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James Bratt

Essay

The Guns of August

It’s August that really should be named January, after the two-faced god. The month can come on like a blast-furnace, scorching everything dry, but all its heat cannot hide the reality that the sun is setting earlier, day after day.…
Essay

1969

All the talk last week about the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing made me wonder what other semi-centennials we are marking this year. Sometimes this sort of exercise turns up a pattern of deep connections and heavy portents,…
Essay

A Model of Christian Charity

A couple posts ago I reflected on the possibilities of a progressive civil religion. Last time, on key moments in the religious life of Franklin Roosevelt. Staying with that thread, today let’s look at one of the ur-texts of American…
Essay

FDR’s Religion: Milestones

The book I recently completed on the religion of Franklin Roosevelt is coming out soon, and the publisher wants some blog posts to promote it. Here’s one, reflecting on “Five Key Turning Points in Roosevelt’s Spiritual Life.” That theme sort…
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…
Essay

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.…
Essay

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…
Essay

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…
Essay

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…
Essay

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…