What about the Gettysburg monuments? A local take.

Lee at Gettysburg

Some of you have listened to Episode 70 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast featuring Gettysburg University historian Scott Hancock. In that episode, I talked with Scott about racial injustice in the wake of the George Floyd killing.

In today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Scott brings the discussion to bear on Confederate monuments at the Gettysburg National Military Park. Here is a taste of Peter Smith’s piece:

Mr. Hancock said he can understand having historical markers for where regiments fought and soldiers died. 

“I would identify myself as a follower of Christ and a Christian,” Mr. Hancock said. “All human life is made in the image of God and valuable, whoever they were fighting for. The loss of life is tragic.

But, he added, “The state monuments fall into a different category.”

Read the entire piece here.

Why so many Southern Baptists do not believe in systemic racism

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If you want to understand what is dividing the Southern Baptist Convention today, watch this documentary produced by a group called Founders Ministries :

The discussion of race in America picks-up at the 33:00 minute mark when Thomas Ascol of Founders Ministries starts talking about “critical race theory” and “intersectionality.”

Why are some Southern Baptists so afraid of critical race theory?

I have never met a Southern Baptist who accepts every dimension of critical race theory. So I am imagining much of the concern regarding these ideas is best explained by the old slippery slope theory. In other words, critical race theory will lead to compromises in other areas of doctrine that will put Southern Baptists on the road to theological liberalism. These conservative Southern Baptists, like the fundamentalists of the early 20th-century, are always guarding against declension. In his wonderful book The Sin of Certainty, theologian Peter Enns compares this kind of Christian faith to “sentry duty.”

We can get at this issue in a slightly different way by thinking about the debates over social justice that have been raging in conservative evangelicalism.

There is much that is true about critical race theory. For example, it forces us to come to grips with the fact that some groups in society oppress other groups. In this sense, there are parts of critical race theory that illuminate the impact of human sin on modern life. Is anyone in the Founders Ministries group going to say that white people have not oppressed black people in American history? Is anyone going to deny that white Christians have used their power in ways that are unChristian? Critical race theory might be one way to make sense of this. If James Cone can help me become more aware of racism and teach me how to have a greater solidarity with the oppressed, then why wouldn’t I want to read him, engage him, and employ some of his ideas in my work? All truth is God’s truth. This seems to be the general thrust of the so-called Resolution 9 discussed in this video.

So what is really going on in this documentary? It seems like the folks who created it want to avoid having hard conversations about racism in America. In fact, it seems like they don’t want anyone in the Southern Baptist Convention to have conversations that might lead to more effective efforts at dealing with racism in church and society. They are trying to scare ordinary Southern Baptists by telling them that there is some evil Marxist force working in subtle ways to undermine Christianity. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

When I watched this documentary, at least the parts related to race, it seemed like I was watching the Southern Baptist version of a debate that recently took place in the House of Representatives:

Let’s remember that the Southern Baptist Convention was born as a pro-slavery denomination and remained committed to white supremacy for much of its history. As a result, white supremacy is deeply embedded in all of its institutions and has been for 150 years. Repentance, apologies, and spiritual transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit is necessary, but so is structural change.

Those looking to bring such structural change to the convention should be glad that Founders Ministries felt the need to produce this documentary. As an outsider looking in, it tells me that despite the Trumpism of Robert Jeffress, Jack Graham, Richard Land, Greg Laurie, and Al Mohler, some things are starting to change in the Southern Baptist Convention.

But I am also sure that folks like Jarvis Williams, Matt Chandler, Dwight McKissic, Matthew Hall, and Curtis Woods would say that the convention has a long way to go. As University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter reminds us, these kinds of deep structural changes often take generations and can only “be described in retrospect.”

Over at Religion News Service, Yonat Shimron has some good reporting on evangelicals and systemic racism. She quotes Redeemer Presbyterian Church founder Tim Keller: “You can’t simply say, ‘We’re going to convert everyone and convict them of the individual sin of racism and everything will be OK.”

If you want to dig deeper, a good place to start is Episode 48 (Jemar Tisby) and Episode 70 (Scott Hancock) of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.

Wednesday night court evangelical roundup

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What have Trump’s evangelicals been saying since our last update?

It looks likes COVID-19 was present at Robert Jeffress’s Sunday morning political rally at First Baptist-Dallas.

