• Confessions of a horse shed historian

    David Hall famously wrote of the “horse shed  Christians,” those people in early New England who, during service, were just as likely to be out back by the horse shed talking about the price of wheat with their friends as they were to be in the church listening attentively.  I’m stretching the metaphor a lot […]

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  • The cowardice of “no strong convictions”

    Many of us in Connecticut were horrified – but not surprised – at video of a post-election gathering at which someone in Klan robes rode around a bonfire waving a Trump/Pence sign while onlookers laughed and cheered. Some, however, including the first selectman, downplayed the seriousness of this. A town leader downplayed the vile bash. […]

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  • The planks in our own eyes

    This is a post that’s been percolating in my brain, and in my academic writing, for a long time. The latest uproar – and the terms of the uproar – over leaked Clinton campaign emails with comments about Catholics has made it clear it’s as good a time as any to put these thoughts out […]

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  • A trip to the archives: the Archdiocese of NY

    Yesterday I took a long-awaited trip to the John Cardinal O’Connor Memorial Library, the reading room of the archives of the Archdiocese of New York, located at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. I won’t go into a long spiel about the difficulty of accessing Catholic archives in general, because anyone who studies U.S. Catholic history […]

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  • Teaching religious n00bs and skeptics

    I read Jolyon Baraka Thomas’ piece “Teaching True Believers” last week and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. In it, Thomas discusses the difficulty of getting students to think critically about religious belief. Here’s a taste, but I encourage you to read the entire piece. We do not tell our students what to believe, nor […]

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  • “the female portion of the candidates”

    Two selections from an article entitled “Diocese of Hartford,” from The Catholic Telegraph, October 23, 1845. The article discusses the recent “ceremony of confirmation.” Rev. Mr. Smyth officiated at divine service in the forenoon, (previous to confirmation.) After the reading of the gospel, by the officiating priest, the Right Rev. Bishop ascended the pulpit and read […]

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