Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ASCH Annual Meeting Live Blog

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Click here to follow our Live Blog for the ASCH Annual Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, displaying tweets, conference events, and updates as they happen.

You can find our conference program, maps, and local restaurants here, or scan the QR code below.

ASCH 2014 Program


Annual Meeting Apps, Maps, and Resources

Monday, December 30th, 2013

by Shaun Horton

The annual Winter Meeting is only a few days away, and we have launched an online conference program with daily session listings, maps, and the ASCH live blog feed. You can access the program on any smart phone by following this link (, or by scanning the QR code below.

ASCH 2014 Winter Meeting Program

The AHA has its own smartphone app for registered meeting attendees, which can be found here.

For those who still planning their session itinerary, Mike Pasquier has listed several panels that may be of interest to historians of American religion. If you are specifically interested in the American West, Cara Burnidge has started list of panels featuring contributors to Religion in the American West. John Fea has also weighed in with a list of sessions on American religion at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, but you want to know what is going on, you can follow the ASCH live blog, like our Facebook pageto see ongoing updates, and follow the conference live on Twitter at #ASCH2014.

December 2013 Issue Available

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

The December issue of Church History is now online. In this issue:

Martin Marty reviews Peter Brown’s Through the Eye of a Needle.

Daniel Richie looks at Irish Reformed Presbyterians who opposed slavery in antebellum America.

Kathy Schneider discusses the secular front organizations established by Catholics in the Second Republic of Spain to get around laws prohibiting schools run by religious orders.

Luke Fenwick looks at the politics surrounding the denazification of two Protestant churches in Germany after 1945.

Klaus Petersen and Jørn Henrik Petersen analyze the attitudes of Danish and Norwegian Lutherans toward the modern welfare state in the mid-twentieth century.

And George Faithful examines successive versions of the hymn “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” with an eye toward the theological and aesthetic needs of its translators’ religious traditions.

Check out the entire issue at Cambridge Journals Online.

Important Dates for Upcoming Meetings

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

As we make our way through conference season, here are some dates to remember for the Society’s upcoming meetings:

December 12: The last day to make reservations at the Dupont Circle Hotel at the discount rate of $119/night. The Dupont Circle Hotel offers free WiFi, free breakfast, and free admission to the annual WITCH breakfast for ASCH members who make reservations with the confirmation code AMER200313.

The hotel is about a ten minute walk from the Washington Hilton (where the ASCH sessions are held), about five minutes by subway to the Marriott Wardman Park (where many of the AHA sessions are held), and a five minute walk from a coffeehouse that advertises locally roasted coffees and espresso. Location is everything.

December 15: The last day to register for the Winter Meeting at the discounted rate.

December 21: The last day to preregister for the the concurrent AHA annual meeting.

January 20, 12 PM London Time: The final deadline for proposals for the ASCH’s first international joint conference with the Ecclesiastical History Society in April 2014.

Any time: A good time to donate, if you haven’t already, to the ASCH’s Endowment Campaign to support graduate student research in the history of Christianity. While the Society has raised about $48,000 to fund research grants for graduate students, over 1,000 Society members have yet to make a donation, and we still are still short of our $50,000 goal. A mere 100 people giving or pledging $20 apiece would get us there.

And of course, the Winter Meeting is held on January 2-4. To keep abreast of conference-related news via Twitter, follow Keith Francis @kfrancis50, or the Society blog feed @ASChurchHistory, and keep an eye out for the hashtag #ASCH14.

Call for Papers: FSU Religion Graduate Symposium

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

February 21-23, 2014 • Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida State University Department of Religion is pleased to announce its 13th Annual Graduate Student Symposium to be held February 21-23, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida.

Last year’s symposium was a huge success, allowing over 60 presenters from over 18 universities and departments as varied as History, Political Science, Philosophy, Psychology, and Classics to share their research, learn from one another, and meet many of their peers and future colleagues.

This year’s symposium will be centered on the theme “Inscribing Authority: Bodies, Spaces, Texts.”

