Harry the Devil

by Matt Sutton

I have never liked Harry Potter. My wife discovered the Potter books just before we left for our honeymoon in Maui. Much to my dismay, she spent most of the week in bed with the wizard of
Hogwarts, when there were many, many other things she could and should have been doing besides reading.

So, I was glad to learn in the L.A. Times today that according to ex-Bush official Matthew Latimer the White House chose not to give Potter author J. K. Rowling a U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Bushies apparently felt that since the Potter books “encouraged” teen witchcraft, they should not get the blessing of the White House. Amen and amen.

Tufts University Positions in Religion

Heather Curtis passes along two announcements for positions in the Department of Religion at Tufts University. I paste the details here:


Department of Religion Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts
Associate/Full Professor in Religion AY 2010-2011

Tufts University, Department of Religion, invites applications from distinguished scholars for a senior faculty position at the rank of associate or full professor. The field is open. The successful candidate will be expected to playa leadership role in the department, including service as department chair. The person hired will join a group of colleagues committed to both scholarship and teaching. Tufts University emphasizes interdisciplinarity, and there are ample opportunities for cross-department collaborations in the School of Arts and Sciences. The anticipated start date of the appointment is September 1,2010.

Qualifications: We are looking for an accomplished scholar with an outstanding research and publishing record. While the field is open, applicants should have a broad understanding of the academic study of religion across fields of specialization. Candidates must have a demonstrated commitment to excellent teaching and advising. Preference will be given to applicants who have a track record of achievement in departmental leadership, as well as the ability to reach across departmental boundaries to forge interdisciplinary bonds.

To apply: Please send a letter ofapplication and a current CV to: Kevin Dunn, Chair, Department of Religion, 302 Eaton Hall, 5 The Green, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155. Short-listed candidates will be contacted for scholarly materials and the names of three references. Review of applications will be ongoing and will continue until the position is filled. We anticipate conducting on-campus interviews in the Spring semester of2010. Tufts University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer. We are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty. Members of underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.



Department of Religion Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts
Sabbatical Replacement Faculty

Tufts University, Department of Religion, invites applications for sabbatical replacement faculty to offer the following two courses: History of American Religion (Spring 2010) and Introduction to Christianity (Fall 2010). Candidates must hold an advanced degree or be ABD in an appropriate discipline, and have experience teaching courses in Religion. In your cover letter please make clear which course or courses you are proposing to teach. Review of applications will begin November 1, 2009 and will continue until the positions are filled. Please send a letter of application, CV, sample course syllabi, and names of three references to: Kevin Dunn, Chair, Department of Religion, 302 Eaton Hall, 5 The Green, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155. Tufts University is and Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity employer. We are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty. Members of underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Defining and Engaging Transcendental Religion


Yesterday's post about the series on the national parks implicitly engaged transcendental religion in the 19th century, which went into forming the religion of nature that informed the response to places like Yosemite and Yellowstone. Today's post follows up on that a bit. Our guest post today comes from Benjamin Park, a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh and a blogger at Juvenile Instructor. Ben's post reflects on the scholarly study of Transcendentalism.


Defining and Engaging Transcendental Religion
Benjamin Park

American Transcendentalism has long been acknowledged as one of the first intellectual movements of early American republic. However, because of modern scholarship’s characterization of the movement as being primarily literary in nature (likely due to the dominance of literary critics in the field), its influence on—and indeed, its birth as a reaction to—American religious life has been largely relegated as merely consequential. And yet, Transcendentalism is clearly inseparable from the religious controversies that not only produced but also defined it. Indeed, not only were many members of the movement at one point Unitarian ministers, but the earliest texts and manifestos stemming from these voices were largely religious and spiritual in both scope and vision.

Ever since Perry Miller famously labeled the Transcendentalist movement as a “religious demonstration” half a century ago, most Transcendentalists scholars have been forced to admit that religiosity was at the center of the movement. Even in Philip Gura’s recent survey—where characterizations like “eclectic,” “multi-faceted,” and “interdisciplinary” reign supreme—he acknowledges that at least their origins were primarily religious. Charles Capper, however, has noted that historians’ inability to define “the character, parameters, and sources of [Transcendental] religion” has led to this important aspect of the intellectual movement unclear and, therefore, unable to situate among its larger context of nineteenth century liberal religion. Beyond Catherine Albanese’s fascinating Corresponding Motion (which, despite being an significantly important contribution to the field, is both dated and methodologically limited), the nature and significance of Transcendentalist views of religion have largely remained shrouded in uncertainty.[1]

This is unfortunate, for I believe that figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, George Ripley, and Henry Hedge, among others, play an important role in shaping American antebellum religious thought specifically, and the movement in general had vast implications on mapping nineteenth century generally. Beyond merely being identified as frontrunners America’s developing liberal religion, these thinkers challenged and even shifted at least three significant fields: what it required to be labeled a Christian; how spirituality might be maintained in an increasingly rational environment; and finally, what sources of knowledge—and, indeed, what ideologies in general—could be accepted and engaged within the American religious scene.[2]

The first of these three possibilities is an important study in boundary maintenance, for it forced competing religions, especially those within the Unitarian faith, to draw boundaries that they originally felt were unnecessary. Unitarianism, already thought by many Protestants to be a halfway house to infidelity, were now required to prove that they were willing to draw the theological line somewhere. Even though some Transcendentalists, most notably Emerson, publically left the fold and could thus be easily dismissed as outside the Christian faith, others like Theodore Parker refused to relinquish the title of “Christian” and instead fought to redefine what Christianity meant. Refuting the many ministers defined Parker’s theology as “nothing more or less than Deism,” Parker responded by insisting that he “object[ed] to the names deism and infidelity” because they contradict “the general philosophy which is presupposed in all I teach”—namely, immediate inspiration to the individual and divine intervention in the individual’s life, not to mention the belief that the Christian tradition contained more truth than any other traditional philosophy. And, given the enormous success of Parker’s preaching, it is evident that many others agreed with his theology. Thus, these specific theological debates that birthed Transcendentalism also gave rise to foundational questions for Christianity in general.[3]