Newt Gingrich is on the Eric Metaxas Show today talking about his new book Trump and the American Future. Gingrich says that 2020 will be the most consequential election since 1860. Gingrich has been using this line (or something similar) for a long time. He probably does not remember that he said the exact same thing about the 2016 election (go to the 1:55 mark of this video). And before that he said the exact same thing about the 2012 election. In 2008, he said the outcome of the election “will change the entire rest of our lives.” In 1994, he said that the midterm elections “were the most consequential nonpresidential election of the 20th century.” Every election is consequential. How long are we going to listen to Gingirch before we call this what it is: fear-mongering. Metaxas, an evangelical Christian, is facilitating this.

Midway through the interview, Metaxas’s binary thinking kicks-in. He continues to see everything through a culture-war rhetoric. In his Manichean world view, there are only two options: “Marxism” or something he calls “a Judeo-Christian American Western ethic.” Either Metaxas is incapable of nuance or else he is catering to the black-and-white thinking of his audience. I would put my money on the later.

Let’s remember that Western Civilization brought the idea of human rights and freedom to the world. Western Civilization birthed the ideals that ended slavery in much of the world. It also failed to provide human rights and liberty to people of color. We are still living with the results of these failures. It is called systemic racism. Two things can be true at the same time, but as Metaxas and the folks at Salem Radio know well, complexity does not lead to good ratings.

The discussion moves again to monuments. As I said yesterday, when people tear down monuments indiscriminately it only provides fodder for the paranoid style we see in this Metaxas-Gingrich interview. Metaxas once again says that the tearing down of statues is part of a spiritual assault against God. At one point, he applies this thinking to “all monuments.” Gingrich connects the tearing down of monuments to the decline of Western Civilization.  Gingrich has been saying the same thing for over thirty years.

In other court evangelical news, Richard Land needs to stop pontificating about early American history. This “New England writ-large” way of thinking about colonial America not only fails to recognize the intolerance and racism of Puritan society, but it also reads Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” speech through the lens of Ronald Reagan’s 1989 farewell address to the nation. Here is Land:

By the way, if you want some good history about New England as a “city on a hill,” I recommend:

Fox’s Laura Ingraham is quoting from Tom Paine’s The Crisis. I am not sure Paine, who was a revolutionary who championed women’s rights, anti-slavery and the working class, would appreciate being invoked by a Fox News host. Let’s remember that John Adams thought Paine’s Common Sense was so radical that he called it “a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass.” In an 1805 letter, Adams wrote:

I know not whether any man in the world has had more influence on its inhabitants of affairs than Thomas Paine. There can be no severer satire on the age. For such a mongrel between pig and puppy, begot by a wild boar on a bitch wolf, never before in any age of the world was suffered by the poltroonery of mankind to run through a career of mischief. Call it then the Age of Paine….

Court evangelical Ralph Reed retweeted Ingraham today:

Paula White is talking about idolatry (she doesn’t mention nationalism as an idol) and some pretty strange theology:

James Robison somehow managed to turn an encouraging word to his followers suffering from COVID-19 into a screed in defense of Confederate monuments, Donald Trump, and Christian nationalism. Satan, in the form of “the Left,” needs to be removed from the United States! Watch it here.

The CDC and Tony Fauci are warning against July 4 gatherings. But Liberty University’s Falkirk Center is not:

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when court evangelicals talk about “truth.” This is from the Falkirk Center’s Facebook page:

Much of the modern day church has fallen victim to the woke mob’s revised Christianity- where “compassion” has replaced truth as the more important moral aim. While we are called to speak the truth in love, we are not called to entertain lies simply because it may make someone feel better. Too many Christians have compromised on this in order to be culturally relevant and to be seen as favorable and kind. We must weed out this self-glorifying corruption in the Church and speak boldly for what we know to be true.

Here is the Falkirk Center’s Jenna Ellis:

Hi Jenna: Let me encourage you to pick-up a copy of this book.  🙂

Trump wonder-boy Charlie Kirk thinks four centuries of systemic racism can be fixed in eight years.

Until next time…

Happy Birthday to “The Way of Improvement Leads Home” Blog

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On June 24, 2020, The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog turned twelve years years old.

