This past weekend we had our annual Presidential Scholarship Competition here at Grace College. In addition to talking with many of the outstanding prospective students, I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Stowell, the Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Papers in Springfield, IL. Daniel has had numerous publications over the years on race, religion, and of course, Abraham Lincoln. (Dr. Stowell’s son is considering coming to Grace in the fall.) I enjoyed hearing about the good work that the folks at the Abraham Lincoln Papers are doing and hope to keep up with the progress. The goal is a lofty one: To identify, scan, and publish “all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his entire lifetime.” Find out more here!
Traditional historians are not the only ones who wrestle with interpretive decisions. Those in public history have the distinct challenge of making the past accessible to the public – a task that is often more subjective than is commonly realized. This issue has come up recently in a debate over a quote chiseled into a new memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The monument currently includes an abbreviated quote from King (“I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness”) that some believe changes the original meaning of what he said. (The original, longer quote was too cumbersome.) At first this may seem like a trite debate or just plain politicking, but if we consider the fact that public monuments like this have the power to shape our collective memory, we realize more might be at stake than meets the eye, and these are healthy debates that help us get it right. Check out the story on NPR here.
It has taken several years to complete the Activist Impulse: Essays on the Intersection of Evangelicalism and Anabaptism, but FINALLY the end is in sight. David Cramer and I recently finished proofing the (400+ plus page) manuscript and the cover has been completed as well. I am happy to report that Mark Noll has given a wonderful endorsement and George Marsden has written a great forward for the project. Published by Pickwick Publications (an imprint of Wipf and Stock), the book is comprised of a collection of essays that reflects historical and theological points of discussion that have linked evangelicalism and Anabaptism and/or caused tension. Contributors include, among others, John Roth, Steve Nolt, Mark Norris and John Fea. Sara Wenger Shenk provided the afterword. Look for it soon!
Thanks to Grace Beasley who pointed me toward John Fea’s blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Hometoday, specifically about Fea’s “run-in” with Glen Beck’s people, who attempted to drag John into the culture wars. This was timely since the culture wars are a major theme in Ken Burns new documentary on Prohibition and just today we used a section of this in my “Progressive Era to the Atomic Age” class. For a lesson in civility, see how John’s handling it here!