Going South

From the August/September 2015 Print Edition

From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story
by mark a. noll
baker, 224 pages, $19.99
In 1900, over 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and North America. By 2050, the comparable figure should be just over a quarter, with the remainder distributed across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In fact, the geographical shift is even larger than it may initially appear, as millions of those Christians living in Europe or North America will themselves have ethnic roots in the Global South. In a fairly short span of time, the Christian world will have been transformed and, indeed, turned upside down. For the first time in human history, there exists a truly global religion. How we comprehend the implications of that epochal change is the essential theme of Mark Noll’s enthralling and beautifully written book, From Every Tribe and Nation. What this is not, though, is a straightforward description of the rising churches, with statistical tidbits interspersed with startling anecdotes. The book is in large measure autobiographical, almost a Bildungs­roman, in which an inquiring and fiercely intelligent Christian from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, describes how he discovered the realities of that new world lying outside the traditional Western heartlands of the faith—in fact, how he learned to think globally. Continue Reading »

Easter Stories

From First Thoughts

Felices Pascuas ,  Joyeuses Pâques ,  Buona Pasqua ,  Glad Påsk . . . Around the world, Christians use very similar words to wish each other a  happy Easter , and with a couple of glaring exceptions, they call the feast by a variant of  pascha , Passover. Even . . . . Continue Reading »

Christian Influence on Islam

From First Thoughts

I posted recently  about the network of small states that existed between the Roman and Persian empires, the two superpowers of Late Antiquity. Most of these buffer states are of little interest to non-specialists, but two of those middling powers in particular demand our attention for what . . . . Continue Reading »

From Cranmer to Welby

From First Thoughts

This year more than most, March 21 is a date of multiple significance in the Church of England. You might justly ask whether the English church still matters much on the world stage, but the wider Anglican Communion assuredly does: by the middle of this century, there could well be 150 million . . . . Continue Reading »

That’ll Be the Day That I Die

From First Thoughts

March 1 is the feast of  David , the early medieval bishop and missionary who became patron saint of Wales. We actually know strikingly little of David apart from that date, of March 1, but I’m going to suggest that represents a good deal in its own right. Through the Middle Ages, . . . . Continue Reading »

Economics as Eugenics

From the October 2007 Print Edition

Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World is not quite as bad as either its author or publisher try to make it. As reported in a major New York Times article heralding the publication of “the next blockbuster in economics,” the book represents a . . . . Continue Reading »

Who Is Harry Sylvester?

From the March 2007 Print Edition

If the Ministry of Truth had devoted their full attention to obliterating the memory of Harry Sylvester, his elimination from the public consciousness could not have been more total. Born in 1908, Sylvester seemed by the 1930s set for a career as a Major Catholic Writer. After graduating from Notre . . . . Continue Reading »