As I was jotting down possible sessions I might want to attend I came across AHA Session 3 on Thursday afternoon: "Are the Culture Wars History? New Comments on an Old Concept." I was attracted by the high-powered panel of historians--Andrew Hartman, Adam Laats, Natalia Petrzeal, Stephen Prothero, and Leo Ribuffo. I marked it down as a must-attend panel.
Then I read the "Session Abstract." Here it is:
In 2012, Messiah College history professor John Fea set Glenn Beck and his followers ablaze when he claimed that Barack Obama might be “the most explicitly Christian President in America.” Responding to the hundreds of angry comments he received, Fea wrote a follow-up post on the need for civility entitled “The Culture Wars Are Real.” The title of Fea’s essay was old news, as Americans had been talking about the “culture wars” ever since the publication of James Davison Hunter’s 1991 book on the subject. Yet Fea’s title also betrayed a tone of defensiveness—that maybe, for some, the culture wars weren’t and aren’t real.
The Fea incident was a reminder of everything that historians still don’t know about one of the most familiar analytical concepts of the past twenty-five years. ...