Here is a taste of her lecture.
Watch the entire thing here.
If you are in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area stop by on Wednesday and say hello:
“The Court Evangelicals: Who Are Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisers and Where Did They Come From?”
Since the election of Donald Trump, a group of leaders from a variety of evangelical traditions have served as advisers to the President on matters of faith and public life. John Fea has called these advisers Trump’s “court evangelicals.” Like the religious members of the king’s court during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, Trump’s court evangelicals seek power and worldly approval by flattering the “king” rather than speaking truth to power. Who are these court evangelicals? Do they have a political theology? What are the historical forces behind their “unprecedented access” to the Trump White House? This lecture will situate these religious leaders in a longer history of evangelical political engagement.
His first book, The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), was chosen as the Book of the Year by the New Jersey Academic Alliance and an Honor Book by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. His book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2011) was one of three finalists for the George Washington Book Prize, one of the largest literary prizes in the United States. It was also selected as the Foreword Reviews/INDIEFAB religion book of the year.
John is also co-editor (with Jay Green and Eric Miller) of Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation. (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), a finalist for the Lilly Fellows Program in Arts and Humanities Book Award. His book Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past was published in 2013 with Baker Academic. John’s book The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society appeared in March 2016 with Oxford University Press.
John’s essays and reviews on the history of American culture have appeared in The Journal of American History, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, The William and Mary Quarterly, The Journal of the Early Republic, Sojourners, Explorations in Early American Culture, Pennsylvania Heritage, Education Week, The Cresset, Books and Culture, Christianity Today, Christian Century, and Common Place. He has also written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News, USA Today, Al-Jazeera, Washington Post, CBS News, New York Daily News, AOL News, Houston Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Harrisburg Patriot News, Salt Lake City Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Religion News Service, and other newspapers. He blogs daily at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, a blog devoted to American history, religion, politics, and academic life.
Co-sponsored by the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics. This talk is part of monthly history colloquia series. These lectures are open to the Calvin community – students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends – and all are welcomed and encouraged to attend. Come early to enjoy refreshments and conversation, and feel free to ask questions or join the discussion at the end.
Last night in Washington D.C., University of Chicago philosopher delivered the 2017 National Endowment for the Humanities Jefferson Lecture. Several Messiah College students and faculty were in attendance.
WILLIAM D. ADAMS: Your book Not for Profit made the case for the importance of the humanities in American democratic life. Have things changed substantially since it was published in 2010?
MARTHA C. NUSSBAUM: Data on humanities majors is still a source of concern, but there’s been a big increase in total enrollments in humanities courses in community colleges. And in adult education, too, there’s been a huge upsurge. The preface to the new edition of my book gives data and sources on all this.
We are lucky in the United States to have our liberal arts system. In most countries, if you go to university, you have to decide for all English literature or no literature, all philosophy or no philosophy. But we have a system that is one part general education and one part specialization. If your parents say you’ve got to major in computer science, you can do that. But you can also take general education courses in the humanities, and usually you have to.
ADAMS: Yet I’ve sensed some weakening of our resolve to support the liberal arts. What should we be doing to reinforce your way of thinking about higher education?
NUSSBAUM: There are three points you can make. The one I think should be front and center is that the humanities prepare students to be good citizens and help them understand a complicated, interlocking world. The humanities teach us critical thinking, how to analyze arguments, and how to imagine life from the point of view of someone unlike yourself.
Secondly, we need to emphasize their economic value. Business leaders love the humanities because they know that to innovate you need more than rote knowledge. You need a trained imagination.
Singapore and China, which don’t want to encourage democratic citizenship, are expanding their humanities curricula. These reforms are all about developing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
But the humanities also teach us the value, even for business, of criticism and dissent. When there’s a culture of going along to get along, where whistleblowers are discouraged, bad things happen and businesses implode.
The third point is about the search for meaning. Life is about more than earning a living, and if you’re not in the habit of thinking about it, you can end up middle-aged or even older and shocked to realize that your life seems empty.
