Thank You for Being a Friend: RiAH, Liberal Protestants, and an Apology

Mark Edwards

It was nearly five and a half years ago that I got an email from Darren Dochuk inviting me to review a book for Paul Harvey's Religion in American History blog.  My first thought was, "what's a blog?"  Second thought: "Who's Paul Harvey?"  As a technological dinosaur, I was unaware of the role that digital media had begun to play in building and advancing intellectual community.  Having been an Assistant Professor of, well, religion in American history for five years, with a book about to come out on that topic, my lack of awareness of Paul and RiAH  showed how terribly alone I was as a scholar.

In retrospect, I feel like joining Team Harvey (obligatory sports reference accomplished) has served entirely selfish purposes: RiAH has been an essential means of my continuing education.  The blog is more to me than a place for posting book reviews, sharing research, reflecting on current events, and publishing notices--as valuable as all those are.  It's a central place where I have seen modeled and tried to practice the virtues of the humanities student.  It also brought me out of isolation and into a number of wonderful, edifying networks and friendships.  For that, I am immensely grateful to Paul and everyone else who has sustained the RiAH conversation these past ten years.

By way of reminiscing, I thought I'd share my second post.  It's on how I saw the study of liberal Protestantism at that moment.  Alot has changed since then for the better, although I wonder if the questions and issues raised by everyone then are still relevant.  NOTE: If you do read the post and several comments, please forgive my misreading of Kevin Schultz's Tri-Faith America, my shameless book plug, and my wrongheaded "fight" with Ed Blum about liberal Protestants and race.  You'll see that Kevin and Ed were very gracious with me, which is perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned while at RiAH.