Thursday, March 31, 2011

Busy Day in the Twin Cities

Bryan Bademan and the folks at the MacLaurin Institute have scheduled a couple of full of days for me here at the University of Minnesota.  Needless to say, it has been a very busy first day.   I got up at 4:00am this morning and flew to Minneapolis via Detroit.  (My luggage did not make it to Minneapolis until late this afternoon).

I went straight from the airport to Northwestern College in St. Paul where I spoke at a special chapel sponsored by the history department.  There were probably about 200 people in the room who apparently came because they were interested in hearing whether or not the United States was founded as a Christian nation.  How many Christian colleges can get this many people to show up to a history-related chapel?  Needless to say, I was impressed.  Jonathan Den Hartog is doing a great job at Northwestern promoting the discipline of history and educating the college about the value of liberal learning.

After the lecture I had some time to chat with two faithful readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  You may recognize Jamie Boehmer as a regular commentator here.  Adina Johnson just learned that she was accepted to Baylor's M.A. program in American Religious History with a full-ride and stipend.  Congrats! 

After lunch Bryan and I headed over to the University of Minnesota History Department where I presented a paper at the department's early American history workshop.  My paper was entitled "Born Again History and the Coming of the American Revolution: A Presbyterian Reconsideration."  The members of the group--Kirsten Fischer, Lisa Norling, and their graduate students--provided some invaluable advice about my current project on Presbyterians and the American Revolution.  I am really optimistic about some of the directions this project might go.  I am grateful that Kirsten invited me to present to this workshop.

Finally, the day ended with a MacLaurin Institute lecture at the historic First Covenant Church in Minneapolis. (Across the street from the Metrodome).  This is a really fascinating church rooted in historic Swedish Protestantism.  The lead pastor, Dan Collison, is using the church's history as a guide for leading  the congregation into the twentieth-century.  It was a spirited audience with many, many good questions.  The crowd included religious skeptics, Christian nationalist-types, and history buffs. Thanks to Dan Collison for hosting the event.

The MacLaurin Institute serves as a bridge between the academic life of the University of Minnesota and the region's churches.  It brings thoughtful intellectual reflection to the churches and a Christian view of the world to the academic life of the university.  Bryan Bademan, a fine scholar of 19th-century American religious history, is doing a great job of providing leadership to the Institute.

Three more lectures/conversations tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

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