamer who lived only in his writing. Rather, he was one of the most active men of his day in the cause of social justice. Here’s what minister-novelist Charles Sheldon did when, as the brand new pastor of a Topeka, Kansas church, he was suddenly confronted with the problems of urban poverty and racism. [The following is an excerpt from the chapter on Sheldon in Patron Saints.]

Crossing Class Lines

From the first, Sheldon did well for his new church. The upper room over the butcher was often full, and soon the group was building a big stone edifice. When the new building opened, on June 23, 1889, Sheldon preached a defining sermon to what would be his lifelong flock. We can imagine their mix of pride and discomfort—“what had they gotten themselves into?”—as the young pastor announced that he would always preach “a Christ for the common people. A Christ who belongs to the rich and to the poor, the ignorant and the learned, the old and the young, the good and the bad. A Christ who knows no sect or age, whose religion does not consist alone in cushioned seats, and comfortable surroundings, or culture, or fine singing, or respectable orders of Sunday services, but a Christ who bids us all recognize the Brotherhood of the race, who bids throw open this room to all.” Little did those unsuspecting congregants know what concrete shapes their activist pastor’s dreams would assume in the years to come. Continue reading

Texas school board set to “Christianize” and “conservativize” textbooks


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.

Frederick Douglass’s church on the endangered list


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.

Continue here.

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.

Network News

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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.

This Story

// <![CDATA[
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document.write('') ;
// ]]>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.