March 15, 2018
This is a nice bit of public theology, both in illuminating a contemporary situation by the organic use of theological categories, and also by explaining the meaning of those theological categories through applying them to a contemporary situation:
“In Greek, the word apocalypse means to uncover, to peel away, to show what’s underneath. That’s what this country has been experiencing in the past six months. There has not been a sudden uptick in sexual misconduct and assault in our country, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are simply exposing what was already there. The reality that some men comment on, threaten, masturbate in front of, intimidate and assault female bodies is finally being brought out of the dark ubiquity of women’s personal experience and into the light of public discourse. The male domination at the center of the sexual harassment issue — how those in positions of power (usually, but not always, men) have used that power to sexually gratify themselves at the expense of those who are subordinate to them (usually, but not always, women) — is being revealed apocalyptically in prime time.
The corner has peeled up, and now there is a little cat fur and dust on it, and we can’t get it to stick back down.”
Read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s full piece, “We’re in the midst of an apocalypse. And that’s a good thing.”
March 8, 2018
In Germany, “Evangelische” meant someone who was Protestant—who was for the “good news” (evangelion) of Christianity, in a distinctively Protestant way, as was traditional (after the Reformation) for most of Germany outside of Southern Germany, which remained mostly Roman Catholic. But when American Evangelicalism came to Germany after World War Two, in the form of Billy Graham, the Germans realized that their word “Evangelische” did not exactly capture what Graham was offering. So a new word was created: “Evangelikale.” We should realize, too, the distinctive nature of white American Evangelical Protestantism, which is very much a product of American history, for good and ill.
This is part of a larger truth, one captured well by the Oxford historian of Christianity Diarmaid MacCulloch. There have been multiple Christianities throughout history—a Greek or Hellenic Christianity begun around the Eastern Mediterranean in the Roman Empire, a Latin Christianity in the West, a “West Asian” Christianity which was eventually subsumed by the rise of Islam. Perhaps the rise of American “evangelical Protestantism” in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries is one of the Western Hemisphere’s contributions to the history of Christianity—a radically new kind of Christianity, which is now shaping Christianity worldwide, through missions and perhaps especially the rise of is Pentecostal variant. Perhaps the Germans’ confusion about what to call what Graham was selling is indicative of that.
This commentary is on Daniel Silliman’s recent Washington Post article, “Protestantism was born in Germany, but it was Billy Graham who brought evangelicalism there.”
Sex has played a uniquely powerful role in bringing religion and politics together, and many of us have asked why it has driven the so-called culture wars for so long and so passionately. Dr. R. Marie Griffith, our third guest on The Square, takes a deep dive into this phenomenon in her new book, Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics.
Dr. Griffith is John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis where she is also Director the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.
To revisit our first two episodes featuring Luke Bretherton and Shaun Casey, head to our Podcast page.
Congratulations to our new Emerging Scholars. These early career scholars were selected to participate in a residency workshop in Charlottesville this summer. Participants will undertake focused readings, share work, and plan collaborations on academic projects of mutual interest. They will also be invited to continue supporting the work of Religion and Its Publics through publications of an academic and journalistic nature.
Karen Bray, Wesleyan College
Deborah Casewell, Liverpool Hope University
Janna Hunter-Bowman, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Russell Johnson, University of Chicago
Jaisy Joseph, Boston College
Kyle Lambelet, Candler School of Theology
Timothy McGee, Illinois College
Meadhbh McIvor, University of Groningen
Luis Menendez-Antuna, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
Karen O’Donnell, Durham University
Marika Rose, University of Winchester
Hilary Scarsella, Vanderbilt University