Through a Glass, Darkly
How the Christian right is reimagining U.S. history--from Harpers. ...producing a flood of educational texts with which to wash away the stains of secular history. ...
posted by amberglow
on Jan 12, 2007 -
--an essay/history lesson/bible lesson/etc by Gore Vidal. ...We have also come to a point in this dark age where there is not only no hero in view but no alternative road unblocked. We are trapped terribly in a now that few foresaw and even fewer can define ...
posted by amberglow
on Jan 28, 2006 -
It's the demography, stupid:
"The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birth rate to sustain it. ... Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the battlefield, but they figure there’s an excellent chance they can drag things out until western civilization collapses in on itself and Islam inherits by default."
posted by shivohum
on Jan 10, 2006 -
What’s "Sacred" about Violence in Early America?
Susan Juster discusses the "oversized colonial martyr complex" with its attendant paradox: "colonial martyrs were everywhere, religious violence... in short supply." She begins:
One of the most chilling images in early American history is the deliberate firing of Fort Mystic during the Pequot War of 1637. Five hundred Indian men, women, and children died that day, burned alive along with their homes and possessions by a vengeful Puritan militia intent on doing God’s will. "We must burn them!" the militia captain famously insisted to his troops on the eve of the massacre, in words that echo the classic early modern response to heretics. Just five months before, the Puritan minister at Salem had exhorted his congregation in strikingly similar terms to destroy a more familiar enemy, Satan; "We must burne him," John Wheelwright told his parishioners. Indians and devils may have been scarcely distinguishable to many a Puritan, but their rhetorical conflation in these two calls to arms raises a question: Was the burning of Fort Mystic a racial or a religious killing?
She avoids easy answers and makes some interesting connections. If you want to find out more about the Pequot War, there's good material in the History section of this site
. (Main link via wood s lot
posted by languagehat
on Jan 9, 2006 -
Thanksgiving sucks. The English went on setting fire to wigwams of the village. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.
posted by j-urb
on Nov 24, 2005 -
Rebecca Protten, born a slave in 1718, gained her freedom and joined a group of proselytizers from the Moravian Church
. She embarked on an itinerant mission, preaching to hundreds of the enslaved Africans of St. Thomas, West Indies. Weathering persecution from hostile planters, Protten and other black preachers created the earliest African Protestant congregation in the Americas. University of Florida historian Jon Sensbach
has written a book
about Protten's life -- the interracial marriage, the trial on charges of blasphemy and inciting of slaves, the travels to Germany and West Africa. Later in her life, after she moved to Germany, Rebecca was ordained as a deaconess: "a former slave now administered Communion and practiced other claims to spiritual authority over white women, including European aristocrats." More inside.
posted by matteo
on May 15, 2005 -
The Uses of Canaries--and what canaries need to do
--...Why go to all that trouble when we have reduced the homosexual, himself, to nothing more than a body part? Remove the homo -- he's just a diseased body part, after all -- and the problem is solved.
Of course there will always be those so pathologically sex-panicked that they have to rely on their Think Pieces to get their pornography fix. Not worth worrying about, generally. But when United States Senators start in with the Depravity Fillip, and the DF starts showing up in the campaign literature of various groups... well, you want to keep your eye on that sort of thing. You maybe want to start thinking about that famous canary in the mine-shaft. ...
posted by amberglow
on May 9, 2005 -
The Man Who Unwrote the Bible.
In the mid-1720s, Alexander Cruden
took on a self-imposed task of Herculean proportions: he decided to compile the most thorough concordance of the King James Version
of the Bible
(777,746 words). The first edition of Cruden's Concordance
was published in 1737. Every similar undertaking before or since has been the work of a vast team of people. Cruden worked alone in his lodgings, writing the whole thing out by hand. Cruden's day job was as a "Corrector of the Press" (proofreader). He would give hawk-eyed attention to prose all day long. Then he would come home at night to read the Bible—stopping at every single word to secure the right sheet from the tens of thousands of pieces of paper all around him and to record accurately the reference in its appropriate place. He had no patron, no publisher, no financial backers: his only commission was a divine one.
has never been out of print. A new book
tells the tale of Alexander the Corrector's bizarre, sad life (scroll down to about half page)
posted by matteo
on Apr 3, 2005 -
Little-Known U.S. Document Signed by President Adams Proclaims America's Government Is Secular
Some people today assert that the United States government came from Christian foundations. They argue that our political system represents a Christian ideal form of government and that Jefferson, Madison, et al, had simply expressed Christian values while framing the Constitution. If this proved true, then we should have a wealth of evidence to support it, yet just the opposite proves the case.
Although, indeed, many of America's colonial statesmen practiced Christianity, our most influential Founding Fathers broke away from traditional religious thinking. The ideas of the Great Enlightenment that began in Europe had begun to sever the chains of monarchical theocracy. These heretical European ideas spread throughout early America. Instead of relying on faith, people began to use reason and science as their guide. The humanistic philosophical writers of the Enlightenment, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, had greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and Isaac Newton's mechanical and mathematical foundations served as a grounding post for their scientific reasoning.
posted by Postroad
on Jan 27, 2005 -
7,000 Years of Religious Ritual Is Traced in Mexico
Archaeologists have traced the development of religion in one location over a 7,000-year period, reporting that as an early society changed from foraging to settlement to the formation of an archaic state, religion also evolved to match the changing social structure.