Here are a some of the year’s highlights:

  • We dropped seventeen episodes of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast with some greats guests, including: Johann Neem, Larry Glickman, Darren Dochuk, Sarah Myers, Rick Bell, Mandy McMichael, Melissa Ziobro, Jeffrey Engel, Thomas Mackaman, Gillis Harp, Eric Miller, Serena Zabin, Susan Fletcher, Lindsay Chervinsky, Paul Putz, and Scott Hancock.  We also said goodbye to the podcast co-creator and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling. If you are not already supporting our work, please consider helping to keep this podcast (and blog) going! Learn how you can help via our Patreon page.
  • 59 authors visited The Author’s Corner since our last birthday. You can read them all here. Annie Thorn continues to do a great job at facilitating this feature.
  • Speaking of Annie, check out all 31 of this year’s “Out of the Zoo” columns.
  • We started posting all our blog posts to my new Facebook author’s page. If you want to follow the blog that way, feel free to follow the page. The comments are open.
  • Our readership continues to grow steadily.

We will continue to bring you the kind of content you have expected from us over the last twelve years! I want to thank everyone who has read and supported the blog and encouraged me in this work over the years.

Episode 70: Systemic Racism

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If our mailbox in the wake of the death of George Floyd is any indication, many listeners of this podcast and readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog are making honest efforts to understand the meaning of phrases like “systemic racism” and “white privilege.” Can racism in America be solved by a simple change of individual character? Or does it require much deeper shifts in the ways we order our collective lives? In this episode, we will think through these issues with Dr. Scott Hancock, a professor of African-American history and Africana Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?p=ADL7692401175

Churches and the memory of the Confederacy

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Cathedral of the Rockies, Boise, Idaho

Last night I ran across this article from The Spokesman-Review about a Boise, Idaho church that will remove a stained-glass window featuring Robert E. Lee.  Here is a taste:

BOISE, Idaho – One of Boise’s largest churches is removing a controversial reminder of Idaho’s connections to the Confederacy – a stained-glass window featuring Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The Cathedral of the Rockies installed stained-glass windows for its then-new building in downtown Boise in 1960. Church documents show that the window, featuring Lee standing with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, was meant as an “inclusive nod to Southerners who have settled in Boise,” said the Rev. Duane Anders, senior pastor.

“Clearly, white Southerners,” Anders said.

As protests over the death of George Floyd and police violence against Black Americans continue, communities are increasingly demanding the removal of Confederate monuments and other symbols that elevate racist figures in American history.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the removal of the state’s largest Confederate statue in Richmond. People in Boston beheaded a statue of Christopher Columbus, which was later removed by the city. The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to strip Confederate names, symbols and icons from all U.S. military bases despite vocal opposition from President Donald Trump.

At the urging of community members, the mostly white leaders and congregation of the Cathedral of the Rockies, the downtown campus of the Boise First United Methodist Church, said the time is now for their church.

“It’s not about removing sinners from the window,” Anders told the Statesman last week, “but about removing a racist symbol that clearly says to some people that you’re less than, and that you’re not really welcome.” Phillip Thompson, the executive director of the Idaho Black History Museum, is one of many people who have been urging church leaders to address the window since 2017.

Read the rest here.

I don’t know of any congregation that has taken racial reconciliation and its Confederate past more seriously than St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Read about it here. And then listen to Episode 43 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.

Resources on the History of Race in America from The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast

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We have done several episodes on race in America at The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast. They are now more relevant than ever as people are showing an interest in learning more about the African-American experience.

Episode 8: Historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf on Thomas Jefferson

Episode 16: Historian Manisha Sinha talks about the history of the abolitionist movement.

Episode 25: Historian Kelly Baker talks about religion and the history of the KKK.

Episode 27: Historian Julian Chambliss discusses the relationship between race, the environment, and Mar-a-Lago.

Episode 28: Public historian and Stax Museum director Jeff Kollath talks about the “Memphis Sound.”

Episode 39: Historian Nicole Hemmer on the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia race riots.

Episode 43: Public historian Chris Graham on how a Richmond, Virginia congregation is coming to grips with its racist past.

Episode 48: Historian Jemar Tisby on Christianity and race in America.

Episode 58:  Historian Richard Bell on the “reverse underground railroad.”

Episode 63: Historian Tom Mackaman on the 1619 Project

Episode 69: Sports historian Paul Putz on the legacy of Michael Jordan

Coronavirus Diary: June 2, 2020

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Sayville Brethren in Christ Church

When I published my last diary entry on May 23, 2020, my Pennsylvania county had 584 coronavirus cases and 46 deaths. Eleven days later, we have 644 cases and 52 deaths.

The first day of summer (June 20) is still a few weeks away, but for those of us who follow the academic calendar, the 2020 summer of quarantine has begun.

The social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death has diverted my attention away from the coronavirus. But the pessimist in me worries that all of these protests and demonstrations, coupled with the “opening” of the states, will come back to haunt us.

