It was certainly a wild year at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. We moved from Blogger to Word Press in late December 2016 just in time for the blog to get inundated with visitors after I took a picture of the “Acknowledgments” page of Brendan Pietsch’s book Dispensational Modernism at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association and posted it here.
The Pietsch post was an outlier in a year dominated by election posts. I did my best this year to provide some perspective. Some times I wrote as a historian. Some times I wrote as a Christian. And sometimes I wrote as a pundit. Whether you agreed with me or not, I hope the posts made you think and helped you to be more informed about some of the religious dimensions of this tumultuous election season.
Here are the top 20 posts of 2016:
- The Liberty University Student Body Calls Out Falwell Jr. I helped break this story. TWOILH was one of the first places on the web to call attention to this protest on the campus of Liberty University.
- This May Be the Best “Acknowledgments” Section of All Time. See above.
- What James Dobson Said in 1998 About Moral Character and the Presidency Katie and Devin Manzullo-Thomas deserve all the credit for this post. When they sent me Dobson’s 1998 comments on presidential character I knew we had a winner. Apparently Dobson’s thoughts on character only applied to Bill Clinton and/or Democratic candidates.
- James Dobson on Trump: “I Know the Person Who Led Him to Christ.” This post gave the phrase “theo-political equivalent of money-laundering” some brief traction in the press. When I tweeted the post several major news reporters and pundits found it and started writing stories about Trump’s apparent “conversion.” Chuck Todd even talked about it on “Meet the Press.” Very few of those reporters and pundits gave us credit. (I eventually got over it!) 🙂
- What is Jerry Falwell Jr. Doing? When you blog about the world’s largest Christian university you get a lot of visits to your site. (See #1, #6, #8).
- Jerry Falwell Jr. Responds to “Liberty United Against Trump”
- Ted Cruz: Dominionist (This was a post about my RNS piece that eventually got picked-up by the Washington Post. It got a lot of traction for a couple of weeks and led to some further writing about Cruz and his candidacy)
- Falwell Jr. Tells Students Who Will Protest Trump Visit That They “are going to be making fools of themselves.”
- Did Hillary Clinton Just Quote John Wesley? (Clinton liked to quote Wesley. Although I am not sure what she said actually came from Wesley).
- David Barton is Going to “Call Me Out” (Once again, David Barton got my attention this year. This year he finally started calling me by actual name (although he regularly mispronounced it). Also see #11 and #16).
- An Open Letter to the Students of Charis Bible College
- Bruce Springsteen Talks Catholicism on “Fresh Air” (This one made the list because it was promoted by Real Clear Religion).
- Don’t “believe everything his enemies speak about him.” (The historian John Haas sent this my way. Apparently some evangelicals in the 1930s loved Hitler).
- What if Donald Trump Published an Academic Article? (I thought this was pretty funny).
- The 2016 Presidential Election and Historical Comparisons (Trump as Jackson, Wallace, Long, Reagan, Nixon, etc…)
- Eric Metaxas and David Barton Team-Up Against “Angry” Historians
- Is There a Tension Between History Education and Identity Politics? (This was one of my favorite posts of the year. I am so pleased it resonated with so many K-12 history teachers).
- Who is Larry Huch and What Does He Have to Do With Ted Cruz? (See #7)
- Review of Eric Metaxas: “If You Can Keep It”: Part 1 (This was the first of a multiple-part series on one of the most overrated and historically misinformed books of 2016).
- Is Governor Mike Pence an Evangelical Christian? (I wrote this when everyone was still trying to get to know Mike Pence).