As my Messiah College colleague John Fea put it: “We historians have it rough.”
By the time readers of The Search for Piety and Obedience see this post, I’ll be halfway to Pepperdine University in sunny Malibu, California, to participate in the 2014 gathering of the Conference on Faith and History (CFH). CFH is an organization of Christian historians, and their biennial meeting always features a conference of research presentations, roundtable discussions, and plenary talks from leading Christian scholars.
This year, the conference theme is “Christian Historians and Their Publics.” For a public historian like me, it’s a great topic — one that promises intellectual stimulation and good conversation about a pertinent yet under-discussed aspect of doing history.
I have only one real obligation during the conference: participating in a Saturday morning roundtable on the topic, “The Role of Historians in Managing Institutional Change.” Pietist Schoolman Chris Gehrz (Bethel University) will moderate a discussion between myself, Mark Norris (Grace College) and Shirley Mullen (Houghton College). I’m hoping I can make a modest contribution to the conversation.
I’m excited to attend a lot of the other sessions, too — in fact, there’s so much good stuff packed into this year’s schedule that I’m sad I can attend only one session at a time! I’m particularly looking forward to a conversation about Christian public history moderated by my Messiah College colleague Jim LaGrand, and to various other panels dealing with topics of interest: American Evangelicalism, Christian faith and public memory, the history of Christian colleges and universities, and others.
My former student Brooke Strayer will be presenting at the undergraduate conference that precedes the main conference, and will be sharing the results of her research into the history of the Brethren in Christ peace position.
If you’re interested, I’ll likely be tweeting the conference @devinmzt. Maybe I’ll follow up with a blog post or two, as well.