It will be a different summer. I plan to spend it writing, reading and teaching. On the latter front, a version of the Gilder-Lehrman “Princeton Seminar” will be making its way online in July. I am happy to be teaching colonial America again with Nate McAlister.

We are also hoping to do weekly podcasts this summer, but we are not yet there financially. (Here is how you can help).

Messiah College announced that it will open for face-to-face instruction a week early (August 25) and end the Fall semester a week before Thanksgiving. I will be teaching two courses: U.S. History to 1865 and Pennsylvania History. I am waiting to learn more about what the method of delivery will look like.

I tend to process things through writing, but not everything I write on this blog makes it to Facebook. If you are interested in getting all of the posts that appear here, either subscribe to the e-mail feed (the black “Follow” button on the right) or check back regularly. I don’t re-post everything on Facebook because I don’t want to clog-up people’s feeds, although every post does go automatically to Twitter. And for those who think I post too much, feel free to unfollow or unfriend on Facebook. Seriously, I will not be offended! 🙂  Thanks to everyone who reads regularly, especially those of you who are new to the blog.

My nerves were raw this weekend. I had a hard time balancing righteous anger (if you could call it that) with just plain-old unhealthy anger. I was mad at the police. I was mad at the rioters attacking the police. I was mad at the looters and the violence. I was mad at Trump and his administration. I was mad at white evangelical pastors who were not using their Sunday services to address what was happening in the world. I was mad at evangelical friends on social media who were defending their churches for not addressing racism because they thought the church should not be “getting political.” I was mad at myself for being so angry. I was mad at myself for not being angry enough. If I lashed out at you in a social media space, and I have not already contacted you directly, I apologize.

I am an introvert and do not always gravitate to people or revel in a sense of “community.” But the longer I stay at home, the more I find myself wanting to get in touch with people. I haven’t talked this much to my brother in years. The other day I sent some long-overdue texts to old college friends  This longing to connect also helped me get through some of the anger. Let me explain.

I have several friends in the Christian ministry. Three of them were preaching on Sunday. I found myself lifted spiritually by their words.

Andy, who pastors two small, rural Brethren in Christ churches in central Pennsylvania and proudly calls himself “a middle-class white kid from the sticks,” eulogized Joe, a partner in ministry, a spiritual mentor, a product of the Jim Crow African-American South, and one of his best friends. Andy noted that the celebration of Joe’s life–and the work of racial reconciliation that defined their long friendship–somehow felt diminished by the pain of what happened to George Floyd. But in the end, Andy would not let that happen. His sermon, and the previous day’s memorial service–offered hope. In his own humble way, Andy pointed to the possible.

Bob, who pastors a small Presbyterian Church (USA) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, connected the Holy Spirit’s coming on the Day of Pentecost to the social unrest and racial divisions in our country. On the day the Holy Spirit arrived, he reminded us, the disciples were “sheltering in place,” fearful of persecution. Yet the Holy Spirit met them where they were. The Spirit fell on people of all races who shared a common faith.

Paul, who preached at an Armenian Presbyterian Church in Fresno, California, offered a sermon of lament and mission. He challenged the members of the congregation to consider their role in these troubled times and remain open to opportunities to be a witness for the Gospel. At the start of the sermon, he read a passage from Christian writer Peter Heck:

Take the tragedy that unfolded on the streets of Minneapolis this week, but do it from the view that none of us likely considered. View it not through the eyes of your biases (original or adopted), but view it through the eyes of heaven:

An image-bearer of the Creator was suffocated to death by a fellow image-bearer of the Creator in front of a group of image-bearers of the Creator. The act sparked image-bearers of the Creator to lash out at other image-bearers of the Creator, accusing them of all manners of evil. As these groups of image-bearers of the Creator exchanged accusations from places of pride, defiance, bitterness, and anger, still other image-bearers of the Creator moved to pillage and loot a city full of image-bearers of the Creator, destroying their property and livelihoods in the name of justice.

This is what I meant by seeing a hopelessly marred creation begging for redemption.

Hope.

Until next time…

Episode 68: The History of the Presidential Cabinet

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The members of Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet are regular features of the 24-hour news cycle. He has fired members of his cabinet who challenge his thinking on a host of foreign and domestic issues. Just ask Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Jeff Sessions. But how did our first president, George Washington, imagine the role of the cabinet? In this episode, we think historically about this important part of the executive branch with historian Lindsay Chervinsky, author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL7730217358

Chervinsky

We Want The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast to Go Weekly This Summer…

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But we can’t do it without your help!

