David Barton is what I call a “faux historian.” With only a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University, Barton has written widely on American history, remaking it into his own image. He’s been called upon as an “expert” by the Texas Board of Education, the Republican Party and the likes of right-wing talking head Glenn Beck.
Many conservatives love Barton’s historical revisionism, particularly his arguments that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that the founders did not share our notions about the separation between church and state. Mike Huckabee said he wished every American had to listen to a simultaneous telecast of David Barton lecturing—even if at gunpoint.
Barton’s latest book, The Jefferson Lies, has drawn criticism from a wider group than the usual liberals and professional historians.
Jamelle Bouie recently lamented that liberals continually fall into the trap of focusing on crafting good policy arguments, while what wins debates (and even elections) are appeals to ideals and principles.
I don't know why, really, especially after something I heard last month. At the Stewardship Conference I attended, one of the speakers actually admonished us, "If you don't like pastoral care, you should find another line of work."
It has been a rough year for the state of Wisconsin. A painful and divisive recall election of governor Scott Walker tore the state apart in the spring. Then last week a lone gunman killed seven people, including himself, and wounded three others at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee.
The lectionary has focused our attention on bread for a very long time. One might think that five barley loaves transformed into a feast plus baskets full of leftovers would be news enough, but Jesus goes on to talk about the bread for another 36 verses. He would be a dream interview for today's 24-hour news shows, with their incessant need for commentary on the latest attention-grabbing headline.
Among my writerly friends and kin, debates about language rules are routine. I tend to wave the descriptivist flag, arguing various versions of the point that if almost everyone defines / conjugates / pronounces a word a particular way, there just isn't any coherent reason to call it wrong anymore.
I've been doing a lot of spiritual wrestling of late. A few months into a new position, I feel like I should be "doing" more, helping the church take bold, new steps, that sort of thing. But I don't have much clarity about what steps to take or in what direction.