Tag Archives: American Religion

A note on Religion in Antebellum New York

I enjoyed reading Kyle Roberts’ new book on religion in New York during the Early Republic, titled Evangelical Gotham.

Today at the Religion in American History blog, I make a point about how the book ties together the local story with national and international stories.

This helped my thinking, as I’m simultaneously working on an academic review of the book.

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U.S. Religion Updates

I thought it would be appropriate to provide some updates of blogs I’ve done on U.S. Religious History.

Last September, I reflected on ways I expected to encounter religious beliefs in my “American Revolution and Early Republic” class.

Then, at the end of the class, I was able to turn around and report what had worked out.

In January, I filed a quick note on recent books by Paul Harvey. But note: this Paul Harvey is not a daily news commentator but an historian writing about religion in the American South.

Then, this past month, I returned to the theme of religion in the American Revolution with a notice of Daniel Dreisbach’s new book Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers.

And, in between those posts, I’ve been thinking about new topics to cover here and in my monthly Religion in American History blog entry.

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Teaching the American Revolution and Early Republic

As I always like to say, “Nothing says up-to-date like two months between blog posts!”

The semester has now begun at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.

This semester, I’m teaching an “Honors Western Civilization” class, as well as the first half of our U.S. History Survey.

I also have the chance to teach an upper-level class in “The American Revolution and Early Republic.”

Some people have asked about readings. The books I’m assigning are these:

Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers. NY: Knopf, 2000.

Fischer, David Hackett. Washington’s Crossing. NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Frohnen, Bruce. The American Republic. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002.

Kidd, Thomas. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution. NY: Basic Books, 2010.

Morgan, Edmund. The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89, 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Course Packet. Includes articles and primary sources.

The class already has a great vibe, and I’m looking forward to the class debates that start next week (for instance–“Should America declare independence?”). One other wrinkle that I’ll be throwing is playing selections from the Hamilton musical to keep us all on our toes. And, not to disappoint, we will talk about the Federalists.

Earlier this week I reflected on how I’m also planning to integrate religious history into the course. You can read that post here.

And now…off to class!

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Alexander Hamilton, After a Delay

I try to link (relatively) quickly to material elsewhere, but this one got away from me.

Early in March I posted a blog post on “Religion and Hamilton.” I contended that the smash Broadway hit Hamilton would be great for teaching, not only about the American Revolution in general but about religion in the American Revolution in particular.

Since I’ve published the piece, I’ve found several things:

1. The piece got mentioned on John Fea’s blog.

2. There are a lot of fans of the musical–and rightfully so!

3. The piece has resonated, which seems like a good thing for a piece about music.

So, in case you missed it, check the piece out!

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Book Give-away: Wilsey Edition

IVP Academic provided me with an additional copy of John D. Wilsey’s new book American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.

You may recall that I interviewed Wilsey a few weeks back about the book.

If that piqued your interest, here’s an opportunity to get a copy.

In the comments below, leave a comment about how you would use or define the concept of American exceptionalism.

The best definition will get a copy of the book.

Comments will be open until February 1.

Define away!


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Interview with John D. Wilsey

Today at the Religion in American History blog, I posted an interview I did with John D. Wilsey. John is a scholar that I have gotten to know over the past two years, and I consider him a friend.

John has recently published the book American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.

Readers of this blog would do well to pick it up. I highly recommend the book. For a taste of Wilsey’s concerns, check out the interview!

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Puritans with Sympathy?

When most Americans think about the Puritans–when they think about them at all–it’s usually to dismiss them as stern, hard-hearted folks–the kind of people who enjoyed plastering Hester Prynne with a “Scarlet Letter.”

One of the burdens of my US History classes is to chip away at this stigma. The Puritans took things seriously–it’s true–because life is serious business. But that didn’t keep them from loving whole-heartedly and feeling deeply.

We have more evidence of this in a recent book by Abram Van Engen called Sympathetic Puritans. Van Engen’s book is all about how Puritans valued sympathy, understood as care and even imaginative identification with others.

I wrote a longer review of the book in my monthly piece for the Religion in American History Blog.

Check it out!

Van Engen Cover

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