Due to our commitment to collaborative scholarship, students from all fields with interdisciplinary interests in the study of religion and at all levels of graduate study are encouraged to submit paper proposals.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to: Authorship and Identity, Remembering and Myth Making; Practice and Ritual; Conceptions of Self; Material Culture and Food; and Acquisition of Knowledge.

Presentations should be approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length and will receive faculty responses. In addition, every year respondents select the best graduate paper to receive the Leo F. Sandon Award, an endowed award named for the Religion Department’s former chair.

Proposals including an abstract of approximately 300 words, a list of key terms, and a one-page CV should be submitted by December 8, 2013 for review. Final papers must be submitted by January 15, 2014. Please send proposals to Sher Afgan at

Thank you for your interest. We look forward to hearing from you or your students and seeing you at the 2014 Graduate Student Symposium at Florida State University.

September 2013 Issue Online

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Our September issue is out! This issue features a forum on the faith of four U.S. presidents and the ways in which their approach to religion and governance played out in American public life.


From the Editor’s Introduction:

Marking four significant moments in a religious history of the U.S. presidency, this forum begins to outline a larger arc of historical change. [John Quincy] Adams’s openness to the larger world and pride in America’s new beginning as a protestant nation helped lay the groundwork for Wilson’s assiduous commitment to Christian policy making. FDR’s effort to commandeer Christian rhetoric for political and military ends built on some of the precedents of Wilson’s religious idealism. And today, Obama’s strategic use of Christian realism as a matrix for policy formation reflects his effort to manage the legacies of Wilson and FDR as well as the hostility toward those legacies expressed by his opponents.

Also in this issue:

Tjamke Snijders and Steven Vanderputten reexamine medieval monastic penance in a reconciliatory manuscript in “From Scandal to Monastic Penance: A Reconciliatory Manuscript from the Early Twelfth-Century Abbey of St. Laurent in Liège.”

Bianca Lopez explores how a Roman aristocrat practiced Franciscan piety in Lopez’s Mead Prize winning essay, “Between Court and Cloister: The Life and Lives of Margherita Colonna.”

Daniel Cheely follows the development of one version of the New Testament in early modern France and England in “Legitimating Other People’s Scriptures: Pasquier Quesnel’s Nouveau Testament Across Post-Reformation Europe.”

And B.M. Pietsch’s “Lyman Stewart and Early Fundamentalism” explores the interplay between capitalism and fundamentalism through the career of the oilman who financed The Fundamentals and co-founded the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.

Check out the entire issue here.

Michael Brown Wins Raboteau Prize

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Journal of Africana Religions has announced that Michael Brown’s African-Atlantic Cultures and the South Carolina Lowcountry (Cambridge University Press, 2012) has been selected to receive the 2013 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions.

This award is given each year to an academic book that exemplifies the ethos and mission of the Journal of Africana Religions, an interdisciplinary journal that publishes scholarship on African and African diasporic religious traditions. Albert J. Raboteau, for whom the prize is named, is author of the classic Slave Religion: The Invisible Institution in the Antebellum South, a book that has made a lasting impact in the field of Africana religions. To become eligible for the award, books must be nominated by an academic publisher, and a prestigious five-member committee is responsible for assessing these nominations and determining a winner. The selection, thus, is international in scope and highly competitive.

Brown’s book examines perceptions of the natural world revealed by the religious ideas and practices of Africa’s Kongo region and among African-descended communities in South Carolina from the colonial period into the twentieth century. Brown is an Associate Professor in the History department and the Africana Studies department at the University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale. African-Atlantic Cultures is his first book.

The Journal’s founding co-editors, Edward E. Curtis IV and Sylvester A. Johnson, were quite positive about the book prize. “We are very excited to learn of the committee’s decision. They described Brown’s book as a model of erudition,” said Curtis and Johnson. “Most religious studies scholarship still devotes too little attention to Africana religions. So, we think it is especially important to recognize outstanding work in this field.” Curtis teaches at the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts, Indianapolis (IUPUI); Johnson is at Northwestern University.

