Truce

Chris Staron

Truce explores how we got here and how we can do better. It's a history podcast about the Christian Church, from pyramid schemes to political campaigns. Season six explores the link between some evangelicals and the Republican Party, featuring special guests like Rick Perlstein, Frances Fitzgerald, Jesse Eisinger, and more. Season five tells the backstory of Christian fundamentalism. Season three follows the rise of communism and socialism in Russia and how it changed the American Christian Church. Truce is hosted by Chris Staron, writer/ director of the films "Bringing up Bobby" and "Between the Walls", and author of "Cradle Robber". read less
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Episodes

Republicans and Evangelicals I Long Southern Strategy (featuring Angie Maxwell)
Yesterday
Republicans and Evangelicals I Long Southern Strategy (featuring Angie Maxwell)
Give a little to help support the Truce Podcast When did Republicans, the party of Abraham Lincoln, start courting the American South? It's a big question! For decades, Republicans were known as the party that helped black people (except, you know, for ending Reconstruction to help gain the White House). Then, with the nomination of Barry Goldwater, the tide turned. Goldwater's team promoted him as a racist when he toured the South. And... he won some ground in the traditionally Democratic region. So when it came time for Richard Nixon to run in 1968, his team decided to court the South. Not out in public like Goldwater had. Instead, they decided to operate a campaign of "benign neglect" where they would not enforce existing laws meant to protect African-Americans. Our special guest this week is Angie Maxwell, author of The Long Southern Strategy. Discussion Questions: What caused the rift in the Democratic Party that made Strom Thurmond leave (hint: it has to do with Truman)? What was the Democratic Party like before Truman? What influence did Strom Thurmond have on Nixon? Who was Barry Goldwater? How did he change the Republican Party by courting white Southerners? How might the idea of the South being "benighted" impact them as a people? Why do so many evangelicals see themselves as "benighted"? Sources: "The Long Southern Strategy" by Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields. "Reaganland" by Rick Perlstein YouTube clip of Nixon not wanting "Law and Order" to mean "racist" Nixon talking about "law and order" in a speech Nixon's campaign ad about protests and tear gas Article about Nelson Rockefeller Nixon's civil rights ad Helpful Time Magazine article "These Truths" book by Jill Lepore Bio on Strom Thurmond Article about Reconstruction "The Evangelicals" book by Frances Fitzgerald Truman's speech to the NAACP Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Republicans and Evangelicals I Billy Graham and Nixon
May 14 2024
Republicans and Evangelicals I Billy Graham and Nixon
Give to help make Truce! Billy Graham, the famous evangelist, was good friends with Richard Nixon. The two played golf and gave each other advice. Graham was the person who encouraged Nixon to run for president a second time. He also encouraged Nixon to regularly attend church, so Nixon started the first regular church service in the White House, only to make it another "it" place to be seen. But when Nixon's crimes were made public, Graham continued to support him, commenting only on the strong language used by the president. What does it mean for Christian leaders to stand behind a corrupt president? In this episode, Chris interviews David Bruce, a historian at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. NOTE: I thought it was especially important to outline the many crimes of the Nixon administration. Today these crimes are downplayed by bad actors wishing to rewrite history. It is important to emphasize that not only were there immoral acts of shenanigans, there were real crimes perpetrated against individuals, organizations, and the American people. Sources "The Surprising Work of God" by Garth M. Rosell An article from The Atlantic about the Pope and Mussolini "The Popes Against the Protestants" by Kevin Madigan NPR interview with Kevin Madigan "A Prophet With Honor" book by William Martin "The Invisible Bridge" by Rick Perlstein "The Evangelicals" by Frances Fitzgerald "The Failure and the Hope: Essays of Southern Churchmen" book of essays accessed on Google Books New York Times article about how the Watergate break-in was financed Pat Buchanan hearings during the Watergate investigation Frost/Nixon transcript Discussion Questions: Was Billy Graham being a good friend by supporting Nixon after Watergate? Should religious leaders maintain a certain amount of distance between themselves and people of power? Why do we like to see our governmental leaders as religious people? Was Nixon's church service in the Whitehouse wrong to be a gathering place of the rich and famous? How bad was the Watergate break-in? How does it change your mind about Nixon to know about the other criminal activity? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Republicans and Evangelicals I Harold Ockenga - Can Christians Unite? (featuring Joel Carpenter)
Apr 30 2024
Republicans and Evangelicals I Harold Ockenga - Can Christians Unite? (featuring Joel Carpenter)
