This week we turn our attention to a blog ran by an actual college professor who explores religious history as well as other topics pertaining to history. His blog is highly respected and is another example of what academic blogging is about. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you John Fea's The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Reflections at the Intersection of American History, Religion, Politics, and Academic Life! http://www.philipvickersfithian.com/
John holds a Ph.D from Stony Brook University and is the Chair of the History Department at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books and the winner of a few prizes for those books. Two of those are on my shelves waiting to be autographed eventually. In addition, he has authored many articles for quite a few journals and newspapers. He has lectured at various universities and is a guest speaker for many groups, churches, and historical societies. (I have no clue how he gets everything done!)
That short paragraph is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to John's academic work. The list is long, really long of what he has done. Our focus here is the blog which is one of the better blogs. This blog went live on June 23, 2008. He had made some guest posts on Religion and American History, but while working on his book The Way of Improvement leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment he began this blog. Here we are, almost 7 years later and he remains strong with his blogging skills.
In fact, John has expanded his skills and added several features to his blog which I have found very useful. One of these is his Virtual Office Hours section which you can also find on YouTube. I really do not know how many of these he has, but I do know that I have found them quite interesting and useful. In fact, I sought John's permission to use one of them in my introduction to the American History survey course. (More on that in tomorrow's According to Jim).
This blog is on Blogger which I found to be an excellent platform for a blog. The captcha feature makes posting on the blog a conscious act and I think helps cut down on the trolling. The content on this blog is excellent. John is not trying to write academic articles, but his own thoughts on various subjects. I find that to be very important. As John is an experienced professor and author the posts are insightful as to his thought process. He is not focusing exclusively on any one subject, but instead covers a wide range of topics.
Plus, how can a Bruce Springsteen loving historian be that bad? He can't. I first found John's blog while looking for blogs written by people who knew what they were talking about and were not partisan rants. Although I will say that any historian who is on Glenn Beck's bad side and writes about religious history is somebody that interests me. John has an outstanding blog that is one I check daily. His book reviews (recently done by Megan Piette) are interviews with the authors. I have added a few books to my must read list right off of these interviews.
Really, I cannot say enough good things about John Fea and this blog. It is a professional blog operated by a professional historian. I refer students to his blog regularly, especially the Virtual Office Hours. I have borrowed from John and his blog as well as his scholarship. I even have a lesson built with my flipped classroom about America being created as a secular government in a Protestant society. Students find the idea interesting. If I were to rate blogs this would get the maximum rating.