Thursday, January 10, 2013

We're Back...and We're Moving

It's good to be back. Now that the Christmas-New Year's-Notre Dame loss in the National Championship Game haze has cleared, I'm back at work. Work has also calmed down enough to be able to blog.

Before I go further, though, I should announce that this blog is moving!

Immediately after I started this blog, my friend Chris insisted that I should start out right, with a WordPress account. After a quick survey of those in the know, I determined he was right. Rather than invest more time into Blogger, I decided to jump to WordPress. The look is different, but the title is the same:

I realize that "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." This move comes not from double-mindedness but from the desire to get the platform right before going any farther.

So, update your pages and your links. I'll be devoting my time to the WordPress site from now on.

Let's see what 2013 holds!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Posting Plaudits

I could have also titled this "Konversational Kudos," but I think the above is better.

Below, I invited people to comment, thereby building a relationship to the blog. Well, we have a winner!

Josh & Sarah D.H. were the first ones to comment and to suggest improvements for the blog. (More details about improvements to come...)

Chris A. would have been #2, had his University not blocked his post. Chris has also sent along some good ideas.

Adina J. succeeded in being "substantive."

Thanks to all 3 of you!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Conversational Manifesto II

The Internal Dialogue (ID) Continues...
ID: When are you going to blog?

JDH: I plan to blog when I want to say something, not on a regular schedule.

ID: Won't this produce frustrated readers, clamoring for content?

JDH: Perhaps, but that's what RSS Feeds are for. It will alert followers when the Spirit has moved me to produce another entry. Readers should expect OCCASIONAL pieces rather than scheduled production.

ID: How will this relate to your academic writing?

JDH: The rule has to be that academic writing will come first. If blogging will assist that, great. If it becomes a distraction it will have to go.

ID: Are there any blogs you look to as models?

JDH: Can I name 3 blogger friends and one group? All of them inspire me to do my best work for this blog.


ID: So, you'll be copying them?

JDH: Nope. I respect them all, but I hope to put my own imprint on this project.

ID: One more thing: you're employed at Northwestern College. Are you giving voice to the institution's perspective?

JDH: Emphatically Not. This blog will represent my own opinions, not that of my employer. It should not be construed in any way as representing the opinion of Northwestern or any other member of the Northwestern community.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Conversational Manifesto I

I occasionally maintain an Inner Dialogue (ID). This ID began on a commuter train traveling between Boston and New York and has continued since.

ID: So you want to start your own blog? Does the world need another blog?

JDH: Although a flippant response might be, "Everybody else is doing it," a better answer is that as an historian I sometimes feel the need to write occasional pieces. These don't rise to the level of publishable. They may not even be thoughts I'd defend a week later, but they might offer an opportunity to think about a topic or get others to think about a topic.

ID: Are there additional reasons to have a blog?

JDH: I can think of several more...

1. I want to maintain contact with students after a class is over. My teaching at Northwestern College in Minnesota has been enriched by generating conversations with students that stretch over a semester and sometimes longer. I really would like to continue conversations with current and former students over issues raised in class.

2. People asked for it. At the close of the last round of my "American Religious History" class, two students particularly suggested that a blog would be a great idea to keep ideas flowing. So, if this succeeds, special thanks should go to Paul L. and Rosie M. for encouraging its development. Upon hearing this idea, many others have seconded the idea.

3. This is a great way to keep people in the Midwest (and elsewhere) updated on what's happening during the 2012-2013 academic year. During this sabbatical year, I've relocated with my family from Minnesota to Princeton, New Jersey. I'm the Garwood Visiting Fellow with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. I've heard a lot of requests to know what's going on academically and intellectually. One content source for the blog will be reporting on lectures and presentations I get to take in.

4. This blog could be a great source for promoting forthcoming publications.

ID: Oh, you think you'll have forthcoming publications?

JDH: I can let the world know that my first book is now under contract with the University of Virginia Press. The manuscript is entitled "Patriotism and Piety": Federalist Politics and Religious Struggle in the New Nation. I look forward to sharing updates on the book.

ID: Do you have a name for this new blog?

JDH: Since it will be largely history-related, it needs to have something about that in the title. I've picked the name "Historical Conversations." History works best as a conversation. This is true in scholarship, as historians present their work at conferences and in journals and then get to improve their work via the feed-back they receive. The practice of history is a conversation between the historian and the primary sources he (or she!) interprets. Historiography could be seen as a developing conversation between works of history. In the classroom, the best classes are those that nurture conversations not only between professor and students but also between students. Even better is when those conversations carry on after and outside of class, maybe over lunch. I hope that can be nourished even on a blog. As a result, I'd be delighted if the Comments section became a lively place for exchange.

ID: So what do you plan to blog about?

JDH: Whatever I find interesting. I anticipate there will be things about early American history, American religion and religious history, religion and politics. One element I'm excited about including is to tie web articles on current events or commentary to themes from courses.

First Comment Contest

For the record, I'll post your name publicly and send you many plaudits if you're the first person to leave a relevant comment on this blog.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, John Jay!

I realize many people have gotten excited that today is 12/12/12. What's really worth noting, though, is that today is John Jay's birthday. John Jay was born December 12, 1745. So, as one friend noted, today is his 267th birthday. John Jay was an important figure in the American Founding era. We'll have plenty more to say about him on this blog.

If you're curious, though, I have an article on Jay published in the volume The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life, edited by Dreisbach, Hall, and Morison. Pick up your copy today!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Intent to Blog

For awhile, I have wanted to start a blog. I'm publishing this as a public statement of that intent. I need motivation to overcome inertia and actually do this. Maybe a few friends will keep me accountable to generate new content regularly. I have plenty of ideas, but this is a practical way of committing to publish them. More to come, soon.