Top Ten Reasons to Read Christian History
In a time of war, everything seems to hinge on The Now. But more than ever, it is really a time when we must be in touch with our history—especially, our sacred history.
These are our "Top ten reasons to read Christian history."
No, this is not a plug for our magazine. You can read Christian history in many other places: Biographies. Histories of Western Civilization (e.g. Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence). Novels (e.g. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin). You can even "read" Christian history on the walls of museums, like the Art Institute of Chicago.
And this, in fact, is …
Because Christian history is everywhere in our culture. No matter what your religious background (or lack thereof), you just can't understand the modern, Western world—including its wars—unless you know your Christian history!
I was interviewing for an academic position at a small midwestern college, and the committee asked me this: How would you convince our undergraduates to take a course in Christian history? I answered: I would suggest they look around them. So many aspects of American culture come from Christian sources:
Biblical expressions embedded in our language. Christian ethical positions—though dimly remembered and now honored most often in the breach. Assumptions about who human beings are and what we're doing on this planet—although again, fragmented and unmoored from the theology that once anchored them. Musical styles—even rock'n'roll owes much to slave spirituals and gospel "shouts."
There's more. Holidays—Easter, Christmas, even Halloween may all include "pagan" elements, but their frame of reference was always thoroughly Christian. Oh, and let's not forget St. ...