Read the entire interview here.
And here is a shot of the Messiah College contingency in Washington, courtesy of Pete Powers’s Facebook page:
On Monday afternoon I will be at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts to deliver the 2017 Franz Lecture. My lecture is titled “Why Study History?” The lecture is scheduled for 4:00 in Ken Olson Science Center on campus. Learn more here. The lecture is free and, as far as I know, is open to the public.
Miya Tokumitsu, an art historian at the University of Melbourne, is the latest academic to defend the virtues of the lecture in an age when “lab-and project-based learning…flipped classrooms and online instruction” are gaining in popularity. Tokumitsu, in a recent piece at Jacobin, argues that the lecture “remains a powerful tool for teaching, communicating, and community building.”
Here is a taste:
Lectures are not designed to transmit knowledge directly from the lecturers’ lips to students’ brains — this idea is a false one, exacerbated by the problematic phrase “content delivery.” Although lecturers (hopefully) possess information that, at the beginning of a lecture, their students do not, they are not merely delivering content. Rather, giving a lecture forces instructors to communicate their knowledge through argument in real time.
The best lectures draw on careful preparation as well as spontaneous revelation. While speaking to students and gauging their reactions, lecturers come to new conclusions, incorporate them into the lecture, and refine their argument. Lectures impart facts, but they also model argumentation, all the while responding to their audience’s nonverbal cues. Far from being one-sided, lectures are a social occasion.
The regular timing of lectures contributes to their sociality, establishing a course’s rhythm. The weekly lecture, or pair of lectures, draws students together at the same time and place, providing a set of ideas to digest while reading supplementary material and breaking into smaller discussion sections. Classrooms are communities, and typically lectures are the only occasion for the entire group to convene physically. Remove the impetus to gather — either by insinuating that recorded lectures are just as effective or by making the lecture optional — and the benefits of community disappear.
Read the entire piece here. Tokumitsu seems to favor plenary lectures alongside smaller discussion groups and discussions of texts.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Ed Larson of Pepperdine University School of Law will deliver a lecture entitled “The Election of 1800 & the Birth Partisan Presidential Politics” on Monday, February 27, 2017. The lecture is free and open to the public. I hope to see some of you there.
Last week I drove down Interstate 81 into the Cumberland Gap to give the annual Kincaid Lecture at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. I had never been to this part of Tennessee before and it was a beautiful day for driving. (I also had my satellite radio tuned to channel 20–E Street Radio!). The university is located adjacent to Cumberland Gap National Park.
I had never heard of Lincoln Memorial University before Tom Mackie, the Director of the Lincoln Library and Museum, invited me to visit. My lecture was titled “The Bible in the Age of Lincoln: The American Bible Society and the Origins of Christian America.” It focused on the creation of the American Bible Society, the role of benevolent associations and Christian reform movements in antebellum America, and the American Bible Society’s attempt to supply a Bible to every American family and do it in two years (1829-1831).
Lincoln Memorial University has a fascinating history. As its website notes:
Lincoln Memorial University grew out of love and respect for Abraham Lincoln and today honors his name, values, and spirit. As the legend goes, in 1863 Lincoln suggested to General O. O. Howard, a Union Army officer, that when the Civil War ended he hoped General Howard would organize a great university for the people of this area.
Mackie runs a museum and library that contains the largest collection of Lincoln artifacts in the country and some important archival collections of prominent figures from the 19th-century. During my tour of the library I got to see Lincoln’s cane, English china that Lincoln purchased in 1858, a traveling exhibit on Lincoln and the Constitution, a piece of Lincoln’s hair, porcelain vases created to promote the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, every picture of Lincoln ever taken, and a bunch of ephemera commemorating Lincoln’s death and legacy. Mackie is completing a doctoral dissertation on this ephemera that situates Lincolnalia in the fields of memory, material culture, and dime store museums. It is going to make a great book.
