For those who are interested, I recently reviewed Christine Leigh Heyrman’s American Apostles: When Evangelicals Entered the World of Islam (NY: Hill and Wang, 2015) for Reading Religion, which is the American Academy of Religion’s new book review site. The book explores the first American Protestant mission to the Middle East in examining the early American encounter with Islam. Those of you who took “How the Holy Land Became Holy” or “Americans and the Holy Land” with me will likely be interested in it, as it focuses on the mission of Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons, both of whom we studied in class! If I find the time, I might write a future blog post laying out some of my thoughts on the work that couldn’t fit in the word-limited review. Until then, head over to Reading Religion, which itself is very cool and useful.
For those interested, the article on which my Just Lunch talk was based, “American Cyrus? Harry Truman, the Bible, and the Palestine Question,” was just published with the Journal of Church and State. Check it out here!
Archival research is often tedious. Every so often, though, something unusual pops out at you. While trying to clean up some of my dissertation’s footnotes on materials from the Truman Library’s online holdings, I came across a bizarre little ditty that Truman had written out on a scrap of paper. He doodled on the other side.
One of the pleasures of doing historical research is coming across things that have nothing to do with what you’re researching. This morning I was trying to find material on what the traveling evangelist Mordecai F. Ham thought about Zionism. Ham was famous for three things–being a great revivalist, converting Billy Graham, and antisemitic rabblerousing. He was also for a brief time the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. While searching The Oklahoman‘s archives for mentions of the pastor, I came across a 1927 article about Ham getting hit by a car on North Robinson. Ham, it seems, not only blamed the devil, but called him out:
“I have been lying here trying to figure out why I was hurt and who was to blame. You will remember that I had a great deal to say about the devil that was not complimentary to him. I also had announced a series on ‘Satanic Cults’ for this fall. I guess the devil tried to head me off.
I want to serve notice on him now that unless he does a cleaner job of knocking me out I will have a great deal more to say about him just as soon as these doctors and my good wife will permit me to return to my pulpit.”