Reflecting on Professor Raboteau’s work, in whose honor the prize was named, they both emphasized that a range of pioneering scholars aspired more than a half-century ago to produce scholarship and train professional researchers in the intellectual study of religion among African and African-descended peoples. “Professor Brown’s book certainly advances this aim,” they agreed. Of added significance for Professor Brown is the fact that the 2013 award, which recognizes a book published in 2012, is the inaugural book prize. “Professor Brown should take special note of the committee’s assessment that his scholarship is an especially keen contribution to this larger enterprise of studying Africana religions.”

The journal receives support from the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts-Indianapolis and Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. It is housed at Northwestern University’s Department of African American Studies.

Call for Papers: ASCH-EHS 2014 Spring Conference

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

[PDF Version]
Download Submission Form for Complete Sessions (docx)
Download Submission Form for Panels & Roundtables (docx)
Download Submission Form for Individual Papers (docx)
The American Society of Church History (ASCH) and the Ecclesiastical History Society in Britain (EHS) will be holding a special joint meeting, Thursday to Saturday, April 3-5, 2014, in Oxford, England.

The primary theme of the conference is Migration and Mission in Christian History. The program committee invites proposals for individual papers or full sessions on this theme. Papers could examine themes such as: Christianity in migrant communities in the early generations of re-settlement; missionary efforts directed towards non-Christian migrants or those from a different Christian tradition; or the migrations of missionaries themselves.

From the scattering of the Jerusalem Church in 70CE through the ‘barbarian’ invasions of the Roman Empire, the Anglo-Saxon and Viking settlements of England, and the migrations of the religious refugees in the Reformation era, to the Atlantic slave trade, the Irish, Scottish and European diasporas of the nineteenth century and the African and Asian ones of the twentieth, people movements have profoundly shaped the course of Christian history. They have disrupted religious commitments, forged new ones, and inspired and constrained mission. There is hence enormous scope for papers from all periods of Christian history.

The ASCH and EHS hope to produce an edited volume and/or special issue of Church History with papers from the conference that engage explicitly with the above theme. Individual paper proposals and proposals that are part of a session must relate to the above theme in order to be considered for publication.

The program committee also invites ASCH members, EHS members, and other interested scholars to submit session proposals on any aspect of the history of Christianity and its interaction with culture. These could include proposals for formal sessions, panel and round table discussions, consideration of a major recent book, critical assessments of a distinguished career, and other relevant themes and issues. Panels should exhibit diversity of gender, rank, and scholarly location in their composition: those bringing together scholars from both societies would be especially welcome.

Sessions will be two hours in length and should allow for three or four papers, a formal response, and Q&A with the audience.

There will be two deadlines for proposals: 21 October 2013 and 20 January 2014 (12 noon, London time). The earlier deadline will allow the program committee to make decisions by late November/early December 2013, to facilitate the booking of flights. It is possible that, if the program is already quite full, only a limited number of proposals submitted to the second deadline will be accepted.

Paper proposals should consist of:-
1) A short description of less than 300 words
2) A biographical paragraph or CV summary of the applicant
3) A current mailing location, e-mail address, and phone number for the proposed presenter.

Session proposals should contain all of the above for each of the presenters as well as:-
1) The session title
2) A brief description of less than 300 words outlining the theme or topic of the session
3) Biographical data and contact details for the chair and the respondent (which can be the same person)

The availability of audio-visual equipment cannot be guaranteed at this stage, but please indicate if you would like to use it if possible.

Please send proposals, by e-mail, to

Further information about the conference will be available in due course on ASCH and EHS websites, and will be e-mailed to those whose proposals are accepted. The program committee reserves the right to reconfigure sessions as needed.

NOTE: All program participants must register for the conference and be members of the ASCH or EHS (which can offer temporary membership) at the time of the Meeting.

John Wolffe, President of the EHS and Program Chair
Bruce Hindmarsh, President of the ASCH

Download the Call for Papers [PDF]

Award Winning Research Essays

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

The Journal of Ecclesiastical History has announced the winner of its first annual Eusebius Prize, which goes to the best submitted essay on any topic in early Christian history. This year’s winning paper is entitled “On the Diversity and Influence of the Eusebian Alliance: The Case of Theodore of Heraciea,” by Matthew J Crawford of the University of Durham. Cambridge University Press has made the prize-winning paper available online for free through September 30. You can read it here.