Give to help the Truce Podcast! Harold Ockenga was a famous fundamentalist(ish) pastor from Boston. And he had a problem. Liberal Christians had the ear of the government. That meant that military chaplain positions and free radio time were going to liberals, not conservatives. Why shouldn't conservatives have access to the radio waves like theologically liberal Christians? But that would take unity among evangelicals, or, what he called neo-evangelicals. Neo-evangelicals were evangelicals who didn't separate from the world. In Ockenga's case, this meant maybe going to the movies or an opera. So he, along with other preachers like Billy Graham, founded the National Association of Evangelicals with the hope of uniting neo-evangelicals under one banner. It didn't work. The real story, though, sometimes gets lost. The was a big boom in evangelism in the 1940s as WWII wrapped up. Evangelists targeted the youth with organizations like Campus Crusade for Christ springing up left and right. This boom meant that churches swelled in the 1950s, only to begin their long slide a few decades later. In this episode, Chris speaks with Joel Carpenter, a senior research fellow at Calvin College and author of "Revive Us Again". Resources Used: "Revive Us Again" by Joel Carpenter "The Evangelicals" by Frances Fitzgerald "The Surprising Work of God" by Garth Rosell "Reaganland" by Rick Perlstein NPS article about the Bonus Army “After the Ivory Tower Falls” book by Will Bunch Billy Graham audio National Association of Evangelicals "The New Treason" Interviews from Harold Ockenga at Wheaton College Discussion Questions: What spurred the revivals of the 1940s? How has youth evangelism shaped American society? Why is it important to understand the role that cheap higher education played in shaping the 1960s? Why did neo-evangelicals feel that they needed access to the radio waves? Is unity important to the Christian walk? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Republicans and Evangelicals I Prologue: What Is Biblical?
Apr 16 2024
Republicans and Evangelicals I Prologue: What Is Biblical?
Give to help the Truce Podcast Thomas McIntyre stood before the US Congress to deliver a moving speech. The man was being hounded by a fringe movement known as the New Right. The movement came from the work of men like Paul Weyrich, Howard Phillips, and Richard Viguerie. Their goal was to disrupt the Republican Party. They wanted to do away with much of the federal government and program to help the poor while simultaneously cutting taxes and increasing the military. They hoped to accomplish this by controlling direct mail. Direct mail! It sounds silly, but by inundating voters and congressional offices with bulk mail they could control the story. Men like McIntyre and Senator Mark Hatfield didn't know what to do with this influx of petty politics. Someone had even gone so far as to question Hatfield's Christian salvation just because of how we was going to vote on the Panama Canal treaty. What does giving the Panama Canal back to Panama have to do with salvation? Almost nothing. Today, we're going to explore this wacky phenomenon where we call something "Christian" or "biblical" if it fits out politics not if it is addressed in the Bible. How are we being manipulated by propaganda like this? And what can we do about it? Discussion Questions: Was the United States responsible in its claiming the Panama Canal as a territory? Are there things in your life that you mix with Christianity? How have your politics gotten confused with your faith? Does the Bible have anything to say on the Panama Canal treaty? Sources: "Reaganland" book by Rick Perlstein Handy article on the history of the Panama Canal Congressional record including the speeches Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn (featuring Larry Tye, author of Demagogue)
Sep 12 2023
Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn (featuring Larry Tye, author of Demagogue)
Give to help Chris make Truce! Joseph McCarthy was an unexceptional junior congressman from Wisconsin. He grew up brawling in the streets, playing cards, and embellishing his stories. Then, during a Lincoln Day address in 1950, Joseph McCarthy told an audience that he had a list of 205 communists working in the government. Within days, he was a household name. McCarthy started "investigating" suspected communists in the American government, focusing on the US State Department. Along the way, he brought in a young lawyer named Roy Cohn. Cohn was already known for his work sending Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair. Now, he and McCarthy bullied and cajoled during private hearings. Being labeled a communist, or even a suspected communist could ruin a person's career. People committed suicide rather than face their scrutiny. Their reign lasted four years, ending in the televised broadcasts of the Army-McCarthy hearings in which a lawyer asked if McCarthy had any decency. That was pretty much it for McCarthy. But Roy Cohn went on to have a well-connected career, providing legal services for the mob and Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News. He also became a mentor to a young real estate mogul named Donald Trump. Famous