A recent focus in religious scholarship has been to see the Transcendentalists as the beginning point of American spiritualism, or the seeking for spirituality outside of traditional religion. Though “mysticism” was seen as a pejorative during the 1800s, the following century gave rise a growing number of spiritualists who, according to Leigh Eric Schmidt, “emancipated souls” from the shackles of classical organized religion, and urged them to look inward for spiritual truth. When theologian John W. Chadwick, writing near the turn of the twentieth century, tried to trace the development of American “spirituality,” he chose Emerson and Parker. This framework has been especially popular for the current generation, for it gives roots to the predominance of the current “spiritual, not religious” culture, most recently exemplified in the forty page “sermon” found in the end of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.[4]

Finally, Transcendentalism—and more specifically, the intellectual sources Transcendentalism introduced—challenged the way American understood knowledge and truth. When Andrews Norton, the Unitarian minister most often in conflict with the Transcendentalists, summarized Emerson, Parker, and Ripley’s “heresies,” he pointed specifically to their ideology’s origin: “Infidelity has but assumed another form,” he accused,”and especially in Germany, has made its way among a very large portion of nominally Christian theologians.” German theology, he continued, “was most hostile to all that characterizes our faith” and in the end is merely disguised atheism. Indeed, much of the surrounding debate revolved around a symbolic geography that pitted the traditionally American intellectual roots, British epistemology, against the growing threat of German idealism. In the young American republic, Lockean empiricism—even if it was tempered by Scottish Common Sensism—reigned unchallenged, and thus this crisis was not only religious in nature, but also ideological in scope. The Transcendentalists offered an alternative form of religious epistemology and ontology, challenging intellectual as well as religious boundaries. This, understandably, had profound implications on perceptions of God and man, as well as the relationship between the two.[5]

Obviously, these three frameworks of study are closely related and probably impossible to separate, yet they offer not only what I believe are some of the important implications Transcendentalists pose to American religious history, but also fresh perspectives that have, until the last decade or so, not been engaged. I am interested in how others have not only characterized Transcendental religion, but have situated it within the larger context of American religious and liberal theology.


[1] Charles Capper, “‘A Little Beyond’: The Problem of the Transcendentalist Movement in American History.” The Journal of American History 85 (Sep. 1998): 532-533. Perry Miller, The Transcendentalists: An Anthology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950), 8. Philip Gura, American Transcendentalism: A History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2008), 13. Catherine L. Albanese, Corresponding Motion: Transcendental Religion and the New America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1977). For an argument that the focus on religion and theology diminishes the Transcendentalist movement’s usefulness, see Albert J. Von Frank, “On Transcendentalism: Its History and Uses,” Modern Intellectual History 6 (Winter, 2009): 195-196.

[2] For Transcendentalists as the forerunners for liberal religion, see Gary J. Dorrien, The making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900, 58-110.

[3] On the irony of boundary formation within Unitarianism, see Perry Miller, “Apostasy Within Liberalism,” The Harvard Theological Review 54 (Oct. 1961): 275-295. “Nothing more or less than Deism” comes from Noah Porter, “Theodore Parker,” New Englander 2, no. 3 (July 1844): 371-372. “Object” comes from Theodore Parker to Noah Porter, 1 October 1844, Theodore Parker Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. For a representative pamphlet for refuting Parkerism and establishing Unitarian boundaries, see Samuel K. Lothrop, The Christian Name and Christian Liberty: A Sermon Preached at the Church in Brattle Square (Boston: John H. Eastburn, 1843). For Parker’s success, see Joel Myerson, “On the Importance of Theodore Parker,” The New England Quarterly 76 (Sep., 2003): 466-476.

[4] Leigh Eric Schmidt, Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality, from Emerson to Oprah (San Francisco: HarperOne Press, 2005), 11. For the argument that the Transcendentalists, especially Emerson, were the roots of America’s separation of Christ from Christianity, see Harold Bloom, The American Religion:The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1993); Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004).

[5] “Infidelity” comes from Andrews Norton, A Discourse on the Latest Form of Infidelity (Cambridge: John Owen, 1839), 9-10. This intellectual shift was how E. Brooks Holifield situated Transcendentalist theology in his Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007).

The Scripture of Nature

Paul Harvey

In between bouts of obsessively (and increasingly hopelessly) checking my fantasy football team's stats tonight, I checked in on the first two hours of “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea," the newest Ken Burns documentary. It was about the most religious programming I've seen on television in a while. Watching the first 2 hours, entitled "The Scripture of Nature," John Muir appears as the central character, the "ecstatic holy man" who saw "nature's cathedral" and determined to teach the rest of America to see it as well. I was about to sit down and write a blog entry on the religious references in the film so far (and not just the fact that the tediousness of parts of it are a bit like the tedious parts of the Bible, and there are still 10 more hours to go), but Donald Worster, author most recently of a biography of Muir, (A Passion For Nature: The Life of John Muir), has
saved me the trouble.

In his reflections on the film, at the Oxford University Press blog, Worster analyzes the religious vision and language both behind the establishment of the national park system, and of the emphases of Burns's film. Incidentally, the Washington Post reviewer, who (like me) is a "great indoorsman," has some funny quips about the occasional sanctimony that makes the film drag a bit -- still, it's well worth watching, and makes me grateful again for Muir and his descendants. The alternative -- the religion of the marketplace and endless development -- would have produced a catastrophe in comparison to the vision of Muir and his twentieth-century acolytes, including Gary Snyder. There is a darker underside even in this vision, hinted at a bit in the film, in terms of the connection between the displacement of Natives and the establishment of the parks; but this was part of a broader history of the 19th century. Worster concludes:

I am convinced that democratic societies are especially open to the religion of nature, for it takes faith out of the hands of priests and gives it back to the people. As long as Americans hunger for religion and as long as they pursue democracy, the national parks will likely be treasured as places where the people can go to worship as they see fit.

Watching the film also reminded me of an email conversation I had some years ago with the former editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Sean Paige, who now heads Local Liberty Action. For years he railed against a small local tax we have locally (TOPS, the Trails and Open Space Tax) which funds the purchase of local parcels of open space; he once responded to a short letter to the editor I sent in with a several screen email rant-and-rave to the effect of "if you want a park, go buy one yourself, PROFESSOR Harvey." For years I used his rant in class writing exercises, asking students to take his execrable rough draft and rephrase his arguments in comprehensible terms.

