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Scholars studying the history of Christianity are used to writing about different Christian traditions. But what does it mean to write from within a particular Christian tradition? How can a Christian be a historian who does academically respectable work while remaining true to his or her religious commitments? How can Christian historians contribute, as both Christians and historians, to historical scholarship? In The Past as Pilgrimage: Narrative, Tradition and the Renewal of Catholic History (Christendom Press, 2014), Dr. Christopher Shannon and Dr. Christopher Blum explores these questions from a Catholic perspective. They argue that Catholic historians can write from within their tradition while contributing to historical inquiry by embracing a historical perspective that emphasizes the drama of human life, focuses on asking and answering questions that help us better to pursue “the good,” and understands human beings as having an eternal destiny. Shannon and Blum have provided a fascinating meditation on the historian’s craft that anyone, Catholic or not, can read and grow from.


Matthew StanleyHuxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon: From Theistic Science to Naturalistic Science

February 10, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] “Show me how it doos.” Such were the words of a young James Clerk “Dafty” Maxwell (1831-79), an inquisitive child prone to punning who grew into a renowned physicist known for his work on electromagnetism. After learning to juggle and conducting experiments on falling cats, Maxwell went on […]

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Erskine ClarkeBy the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth Century Atlantic Odyssey

February 9, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in American Studies] Jane Bayard Wilson and John Leighton Wilson were unlikely African missionaries, coming as they did from privileged slaveholding families in Georgia and South Carolina, respectively. Yet in 1834 they embarked on a nearly twenty-year adventure as Christian missionaries to two peoples in western Africa — the Grebo in Liberia, […]

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Emma AndersonThe Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs

February 2, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Religion] Martyrdom, writes Emma Anderson, is anything but random. In beautiful prose and spectacular historical detail, The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs (Harvard University Press, 2013), takes readers on a journey of more than 300 years, exploring how a group of eight Frenchmen were selected from the amongst the thousands of victims […]

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Carol E. HarrisonRomantic Catholics: France’s Postrevolutionary Generation in Search of a Modern Faith

January 23, 2015

Since the political left and right first arose during the French Revolution, Catholics have been categorized as either conservatives or liberals, and most Catholics of the French nineteenth century are assumed to have been conservatives. In Romantic Catholics: France’s Postrevolutionary Generation in Search of a Modern Faith (Cornell University Press, 2014), Carol E. Harrison goes beyond this familiar […]

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Joseph LaycockThe Seer of Bayside: Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism

January 19, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Religion] In understanding a tradition what is the relationship between the ‘center’ and the ‘periphery’? How do the lived religious lives of practitioners contest or affirm authority? In The Seer of Bayside: Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism (Oxford University Press, 2014), Joseph Laycock, assistant professor of religious studies at Texas State […]

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Gene Luen YangBoxers & Saints

January 8, 2015

I love picking up a historical monograph in which the footnotes count for a quarter or more of the total pages. Most students don’t share this strange love of mine. I’m therefore always trying to figure out ways to bring in other sorts of works that will engage students without giving up anything in terms […]

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Matt TomlinsonRitual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance

January 6, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Religion] Religious ritual has been a staple of anthropological study. In his latest monograph, Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance (Oxford University Press 2014), cultural anthropologist Matt Tomlinson takes up the topic anew through a set of four case studies drawn from his fieldwork in Fiji. Each one illustrates a component of what Tomlinson calls […]

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James Mace WardPriest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia

December 25, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Eastern European Studies] In his biography of Jozef Tiso, Catholic priest and president of independent Slovakia (1939-1944), James Ward provides a deeper understanding of a man who has been both honored and vilified since his execution as a Nazi collaborator in 1947. Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia (Cornell University Press, […]

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Matthew A. SuttonAmerican Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism

December 17, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Intellectual History] Matthew Avery Sutton is the author of three books:  Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (2007), Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right: A Brief History with Documents (2012), and, most recently, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Harvard University Press, 2014), which is the subject of this interview with […]

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