It’s going to be a busy couple of months:
September 22: I’ll be giving the Kincaid Lecture at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee: “The Bible in the Age of Lincoln: The American Bible Society and the Origins of Christian America.”
September 26: I’ll be in Quincy, MA where I will be delivering the Donald Yerxa Lecture in History at Eastern Nazarene College.
September 29: I will be guest on “Breaks@Messiah College,” a local online video show. I’ll be discussing social media and the 2016 POTUS election.
October 1: I am looking forward to spending the day in Philadelphia with the students in my Revolutionary America course at Messiah College.
October 6: It’s off to Houston where I will be giving a lecture on the history of the American Bible Society at the Dunham Bible Museum on the campus of Houston Baptist University.
October 13: I will be leading a discussion of my book The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society at the “Religions in America” workshop at the University of Chicago.
October 24: I will not be traveling on this day, but I am looking forward to Skyping with students from South Carroll High School in Sykesville, MD on the writing and podcasting of history.
October 27: Back to Chicagoland to speak in chapel at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. I’ll be talking about the Bible in America.
October 28: I am looking forward to discussing The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society with Doug Sweeney’s classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL.
October 31: I’ll be spending the day at Centre College in Danville, KY and will offer a public lecture on “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?”
I hope to meet you on the road this Fall!
Next week (Sept. 22) I am making my first visit to Harrogate, TN. I will be delivering the Kincaid Lecture at Lincoln Memorial University. My lecture is titled: “The Bible in the Age of Lincoln: The American Bible Society and the Origins of Christian America.”
Here is the press release from LMU:
Harrogate, Tennessee, August 18, 2016—Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum will present the 2016 Kincaid Lecture Series at 10 a.m. on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Dr. John Fea will present The Bible in the Age of Lincoln: The American Bible Society and the Origin of Christian America based on his book The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society (Oxford University Press, $29.95).
“While his book gives us a seminal history of an organization that has influenced American and world cultures, Dr. Fea’s presentation will closely examine the bible of Lincoln’s time and how it shaped policy and society during the Civil War,” Museum Director Thomas Mackie said. “I am sure his insights will inspire each of us to examine how the Bible is impacting the current election.”
In The Bible Cause, Fea examines the American Bible Society (ABS), whose primary mission at its founding in 1816 was to distribute the Bible to as many people as possible. In the book, Fea demonstrates how the organization’s mission has caused it to intersect at nearly every point with the history of the United States. Today, ABS is a Christian ministry based in Philadelphia with a $300 million endowment and a mission to engage 100 million Americans with the Bible by 2025.
“The Bible Cause is far more than a definitive history of the American Bible Society, though it succeeds admirably in that respect,” said Margaret Bendroth, executive director of the Congregational Library and Archives. “John Fea also tells a broader story about American culture, how religion came to play such a central role in shaping national identity and how, in turn, secular ideals have shaped American belief and behavior. It is an important story, told with affection, care and thoughtful critique.”
Fea serves as professor and chair of the department of history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and is the author of a blog entitled The Way of Improvement Leads Home. He teaches courses including United States History to 1865, Colonial America, Revolutionary America, Civil War America, Teaching History and Social Studies, History of American Evangelicalism and Pennsylvania History.
Fea is the author or editor of four other books including Why Study History?:Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Baker Academic); Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Westminster/John Knox Press); Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation (University of Notre Dame Press) and The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press).
Supported by the Dr. Robert L. Kincaid Endowed Research Center, the lecture is free and open to the public. A book signing and dessert reception will take place at 6 p.m. in the museum. For more information or to register, contact Program and Tourism Director Carol Campbell at 423.869.6439.
The Dr. Robert L. Kincaid Endowed Research Center promotes the scholarly study and public understanding of the influence created by the Judeo-Christian Ethic upon the era and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is located on the historic campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. Housing one of the top five Lincoln and Civil War private collections in the world, the Museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about this and other programs at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, call 423-869-6235.
