Episodes
Dr. Michael Coogan is lecturer on Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Harvard Divinity School and the director of publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum. He is the author of God and Sex, The Ten Commandments: A Short History of an Ancient Text, The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, and numerous textbooks on the Old Testament. He joined me on the phone to talk about his brand new book, God’s Favorites: Judaism, Christianity, and the Myth of Divine...
Published 06/07/22
For five hundred years, Latina/o culture and identity have been shaped by their challenges to the religious, socio-economic, and political status quo, whether in opposition to Spanish colonialism, Latin American dictatorships, US imperialism in Central America, the oppression of farmworkers, or the current exploitation of undocumented immigrants. Christianity has played a significant role in that movement at every stage. Robert Chao Romero, the son of a Mexican father and a Chinese immigrant...
Published 06/03/22
What happens when the written words of biblical scripture are transformed into experiential, choreographed environments? To answer this question, anthropologist James Bielo explores a diverse range of practices and places that “materialize the Bible,” including gardens, theme parks, shrines, museums, memorials, exhibitions, theatrical productions, and other forms of replication. Integrating ethnographic, archival, and mass media data, case studies focus primarily on U.S. Christianity from the...
Published 06/02/22
On Black Bartholomew's Day--August 24, 1662--nearly two thousand ministers denied the authority of the Church of England and were subsequently removed from their posts. Mary Franklin was the wife of Presbyterian minister Robert Franklin, one of the dissenting ministers ejected from their pulpits and their livings on that day. She recorded the experience of her persecution in the unused pages of her husband's sermon notebook. In 1782--some hundred years after the composition of her...
Published 06/01/22
Today I talked to Carol Rittner and John K. Roth about their edited volume The Memory of Goodness: Eva Fleischner and her contributions to Holocaust Studies (National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, 2022) Rittner and Roth have continued their longtime partnership by editing and introducing a compilation of writings by Eva Fleischner. Fleischner was an important historian of the Holocaust, contributing to our understanding of the origins of anti-Jewish thought as well as to the study...
Published 06/01/22
When The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looked over into the promised land and tried to discern how we would get there, he called the poor to lead the way. The Poor People’s Campaign was part of a political strategy for building a movement expansive enough to tackle the enmeshed evils of racism, poverty, and war. In Freedom Church of the Poor: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign (Fortress Academic, 2021), Colleen Wessel-McCoy roots King’s political vision solidly in his...
Published 06/01/22
For nearly a century after the First Crusade captured Jerusalem, that ancient city became the nucleus of a several kingdoms and principalities established by the crusaders. At the political, social, and cultural heart of their subsequent history were a series of remarkable women who exercised power and influence in a way nearly unknown in western Europe at that time. Katherine Pangonis is the author of the Queens of Jerusalem: The Women Who Dared to Rule, a remarkable chronicle of lives lived...
Published 05/30/22
In a mere four years, England’s monastic tradition—one of the richest in all of Europe—came to an end. The Dissolution of the Monasteries, as it’s come to be known, stands in popular consciousness as a token of religious reformation and muscular government. But the Dissolution is wrapped up in partisan narratives that have obscured the role of the religious in their own day, their perception of events, others’ perceptions of them, and the meaning and impact of their demise. In a searching,...
Published 05/26/22
Today I speak with Alejandro Nava about his new book, Street Scriptures: Between God and Hip-Hop (U Chicago Press, 2022). This book explores an important aspect of hip-hop that is rarely considered: its deep entanglement with spiritual life. The world of hip-hop is saturated with religion, but rarely is that element given serious consideration. In Street Scriptures, Alejandro Nava focuses our attention on this aspect of the music and culture in a fresh way, combining his profound love of...
Published 05/25/22
Elijah is a zealous prophet, attacking idolatry and injustice, championing God. He performs miracles, restoring life and calling down fire. When his earthly life ends, he vanishes in a whirlwind, carried off to heaven in a fiery chariot. Was this a spectacular death, or did Elijah escape death entirely? The latter view prevailed. Though residing in heaven, Elijah revisits earth--to help, rescue, enlighten, and eventually herald the Messiah. Because of his messianic role, Jews open the door...
Published 05/24/22
"I've been a philosopher for all my adult life and the three most profound books of philosophy that I have ever read are Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Songs." This is the opening line of Peter Kreeft's Three Philosophies of Life: Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Songs (Ignatius Press, 2016). He reflects that there are ultimately only three philosophies of life and each one is represented by one of these books of the Bible-life is vanity (Ecclesiastes); life is suffering (Job); life is love...
Published 05/20/22
In Frontier Religion: The Mormon-American Contest for the Meaning of America, 1857-1907 (U Utah Press, 2019) Konden Smith Hansen examines the dramatic influence these perceptions of the frontier had on Mormonism and other religions in America. Endeavoring to better understand the sway of the frontier on religion in the United States, this book follows several Mormon-American conflicts, from the Utah War and the antipolygamy crusades to the Reed Smoot hearings. The story of Mormonism’s move...