In doing so, Paige served as the equivalent of those who railed against the role of "big government" in setting aside the national parks, blocking "development," and the like. It's remarkable to me that the scripture of nature is powerful enough to trump the otherwise libertarian instincts of my local populace, and those in the era of the establishment and growth of the parks system. That's some powerful religion.

Mormonism, History, and Religious Studies


Paul Harvey

Just a quick note to commend you to a series of terrific posts, reflecting on the study of Mormonism (and its key figures, including Joseph Smith) in academia, at Juvenile Instructor, including an insightful review of Reid Neilson and Terryl Givens, eds. Joseph Smith, Jr.: Reappraisals After Two Centuries, reflections by Brian Birch of Utah STate on "The Awkwardness of Mormonism and Its Place in Religious Studies," Philip Barlow's address on "Mormon Studies in Relation to the Liberal Arts," and finally Chris Jones's essay/defense of the importance of history in Mormon studies, against those who would wrench "Mormon studies out of the monopoly of historical studies."

Matt Bowman's review of the Neilson/Givens volume raises particularly interesting questions of what happens at the divide of history and religious studies (and other fields), when what Robert Orsi has called "abundant events" overflow the categories for which historians can account. He concludes:

But the nagging question still remains, because those sources – the possibilities of visionary experience that Smith experienced, and, as importantly, imparted to followers like Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and others – lie exactly at the heart of who Joseph Smith was. In another context, the eminent theorist of religion Jonathan Z. Smith warned us that if students of religion hid behind words like “demonic” and “crazy” instead of seeking to understand the religious creation of Jim Jones, they might as well abdicate their claim to understanding religion at all. [4] It may be that, as Orsi laments, the critical apparatus given to scholars in the humanities is insufficient to apprehend Joseph Smith, and we must continue to use words like “genius” to describe his puzzle. But, one hopes, the sort of work this volume offers may eventually bring us a sword capable of cutting through the Giordian knot Joseph presents to us.

The Art of Religious Intolerance: Alma White and Branford Clarke

Paul Harvey

This is more the bailiwick of our assistant editor Kelly Baker (currently en route to Tennessee, I believe, where she is moving with her family) than me, but Lynn Neal, "Christianizing the Klan: Alma White, Branford Clarke, and the Art of Religious Intolerance," in Church History, 78 (June 2009): 350-378, is this week's recommended reading to send your way. Don't read it when you're in a foul mood already, as I did this weekend (this piece combined with unexpected cat illness and death really put a damper on things), because you'll need some ironic distance and humor to keep you from getting dragged down into this foul but fascinating material.

The visual culture of American religion has been quite a boom field in recent years, thanks largely to David Morgan, Salley Promey, Colleen McDannell, and some others. That's a good thing, because logocentrists like myself (and most historians, I would guess) need frequent reminding of the power of the visual. Neal's article does precisely that, but with somewhat different and far more polemically ugly (albeit visually interesting) material than in some of the other works in visual culture. Neal discusses the work of Branford Clarke, a British-born illustrator who hooked up with the Pentecostal evangelist Alma White, author of such classics as Heroes of the Fiery Cross. White's words and Clarke's illustrations proved powerful for developing the visual culture of 1920s Klansmen. My favorite of all, reproduced on p. 368 of the article, shows Jesus distributing the loaves and fishes, each loaf a tenet of the Klan; Jesus gives them to his Klansmen disciples, who then feed the multitudes. Lynn Neal concludes, of Clarke's version of the 1920s religion of fear: "They [the viewers] were provided with a way of seeing that divinized the Klan's mission, sacralized the American nation, and demonized the Catholic church. . . . Examining their [White and Clarke's] way of seeing reveals aspects of how people create and replicate religious intolerance, then and now. They provide us with a glimpse into those contours and teach us how religion often functions as a way for people to exorcise their fears and exercise their power."

In the Footsteps of Phoebe

Welcome guest blogger, Cheryl D. Naumann. She is the author of In the Footsteps of Phoebe: A Complete History of the Deaconess Movement in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University and a Lutheran Deaconess.

In the Footsteps of Phoebe
Cheryl D. Naumann

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. (St. Paul writing to the Church at Rome –Romans 16:1-2)

In May I celebrated the 30th anniversary of my consecration as a deaconess in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) and that same month saw the publication of my book, In the Footsteps of Phoebe: A Complete History of the Deaconess Movement in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Covering the entire span of LCMS history, from the time of the Synod’s inception to 2009, In the Footsteps of Phoebe covers material that has previously never found its way into the historical annals of the Synod. This is not to accuse the Synod of not caring about women—but simply to observe that LCMS historians have consistently documented general histories without including an examination of what was happening with LCMS female workers at the same time and in relation to that history. So this book takes a close look at the initial and continued formation of diaconal ministry in the Synod, and how deaconesses have been intricately involved in the church’s mission, its doctrinal struggles, its renewed emphasis on Confessionalism, and so forth.

As the story of the deaconess movement unfolds, it overlaps with the stories of many other synodical interests—the LCMS Board for Missions, Board for Higher Education, and Board of Directors; the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League; the Walther League; Lutheran nurses and Lutheran hospitals; scores of Lutheran congregations and institutions; Radio Station KFUO; Valparaiso University; the Concordia University System; and countless elected synodical officials. I also look at deaconess identity, the importance of God’s Word, and the concepts of sisterhood, vocation, consecration, and a servant’s heart.

From 1919 to 1979, the Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA), an autonomous organization (that still exists), trained women to serve as deaconesses in the Synodical Conference and the Missouri Synod. Graduates of LDA deaconess schools gave faithful service to hospitals, missions, and congregations of the Synod, where they engaged in a ministry of mercy that complemented the pastoral office—the ministry of Word and Sacraments.

The professional identity and role of deaconesses in the church evolved as the LDA sought to keep in step with changes in American society. When doctrinal disputes erupted within the LCMS from the mid-twentieth century onward, members of the LDA, those who educated deaconess students on behalf of the LDA, and the Lutheran Deaconess Conference, increasingly embraced theological positions contrary to orthodox LCMS teaching. Many members of the LCMS became disenchanted with the LDA and its training program, concluding that the Synod should assume responsibility for educating its own deaconesses. They concluded that the LCMS needed to train its own deaconesses to ensure faithfulness in their teaching, leadership, and service.