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee.
On Wednesday, February 24 at 7:30 PM with “A Sea Change: Naval Warfare in the American Revolution during the Spring of 1778,” a lecture by Dennis M. Conrad. There were significant changes in the nature of naval warfare in the spring of 1778, including the internationalization of the naval war, a re-direction in British strategy, and the emergence of significant Loyalist privateering activity, to name but a few. Dr. Conrad is Documentary Histories Technical Lead at the Naval History and Heritage Command. Using materials taken from the newly-published Naval Documents of the American Revolution, volume 12, he will provide a new and exciting perspective on America’s naval heritage.
On Tuesday, March 15 at 7:30 PM, DLAR will present “Maryland Immortals: Washington’s Elite Regiments and the Band of Brothers Who Led Them,” a lecture by combat historian Patrick K. O’Donnell. In August 1776, General George Washington found his troops outmanned and outmaneuvered at the Battle of Brooklyn. But thanks to a series of desperate charges by a single heroic regiment, famously known as the “Immortal 400,” Washington was able to evacuate his men and the nascent Continental Army lived to fight another day. Drawing on his new book,Washington’s Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution, Mr. O’Donnell will tell the “boots on the ground” story of the “Maryland Line,” one of the Continental Army’s first elite outfits, which fought not just in Brooklyn, but in key battles including Trenton, Princeton, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown. Patrick K. O’Donnell is the author of ten books, includingBeyond Valor, Dog Company, and First SEALs.
DLAR will welcome T. H. Breen on Tuesday, April 12 at 7:30 PM to present “George Washington’s Journey to the American People.” In the first months of his presidency, George Washington boldly transformed American political culture by organizing a journey to all thirteen original states, a demanding tour designed to promote the strength and prosperity of a fragile new republic. The trip taught Washington the power of public opinion in securing support for the federal union, an achievement that he saw as the fulfillment of the Revolution. Professor Breen’s new book is George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation, and Gordon Wood says “(Breen) has given us new insights into the acute political skills of our first president and the state of the county in the 1790s.”
Is the lecture dead?
Not according to Molly Worthen, the University of North Carolina history professor and the author of Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism.
In today’s New York Times she defends the lecture. Here is a taste:
Those who want to abolish the lecture course do not understand what a lecture is. A lecture is not the declamation of an encyclopedia article. In the humanities, a lecture “places a premium on the connections between individual facts,” Monessa Cummins, the chairwoman of the classics department and a popular lecturer at Grinnell College, told me. “It is not a recitation of facts, but the building of an argument.”
Absorbing a long, complex argument is hard work, requiring students to synthesize, organize and react as they listen. In our time, when any reading assignment longer than a Facebook post seems ponderous, students have little experience doing this. Some research suggests that minority and low-income students struggle even more. But if we abandon the lecture format because students may find it difficult, we do them a disservice. Moreover, we capitulate to the worst features of the customer-service mentality that has seeped into the university from the business world. The solution, instead, is to teach those students how to gain all a great lecture course has to give them.
When Kjirsten Severson first began teaching philosophy at Clackamas Community College in Oregon, she realized that she needed to teach her students how to listen. “Where I needed to start was by teaching them how to create space in their inner world, so they could take on this argument on a clean canvas,” she told me. She assigns an excerpt from Rebecca Shafir’s “The Zen of Listening” to help students learn to clear their minds and focus. This ability to concentrate is not just a study skill. As Dr. Cummins put it, “Can they listen to a political candidate with an analytical ear? Can they go and listen to their minister with an analytical ear? Can they listen to one another? One of the things a lecture does is build that habit.”
