We were at Politics & Prose last weekend! (Photos by David Bratt)
We were at Politics & Prose last weekend! (Photos by David Bratt)
I will be taking Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump to our nation’s capitol this weekend.
On Saturday at 1:00pm I will be at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington D.C. Get the details here.
On Sunday morning, I will be the guest on the 8:00-9:00am (EDT) of Washington Journal, CSPAN’s live call-in show. Get the details here.
But let’s not get too caught-up in Trump’s remarks to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concerning the burning of Washington D.C. in the War of 1812. Its slightly more complicated than the pundits make it out to be.
Jeet Heer brings some perspective here.
And Smithsonian.Com also ran a piece on this very issue in 2012.
I don’t know much about this meeting, but we need to get those in attendance a copy of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.
Here is the press release from the National Press Club:
Location: 4th Estate Room
Evangelical Leader, Rev. Rob Schenck, Joined by Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, and House Chaplain Patrick Conroy :
Donald Trump and the Moral Collapse of American Evangelicalism
Washington, D.C. (June 4, 2018) – Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck, President of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute and author of Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope and Love, will be joined by Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook (International Religious Freedom appointee of President Barak Obama) and Chaplain Patrick Conroy (House of Representatives Chaplain since 2011 who was asked by Speaker Ryan to resign) for a special luncheon open to all members of the news media and writers onTuesday, June 19 at the National Press Club from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the 4th Estate Restaurant (Limited Seating – RSVP required).
As some 1000 evangelical leaders meet with President Donald Trump at the Trump Hotel in Washington on June 19, Schenck, a dissenting evangelical, will lead a discussion, moderated by Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, regarding Donald Trump and the moral collapse of American evangelicalism and why this branch of Christianity needs reformation.
The Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck is the past chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance, America’s oldest association of evangelical ministers, missionaries, and military chaplains, as well as a current executive advisor to the World Evangelical Alliance. He is the President of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, the subject of the emmy-award winning documentary, The Armor of Light, and author of the newly released HarperCollins book, Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope and Love.
When: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 12:30 p.m.
Where: National Press Club, 4th Estate Restaurant, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C.
RSVP: To RSVP email Melinda Ronn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917-743-7836
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS EVENT, CONTACT:
Here is a taste of her report:
The girls in red, white and blue plaid skirts and boys in khaki pants climbed aboard the bus with their parents before it pulled away from the Red Lion Inn in Arlington, Va.
The 46 Mississippi sixth-graders from Tupelo Christian Preparatory School were headed to the Mall for a conservative “Christian history” tour — a theme that stands out in largely liberal, diverse Washington, even given the city’s role as host to tours for practically every interest.
“We are a nation founded by people who put their trust in God,” said Stephen McDowell, co-founder of the Providence Foundation, the right-leaning Christian educational nonprofit group in Charlottesville that sponsors the tours.
“What’s our motto?” McDowell called out to the students.
“In God We Trust!” they yelled back in unison.
“America is exceptional,” McDowell continued. “This nation was unlike any in history.”
The tours attempt to explain the buildings, monuments and symbols in the nation’s capital through a Christian lens, as visible proof of religious foundations upon which the country was built.
And here is my small contribution to the article:
Many historians takes issue with the idea of a tour that focuses at looking at national history solely through a conservative Christian perspective.
“People like McDowell get some facts wrong, but my real issue with them is the way they try to spin the past to promote their present-day political agenda,” said John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College, a Christian school in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “They cherry-pick. … This is not how historians work.”
The political leanings of the Christian history tour group were apparent.
For example, the students and parents watched Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) give an address in the Senate chambers about labor rights for Native Americans and his opposition to Trump’s stance toward Russia and the recent tax reform law.
“He sounded like he was from somewhere in the North,” Julia Jane Averette, 12, said over lunch. “I wish a Republican had been talking when we went through.”
Averette said she is inspired to become president some day. “I would lower taxes and spend money on things that are useful, like protecting the country, not what Obama did,” she said.
Read the entire article here.
Adam Costanzo is Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. This interview is based on his new book, George Washington’s Washington: Visions for the National Capital in the Early American Republic (University of Georgia Press, 2018).
JF: What led you to write George Washington’s Washington: Visions for the National Capital in the Early American Republic?
AC: Initially, I envisioned the project as an examination of the relationship between the local residents of the District of Columbia and the federal government. Because the Constitution gives Congress exclusive control over the federal District, the capital has always had a very peculiar relationship with the federal government. As I began to explore the subject, however, I came to better understand the District’s place in national debates over political ideology. Eventually, it became clear that understanding the development of the city required understanding the visions for the nation, and for the city, put forward by the political leaders of the time. Thus, the book became an exploration of those visions for the national capital and the ways that they affected the growth of the city.
JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of George Washington’s Washington: Visions for the National Capital in the Early American Republic?
AC: Federal support for development of the national capital ebbed and flowed in connection with the ideological goals of those in power. George Washington’s vision for a grand national capital on the Potomac was supported (but largely bungled) by Federalists, systematically ignored by Jeffersonians, and with the help of locals who had served as caretakers for Washington’s vision revived by Jacksonians as they began to establish a continental American empire.
JF: Why do we need to read George Washington’s Washington: Visions for the National Capital in the Early American Republic?
AC: In cities and towns across the nation, the federal government might wield some influence. In the District of Columbia, it had complete control over the city. That fact made the capital a physical embodiment of the ideological goals of early republic politicians. Thomas Jefferson might have written glowing prose about yeoman farmers advancing his empire of liberty into the west, but he had very few ways to control the actual development of that region. In the District, he got to decide what streets to fund, what bridges to build, and, in one delightful example of micromanagement, how to properly secure the bars over the windows of the new city jail.
