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The Militarized Divide

This shattered nation. “Eric Garner was overweight and in poor health. He was a nuisance to shop owners who complained about him selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. When police came to arrest him, he resisted. And if he could repeatedly say, ‘I can’t breathe,’ it means he could breathe.” And, oh yeah: “You cannot go out and break the law. What we did not hear is that you cannot resist arrest. That’s a ...

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Beyond M.A.D.: Reviving Nuclear War

“Some of the key technocrats and scientists of the Cold War say the nation has become overly confident about its nuclear deterrence. The nuclear enterprise, they say, ‘is rusting its way to disarmament.’” Let’s meditate on this irony — that disarmament, finally, means no more than growing old and weak and pathetic. What brilliant Cold War Revival propaganda, masquerading, in the Los Angeles Times last week, ...

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Racism: It’s The Law

Smoke and fire, sirens blaring, horns honking, a sudden hail of bullets. This is what passes for the American dialogue on race and justice. It’s hidden until it explodes. “By 10 p.m.,” the Wall Street Journal informed us, “a St. Louis County Police squad car burned just down the street from the Ferguson Police Department, with spare ammunition ‘cooking off’ or exploding in the car.” Those who want to shake ...

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The First Thanksgiving In American Memory: Part 4

In my last post on the First Thanksgiving in American Memory, I called attention to a number of trends in the latter half of the nineteenth century that opened the door for Americans gradually to embrace the Pilgrims as ancestors critical to the American founding. There was one other, absolutely crucial trend at the close of the century that made the adoption of the Pilgrims as honorary Founders not only po ...

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The First Thanksgiving In American Memory: Part 3

History is not the past self, but rather the “remembered past,” in the words of Christian historian John Lukacs. With this as our starting point, I teach my students to think of history in terms of metaphors. Among other things, history is a story about the past that helps us to frame our lives. It functions as a mirror helping us to see our own age more clearly. Ideally, it is a rich conversation, a dialog ...

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The First Thanksgiving in American Memory: Part 2

In my last post I began a quick sketch of how American memory of the First Thanksgiving has changed over time. And it definitely has changed, and changed dramatically. In every class that I teach here at Wheaton College, one of the first principles that I try to drive home to my students is the fundamental distinction between history and the past. The past is everything that has been said and thought and do ...

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The First Thanksgiving in American Memory: Part 1

Editor's Note: In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, enjoy Dr. McKenzie's enlightening series on the first Thanksgiving in American Memory. An interviewer recently asked me to identify the most surprising thing I had learned in my study of the “First Thanksgiving.” I replied that the discoveries that interested me most had less to do with the actual 1621 celebration than with the way that American memory ...

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Bill Cosby and Rape: Why Were We So Slow?

Bill Cosby has fallen from grace. America’s dad is in the dog house after decades in our living rooms. The accusations of rape are old news but something has shifted. The accusers’ stories are gaining momentum and what was an open secret is now impossible to ignore. Bill Cosby is a rapist and we all know it. TV Land, Netflix and ABC know it, too, so they are cancelling their relationships with him. A logica ...

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A First Thanksgiving Hoax

Editor's Note: The Raven Foundation is delighted to welcome Dr. Robert Tracy McKenzie, chair of the Department of History at Wheaton College, to our flock! Dr. McKenzie has an inspiring approach to history and aspires to, as he says, "think Christianly about America's past." Recognizing our human propensity to "re-member" (that is, "piece back together") history according to our current worldviews, Dr. McKe ...

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The Oracle of Certainty: From Ancient Athens to ISIS

Thank the gods we don’t believe in the utterances of oracles anymore. We don’t search for omens in the entrails of sacrificed animals or believe that women in drug induced trances can foretell our destiny. Because the ancient Greeks fell for this superstitious mumbo jumbo, they were led into two disastrous wars that had devastating consequences. The great anti-war playwright Euripides offers his critique of ...

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