It is Day 2 at the ASCH spring meeting in Portland. I enjoyed the 11am-1:30pm session on "Religion and the American Presidency" with panelists, David Bains of Samford University, Seth Dowland of Pacific Lutheran University, and Brantley Gasaway of Bucknell University, chaired by Mary Beth Mathews of the University of Mary Washington. Bains spoke on "Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Civil War, and the Presbyterian Identity," Dowland on "Southern Baptist Apostate: Bill Clinton's Fight with the Religious Right," and Gasaway on "Personal Piety, Presidential Hypocrisy: The Progressive Evangelical Critiques of Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush." Much of what Gasaway spoke about paralleled the content discussed in David Swartz's The Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservativism. I was interested in learning that Gasaway is working on a book that expands on Swartz's book to include information on the evangelical left into the 1980s and 1990s. I look forward to reading his book when it is completed.
After the session, I had lunch with Bruce Hindmarsh, who is this year's president of the ASCH. Since I studied primarily theology at Regent College, I didn't get to know Bruce until after I began studying the history of evangelicalism. It is fun to talk with someone whose scholarly interest is also in the eighteenth century. He is currently working on a book on evangelical spiritual theology, under contract with InterVarsity Press.
In the afternoon, I did some grading and reading before attending the 5:45-6:45 roundtable discussion on "Rethinking the Study of Church History--A Presidential View," with past and current ASCH presidents Barbara Brown Zikmund, Charles Lippy, and Bruce Hindmarsh (chaired by Marianne Delaporte). This was an interesting session as the panelists and audience analyzed the role of the society as well as the changes in the ASCH over the last forty years. Zikmund pointed out, for instance, that women such as herself had been previously marginalized and/or patronized at the society in years past. And all the panelists agreed that the ASCH has broadened its scope beyond confessional boundaries that dominated the 1960s and 1970s.
Tomorrow, I give my paper on Charles Nisbet. I'm not yet sure how I can talk about him in fifteen minutes, but I'll give it a try.