In 1979, the LCMS authorized its Board for Higher Education to direct Concordia University, Chicago to establish a full deaconess training program on its campus by the fall of 1980, and in 2001, the Synod sanctioned additional training programs at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. In 1980, nine deaconesses founded the Concordia Deaconess Conference—Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, to aid the Synod in “upholding and promoting deaconess service,” and to “provide opportunity for spiritual, professional and personal growth and fellowship” for deaconesses of the Synod.

Today, LCMS deaconesses continue to dedicate their lives to a ministry of mercy, at institutions, in congregations and schools, on synodical boards and committees, and in the home and foreign mission fields of the Synod. The deaconess community is growing, and perhaps for the first time in LCMS history, diaconal ministry appears to be embraced by the entire synod as a legitimate way for women to serve their Lord within the church.

I invite you to visit a website that supplements the reading of In the Footsteps of Phoebe at www.deaconesshistory.org. The site includes illustrations for the book, a comprehensive Bibliography, book reviews, and extended quotations (for example, an entire speech or sermon from which only a part is quoted in the book), as well as my “Woman of the Week” and “musings about history” blogs.

Sacred Cow Rights

Randall Stephens

I suppose many of you have seen the story making the rounds about Harvey Cox, his retirement cow, and the old tradition of grazing rights. If you haven't, though, this is well worth taking a look at! Sam Allis reported on the strangely arcane custom in the Boston Globe, "Holy Cow! Bovine to Visit Harvard Yard":

Al Vellucci, former mayor of Cambridge, famously wanted to pave over Harvard Yard for a parking lot. (He also wanted to turn the Lampoon building into a public urinal and reportedly said, “Well, that’s what it looks like, doesn’t it?’’)

But then asphalt would have ruined Harvey Cox’s grazing rights.

Cox, the celebrated Harvard religion professor, was the Hollis Professor of Divinity from 2002 until his retirement this past June after 44 distinguished years at Harvard. (He is now the Hollis Research Professor of Divinity.) The Hollis chair was endowed in 1721 and first occupied by Edward Wigglesworth the following year.

It is the oldest endowed chair in American higher education, and, more germane to this story, traditionally came with grazing rights in Harvard Yard for the cows of chair holders. Wigglesworth and his son who succeeded him exercised those rights. >>>

See also "Cow in the Yard," Harvard Magazine, 10 Septmeber, 2009.

The 5000 Year Leap, the Naked Communist, and the Man Who Changed Glenn Beck's Life

Paul Harvey

Alexander Zaitchik, "Meet the Man Who Changed Glenn Beck's Life" (H/T Matt Hedstrom), is a fascinating account of the subterranean influence of W. Cleon Skousen, the long life of the paranoid style in American politics, and the recent revival of far-right religiosity. It reminds me much of Lisa McGirr's coverage of the catalyzing role of the Birchers in the late 1950s/early 1960s -- they were necessary to energize a movement that later had to leave them behind as a price of entering the mainstream. Zaitchik explains,

"A once-famous anti-communist 'historian,' Skousen was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience. . . . When he died in 2006 at the age of 92,Skousen had authored more than a dozen books and pamphlets on the Red Menace, New World Order conspiracy, Christian child rearing, and Mormon end-times prophecy. It is a body of work that does much to explain Glenn Beck's bizarre conspiratorial mash-up of recent months, which decries a new darkness at noon and finds strange symbols carefully coded in the retired lobby art of Rockefeller Center."

While I found this a great piece about a figure I knew little about, I'm not so sure about Zaitchik's connecting this to Republican Party politics; the kind of paranoia discussed here tends to be more all-encompassing than that, as Tenured Radical notes in her astutely engaging first-hand "accidental tourist" report on last weekend's DC protests. She concludes:

a group that is so internally fractured, unfocused and opposed to the political system is not a powerful interest group but a Frankenstein monster. These folks hate the Republicans too, and I think a lot of them are disappointed Goldwaterites for whom the conservative revolution that we historians are so fascinated by never happened. Their history is a story of decline, and of brave individuals fighting back against freeloaders, financiers and foreigners.

Reassessing the Ethnohistory of Religious Experience in the Americas


Paul Harvey

The annual meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory, publisher of the journal Ethnohistory, is being held Sept. 30 - Oct. 3 in New Orleans, at the Hotel Monteleone. A number of top early Americanists, including two of our contributors here (Lin Fisher and Mike Pasquier), are delivering papers, and I'm commenting, in a session on "Reassessing the Ethnohistory of Religious Experience in the Americas," -- Thursday afternoon, Oct. 1, 1:20 - 3:40. The session presents some cutting-edge research on early religious history in the Americas. The full program is here; our session is below.

Symposium: Reassessing the Ethnohistory of Religious Experience in the Americas

Room: Bienville

Organizer: Michael Pasquier (Louisiana State University)

Chair: Kenneth Mills (University of Toronto)

1:20-1:40 Linford D. Fisher (Brown University)
Christian Indians? On the Dangers of Homogenizing Indians’ Religious Experiences in Colonial New England

1:40-2:00 Martin Nesvig (University of Miami)
Criollo Priests along the Internal Frontiers of New Spain

2:00-2:20 Michael P. Gueno (Florida State University)
Contact Religion in Nuevo Mexico: Reevaluating the Spectrum of Religious Variation in colonial Pueblos\

2:20-2:40 Karen B. Graubart (University of Notre Dame)
Finding Order in the Colonial City: Learning from cofradias de morenos e indios in 17th century Lima

2:40-3:00 Michael Pasquier (Louisiana State University)
Overlooking the Tunica Treasure: Colonial Ruptures and New Moralities in French Louisiana

3:00-3:20 Paul Harvey (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs), Discussant

3:20-3:40 Discussion

The Adventures of a Norwegian in Colorado Springs


Following up on yesterday's post about Seth Dowland's article, today's post comes to us from Hilde Løvdal, a graduate student at the University of Oslo who writes to share her adventures traversing the country this summer researching her Ph.D. dissertation. Løvdal spent a couple of weeks here in Colorado Springs, and reflects on her experiences.

The Adventures of a Norwegian in Colorado Springs

by Hilde Løvdal

I’m currently working on a doctoral dissertation in American Studies about Dobson and Focus on the Family at the University of Oslo. This June, I ventured on a trip to Colorado Springs to visit the Focus headquarters and get a feel for the city. (And, yes, I’m the one who overheard thediscussion about David Barton’s Drive Thru History America.)

