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James Bratt

Essay

A Progressive Civil Religion?

It was an unusual Easter sermon, to say the least. At least unusual for this well-trained CRC boy. We were worshiping at Christ Church in the old center of Philadelphia, a venerable Episcopal parish founded in 1695 and claiming all…
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Pursuing Paul

Temple of Apollo, Corinth, with temple of Aphrodite on the acropolis behind. Thanks to Laura de Jong for filling in for me last time. I was on a tour of Greece with some long-time friends, and with others newly made.…
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David Brion Davis

Last time I wrote about the centennial of the birth of my father. Today I’m reflecting on the death last month of one of my Doktorväter, David Brion Davis. To be clear, Professor Davis was only an official reader of…
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My Dad’s Centennial

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth: April 17, 1919. Centennials naturally call for reminiscence and reflection, and some of this, especially in a parent-child relationship, must remain personal. But some of it’s public, and in this case…
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Later-Life Books #1

My last post—about books that fundamentally shaped us—brought out a nice range of responses, showing the different mentalities and life-stories operating out there among The Twelve’s readership. Thanks for chiming in! One of you observed how hard it is to…
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Formative Books

Let’s talk about books again, only this time as a doorway into history—your own history, I mean. Which five books were most influential in forming you as a person, in setting you out upon life’s path, in revealing or shaping…
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Ministers in Film and Fiction: II

My last post about the minister in film and fiction really sparked some interest. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions – we all have a lot more books to read and movies to watch! I’ll devote this post yet to…
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The Minister in Fiction and Film

Here’s an invitation to join in on a fun challenge—help design a new course. Fun for me, anyway. No, it’s not fun devising all the boilerplate that’s required to send past the gatekeeper bureaucracy, dotting the i’s and crossing the…
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On Wealth, Art, Democracy, and Religion

In one of the lesser-studied chapters of his renowned Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville reflects on the “spirit” in which democratic nations such as the United States cultivate the arts (Vol II, Part I, chapter 11). His conclusions are…
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The Shadow of 2016

I haven’t gone to many academic conferences the last few years, having been out of the country, so it was good to return to the circuit last weekend. The occasion was the annual meeting of the American Society of Church…