Published 05/19/22
Focusing on your mental health can feel overwhelming, but with this supportive mindfulness journal, you’ll learn how your faith can guide you to a happier, healthier life. Inside you’ll find Biblical quotes and prompts to remind you of God’s unconditional love, plus short, therapeutic practices to help you take charge of your mental well-being. What sets the Mental Health Journal for Christians: Faith-Based Prompts to Improve Your Mind, Body & Spirit (Rockridge, 2022) apart from other...
Published 05/19/22
Postcolonial feminist scholarship on the formation of gender relations primarily uses the analytic of colonizer-colonized dyad. In her new monograph, Gender Politics at Home and Abroad: Protestant Modernity in Colonial-Era Korea (Cambridge UP, 2020), Professor Hyaeweol Choi makes an important intervention by examining colonial Korea to propose a new framework that accounts for transnational encounters between national reformists, missionaries, and colonial authorities. Drawing from both major...
Published 05/18/22
The history of the Palestine War does not only concern military history. It also involves social, humanitarian and religious history, as in the case of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jerusalem. A Liminal Church: Refugees, Conversions and the Latin Diocese of Jerusalem, 1946–1956 (Brill, 2020) offers a complex narrative of the Latin patriarchal diocese, commonly portrayed as monolithically aligned with anti-Zionist and anti-Muslim positions during the “long” year of 1948. Making use of largely...
Published 05/13/22
In the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War, there was an awkward persistence of sovereign rituals, vestiges of a monarchical past that were not easy to shed. In Awkward Rituals: Sensations of Governance in Protestant America (U Chicago Press, 2022), Dana Logan focuses our attention on these performances, revealing the ways in which governance in the early republic was characterized by white Protestants reenacting the hierarchical authority of a seemingly rejected king....
Published 05/13/22
Millennials in the U.S. have been characterized as uninterested in religion, as defectors from religious institutions, and as agnostic about the role of religious identity in their culture. Amid the rise of so-called "nones," though, there has also been a countervailing trend: an increase in religious piety among some millennial Catholics. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which began evangelizing college students on American university campuses in 1998, hires recent...
Published 05/10/22
In Poland in the 1940s and '50s, a new kind of Catholic intended to remake European social and political life--not with guns, but French philosophy. Piotr H. Kosicki's book Catholics on the Barricades: Poland, France, and 'Revolution,' 1891-1956 (Yale UP, 2018) examines generations of deeply religious thinkers whose faith drove them into public life, including Karol Wojtyla, future Pope John Paul II, and Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the future prime minister who would dismantle Poland's Communist...
Published 05/09/22
The Religion of Life: Eugenics, Race, and Catholicism in Chile (U Pittsburgh Press, 2021) examines the interconnections and relationship between Catholicism and eugenics in early twentieth-century Chile. Specifically, it demonstrates that the popularity of eugenic science was not diminished by the influence of Catholicism there. In fact, both eugenics and Catholicism worked together to construct the concept of a unique Chilean race, la raza chilena. A major factor that facilitated this...
Published 05/05/22
In Czesław Miłosz’s Faith in the Flesh: Body, Belief, and Human Identity (Oxford University Press, 2021), Cambridge professor Stanley Bill offers a profoundly original, fine-grained, and rich interpretation of the poetic œuvre of Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz. The book presents Miłosz’s poetic philosophy of the body as an original defense of religious faith, transcendence, and the value of the human individual against what he viewed as dangerous modern forms of materialism. The Polish poet...
Published 05/04/22
Matthew Bowman received his PhD. in history from Georgetown University. He is associate professor of history at Henderson State University, where he teaches courses in American history since the Civil War, race, and American religion. He is the author of Christian: The Politics of a Word in America, out now from Harvard University Press, and several other books. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!...
Published 05/04/22
Margaret Arnold is the Associate Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Medford, Massachusetts. She received her PhD in Religious and Theological Studies from Boston University. Her new book, The Magdalene in the Reformation, is out now from The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/christian-studies
Published 05/02/22
João B. Chaves analyzes the first hundred years of Southern Baptist missionary activity in Brazil to reveal how the racialized practices of Southern Baptist Convention missionaries in the largest Latin America country shaped aspects of Latin American evangelicalism in general and the Brazilian Baptist Convention in particular. Partially because the Brazilian Baptist Convention sent missionaries to many Latin American countries, established educational institutions that trained ministers from...
Published 04/28/22
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan celebrated its independence as the world's newest nation, an occasion that the country's Christian leaders claimed had been foretold in the Book of Isaiah. The Bible provided a foundation through which the South Sudanese could distinguish themselves from the Arab and Muslim Sudanese to the north and understand themselves as a spiritual community now freed from their oppressors. Less than three years later, however, new conflicts emerged along ethnic lines within...
Published 04/28/22
Demons! Nightmares with the Bible: The Good Book and Cinematic Demons (2021) published by Fortress Academic views demons through two lenses: that of western religion and that of cinema. Sketching out the long fear of demons in western history, including the Bible, Steve A. Wiggins moves on to analyze how popular movies inform our beliefs about demonic forces. Beginning with the idea of possession, he explores the portrayal of demons from ancient Mesopotamia and the biblical world (including...
Published 04/27/22