Listening continuously and taking notes for an hour is an unusual cognitive experience for most young people. Professors should embrace — and even advertise — lecture courses as an exercise in mindfulness and attention building, a mental workout that counteracts the junk food of nonstop social media. More and more of my colleagues are banning the use of laptops in their classrooms. They say that despite initial grumbling, students usually praise the policy by the end of the semester. “I think the students value a break from their multitasking lives,” Andrew Delbanco, a professor of American Studies at Columbia University and an award-winning teacher, told me. “The classroom is an unusual space for them to be in: Here’s a person talking about complicated ideas and challenging books and trying not to dumb them down, not playing for laughs, requiring 60 minutes of focused attention.”
Read the entire article here.
On Thursday I will be giving a lecture on religion and the American founding and meeting with a few history classes at Penn State-New Kensington (greater Pittsburgh area). Thanks to John Craig Hammond of the History Department at PSU-New Kensington for the invite. If you are in the area I hope you will stop by. Here is the press release:
I am honored to be delivering the 6th Annual Charles Coil Colloquium at Heritage Christian University on Friday. My topic will be “Religion and the American Founding.” If you live in the Muscle Shoals region feel free to stop by. Here is some info:
At Brown University. Great stuff at the beginning of the lecture on the historical imagination. And Gordon Wood is in the audience! I think he would like Marsden’s opening comments.
Noll lecture at Westmont College. And a nice introduction by Rick Pointer.
New Jersey’s Presbyterian Rebellion
At the time of the American Revolution Presbyterians were the largest religious denomination and most important cultural and political institution in New Jersey, yet their role in the coming of the American Revolution has been largely ignored by historians. Presbyterian clergy and laypeople, including William Livingston, Elias Boudinot, James Caldwell, John Witherspoon, and Jacob Green, fused religious and political ideas to create a powerful impetus for revolution. Presbyterian communities in Princeton, Morristown, Hanover, Greenwich, and Elizabeth-Town, to name a few, were bastions of political radicalism and Christian patriotism. This talk will examine the powerful influence of Presbyterians in the forging of an independent New Jersey and challenge us to think about how we might integrate Presbyterians into the larger narrative of the American Revolution in the state.
Register now and mail your check by November 14th! For more information visitwww.history.nj.gov.
The Forum is presented by the New Jersey Historical Commission in partnership with The New Jersey State Archives, New Jersey State Museum and Kean University, and with partial funding from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. The conference is free, but as a state agency the New Jersey Historical Commission is unable to pay for meals. There is a $25 charge to purchase breakfast and lunch on the 22nd.
Forget about Hobby Lobby or the U.S. loss to Belgium in the World Cup. It looks like recently retired University of Virginia historian Peter Onuf has reopened the MOOC debate.
Here is the background:
Yesterday morning Michael Blaakman of The Junto published a post titled “‘Let a thousand MOOCs bloom’: An Interview with Peter Onuf.” Onuf recently completed a MOOC (“massive open online course”) for the online education company Coursera and the University of Virginia titled “The Age of Jefferson.” In the interview Onuf discusses his “dubious” feelings about teaching a MOOC, how his decision to teach the course was based on his “proprietary interest in Jefferson,” the struggle of translating the humanities to the MOOC format, and the need to teach graduate students to be better lecturers. In the end, Onuf encourages historians to embrace the MOOC.
It was only a few hours after the Onuf interview appeared that historians began to hit the blogosphere with reactions to it. First up was Mark Cheatham, the author of Jacksonian America blog. Cheathem offers several important critiques of the MOOC. I encourage you to read his entire post. It is filled with links that will get you up to speed on the way academic historians have been thinking about MOOCS over the past couple of years. Here is a taste:
That brings me to the second point about Onuf’s post. He alludes to the threat that MOOCs pose to future professors, including his own grad students. The reality is, MOOCs, as they are conceived by venture capitalists and administrators, are meant to be taught, not by junior faculty who have great performance skills, but by the faculty [Jonathan Rees] calls “superprofessors….”
“Overall, this professor had me convinced in his short lecture that America was without a doubt founded as a Christian nation.”
Source: Messiah College education major in an extra-credit reflection paper on my 2014 Religion and Society Lecture.