Blog of the Month: The Anxious Bench

Posted on August 15, 2012 by

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One of the objectives of this blog is to encourage alumni and students of this department to cultivate habits of lifelong learning. While many of our former students don’t work in jobs directly related to history, we assume that their undergraduate interest in the past never entirely went away — and ought to be nourished by continued reading, museum visits, film watching, and other activities.

That’s why we collect a series of historical blog posts from around the Internet and post them as “Weekend Reading” every Saturday morning.

To a similar end, each month we highlight other blogs that discuss history in an interesting, well-researched, and well-written fashion.

This month, a group blog that features four leading Christian scholars examining “the relevance of religious history for today”:

The Anxious Bench

“The Anxious Bench” being the seat where people would go to receive prayer during a revival meeting of the Second Great Awakening, like those led by Charles G. Finney. (Also the title of a scathing critique of Finney’s methods written by Reformed theologian John Williamson Nevin in 1843.)

Frequency of Posts: daily

Contributors: John Fea (Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction), Philip Jenkins (The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity), Thomas Kidd (God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution), John Turner (Bill Bright and Campus Crusade: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America)

A Recent Post by Each Contributor:

  • One More River to Cross (Jenkins on the shifting boundaries of the Holy Land in post-exilic Judaism and how such debates relate to the construction of nationalism and to the mythology of the Old West in American history)
  • Luther, Cranach, and Me (how Steven Ozment’s new book on 16th century painter Lucas Cranach refreshed Turner’s appreciation for Martin Luther as a combative, earthy figure)
  • Should Historians Cast Judgment on the Past? (a John Fea post that we recently blogged about)
  • Puritans: The Original Republicans? (Kidd on the political legacy of a still-controversial group)

One of the many fine blogs hosted by Patheos (part of its Evangelical channel, though Patheos also hosts other blogs and columns from non-evangelical Christian, non-Christian, and non-religious writers), The Anxious Bench brings together religious historians who comment on history, Christianity, politics, and other topics. This summer they’ve paid particular attention to publicizing new books on religious history.

Fea also posts frequently at his own blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home; Kidd contributes to World magazine; and Jenkins (on top of his prolific book-writing) writes a weekly column for the website Real Clear Religion.