Also in prize-related news: the deadline for the Sidney Mead Prize has passed, but there is still time to submit nominations for the Jane Dempsey Douglass Prize. The Douglass Prize goes to the author of the best essay published during the previous calendar year on any aspect of the role of women in the history of Christianity. Nominations must be in by August 1.

To nominate an essay for the Douglass Prize, send a letter or an email to our Executive Secretary, Keith Francis ( with

1) The author’s name
2) The author’s affiliation
3) The author’s contact information, and
4) The title of the essay

Last year’s winner was Sarah Adelman, whose essay “Empowerment and Submission: The Political Culture of Catholic Women’s Religious Communities in Nineteenth-Century America” appears in the Fall 2011 issue of the Journal of Women’s History.

Inside the North Carolina Creation Museum Taxidermy Hall of Fame and Antique Tool Collection

Friday, June 14th, 2013

by Shaun Horton

In the basement of a Christian book store in Southern Pines, North Carolina, three popular images of Jesus are mounted on a wall in a single frame. A description hanging to the left of the display explains that these are not in fact pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ, but of Lucifer. Christ, it explains, could not have had long hair, an effeminate appearance, or Caucasian features. Citing 2 Corinthians 5:16, it says

The Bible states clearly that His physical appearance (“Christ after the flesh”) would cease to be known. It is not an accident that the most famous person in human history has no reliable image recorded in history. Such an image would become the object of worship.

Immediately above of this warning against idolatry, four photos of John Wayne are displayed without comment.



This pastiche is typical of the Creation Museum Taxidermy Hall of Fame of North Carolina and Antique Tool Collection, which I came across by accident as I left an ice cream shop in downtown Southern Pines. Every year since I was little, I have visited relatives in Southern Pines, but I had never been downtown before, and neither I nor anyone in my family had heard of this museum. lists a dozen creation centers and creation-themed museums in the United States. This is not one of them. The North Carolina Creation Museum is not well publicized, and I would never have known it existed were it not for the bear statue standing in front of The Christian Bookstore on Broad Street, with a sign around its neck proclaiming that a “Creation Museum” was inside.

There are no dinosaurs in this museum. There are few references to flood geology, and little effort is made to present arguments in favor of a creationist natural history. Most of the space is occupied by tools. There are dozens of saws, over a hundred hammers, and a large display of antique levels. The tool displays are interspersed among numerous stuffed and mounted minks, snakes, deer, birds, and wildcats. These line the walls of a narrow, almost claustrophobic hallway that winds its way up three floors before coming out at the back of the bookstore. No dinosaurs.

The famous, well-funded creation museums have dinosaurs. In a recent article in The Drama Review, Jill Stephenson notes the prominence of dinosaurs in the Answers in Genesis (AiG) Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Though they play a small part in creationist narratives of natural history, dinosaurs “supply museumgoers with a familiar, memorable, and marketable through-line during their museum experience. (They also serve as the spectacle necessary to get and keep children interested in a museum.)”


Wikimedia Commons

RAWR! Science!


Dinosaurs serve a political purpose as well, says Stephenson. Once a source of frustration for early young earth creationists, they have been recast as fodder for the argument that evolutionary theory suffers from unsustainable gaps and uncertainties. Flood geology and its related theories, creationists argue, provide a more satisfying explanation for the existence of fossils. Dinosaurs are exciting, fun, marketable, and co-optable as evidence for the creation narrative. Their prominence in creation museums like the Pensacola Dinosaur Adventure Land (pictured above), or the 70,000-square-foot AiG Creation Museum, reflects creationists’ commitment to attracting and influencing the public on a large scale.

The small, dimly lit North Carolina Creation Museum reflects different origins and priorities. The museum was founded by Kent Kelly (c.1943-2008), pastor and founder of Calvary Memorial Church, Calvary Christian School, and The Christian Bookstore, in which the museum is housed. He once described himself as

a born again two and a half point Calvinist brought up in the Presbyterian Church, baptized by immersion, and a premillennial pretribulation rapturist with Plymouth Brethren theology and Missionary Baptist leanings and an independent Separatist at heart. [PDF, pg 2-3]

In simpler terms, he said, he was a fundamentalist and a proud one. Calvary’s information page on emphasizes the King James Bible’s unique status as the perfect Word of God, the evils of modern public education, and the autonomy of the local church. Among the 820 sermons posted under Kelly’s name are defenses of the King James Bible, admonitions against mainstream pop culture, and Biblical advice regarding mental and emotional health.

