The Damnation of Theron Ware, by Harold Frederic (1896), is the fictional tale of a sheltered Methodist minister who is suddenly bombarded with new theories of biblical criticism, exposure to Irish Catholic practices, and the allure of emerging ideals of the “modern woman”—all of which shake his religious foundation.
Brooks students entered a dated and pretentious room with the feel of an old study. They sat in a circle as they listened to Professor Edward Blum. One lecture illustration was the defaced image of Christ from after the Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The room transformed as Blum’s slide showed the stained-glass window with a hole where the holy face of Christ had been.
Brooks School, where I teach, is a traditional elite New England boarding school with roots in the Episcopal tradition. Founded in 1926 and named after Phillips Brooks, a well-regarded Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts, the school defies tradition as it seeks to diversify its faculty and student body. This diversity extends to its spiritual life. Its faculty represents a collection of bright, dedicated, and hardworking people. Like many academic institutions, Brooks began as a single-sex male school, and was slow to become co-educational, which transpired in 1979. New England boarding schools have long held a certain mystique among the American populace, a mystique found in films such as Dead Poets Society and in books such as John Knowles's A Separate Peace.
Anyone who likes maps, religion and useful or odd bits of data will have fun poking around the website created by the Association of Religion Data Archives, which now includes information from the 2010 census. The site allows for all kinds of searches by denomination and region.
For example, the curious can find out what U.S. counties have the highest or lowest percentage of Episcopalians.
There are probably few reference books that vacationers will drag down to the beach this summer. And though I make a living in academia, there aren’t many works of reference that I want to read from cover to cover. I love history because I love stories, storytelling and engrossing narratives—not because I’m taken with the facts, figures and dates that populate reference books.