Tag Archives: education

Retired bishop calls for Christian history teaching in British schools

With the Bishop of Rochester

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, with the Bishop of Rochester

From an article in a British Christian online magazine. Though I am always suspicious when someone starts talking about “Judeo-Christian values” (there’s a lot of slipperiness in this language), I like this guy 🙂 . Also, based on my own recent research into the origins of hospitals in the West, I have to agree with his statement (see below) that the nursing profession as we know it is Christian in origin. Finally, his examination of the origins of modern British systems of law and governance fascinate–I’ll be looking into the details of his narrative . . .

If school kids don’t learn more about Britain’s Judeo-Christian heritage we risk losing our national values, a bishop has warned.

The Rt Revd Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said: “The Judaeo-Christian tradition provides the connecting link to ‘our island story’”.

Children should know about the role of Christians in abolishing the slave trade, caring for the sick and improving working conditions, the former Bishop of Rochester said in an article for Standpoint magazine. Continue reading

Society sacralized from Rome’s fall to Charlemagne (400 – 800 A.D.)–glimpses from Bernard McGinn

Map of territorial boundaries ca. 450 AD

Image via Wikipedia

What follows are some acute observations on the Christian landscape of the early Middle Ages from Bernard McGinn, The Growth of Mysticism (New York: Crossroad, 1994). For those interested in the monastic culture of the Middle Ages or the ins and outs of medieval spirituality, this is a wonderful text. McGinn has solidly mastered all that he writes about, and he communicates it in terms understandable to the nonspecialist reader.

The notes that follow are taken from Chapter 1, “The Making of Christendom.” Each note begins with the page number.

17        “The changes in Christian spirituality between 400 and 800 are especially significant for understanding the development of medieval Latin mysticism. No one disputes that these centuries saw the end of ancient Christianity, tied to the world of the late Roman city, and the birth of early medieval Christianity, more often than not rural and monastic in character. . . .” Continue reading

Fundamentalism since the 1970s: An in-depth article

The following is a narrative and analysis of fundamentalism since the 1970s. I wrote it for Charles Lippy and Peter Williams’s Encyclopedia of Religion in America, just published last month.

The basic argument of what follows is this: Fundamentalism in America changed after the 1970s–perhaps so much that the word “fundamentalism” is no longer appropriate for what it became. In that decade, the movement began a tectonic shift from protecting theological truths in infra-denominational fights to guarding “Christian morality” in a nation specially chosen by God.

To be sure, “correct” views of the person of Christ and his atoning work, along with vividly detailed end-time scenarios, have continued to occupy an important place in the movement, but these things are not what the “new fundamentalists” are most centrally about. No, they have seen America locked in a battle with a secularizing juggernaut, and they have rushed to take up the “arms” of pragmatic political measures and boundary-breaking religious alliances in order to gain the upper hand.

From the year 1980 on, the majority of those who took upon themselves the mantle of historic fundamentalism have sought to shore up family values, sexual mores, and biblical views of creation rather than orthodox doctrines and denominational power. And although this may look like a completely new direction compared with the emphases of fundamentalism’s formative decades (the 1920s – 1950s), I argue that it is, rather, a natural development from the earlier movement’s characteristic concerns.

These are not your mom and dad’s fundamentalists.

This is their story:


Chris R. Armstrong

As the decade of the 1980s opened, friends could rejoice, and opponents warn, that in the words of the historian Martin Marty, fundamentalism was now “back with a vengeance.” This time, however, the opponent was not theological liberals within the denominations, but secularizing forces within the nation. Continue reading

C S Lewis explains how to study the Middle Ages

What follows are excerpts from a letter from C S Lewis to a friend of his, in which he explains (in answer to his friend’s query) how he himself learned about the Middle Ages–and how his friend might wish to pursue that study. Because these are notes for my own use, I have at a couple of points simply inserted into the running text, in square brackets, footnotes I found useful:

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, vol. II

This is the letter to his nun friend, Sister Madeleva: Magdalen College, Oxford, June 7th 1934, which contains his suggested program of study of the Middle Ages. p. 140ff:

[n. 14, 140: “Sister M. Madeleva CSC (1887 – 1964), a member of the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Cross, was a teacher of English at St Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. While staying in Oxford during Trinity Term 1934, she attended Lewis’s lectures on medieval poetry, and had a particular interest in the lecture devoted to Boethius. Besides lending Sister Madeleva his notebooks giving details of the works mentioned in his lectures, L invited her to visit him in Magdalen. On her return to Notre Dame in 1934, Sister Madeleva was made President of St Mary’s College, a post she held until her retirement in 1961. Here numerous books include [a list follows including studies on Chaucer and the Pearl poem, indicating a continued interest in medieval studies]. . . .”]

“The [141] history of my lecture is this. After having worked for some years on my own subject (which is the medieval allegory), I found that I had accumulated a certain amount of general information which, tho far from being very recondite, was more than the ordinary student in the school could gather for himself. Continue reading

Shades of the “Monkey Trial”! More on the Texas attempt to rewrite history in the state’s textbooks

Clearly the culture wars, whose early volleys ripped through the heated air of Tennessee summer during the infamous 1925 Scopes Trial, continue to bombard us in this 21st-century summer.

The Texas school board is rewriting American history, and the hackles, ire, and bile of journalists are rising to the occasion. Even rumors of corporate malfeasance on the part of BP haven’t elicited the sort of apocalyptic rhetoric you’ll find in the second of the two recent responses to “the Texas schoolbook massacre” here and here.

Are the critics overreaching themselves, or are we really experiencing the Armageddon of Reason?

Texas school board set to “Christianize” and “conservativize” textbooks

A couple of articles about the imminent change in history and social studies textbook standards in the state of Texas. Here’s MSNBC‘s take, and here’s the Christian Science Monitor‘s.

What do you–sorry, y’all–think?

And here is some further outraged commentary.

For seminary students planning to do doctoral work: Advice on applying for grad school in theology

Here‘s an illuminating post by BIOLA missiologist (and Oxford University/Gordon-Conwell Seminary/Yale University grad) Allen Yeh on preparing to apply for grad school in theology. I’d be interested to hear feedback on this piece from you readers–especially those of you currently in grad school or those who have completed doctoral studies.