To a Norwegian, it was quite intriguing to get a first hand experience of the political and cultural divide in American society that I’ve seen described in so many ways. I wonder how many times I’ve seen Colorado Springs described as an evangelical Vatican with James Dobson as the uncontested pope of evangelical Christianity. So, I was quite curious about what it would be like to visit the Springs, especially after spending three weeks in its ideological and cultural opposite, Boston. While in Boston, I read Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University, which chronicles a liberal Brown student’s semester “abroad” at Liberty University. Going to Liberty represented, in Roose’s mind, a cultural leap so wide that Liberty just as was well could have been in a different country. And just like Liberty was a world apart for Roose, people in the North-East talked about Colorado Springs as if it were a different country. I was warned, but wished good luck on my trip into the twilight zone of Right Wing fanaticism and bigotry.

I might as just as well mention that I am fairly well versed in popular American evangelicalism, as I grew up as a missionary kid in Japan and in the Norwegian Bible Belt (yes, there is one). Some of the controversies I read about in American religious history and more contemporary contexts are strangely familiar to me, although Christianity has not become as politicized as in the States. (At least so far. We may be heading there. The American Christian Right has inspired fundamentalist and charismatic leaders to form an organization that supposedly speaks on behalf of grass root Christians before this year’s upcoming election.) In other words, whatever culture shock I experienced in Colorado Springs was far from what Roose went through.

I visited the Focus on the Family campus on the north side of Colorado Springs a few times, where I took the tour around the administration building and studied the exhibitions at the Welcome Center. I also had the mandatory trips to New Life Church and the chapel at the Air Force Academy, as well as a tour around evangelical sites such as the Navigators (high noon tea in an English style castle) and The Flying W Ranch (chuckwagon supper served with heartfelt testimonials and cheesy Western music). However, intriguing as these visits were, the more fascinating stuff happened while I was having a cup of coffee or was on the bus.

Travelling alone, I often end up eavesdropping. (To my defense: people often talk very loudly about their private lives in public…) In Boston, I overheard complaints about the gentrification of former working class areas and the cheerful chatter of college graduates, but it was quite different types of conversations that caught my attention in Colorado Springs. For instance, one day while enjoying my daily dose of overpriced Starbucks coffee, I eagerly listened to two parents who discussed sending their kids to a New Life Church youth ministry or summer camp of some sort. The interesting part of this discussion was how pragmatic it was. They did not seem preoccupied with theology and the spiritual content at all, but rather stressed how the kids could use some structure, a sense of community, and to be challenged to work to reach a goal - values that you do not exactly have to be a religious zealot to wish your child to embrace.

On the bus one day, an ad caught my eye. It said: “THE BIBLE TEACHES FACTS. WE ARE IN THE DAYS OF THE BEAST” and went on to warn against the imminent rapture and the United Nation’s role in the last days.[i] As I scribbled down the text, a fellow passenger asked me why I found the ad so interesting. After a brief response, he started telling me about his own faith, and how he first had started reading the Left Behind series because of its Christian content. Previously, he had not been a regular reader, but the series had opened the door to the world of literature for him. He now rejected LaHaye’s theology and described the novels as poor writing, and had moved on to what he claimed was more sophisticated material. Still, he was very thankful for LaHaye’s books, because they taught him the joy of reading.

Hopefully, the stories will help me stay levelheaded as I pour over decades of Dobson and Focus on the Family material. To me, these stories remind me that evangelicalism can be both contercultural and mainstream at the same time. It includes people who adhere wholeheartedly to core evangelical values and to popular theology, but also people who just happen to come across evangelical material or who pick and choose from ministry programs that fit into their lives. Remembering the different levels of engagement people have with evangelical organizations and cultural expressions, will perhaps help me avoid writing an alarmist dissertation about Focus’s power to instigate a theocratic takeover of American society. As disturbing as I find Focus’s Bartonesque version of American history and their mix of patriotism and Christian faith to be, the reality, after all, may be that most people who turn to Focus on the Family do so because of their everyday struggles in their personal lives.

[i]Ad by Bible Research, bible-research.net. Sign on bus no. 9, Colorado Springs June 15, 2009.

Family Values and the Formation of a Christian Right Agenda


Paul Harvey

Our blog contributor Seth Dowland has just published an important article in Church History, well worth your time: " 'Family Values' and the Formation of a Christian Right Agenda," Church History 78 (September 2009): 606-631. Seth explains the unpredictable contingencies behind the success of a cadre of evangelical ministers who "developed a political philosophy that connected defense of the 'traditional family' with opposition to abortion, feminism, and gay rights." By the close of the 1970s, he argues, "the Christian right had devised rhetoric that made liberal reformers enemies of the family and positioned 'family values' as mainstream fare." Eschewing the polemical fare of journalistic accounts, Seth shows how the coalescing of the "traditional family" theme was far from predictable or inevitable; "The emergence of family values as the centerpiece of the Christian right agenda occurred as movement leaders defined a particular vision of America in a capacious rhetoric of public interest and common good. In so doing, they set terms for political debate that continue to resonate."

Next up (tomorrow) we'll have a contemporary report about many of these same issues, from a visit to Colorado Springs by a graduate student from Norway who's writing her dissertation in part on Focus on the Family. Stay tuned!

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, 15 Years Later, Oct 1-2, 2009

Randall Stephens

Few scholars have so deftly studied the intellectual life of a mass religious movement as Mark Noll has. Peter Steinfels praised Noll's 1994 book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, in the New York Times. "Fundamentalism hardened evangelicalism's emphasis on the authority of the Bible into a strict theory of literal interpretation," summarized Steinfels, "a preoccupation with apocalyptic prophecies and a fierce concern with keeping true believers uncontaminated by others. Although much of evangelical America is now 'post-fundamentalist,' [Noll] says, it suffers from lingering habits of anti-intellectualism and of using the Bible as a data bank of detailed information rather than for spiritual guidance and rejuvenation." The following year, participants in a symposium on the book published in First Things described the Noll's book as a “jeremiad, profound in implication but simple in form.” They aptly summarized his chief argument: “The problem, in short, is evangelicals’ appalling parochialism, their unwillingness to break out of the vast but all-too-comfortable ghetto of evangelical churches and colleges and publishing networks and engage an intellectual world long ago captured by Marx and Darwin and Freud.”