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is back after a short COVID-19 hiatus. We have been out of the studio, but with the help of studio producer-extraordinaire Kaci Lehman (now a resident of Nashville!), we have figured out a way to produce episodes with decent sound quality.

In the past, we have taken summers off. But this year we are hoping to not only produce summer episodes, but drop one every week! Right now we are close to making this happen, but we still need a bit more support. If you are interesting in supporting the podcast, or our work here at the blog, click on “Support,” follow the link to our Patreon page, and join our community of patrons. Your money goes directly toward our work here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. And all of the benefits of membership–mugs and books–are still available! You can also go directly to the Patreon page by clicking here.

We already have three summer episodes in the can.

Episode 67 (Dropped on May 24, 2020): Public historian Susan Fletcher, author of Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures, talks about the history of your favorite games and toys. This episode dropped on May 24, 2020.

Episode 68 (Drops on May 31, 2020): Historian Lindsay Chervinsky, author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institutiontalks about the first presidential cabinet.

Episode 69 (Drops on  June 7, 2020): We talk NBA history, Michael Jordan, and the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” with Baylor University historian of sport Paul Putz.

Stay tuned.  We are ready and eager to go with more episodes, but we can’t do it without you! Shoot me a DM on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what guests you want to hear from this summer.

And, as always, a BIG THANK YOU to our current and ongoing patrons!

Episode 67: Exploring the History of Childhood and Play

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We are back! COVID-19 forced us to make some changes to our production, but the podcast is ready to forge ahead into the Summer. Since many Americans are still stuck at home playing games with their families to bide the time, we thought it would be fun to devote an entire episode to your favorite childhood toys and playthings. Public historian Susan Fletcher, author of the recently released Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures, joins us.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL5307699911

 

What Stories Will You Tell About Coronavirus 2020?

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This kid just came home to continue her college education online. She is not happy about it, but she is making the best of it.

The coronavirus story is far from complete, but I hope that many of you are collecting stories to pass on to your families and communities. Let me encourage you to keep a diary or journal. Future historians will thank you for this. Here’s a start:

My life has not changed considerably since this pandemic hit the United States. In fact, I feel a little guilty as I watch so many people whose lives are changing drastically as a result of the coronavirus and are now overburdened with work–especially healthcare providers and people in leadership. I am trying to continue my calling as an educator during the crisis. I have a platform here at the blog and I have been trying to do as many posts at possible to help folks put this pandemic in some kind of larger perspective. We are getting a record number of readers these days, so thanks for following along.

I have largely self-quarantined. I had some kind of flu bug last week, but I have managed to recover. Joy now seems to have picked it up. But relatively speaking, we are all fine.

Today I stopped going to McDonalds to get my morning coffee and bought a Keurig. I am watching a lot of CNN and trying to stay up to speed on what is happening around the country. It is is important to stay informed in times like these.

I am currently on Spring Break. Joy is now working full-time from home. My youngest daughter Caroline came home from college on Tuesday night. She is continuing her semester online from her bedroom. Yesterday I was tempted to “sit on” on one her classes, but then thought better of it.

My eldest daughter Allyson is still in Grand Rapids. She learned last night that she will never take another face-to-face college course. She is sad about this news and we are sad for her. At this point we are not even sure if she will have a graduation ceremony.  She lives off-campus with her friends and is trying to make the most out of the last weeks of her college experience. Tonight she played Monopoly with her housemates. She is also battling some kind of non-corona flu bug.

I am proud of Caroline and Ally.  Both of them canceled Spring Break trips and they have been taking social distancing very seriously. I wish I could say the same about their peers across the country.

Next Wednesday I start online teaching. Fortunately, I have three sections of the same course. I am still working on platforms and approach. My mailboxes and social media feeds are flooded with links to online teaching resources.  Sometimes even good advice can be overwhelming.

While the blog continues, I am not sure about the immediate future of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.  We will not have access to our Messiah College recording studio, so we will need to decide whether to cancel the season or try to continue with really bad sound quality.  We still have one more episode in the can, so look for Episode 66 with historian Serena Zabin, author of an amazing new book on the Boston Massacre.  I know some of you offer financially support our podcasting work.  Once we make a decision, I will be in touch via Patreon.

What stories will you tell about living through this historic pandemic? Even you think, as I do, that your stories are boring and commonplace, you are doing a public service by writing them down.