According to Laura Ingram, a personal assistant to Kelly, the Creation Museum was built during the 1990s, after Kelly suffered a stroke. It was, in part, a therapeutic project. Kelly collected antique tools, and the museum began as a place to display them. “Jesus was a carpenter,” Ingram told a local columnist. “So Kent decided to put his tool collection together as a tribute to Him. And the collection grew to include animals that show the wonder of Creation.”



The result is not the arsenal of talking points provided by other creation museums, but a tribute to Kelly’s fundamentalist values. In particular, the museum celebrates the order and beauty that creationists appreciate in well-executed craftsmanship – human or divine.


Left: A mounted peacock. Bottom right: an adjustable wrench.


I did not know any of this when I walked into the museum. I did not even know the museum’s full name. As a result, I had trouble figuring out the logic behind its presentation. As I descended the stairs from the bright, open space of the bookstore into the dark, narrow spaces of the museum, the first thing I noticed was the 14′ suit of armor posted at the entrance, bearing a wooden sign which read “’Put on the whole armour of God’ – Eph. 6:11.” Just inside the entrance was a case containing “all the credible evidence of evolution.”



This case also contains the only empty space that exists in this museum.


This first impression led me to expect a militant anti-evolutionist tone from the rest of the exhibits, but that tone quickly dissipated. It was overshadowed by the contributions of tool collectors and taxidermists, with occasional hints at the political preferences of Calvary Christians.


Creatures of the American Southwest: the jackrabbit, the armadillo, tarantula, and the gipper.


The anti-evolutionist tone resurfaced occasionally within a more persistent motif: quirky southern humor. One display contained a hornets’ nest with a pair of googly eyes peeping out through the entrance. It was labeled “The world’s largest hornet.” Another display was dominated by a stuffed mountain lion reclining on a tree branch – with a fake human arm poking out from beneath its haunches. Among shelves of hatchets and saws I saw a sign that read, “My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she said.” As I passed a display warning that hell awaits all who fail to accept Christ, my eyes were drawn to the oversized “Texas fly swatter” hanging nearby.


In Texas, even the flies are big! Also your immortal soul may be in peril.


This humor extends to the museum’s treatment of evolution, which takes for granted that evolution is ridiculous. This treatment differs from that of better-known creation museums. Though the AiG Creation Museum primarily targets conservative evangelicals, AiG does so with the understanding that its visitors will engage with non-creationists, and will therefore need to be equipped with arguments that refute evolutionary models of natural history.

Several of Pastor Kelly’s sermons emphasized disengagement from the World. Calvary’s museum treats evolution as yet one more absurdity of modern humanism. This museum does not argue with evolution so much as laugh at it. A poster parodies the classic “Descent of Man” illustration, substituting famous hoaxes and errors, like the Piltdown Man, for the hominids in the original picture. (The final stage is “Modern Man: This genius thinks we came from a monkey.”) Another display labels a giant Converse sneaker “The Missing Link,” asking, “would you believe that this ancient fossil came from an archaeological dig near Chapel Hill, North Carolina? […] The process of evolution has produced modern variations such as ‘Nike Air’ and ‘Reeboks.’”



The accompanying text then reminds the viewer that “many people are gullible enough to believe anything they read on little signs in an evolution-based museum. All ‘in the name of science,’ of course!”

This dismissal of evolution may help explain why the museum loses this focus as the visitor progresses. Its refusal to take evolution seriously leaves it with no opposing thesis to contest. The museum’s emphasis on the created natural world is prominent during the first two thirds of its displays, but the tools and the animals gradually give way to items whose relevance may not be obvious: a duck carved from a pine cone, news clippings from the Apollo 11 landing, a copy of Jesse Helms’ When Free Men Shall Stand (1976), a tire that once belonged to a Christian drag racer, a school bus sign that once belonged to the father of a prominent tool collector.