Even an author in Ken Ham's creationist magazine Answers acknowledged the book’s importance. “There is in fact a great deal in it which Christian thinkers need to digest,” wrote Carl Wieland in 1996, “in spite of its tragically wrongheaded approach to the authority of Scripture.” (Carl Wieland, “Book Review: The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” answersingenesis.org [April 1996]).

In addition to the high praise it received it has another legacy. The Scandal has influenced hundreds of young scholars, who have taken it as a challenge. Some of those, a few who were playing tetherball back in 1994, now populate the halls of major research universities and teaching colleges.

So . . . with the help of colleagues at Gordon College and Eastern Nazarene College, I've been putting together a mini-conference to be held at Gordon, Oct 1-2. We will use the 15th anniversary of Mark Noll's Scandal as a starting point for a wider conversation/debate about evangelicalism. The conference will be free and open to the public.

Here's the write up from Gordon College:

Co-sponsored with Eastern Nazarene College and the Gordon College Center for Christian Studies and partially funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: Fifteen Years Later will be held on the Gordon campus, located on Boston’s North Shore. It will include presentations and responses by Noll himself, who is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame and was named one of Time Magazine’s top 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005.

The Program:

7:00 P.M.—Reception: Ken Olsen Science Center, DEC Loggia / Foyer

7:30 P.M.—Opening Lecture—Ken Olsen Science Center, MacDonald Auditorium
Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame, interviewed by: Maura Jane Farrelly, Brandeis University

8-8:30 A.M.—Coffee Service

8:30-10:00 A.M.—Morning Session—Ken Olsen Science Center, MacDonald Auditorium
A Roundtable on Conservative Evangelical Expertise
Karl Giberson, BioLogos Foundation, Eastern Nazarene College, Gordon College
Randall J. Stephens, Eastern Nazarene College
Comments—Jon Roberts, Boston University; James C. Wallace, Boston University

10:25 A.M.—Convocation—A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel
Mark Noll—“The Evangelical Imperative for Evangelical Intellectual Life”

11:30-12:45 P.M.—Break (Lunch may be purchased in the Lane Student Center)

1-2:30 P.M.—Afternoon Session—Ken Olsen Science Center
David Hempton, Harvard Divinity School—“Minds and Mentalités in the Evangelical Tradition”
Margaret Bendroth, Congregational Library—“Women, Anti-Intellectualism, and Evangelical Identity”
Comments—Heather Curtis, Tufts University

2:30-3:00 P.M.—Refreshment Break

3:00-4:30 P.M.—Evangelicals, Politics, and Global Engagement
Timothy Samuel Shah, Council on Foreign Relations
“A Survey of Intellectually Serious Evangelical Contributions to the Theory and Practice of Politics”
Dennis Hoover, the Institute for Global Engagement
“American Evangelicals: From Activists to Internationalists?”
Comments—David Lumsdaine, Gordon College

Students, Masons, and Witches


It’s the second week of the semester, and already three students with questions about Dan Brown’s forthcoming bestseller The Lost Symbol. I tend to shrug off most references to the world’s most famous symbologist, Robert Langdon. “It’s certainly entertaining,” I’m apt to say, “and definitely more historical than ‘Ice Road Truckers’.” I’ll even admit to the student (or the odd friend or family member) that I read The Da Vinci Code during a beach vacation after a long year of graduate school. But that’s it… I’m not going there… Moving on…

Until now. Based on the recently released cover of The Lost Symbol, it looks like we’re in store for a rise in the number of queries about the influence of Freemasonry in American history and its lasting impact in the 21st century. Move over National Treasure Part One and Two (and Three?), there’s a new Grand Master in town.

Fortunately, there’re also a couple of books that can help us (or at least me) speak about Freemasonry without too much sarcasm and with at least a little confidence. Steven Bullock’s Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (UNC Press) is a good place to start. More recently, Catherine Albanese’s A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion associates Freemasonry with the likes of Mormonism, Universalism, and Transcendentalism because of their common preoccupation with the power of the mind and the democratizing effects of their respective societies. Here are a few more books on the subject, though I can’t vouch for their quality (I’m just the messenger): Corey Walker, A Noble Fight: African American Freemasonry and the Struggle for Democracy in America (Univ. of Illinois Press); Jessica Harland-Jacobs, Builders of Empire: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1717-1927 (UNC Press); William Moore, Masonic Temples: Freemasonry, Ritual Architecture, and Masculine Archetypes (Univ. of Tenn. Press); and Clyde Forsberg, Equal Rites: The Book of Mormon, Masonry, Gender, and American Culture (Columbia Univ. Press).

However, if the new semester’s already got you down and you’re looking to avoid another rough read of the latest must-read monograph, then you might consider Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Now, I’ll be the first to admit my guarded skepticism at the academic quality of any book to be reviewed in the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, and the Christian Science Monitor, not to mention a book with a trailer, an author interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, and a few weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Is it that I don’t trust popular taste? Or am I just jealous?

But here’s the kicker—Katherine Howe’s one of us. She’s a doctoral candidate in American and New England Studies at Boston University with a dissertation entitled (at least according to the program website) “Witchcraft in North America through Primary Sources.” Okay, so the dissertation doesn’t sound all that sexy (isn’t it a rule that dissertation titles are supposed to sound uninteresting?) But the first chapter of Physick Book is the scene of a Harvard grad student’s comprehensive examinations in history, during which, for a moment, I thought I saw a footnote to David Hall’s Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment, John Demos’s Entertaining Satan, and Carol Karlsen’s Devil in the Shape of a Woman. Did I mention that Physick Book is about the Salem witch trials, a subject with a reputation for silliness that might even surpass that of masonry?

Howe writes Physick Book with one foot in the academic world and the other in the bookselling world. Those who’ve read the standard dozen or so books on Puritanism will know when Howe is waving the scholarly flag. There's even a bibliography for further reading on the Physick Book website. Grad students (and the recently graduated) might get a kick out of the main character’s confrontations with her dissertation committee members and source materials. And most everyone should be entertained. "But you don’t have to take my word for it…"

My Embarrassment with the Book of Mormon

by John G. Turner

The Book of Mormon embarrasses me. Not because of its content, but because I haven't read it . I cringe when Mormon History friends ask me if I've read the most famous of American scriptures, as it seems irresponsible to undertake a project of any significance on Mormon history and avoid the "Gold Bible."

