All Posts By

James Bratt

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…
Essay

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…
Essay

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…
Essay

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…
Essay

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…
Essay

Rendezvous with Destiny

It’s a bit daunting to follow up Heidi De Jonge here every two weeks. Heidi plumbs her personal and pastoral experience in a deep yet direct way that—to judge from responses—many of you find her posts to be just the…
Essay

Can We Handle Complexity?

Rebecca Koerselman’s post earlier this week about the “Competing Narratives” of American history struck a nerve with me. For decades I’ve been giving presentations for community groups and church adult-education programs on the question: “Was America Founded as a Christian…