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A cheery Happy 500th Birthday to a non-dour Reformer: John Calvin

Author: Nathan Bierma, Minds co-editor
Posted on: Jul 10, 2009

The problem with turning 500 is that you start to sound old. John Calvin, who was born 500 years ago today, will be remembered by many today as a dour old codger who loved to talk about sin and depravity, someone who was always in a bad mood. It’s true that Calvin had his grumpy moments—although I probably would too if I suffered from constant intestinal disorders and a battery of other chronic ailments, as Calvin did. And it’s true that Calvin spared few words when talking about the severity of our condition as a result of sin—though I don’t think Paul or Augustine were much less blunt about our depravity. (The less said about the nasty names Calvin called the Pope, meanwhile, the better.)

I’ve been learning lately that Calvin actually lived, thought, and wrote with a palpable pastoral heart and a vivid vision of God’s goodness and grace—and that without this part of the picture of who Calvin was, all you get is a caricature.

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Exceptionalism with a Twist

Author: James Bratt, Professor of History
Books & Culture
Posted on: Jun 12, 2009

Americans have always struck outside observers as being a bundle of contradictions. Europeans from Tocqueville on have noted how, in the strange world across the Atlantic, forthright materialists are consumed with spiritual ardors while the mantra of liberty sounds forth from compulsive conformists.

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Future West: Utopia and Apocalypse in Frontier Science Fiction

Author: William Katerberg, professor of history
University Press of Kansas
Posted on: Feb 17, 2009

What if we juxtapose the mythic history of the American West with stories set in the American West of the future?