by Christopher Babits Recently, the Texas State Board of Education faced a firestorm of protest, from conservatives and liberals alike, over the statewide adoption of textbooks for teaching history. On November 21, 2014, the Board approved the use of 89 social studies textbooks. This vote was the culmination of a long and contentious debate about […]
This week my attempts to carry out archival research in Manila have been interrupted by Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines.
As historians, most of the time we tell stories about strangers. But I come from a family of story-tellers and, in our family, Passover was a special occasion for telling family stories. So, today I’m writing a story about a beloved family photograph.
It’s the afternoon of a hot summer’s day and I am standing at the bottom of a staircase—with no handrails—that’s not so much set in to the side of a mountain as built on top of it. Way up there, at the top of four hundred fifty five stairs, there’s a shrine whose gleaming silver dome is barely visible in the afternoon sun. That’s our destination.
The Constitution’s ban on religious tests prompted the nation’s first debate in 1788 about whether a Muslim – or a Catholic or a Jew – might one day become president of the United States. William Lancaster, a delegate to the North Carolina convention to ratify the Constitution, worried: “But let us remember that we form a government for millions not yet in existence.
When Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, effective February 28, 2013, he caught almost everyone by surprise. No sooner was the announcement made than the media began casting about for how long it had been since a pope had resigned rather than die in office. The morning after the announcement, one TV show host stated confidently that it had been 719 years, a number that takes us back to the reign of Celestine V who resigned in 1294. Later, however, a consensus emerged among the various news shows that the most recent resignation of a pope had actually come just under six centuries ago (1415) and involved Pope Gregory XII.
As I was searching for illustrations for my forthcoming book, The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West, I came across a reproduction of a detail of the painting shown here.
After World War II, American Jewish history emerged as a significant field of study. Historian Hasia Diner has argued that the subfield actually began to emerge as early 1892, but if we consider pioneering texts about Jews composed by American writers during the nineteenth century, the work of Hannah Adams suggests that it began far earlier.
It is well-known that decades later he made witty statements about God: that He does not play dice; that God is crafty but not malicious. Einstein famously wrote: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
On a research trip last summer, I found a previously unidentified thirteenth-century manuscript in a library in Poznan, Poland, and recognized that it contains the writings of a late twelfth-century monk named Engelhard of Langheim. One of the Latin texts in this manuscript is the saintly biography of a religious woman named Mechtilde of Diessen.