So this summer, without great enthusiasm I borrowed the BOM on CD for a car ride from Provo to Logan. Actually, there were so many CDs at the BYU library that I only took the first few. As I was trying to get to Utah State before the archives opened, it was quite early, and I didn't make it through very many chapters of 1 Nephi before fatigue forced me to another form of entertainment. Mark Twain's famous (infamous to some, I imagine) of the BOM as "chloroform in print" seemed persuasive. I put the project aside and endured the indignity of continuing to tell friends I hadn't read it. Depressing setback.

I'm teaching a graduate course on Religion in 19th-Century America this semester. I'm privileging my students with a disproportionate amount of things Latter-day Saint (including an assessment of Will Bagley and Ronald Walker, et al. on the Mountain Meadows Massacre). As part of our introduction to Mormonism, I assigned selections from the BOM that further my own reading (1 Nephi, chpts. 1, 18; 2 Nephi, chpts. 29; 3 Nephi, chpts. 1, 11-15; 4 Nephi, chpts. 1; Moroni, chps. 9-10). I also gave my students Laurie Maffly-Kipp's excellent short introduction to the Book of Mormon. [She also suggested the selections].

These short chunks suited me more than my prior attempt -- I found some portions quite eloquent (esp. the closing chapters of Moroni). My students' reactions varied sharply. Several, though, found the book evocative and biblical.

I don't have any scholarly or even well-informed opinions about the book. After all, I've got a long way to go. From the little I've read about the book's production, however, I find entirely unpersuasive the theories that anyone either than Joseph Smith translated the text (however one wishes to define "translate"). I read the BOM as a product of its time, but that does not prevent me from being drawn into the narrative at points or contemplating its function as scripture. Thus, even though I do not accept Smith as a divine prophet, I do think outsiders underestimate him despite Harold Bloom's designation of him as a "religious genius."

Coincidentally, Royal Skousen's The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Yale, 2009) arrived in my mailbox the day of the above-mentioned class. Skousen has been working on a Critical Text Project of the BOM for two decades, examining discrepancies among the earliest BOM sources. Now, Skousen presents a corrected text that aims to approach as nearly as possible that dictated by Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery and others in the late 1820s.

Somehow, Yale sells this attractive cloth-bound, 800-page tomb for only $35. They must be expecting robust sales. I have only read Grant Hardy's introduction (a concise source on the production of the BOM), read Skousen's own preface, and poked around the text. I like the way Skousen has presented the text in "sense-lines," breaking up the text in phrases and clauses. [Thus, he has not tried to reproduce the original manuscript's lack of punctuation or sentence breaks]. The method increases the text's readability somewhat. I do wish the most important discrepancies were footnoted in the body of the text itself (as in, say, the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament) rather than in an appendix.

Yale's publication of Skousen's crowning achievement itself signifies the maturation and partial mainstreaming of Mormon Studies. It's not as if the leading university presses have ignored Mormonism; indeed, they have long published books on various Mormon history topics. However, Skousen's work is of another genre, an effort of textual criticism focused on an American scripture, edited by a professor at BYU who has done at least some of his work through FARMS. I reckon that until recently Skousen's work would not have found such a warm reception at places like Yale. I'm glad times have changed.

Alas, whether via Skousen or the 1981 BOM left in my departmental mailbox by a Mormon elder who missed me, I have hundreds of chapters to go. I need a Mormon version of the "Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year" promoted by so many evangelical churches. Even better yet, a Walk Thru the Book of Mormon in a weekend program. Actually, what I'd really like is something akin to my NRSV Study Bible, an annotated BOM with a discussion of how these text have functioned among the Saints. Any suggestions?

UPDATE: The folks at Juvenile Instructor have a review and discussion of Terryl Given's Very Short Introduction to the BOM, which should help those of us trying to teach even portions of the book. [Givens, whose productivity and intellectual breadth is establishing him as the LDS equivalent of Mark Noll, also has a history of "Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought" forthcoming next month].

Know Your Archives, Part VII: A Cry From the Wheaton Wilderness


The following is from Eric Brandt, a graduate student at Wheaton who's going to the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary to do some research.

In the spirit of the recent posts on archival escapades, I am curious to know if anyone has been to the archives of the Burke Library at Union Seminary (NYC) in the Columbia University Libraries system. I'm a grad student at Wheaton College and in the beginning stages of research on the American Evangelical Alliance. As far as I'm aware, the Burke Library houses the largest collection of material from the Alliance. If anyone has been to the Burke archives, I'd be very interested to get some advice along the lines of what's been discussed on the blog recently (logistics, staff, work environment, etc.). Contact me at eric.brandt AT my DOT wheaton DOT edu, or better yet leave your advice in the comments section here.

Know Your Archives, Part VI: Learn the Dress Code

By Seth Dowland

I spent the month of May completing an abbreviated version of Matt’s fundamentalist/evangelical archive tour, visiting the Fundamentalism File at Bob Jones and the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton. I’ll second the multiple commendations of Patrick Robbins and the staff at BJU – coffee in the morning and M&Ms in the afternoon make a day in the archives much more pleasant. I did make a fundamentalist faux pas one morning when I showed up to the BJU track in a sleeveless running shirt – a prominently posted dress code emphasized “NO TANK TOPS.” Fortunately I had a T-shirt stowed in the car and made a quick change before I scandalized any Bob Jones coeds. Other than that, I had a great week in Greenville, mining the Fundamentalism File’s extensive collections and paging through a number of evangelical and fundamentalist periodicals.

The Billy Graham Center is, as Matt noted, unmatched among evangelicalism archives. Wayne Weber and Bob Shuster know the collection inside and out, and they are eager to help. Like BJU, The Graham Center archives offers free, unlimited scanning – a boon for any researcher. I enjoyed wandering through downtown Wheaton when the archives closed, as well; I catalogued my notes and scans at a lovely coffeeshop (where I overheard earnest undergrads debating the Sotomayor nomination) before walking over to a bar (downtown Wheaton’s one and only!) to watch the NBA playoffs.

