Catholicism · Fiction · Judaism · Philosophy of History

Interlude: Idea for Historical Fiction on the Twentieth Century

“PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF THOSE AT PRAYER,” the signs read in Italian, English, and several other languages. “NO PHOTOGRAPHS WHILE SERVICES ARE IN SESSION.” Nonetheless, as a priest intoned Mass in one of the side chapels of the basilica, several tourists tried to pull out their phones discreetly and snap a picture as they passed… Continue reading Interlude: Idea for Historical Fiction on the Twentieth Century

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Hasidism · History · I and Thou · Post-postmodernism · Religious History

Tales of the Hasidim

A few weeks ago, some friends and I took a trip up to the Hasidic neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It was definitely a must for me, since I’m a student and teacher of American religious history. For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by the complicated, often tense interactions between religious traditionalism and the modern world,… Continue reading Tales of the Hasidim

History · Philosophy of History · Self-Realization · Shadow-Narratives

The Shadow-Narratives

Lots of people think that history is simply automatically generated by world events and catastrophes, and that it just sits out there in the ether waiting for some historian to write it down. In fact, our relationship with history is much more complicated. The historian is not a mere passive transcriber of events, but an… Continue reading The Shadow-Narratives

Academia · History

Connecting with the Past: Caution, Inspiration, and Consolation

When I was first starting out as a history grad student at George Mason University, I was a teaching assistant to an astute and witty professor who warned me against the teaching technique of lecturing to one’s students whilst costumed in the garb of the era to which you are referring. Historical costumes tend to… Continue reading Connecting with the Past: Caution, Inspiration, and Consolation