Reading Religious Periodicals

One of my favorite blogs, Religion in American History, recently featured a nice post from Eastern Nazarene College professor Randall Stephens. In the piece, Stephens reflects on his experiences reading Cold War-era religious periodicals during a recent research trip to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Gladstone, MO. Stephens gave the post a great title, too– “Foxed Paper and the Slight Smell of Mold.” Fantastic! (And quite true, as anyone who’s ever spent sustained time in an archive knows all too well.)

Here’s a taste of Stephens’ piece:

Ideally, I hoped to browse through some denominational magazines and periodicals from the 1950s and 1960s for my next project on Christianity and rock/anti-rock. I was pleasantly surprised. The library had loads of Baptist and SBC serials dating back to the early years of the Cold War. Some of the titles I browsed through: Baptist Quarterly Review; Home Life; Baptist Training Union Magazine; The Student (A Baptist-style Jesus People-ish magazine, which Sam Hill actually wrote in). In addition to all that there were extensive runs of Christianity Today and Christian Century, along with quite a few other gems.

Read the whole thing here.

Like Stephens, I enjoy reading these religious periodicals — which is good, since I’ll need to read a lot of them to prepare for my master’s thesis. Specifically, over the next several months, I’ll spend terrific amounts of time browsing old copies of the Evangelical Visitor, the denominational publication of the Brethren in Christ for more than 100 years. Although my research is more interested in experience and practice (actions) rather than thought (words), I expect that my Visitor reading will provide me with some insight into the thoughts of post-war Brethren in Christ leaders and laypeople — thoughts that I can then connect to actions like peacemaking, dressing plainly, etc.

Here’s to happy reading!

HT = John Fea


About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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3 Responses to Reading Religious Periodicals

  1. I hope you don’t become allergic to dust and musty paper. Enjoy!

  2. Devin–I have read through a fair number of the Evangelical Visitors, especially while researching the sea-going cowboys article I did.
    One thing that really struck me, as I read conference reports and such, was a STRONG anti-union stance in the 1940s. Obviously, that was not my focus, but it made me realize there are nuggets there for the intrepid researcher to find.

  3. Devin Manzullo-Thomas says:

    Donna: Very interesting. Maybe some day Dr. Sider or I can convince you to pursue those “nuggets” more fully for a BICHL article. 🙂

    In the meantime, I’ll remind you (and other readers who might be interested) of a post I did last Labor Day. In it, I quoted (albeit briefly) from a denomination publication released in 1940. In as much as one de-contextualized quote can, it suggests that at least there was some denominational momentum against unjust or unfair employer practices, too — in addition to whatever anti-union stance the church and its members took.

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