There is practically no empty space in this museum anywhere.


In the final room, the tools are relegated to the corners, while most of the space is taken up by sports memorabilia.



As an outsider to the Calvary community, and to the museum’s apparent target audience, I could only guess at the rationale behind the inclusion of some items. Perhaps Jesse Helms’ book and the bus sign are here simply because they are parts of North Carolina history. Perhaps the Apollo 11 clippings are meant to invoke the beauty of the cosmos, and to celebrate the ingenuity that made it possible to plant an American flag on the moon. Maybe someone saw the pine cone duck and said, “that’s a nice duck. It would look great in the museum.”

This eclecticism is one of the reasons I found the photos of John Wayne, positioned next to the pictures of Lucifer, so ambiguous. Were they another warning, representing a Hollywood idol who, like Lucifer, has become worshipped after the flesh? Were they meant to celebrate an icon of American culture? Were they a contrast to the long-haired, effeminate Lucifer? Did they recall an ideal of American masculinity from a bygone era, when men were real men (even the ones named Marion)?

Compounding the ambiguity was the photos’ proximity to one of the museum’s only displays that dealt with cultural diversity. The photos hung in the corner of a dead end that is dominated by a large display labeled “STRANGE STUFF.”



The display contains a cluttered assortment of exotic items. Mixed among them are (arguably) pagan elements of American pop culture. An “elephant god paper maché mask,” representing Ganesh, hangs next to Budweiser beer can and an old television set (“one of the devil’s favorite tools,” reads a sign next to the television).



A porcelain Buddha statue sits on a shelf between a postcard from Hawaii and a stack of country music CDs. Strewn about at floor level are Harry Potter tapes, prescription drug bottles, a book about Santa Claus, a pair of Baoding balls, a psychology textbook, more items than I could note. They are all crowded together, floor to ceiling, in a chaotic assortment with little in common other than their apparent opposition to Christian integrity.



The only other display I saw that dealt with cultural diversity was a collection of foreign language bibles, neatly labeled and spaced evenly in a small, well-lit glass case. I was struck by the contrast between the orderly uniformity of the multilingual Bible display, and the menacing presentation of pagan exotica down the hall.



I did not think to get a shot of the entire Bible collection because I was not planning on writing about the museum. (This was supposed to be a quick stop by the ice cream store, not a one hour detour into a museum that no one knew about.) I took the above picture because the “stop abortion” sign seemed out of place at the time. What did a collection of foreign language Bibles have to do with Roe v. Wade? I soon discovered that pro-life signs and bumper stickers were interspersed throughout the museum, mostly around the edges of other displays.



If museums are performative sites, places of engagement between the visitor and the narratives implicit in the exhibits’ presentation, then my experience suffered from something of a language barrier. As a visitor who was not a creationist, I was not only excluded by the museum’s presentation of legitimate natural history, I was confused by the presentation itself. What were the photos of John Wayne meant to tell me? What was so sinister about Hawaii? What was I meant to learn from three shelves of Brookfield insulators?



This was perhaps the sharpest contrast between the better-funded, market tested museums that we typically think of, and the Creation Museum Taxidermy Hall of Fame of North Carolina. The AiG Creation Museum’s slogan is “Prepare to Believe,” and Jill Stevenson’s article in The Drama Review (cited above) describes how the museum is designed to do just that. Its architectural resemblance to a megachurch building, the museum motif, and the positioning of dinosaurs alongside people in the lobby displays, all work to establish visitors’ expectations and to prepare them for the exhibits within.

Calvary’s museum seems more an exercise in visual piety. It is not so much a presentation of arguments as a series of evocative images. Variously attractive, strange, funny, or ugly, these images make salient the orderliness of God’s creation, the beauty of good craftsmanship, and the persistence of malevolent forces who seek to undermine it all.

I was traveling with family, and after nearly an hour in the small museum, their patience was running out. I dropped some money in the donation box, and exited to the left of the cardboard Michael Jordan. I would have liked to talk to the proprietors of the bookstore, but I did not have time. The next time I am in Southern Pines, I think I will visit again.