As some of you know, I have been writing an institutional history. This kind of history is not easy to write. Readers like to read about people's lives, wars, politics, etc..., but not many folks get excited reading about an institution. Things get really tricky when the institution you are writing about is still functioning. Some institutional histories are merely promotional pieces for the institution. Others try to connect the institution to a larger historical context. Whatever the case, there is a good chance that no one will pleased.
So when I run across and institutional history done well, I take notice. That is definitely the case with Becoming Grace: Seventy-Five Years on the Landscape of Christian Higher Education in America. Grace College history professors Jared Burkholder and Mark Norris have put together a collection of essays situating this small Grace Brethren college and seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana in the larger world of American fundamentalism, evangelicalism, and Christian higher education.
Want to learn more about Grace College? Read about my visit in September 2011.
Want to learn more about Becoming Grace? Check out Jared Burkholder's recent post at The Pietist Schoolman.
Here is a taste:
Cold War Evangelicalism. Though Grace is no longer homogeneously conservative when it comes to politics, the 1960s through the 1980s were years that were characterized by a convergence of various facets of religious and cultural conservatism. History classes routinely promoted Cold War doctrines, eschatological understandings helped to explain “godless Russia,” fundamentalists such as John C. Whitcomb promoted flood geology and second degree separation, and others promoted patriotism in response to war protesters on other campuses. As we dug into our history, we realized there were lots of interesting (if sometimes disconcerting) avenues to explore here and these themes offer what we hope is a fascinating look into Grace’s journey into, and then out of, American fundamentalism.