If you have interest in early republic politics, city planning, DC history, architecture, or any of the ways that our built environment both reflects and affects the goals we have for our cities and our nation, you’ll need to read George Washington’s Washington.
JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?
AC: As an undergraduate in the post-Cold War 1990s, I studied International Relations and Russian Studies. While, these studies allowed me to study abroad and then briefly to live abroad after college, I eventually realized that what I had liked most about my IR courses was learning the history of the places and people I was studying. I decided to leave behind Russian Studies and take up American history for graduate school because I had learned enough Russian history by that point to see that it is almost unceasingly depressing. I settled on a specialty in early republic America in part because Americans at the time held out great hopefulness for the future despite the rapidly changing world around them.
JF: What is your next project?
AC: Right now, I’m working on turning the ideas and issues from George Washington’s Washington into a Reacting to the Past learning experience for the classroom. In a long-form Reacting game, students would be assigned characters from the history of early Washington such as local landowners, land speculators, city commissioners, or national politicians. Through a series of in-class activities, they’d work their own way through complicated questions like, what should the capital city look like, what should it mean to the nation, how should its plan reflect their political goals, how should construction of the city be funded, and what responsibility should the federal government have for the city itself. I think the subject matter offers not only room for students to engage in historical research and debate but also an opportunity to introduce the notion that the built environment around them carries meaning and has an effect on their lives.
AC: Thanks, Adam!
Some very cool images here of early Washington D.C.
I’m heading to Washington D.C. today for the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. I will be joining thousands of historians in a weekend of presentations, panels, conversations, job-searching, book-browsing, receptions and other history-related activities. As always, we will have the conference covered here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. Check back often for updates from this D.C. history-fest!
I will be participating in two sessions. Both will take place on Friday:
I hope to see some of you there!
“Reverend Peter Marshall, Pastor of New York Presbyterian Church, preaching sunrise service at Fort Lincoln Heights on Bladensburg Road, Washington D.C., April 1942.” Source
Not according to Joshua DuBois, former head of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He thinks Washington D.C. is actually a very religious place. Here is a taste of his recent article at The Daily Beast:
Everyone knows about the politicians and interest groups—mainly conservative—who wear their faith on their sleeve. Yet across the ideological spectrum, Washington is filled with people at the height of political power who are practicing their faith seriously and profoundly, but largely out of public view. I recently spoke to some of these people about the role that religion plays in their private and public lives. What their stories make clear is that—in coffee shops, vibrant local congregations, congressional offices, and White House corridors—God is far more present in Washington than most Americans realize.
Read the entire piece.
Partners in Preservation, a program that awards grants to historic places across the country, has $1 million dollars to give to a historic site in the Washington D.C. metro area.
Who should get the money? Vote here. So far the National Cathedral and Mount Vernon are in a tight race with eleven days of voting to go. I am expecting the gang over at Reckless Historians to stuff the ballot box! 🙂
Here is a Washington Post article about the competition.
According to Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, America is on its way to becoming “a nation with the responsibilities of a superpower and the politics of a banana republic.” We have become so polarized that civility seems impossible.
If I got everyone on my Facebook wall together for a political conversation there is a good chance that Wrestlemania 29 might break out. (OK–I had to look up that Wrestlemania reference. Thank you Wikipedia). Things are that bad.
I had a nice conversation with some of the folks in attendance at a lecture I gave on this subject last weekend at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Ocean City. We were all pretty skeptical about a sudden cease-fire in the culture wars, but I still held out hope that something along these lines was possible. Perhaps I am tilting at windmills. I have been known to do this kind of thing.
How can we expect a nation to move forward when we have a Republican member of the House of Representatives (Allen West from Florida) claiming that “about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party” are “members of the Communist Party.” Or his Democratic colleague in the Florida delegation, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, claiming that all Republicans “want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws.”
Obama admits that he has failed to fix the divisive culture of Washington. He had hoped that he would be able to “change the atmosphere here in Washington to reflect the decency and common sense of ordinary people.” It has not panned out. And those of you who think that Obama is to blame for this nasty political climate, let’s remember that things were not much better when George W. Bush was in office. In fact, they were not much better in the 1790s either. (Sometimes we need a little history lesson. It gives us perspective).
But according to Gerson, Obama, at least for now, is part of the problem. His attacks on Mitt Romney in recent weeks have been vicious, especially coming from a president who laments the fact that he has not made Washington a more civil and decent place.
This ad is politically effective, and the message might even be true, but it does nothing to fix the culture of American politics:
If Obama really wants to change the culture of Washington he will have to rise above the kind of negative campaigning that has defined American politics since before the Civil War. Of course, if history is any barometer, this is not going to happen. Obama is a product of a corrupt electoral system just like every other national political candidate. In order to survive politically he must do what he has to do to win re-election. Any attempt to transcend this system would be an act of morality and political bravery. But it will also result in electoral losses.
Gerson is right when he says that “political polarization is the product of democracy that undermines democracy.”
Here are some cool proposals for what might be done to improve various sections of the mall.
Once again, I am continually amazed at the way digital technology can contribute to our understanding of the past.
Here is a video of a project called “Visualizing Early Washington: A Digital Reconstruction of the Capital ca. 1814.” The project is sponsored by the Imaging Research Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
You can learn more about this project here.
HT: Ralph Luker at Cliopatria