And, to answer Randall's query, I have done research in the archives at Liberty University. My first visit was nine years ago, when I was working on an undergraduate thesis about Jerry Falwell. Beginning my trend of violating fundamentalist college dress codes, I showed up in khakis and a polo shirt at a time when ties were still required for male students. (Being an undergraduate myself, I didn’t have a tie in my car. So I spent the day absorbing cold stares from Liberty students disdainful of my rebellious spirit.) The “archives” at that time consisted of a bunch of boxes in a dusty room, almost completely uncatalogued. The librarian turned me loose and told me to photocopy whatever I wanted (for free!). I came across a trove of Falwell sermons from the 1960s (including the oft-cited “Ministers and Marches” sermon in which Falwell excoriated civil rights protesters). Inexperienced and unprepared, I made only a handful of copies and came away with a scant set of notes. When I went back to Liberty as a graduate student six years later, I showed up in a tie, only to learn that Liberty had eliminated the tie requirement. Oh well -- better to be overdressed. A newly-hired archivist was processing the old boxes, and the catalog was incomplete. But I could only look at items in the catalog, which didn't include many of the documents I ran across on my first trip. I knew what I was looking for but couldn’t find it – a supremely frustrating experience. I assume Liberty has processed many more archival boxes in the intervening three years. But for now, I’m left with sketchy notes and a sense of regret. I wish someone had told me, forcefully, to photocopy as much as I could! Still, the experience of discovery as I waded through the Liberty archives nine years ago convinced me to become a religious historian, and I’ve been thankful for that inspiration ever since.

Know Your Archives, Part V: Methodist Heaven


Continuing our series on our archival experiences, I'm pleased to guest post the following from Christopher Jones, who blogs at Juvenile Instructor and is a graduate student at William and Mary. I, too, researched at the United Methodist Archives, for 2 weeks in 1999; they arranged some very nice housing there in a nearby apartment building, and Drew is close enough to New York City for some fun side trips as well!

By Christopher Jones

In the summer of 2008, I spent a week at the United Methodist Archives and History Center, located on the idyllic campus of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Perhaps providentially for a poor graduate student researching Methodism, the archives are located just down the road from my in-laws in Summit, NJ, which saved me the cost of having to find a place to stay, but I’ve heard from others that the Xavier Center invites individuals doing research at Drew to stay there for relatively cheap (about $40/night). I ate each day at the student center at Drew, which had a pretty good selection of decent (but not great) food for a reasonable price (John Turner’s not lying about the quality of the lunch at the LDS cafeteria).

The reading room is small, but quiet, and the collections at the UMAHC are rich. The Francis Asbury collection and Garrettson family collection (including Catherine Garrettson’s fascinating dream journal), along with a host of diaries penned by itinerant preachers in antebellum America received most of my attention, but there is a large collection of documents dealing with 20th century themes and issues that are waiting to be mined by interested researchers (and which were utilized by Morris Davis for his important book on The Methodist Unification). They have an especially rich collection of source material (both personal papers and institutional records) dealing with missionary efforts in India and China during the early 1900s, for those interested in international issues. And what they don’t have in document form, they have on microfilm. Plus, they had a mourner’s bench from an early 19th century camp meeting on display in the atrium outside the reading room, which for a religious history geek like myself, was an added bonus.

What made the trip to NJ especially worthwhile and valuable, though, was the staff. Chris Anderson leads a team of Methodist librarians that went above and beyond in ensuring my short stay was productive. In addition to having requested materials on hand awaiting my arrival each morning, the staff also suggested other sources that might be helpful to my research on Methodism and Mormonism (and they were right). When I left, Chris Anderson offered to send photocopies of any sources I may have forgotten to check out while there (an offer I luckily didn’t have to take him up on). For a young student making his first research trip outside of his local archives, it was a wonderful experience.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation--Know Your Archives, Part IV


Indeed, I have many thoughts on archives I visited recently (while my wife and kids lounged on the California beach). Unlike those of you who experienced the beauties of an un-caffeinated Provo or the modernist wealth and splendor of the bean-town Congregationalists, I went on a fundamentalist/ evangelical greatest hits tour. And I only visit archives made of brick, as the images below illustrate.

University of Washington (I know, not exactly a bastion of fundy/evangelical truthiness): nice research room; great archivists (thank you tax-payers); and student assistants who make things interesting by not always putting the correct collection/box/folder numbers on your copies.

Moody Bible Institute: limited collections and multiple perimeters of security to navigate ninja-style before you find the archives room.

Biola University: No research room, but a friendly archivist who does her best to accommodate researchers while simultaneously attending to one of her hundreds of other library assignments.

Gordon-Conwell: it ain’t Boston, but the Puritans still live nearby. One of the best collections of early-to-mid twentieth century Christian magazines anywhere. You can stay on campus on the cheap if you want to re-live your college glory days of shared bathrooms, no TV, and sleeping on a cot.

Bob Jones University: despite my dress shirts, khakis, and short hair, everyone, and I mean everyone, knew that I was an outsider on the compound. BJU security knows when you come, when you go, and what you do. Greenville must be a more dangerous place than I realized because the campus is entirely surrounded by a gate, much of the faculty live on campus, and there are K-12th classes on campus so that faculty and their kids never have to leave. Eating is done communally in the cafeteria--the library shuts down from 5-6 so everyone can eat together. The archivist at BJU is incredibly accommodating and will go to great lengths to help researchers. He also lets you eat donuts and drink coffee (in my case Pepsi) in the archives room--so take that Turner.

American Baptist Archives (Atlanta): $10 a day to do research; $.50/copy; and two and a half months later, I am still waiting for my copies to arrive. Enuf said.

Fuller Seminary: Beautiful research room with no windows or doors. O.K., I guess there was one door. I got in somehow. Staring down at you is a giant portrait of the late Wilbur Smith (of “The Atomic Bomb and the Word of God” fame.) It is a little eerie to read his papers while he watches.

Wheaton/Billy Graham Center Archives: still the best, most comfortable place to work on evangelicalism. Professional, smart archivists, plenty of room to work, friendly policies, and they even have trains going by outside all day, which make for a nice distraction perfectly suited for a three-year-old or the father of a three-year-old. And that is how I spent my summer vacation.

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