Category: Europe


Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?

With all the tumult in the American political landscape recently, is the United States pump primed for a Christian Democratic party similar to those in Europe? Three scholars debate this topic based upon a scholarly symposium published in the journal “Perspectives on Political Science.” Prof. Hunter Baker (Union University), the organizer of the symposium, argues that the time is right for Christian Democracy in America. Prof. Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) notes that while Christian Democracy (CD) was helpful in Europe for consolidating democracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the conditions in the U.S. are not ripe for CD. Finally, Prof. Micah Watson (Calvin College) takes a decidedly negative position towards the concept of CD. Your host, Tony, chimes in with his own thoughts at the end.

Let us know your position by clicking “read more” and commenting on our discussion board.

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Tara Moore on Christmas Traditions … and Krampus! (Encore Presentation).

How has Christmas been celebrated throughout the millennia and in different parts of Europe? Where do traditions such as decorating trees and caroling come from? And what is Krampus? Tara Moore, a part-time instructor in English at Penn State University – York, talks about all of this and more in an exploration of how we celebrate Christmas. Based on her book “Christmas: The Sacred to the Santa,” she provides us with many interesting tidbits that you’ll want to share them with friends and family during Yuletide.

Let your friends, family, and colleagues know about our podcast this holiday season. It is the gift of education!

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Thomas Kidd on the Pilgrims (Encore Presentation)

While Tony takes a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, we offer you an encore presentation about the Pilgrims. Thomas Kidd (Baylor University) enlightens us about the history of the Pilgrims, tracing their roots in 16th century England to The Netherlands and eventually to the Plymouth Colony in what is now today Massachusetts. Prof. Kidd discusses the differences the Pilgrims had with the Church of England and their Puritan brethren. We also explore why the king of England would allow a group of his critics to settle land in North America, the hardships that this group of religious refugees faced in their first years in the wilderness, and the imprint the Pilgrims left on U.S. history.

A great podcast for high school educators and homeschoolers, as well as a nice refresher course for those of us who think we remember our American colonial history. Plus, you get to hear your host recite poetry!

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Darío Fernández-Morera on Andalusian Spain

From approximately 711 A.D. to the end of the 13th century, the majority of Spain was ruled by Muslims, with Christian rule finally unifying the country in the late 15th century . Prof. Darío Fernandez-Morera examines the history of al-Andalus and argues that this historical epoch was not necessarily a time of religious harmony and “convivencia” that many contemporary scholars claim. We examine the political, economic, and social status of Christians and Jews, as well as women, during this time period.

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Murat Iyigun on Monotheism, Conflict, Europe, the Ottomans, and the Blues

Did the Ottoman Caliphate have any impact on Europe’s socio-political and economic development? While we often examine Europe’s late medieval history in isolation from other world events, Prof. Murat Iyigun (University of Colorado) argues that the Ottoman Empire’s advances into southeast Europe affected the religious, political, and economic history of Europe in very interesting ways. We also look at the ability of monotheism to guarantee longer and more expansive sociopolitical control, and the influence of mothers on the military policy of Ottoman sultans. At the end of the podcast, we have a special treat — an original “arabesque blues” song, Muqarnas, written and performed by Murat!

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John Owen IV on Confronting Political Islam, Historical Lessons

As ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical forms of political Islam take center stage in the news and policy circles, can we learn anything about the broad-based movement known as Islamism from the history of Europe? Prof. John Owen IV discusses how the West has dealt with its own radical ideological struggles and the parallels we can draw to the present situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Does a Scottish rebellion in the 1560s have anything worth informing us about the Taliban? Find out!

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Evan Haefeli on the Dutch Origins of Religious Tolerance

An often overlooked aspect of the rise of religious freedom in the 17th and 18th centuries was the role of Dutch toleration for religious dissent. Prof. Evan Haefeli of Columbia University documents the critical role that the Netherlands played in fostering religious tolerance in the Low Countries and how this translated across the Atlantic Ocean in the colonial territory they held in the Americas for a half century. He offers a surprising conclusion on what the political-religious landscape would have looked like in post-colonial America had the Dutch been able to retain possession of their territories into the 18th century.

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Sarah Bond on the Church and Funerals in Late Antiquity

How were the funerals for the dead managed in the period of “late antiquity,” roughly spanning the middle 3rd to late 6th century? Historian Sarah Bond of Marquette University surveys the “disreputable profession” of funeral workers prior to, and after, the Edict of Milan, noting how the change in church-state relations that occurred had a dramatic impact on the this critical industry. In the post-Constantinian era, funeral workers were often used as bodyguards and personal militaries for bishops, and the process of interring bodies opened the door to a great deal of corruption (rent-seeking) within the Church.

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Bradley Murg on Russian Orthodoxy after the Soviet Union

Whereas the Soviet Union was noted for being a state that sought to repress all forms of religious expression, the Russian Orthodox Church continued to exist in a weakened form throughout Russia’s communist era. Following the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991, Rusian Orthodoxy has re-emerged from its slumber to reassert itself in the nation’s culture and institutional structure. How has it fared over the past two decades? Bradley Murg, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, explores this question revealing much about the nature of religion in Russian society as well as a thing or two about its evolving political structure.

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Mark Koyama on the Economics of Jewish Expulsions

Prof. Mark Koyama of George Mason University explains why King Edward I expelled the Jews from England in July of 1290, giving them only three months to leave. Rather than focusing on anti-semitism or explanations based upon “greed,” Prof. Koyama shows how changes in feudal revenue collection during the 13th century led to a devaluation of the moneylending role that Jews played in the English economy and how expulsion represented a credible signal to the ever-rebellious lower nobility. He generalizes this explanation to help us understand why further expulsions of Jews occured in continental Europe in the subsequent centuries.

Use this podcast as a basis for book club discussions with your friends. A great podcast for understanding medieval history!

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