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“Enduring Trends and New Directions: A Conference on the History of American Christianity in Honor of Mark Noll”

[Good morning! This month the Cushwa Center has invited James Strasburg and Jonathan Riddle to post a preview of the upcoming conference “Enduring Trends and New Directions: A Conference on the History of American Christianity In Honor of Mark Noll.” Strasburg and Riddle are the co-chairs of Mark Noll’s retirement conference and are also PhD candidates at the University of Notre Dame working under Noll’s direction. Below the jump, their post includes information about the (free!) conference, as well as a brief interview with Noll himself. Hope to see you there!]

James Strasburg and Jonathan Riddle (with special interview guest Mark Noll)


nollconference.com. The deadline to register is March 15.

To preview the conversations we’ll be having at the conference, we asked Noll a few retrospective and forward-looking questions. For more along these lines, join us at the conference!

Mark Noll (Photo courtesy William Koechling)

JS & JR: Now that you’ve retired from the University of Notre Dame, what will you miss most about being a professor? What are you most looking forward to in retirement?

MN: I certainly will miss the regular interchange with graduate students that has been a real highlight of my time at Notre Dame. Regular contact with faculty colleagues will also be missed. I will not miss most committee work, though occasionally the chance to work on important issues (like graduate student admissions) was very meaningful. In retirement, I hope to be able to keep writing, with one book pretty clear in my mind how it should go, but also a few others less clearly foreseen. I also welcome the chance to spend more time with family, both in the Chicago area and in the far-flung places our children and grandchildren now inhabit, and also to feel a little freer in helping out church and philanthropic tasks.

JS & JR: What are a few of the most significant changes in the writing of American religious history that you’ve witnessed during your career?

MN: In the early 1970s Sydney Ahlstrom published his landmark survey, A Religious History of the American People, a splendid book that dwelt almost entirely on the history of Christian movements (and among Christian movements primarily Protestant, and among Protestant primarily proprietary Protestants). Over the past half-century, “American religious history” can no longer be considered synonymous with the history of Christianity in the United States. The main reason I describe myself as a “historian of Christianity” is to indicate my desire to continue on in the Ahlstrom trajectory, but now with what has become the need for more truth in advertising. “American religious history” has been greatly enriched in recent decades by contributions from many of the social sciences and by recognizing that the United States is now home to non-Christian traditions, and to traditions of no religion, that deserve serious consideration as historical subjects. For myself, as someone greatly interested in the history of Christian theology, Christian intellectual life, and Christian organizational development, I do not resent “religious history” or “pluralistic American religion,” for I regard these fields as supplementary or complementary to my own work. But I do think the need to make such distinctions has become necessary.

The leaders of “American religious history” when I came on the scene were mostly seminary-trained men associated with research university divinity schools (i.e., Ahlstrom, Handy, Marty), with exceptions like William McLoughlin and Ed Gaustad. Now divinity-school training and divinity school-location have become less common.

Another set of great changes concerns the ever-increasing quantity of high quality publication in American religious history and the overlapping domains of the history of Christianity in the U.S. (Not as much, regrettably, has taken place in the awareness of U.S. historians concerning the significant parallel histories of religion/Christianity in Canada and Mexico, which also inhabit “America.”) Attention to groups that once looked marginal—both Christian and non-Christian—is also much more obvious. It probably goes without saying that I’m delighted with the great surge in excellent publication on African American churches, Pentecostal and evangelical white Protestants, Catholics of all varieties, and more.

JS & JR: What would you say are the exciting new trends in the field?

MN: I’m looking forward to the conference to see what those are!Click Here For Original Source Of The Article

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