Episode 65: “What Would Lasch Say?”

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The American historian and cultural critic Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) had a powerful influence on the world of ideas. What would the author of the best-selling Culture of Narcissism (1979) have to say about Donald Trump and his particular brand of populism? In this episode we talk about Lasch, Trump, populism, progress, and “evangelical elitism” with intellectual historian Eric Miller, author of the award-winning Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch (2010).

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL1257192517

Are You Listening to The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast?

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If not, you are missing a great season:

  • Johann Neem (Western Washington University) on the meaning of college
  • Lawrence Glickman (Cornell University) on the history of free enterprise
  • Darren Dochuck (University of Notre Dame) on evangelicals and oil
  • Sarah Myers (Messiah College) on the Women Airforce Service Pilots
  • Richard Bell (University of Maryland) on “the reverse underground railroad”
  • Mandy McMichael (Baylor University) on the Miss America Pageant
  • Melissa Ziobro (Monmouth University) on a Bruce Springsteen museum exhibit
  • Jeffrey Engel (Southern Methodist University) on presidential impeachment
  • Drew Dyrli Hermeling (The Stone School) on his retirement from the podcast
  • Thomas Mackaman (World Socialist Web Site and Kings College) on the 1619 Project
  • Gillis Harp (Grove City College) on Protestants and American conservatism

Forthcoming: Eric Miller on Christopher Lasch; Serena Zabin on the Boston Massacre; Katherine Stewart on the Christian Right; Lindsay Chervinsky on the first presidential cabinet; and more!

Download episodes or subscribe at Apple Podcasts.

We operate on shoe-string budget. If you would like to support our work (and possibly receive valuable gifts!), head over to our Patreon page and make a pledge or a one-time gift.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 63: The 1619 Project

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In August 2019, The New York Times Magazine published The 1619 Project, an attempt to reframe American history by “placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” American historians have praised and criticized the project. In this episode we talk with Thomas Mackaman, a history professor at Kings University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and a writer for World Socialist Web Site. Mackaman has not only criticized The 1619 Project, but has interviewed other critics of the project, including several award-winning historians. Why are socialists so upset about this project? What is the backstory behind Mackaman’s interviews with Gordon Wood, James McPherson, Clayborne Carson, and other 1619 Project critics? Anyone interested in debates over how historians do history and connect the past to present political and social issues will learn something from this episode.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL9483726242

Episode 62: Farewell Drew!

PodcastFor four years Drew Dyrli Hermeling has been the heart and soul of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast. We are saddened that he has decided to step away from his work here, but excited that he will have more time to devote to his history students at The Stone Independent School, a college-prep school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Drew joins us for one final episode to reminisce with John about their work together on this project.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL6323227287

Episode 61: Impeachment 101

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Are you watching Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial?  Are you trying to make sense of it all?  We want to help.  In this episode we talk with CNN presidential historian and Southern Methodist University professor Jeffrey Engel on the history of impeachment. Engel sheds light on the debates over impeachment in the Constitutional Convention, the historic meaning of “bribery” and “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and the inevitable political and partisan nature of American impeachments.

A Message to the Readers and Listeners of The Way of Improvement Leads Home

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As many of you know, we have a lot going on here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  We spend a lot of time each week trying to deliver curated and original content here at the blog.  The number of podcast downloads continue to grow.  At the moment, The Way of Improvement Leads Home (blog and podcast) employs an intern and a studio producer. We are also hoping to add another intern to help with booking guests.  I do not receive a cent for my work on the blog or the podcast.

We have been blogging for more than a decade and have never placed an advertisement on the blog.  People tell me that our refusal to run ads mean that we have missed, and are missing,  opportunities to make money on our content.  I have thought about posting ads to the blog, but then I remember how annoying it is to read websites and blogs with pop-up windows distracting readers from content.  We do air ads on The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast as part of our arrangement with Recorded History Podcast Network.  Sometimes we make as high as fifteen dollars a month on those ads!  🙂

We keep things going here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home through the generous support of our readers and listeners.  If you feel moved to support out work, please consider visiting our Patreon page and consider a pledge or a one-time gift.  And yes, signed books and mugs are still available!

Thanks!

John

Patreon

Sam Wineburg Demonstrates Historical Thinking

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Sam Wineburg, the world’s leading scholar on K-12 historical thinking, turns to his Twitter feed to show us how it is done.  Teachers take note:

Do you want to learn more about Wineburg’s work?  Check out his appearance on Episode 52 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.