The Education Investment, Citizenship, and the Perfection of Society and Government; Or, What Noah Webster Would Say to Romney and Obama

Lately I've been working a side project, a lengthy encyclopedia article on religion and education in America. I'm taking a historical approach in the article and laying out a basic narrative: building a Protestant educational establishment, challenges to that establishment, and, finally, Protestant educational disestablishment. With that article in the back of my head, it … Continue reading The Education Investment, Citizenship, and the Perfection of Society and Government; Or, What Noah Webster Would Say to Romney and Obama

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Lydia Maria Child Is Oddly Prescient in an Election Year: Red and Blue Spectacles

Reading the last chapter of Lydia Maria Child's The Progress of Religious Ideas I came across this passage that seemed timely during our election season: Little or no progress toward truth is usually made, because passages of ancient books are taken up hundreds of years after they were written, and are used in a sense … Continue reading Lydia Maria Child Is Oddly Prescient in an Election Year: Red and Blue Spectacles

Transcendentalists and the Smoke Monster of Religion

I've made it to the Transcendentalists! The chapter on Unitarian and evangelical ideas about Hinduism is done and passed along to The Adviser. Now, I'm changing gears. The chapters I've written so far were exercises in uncovering. Only a couple previous studies had looked at the materials and so my basic work was to dig … Continue reading Transcendentalists and the Smoke Monster of Religion

The Invention of American Evangelicalism; or, Why Ed Blum is Mad

The following is a cross-post from Religion in American History. Check out the great comments on the original post. (If you're unsure what made Ed mad read this post.) [Update: Ed says he's not mad anymore, just passionate. Also, read this post from Ed where he expands his thoughts on race and evangelicalism. His thoughts echo much … Continue reading The Invention of American Evangelicalism; or, Why Ed Blum is Mad

Asian Religions in America as an Ngram: Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Rammohun Spike

I decided to play around with Google's Ngram viewer and see what it might tell me about how Americans wrote about Asian religions. Click here for a bigger version of the graph. Here's what I noticed: 1. The most popular moment for Asian religions in America was in the 1820s and it most likely revolved … Continue reading Asian Religions in America as an Ngram: Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Rammohun Spike

Thinking About Ralph Waldo Emerson on His Birthday

Today is Ralph Waldo Emerson's 208th birthday. The Concord sage is one of the great figures of American history and one of my favorite New England religious thinkers. I always think of Emerson as the man who was willing to push that little bit further. Where Arminians and Unitarians stopped, Emerson jumped off the cliff … Continue reading Thinking About Ralph Waldo Emerson on His Birthday

How to write a book about “X in American Religious History”

It's not as hard to write a book in American religious history as you might think. Feel free to use this handy template. Introduction- X has been important throughout American religious history. Chapter 1. What the Puritans said about X Chapter 2. What Jonathan Edwards (and maybe George Whitefield) said about X Chapter 3. How … Continue reading How to write a book about “X in American Religious History”

What you think you know about church and state in America and why it’s wrong

David Sehat gives us five myths about church and state in America: 1. The Constitution has always protected religious freedom. 2. The founders’ faith matters. 3. Christian conservatives have only recently taken over politics. 4. America is more secular than it used to be. 5. Liberals are anti-religious. Read the whole piece to see how he defends … Continue reading What you think you know about church and state in America and why it’s wrong

The Dissertation Proposal: Hinduism and the Boundaries of Nineteenth Century American Culture

Two weeks ago I successfully defended my dissertation proposal. I thought it might be worthwhile to share an abridged version so anyone interested might get a sense of what this project is shaping up to be. I'd love to hear feedback and suggestions. In this abridged version I've cut out the literature review. “This extensive … Continue reading The Dissertation Proposal: Hinduism and the Boundaries of Nineteenth Century American Culture

Reagan Religion

Tenured Radical is spending time at the Reagan Library: I say in all seriousness:  if you are too focused on your own authority as a historian you will learn nothing from the people who love history and are out there practicing it beyond our scrutiny.  For example, I learn a great deal when I ask … Continue reading Reagan Religion