Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

God’s Army: The American Bible School: 1880-1940
by virginia lieson brereton
Indiana University Press, 212 pages, $27.50

Few histories of American education include references to the likes of Moody Bible Institute. Ms. Brereton of Harvard argues convincingly that this is a serious oversight. The Bible schools of America play a powerful role in shaping evangelical and fundamentalist religion, of course, but they have also pioneered imaginative changes in educational theory and practice. The author’s judicious and sympathetic treatment of this neglected dimension of how Americans learn to think and be and do is most welcome. 

The Catholic Church and American Culture
edited by cassian yuhaus 
paulist press, 113 pages, $8.95

The subtitle of these collected essays is “Reciprocity and Challenge.” David O’Brien, Margaret Steinfels, John Coleman, Monika Hellwig, and Herve Carrier agree that Catholicism should challenge the putative sins of American culture—consumerism, individualism, militarism, etc. But the writers usually seem so eager to distance themselves from the magisterium of their church that it is hard lo see on what distinctively Catholic basis they challenge the culture, aside from vague appeals to the “communal values” of the Catholic tradition. Steinfels, editor of Commonweal, offers intriguing insights into how that venerable journal understands its mission today.