This archaeological record, because of its length and completeness, sheds an unusually clear light on the origins of religion, a universal human behavior but one whose evolutionary and social roots are still not well understood.
posted by Postroad
on Dec 21, 2004 -
The Truth About Muslims.
, one of those rare historians who can really write (his books From the Holy Mountain
and White Mughals
have gotten rave reviews), takes on Bernard Lewis and gives some fascinating information about the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims through the centuries:
Fletcher also stresses the degree to which the Muslim armies were welcomed as liberators by the Syriac and Coptic Christians, who had suffered discrimination under the strictly Orthodox Byzantines: "To the persecuted Monophysite Christians of Syria and Egypt, Muslims could be presented as deliverers. The same could be said of the persecuted Jews.... Released from the bondage of Constantinopolitan persecution they flourished as never before, generating in the process a rich spiritual literature in hymns, prayers, sermons and devotional work."
posted by languagehat
on Dec 14, 2004 -
Cartoon History of Iceland,
chapter 1, for those of us who need a quick and painless (except for some of the puns) introduction to the history of one of the claimants to the title of Oldest Democracy. (other chapters inside).
posted by QIbHom
on Dec 3, 2004 -
"Jesus?" he murmured, "Jesus -- of Nazareth?..." Pontius Pilate
, is the only historical figure named in
the Nicene Creed
-- Coptic saint
or eternally damned
, his role in the greatest story ever told
has been debated by many of history's greatest minds: St Augustine
, Dante Alighieri
, John Ruskin
, Mikhail Bulgakov
, Monty Python
. Unfortunately, there is very little historical evidence
about him. His role in the death
of a certain
healer and apocalyptic
preacher is still being debated today
and historians alike
. He is also, of course, the main character of The Procurator
, the classic short story (complete text in main link) by Anatole France
. (France's magnificent story has lately been tragically neglected by publishers, even if the author was one of his era's most acclaimed writers in the world -- he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 over Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, and Proust, and when he died in 1924, hundreds of thousands of people followed his funeral procession
through Paris). These last 2,000 years of fascination with Pilatus
can be explained, some argue... (more inside, for those unwilling to wash their hands of this post)
posted by matteo
on Jun 24, 2004 -
Out of the mist of the beginning of our era there looms a pageant of mythical figures whose vast, superhuman contours might people the walls of another Sistine Chapel. Their countenances and gestures, the roles in which they are cast, the drama which they enact, would yield images different from the biblical ones on which the imagination of the beholder was reared, yet strangely familiar to him and disturbingly moving. The stage would be the same, the theme as transcending: the creation of the world, the destiny of man, fall and redemption, the first and the last things. But how much more numerous would be the cast, how much more bizarre the symbolism, how much more extravagant the emotions!
Into the Gnostic.
Of magicians, miracle workers, saints and sinners of early Christianities and other mystery religions--including but not limited to Valentinus
, Simon Magus
, the Winged Hermes
, the Gospel of Thomas
and the Gospel of Mary
, among many other Apocrypha
, the Cathars
and Apollonious of Tyana
. Not to mention Philip K. Dick
posted by y2karl
on Nov 30, 2002 -
The God Squad
Christopher Hitchens gives (another) one to organized religion, and reminds us of the important role that the Islamic world played in preserving Western Civilization.
posted by Ty Webb
on Apr 3, 2002 -
Today is Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther
nailing the 95 Theses
to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517. He was largely criticizing the practice of selling indulgences (forgiveness for sins). He didn't intend to split with the church. He left room for the Pope to slip out of the indulgences corruption. But the Pope didn't, and the split eventually came.
posted by Sean Meade
on Oct 31, 2001 -
The Scholars and the Godess
In "The scholars and the Godess" Charlotte Allen writes of the now debunked history of Wicca.
"Diotima Mantineia," age forty-eight, is the associate editor of The Witches' Voice
summed up her feelings on the debunking of the official Wiccan narrative this way: "It doesn't matter to me how old Wicca is, because when I connect with Deity as Lady and Lord, I know that I am connecting with something much larger and vaster than I can fully comprehend. The Creator of this universe has been manifesting to us for all time, in the forms of gods and goddesses that we can relate to. This personal connection with Deity is what is meaningful. For me, Wicca works to facilitate that connection, and that is what really matters."
I agree. Simply that it works for the individual is all that matters. What works for you?
posted by revbrian
on Mar 30, 2001 -
was the object of some controversy in his life. The title of Bishop in Lastingham was thought to be vacant and Chad was appointed. It was later discovered that the title was not actually vacant, and Chad was not the rightful holder. He politely stepped aside. On an interesting side note, this happened in the year 666.
posted by tomorama
on Dec 2, 2000 -