people like Andy Warhol attended his birthday party at Studio 54. Cohn died of AIDS, something that was killing gay men rapidly in the 1980s, though he denied he ever had it. This is the story of two men allowed to prey on the fears of the American people for their own gain. One fell hard, the other found himself fighting against his own people. In this episode, Chris interviews Larry Tye, author of the book "Demagogue". He's also the author of "Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend" and "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon". Sources: "Demagogue" by Larry Tye Helpful article about the Rosenbergs Article about Klaus Fuchs McCarthy's speech in Wheeling, WV New York Times, February 23, 1954. Pages 16-17 “Transcript of General Zwicker's Testimony Before the McCarthy Senate Subcommittee” Video from Army-McCarthy hearings (forward to the last 20 minutes if you want to jump to the stuff I used) The guest list for Roy Cohn's birthday at Studio 54 Discussion Questions: Why do we love demagogues? Who are other demagogues in American history? The threat of communists in the government in the 1950s is sometimes downplayed. Do you think it was a real concern? McCarthy ran for Congress in an illegal way while still in the Marines. How do you feel about that? Roy Cohn sometimes went against his own people, claiming that gay people did not deserve equal rights. What might have been his motivation? Do you see any crossover between McCarthy, Cohn, and Donald Trump? Cohn died of AIDs in the 1980s when the disease was at its peak. Why might he have wanted to keep his illness a secret? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Takeaway #5 - The Only Thing We Have to Fear
Jun 13 2023
Takeaway #5 - The Only Thing We Have to Fear
Give to support the Truce Podcast On March 4, 1933, FDR delivered his inaugural address. In it, he used the phrase "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". I did a little searching and this phrase is used a LOT in Christian books. So often. But it almost always refers to the fear one person has in their heart. In reality, it is a comment on collective fear. The Great Depression started in 1929 and was exacerbated by a bank run in which Americans lost faith in the value of our currency and the banking systems. That is an important distinction. FDR's speech is about collective fear. As I've contemplated the modernist/fundamentalist debate this season, I keep returning to the idea of fear, not in the US economy but in God's economy. He commands us to love the Lord, keep His commands, love our neighbors, turn the other cheek, and give to those who ask of us. Why do we forget to do this important work? Could it be because we've lost faith in God's economy? This episode features a clip from my discussion with Jacob Goldstein, former host of NPR's Planet Money podcast and the current host of Pushkin's What's Your Problem? podcast. His book is Money: The True Story of a Made-up Thing. Select Sources FDR's Inaugural Address Jacob Goldstein's Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing Movie: It's a Wonderful Life Discussion Questions: Why does it matter that FDR's quote "...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" is a collective statement and not one about individual fear? What are some identifying features of God's economy? Do you trust in the way that God tells us to do things? When was the last time you prayed for someone who you don't like? Do you believe in turning the other cheek? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Takeaway #1 - How Should We Deal With Heretics?
Apr 18 2023
Takeaway #1 - How Should We Deal With Heretics?
Donate to help Chris make Truce! The first-century Christian Church had a lot going on. Their Savior died and was resurrected, sending the Holy Spirit and leaving them with the command to take this new message to all tribes and tongues. The book of Acts records some of their travels, as they went all over the known world with this good news. But they were not the only people evangelizing. So were the gnostics. Gnosticism takes a lot of different shapes. It was a belief system that challenged Christianity, even as some tried to incorporate elements into the faith. Now consider modernist theology - what we've been talking about all season. It is a belief system that doesn't believe in the miracles or the divinity of Jesus. To evangelicals of the 1800s and 1900s, this was a real threat. Like Gnosticism before it, modernism threatened to destabilize the gospel message. What to do? In this bonus episode, Chris takes a look at 1-3 John to see what they have to say about dealing with heresy. Chris is hard at work on season 6! He'll be presenting these short episodes in the meantime to recap some of the themes of season 5. Discussion Questions: If you were alive in the mid-1800s and saw modernism rising, what would you do? Do you think modernism is a heresy? How should Christians today deal with heresy? What did the fundamentalists get right and how did they mess up when approaching heresy? Selected Source Materials: 1-3 John "The Early Church" by Henry Chadwick Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Inherit the Wind | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Mar 21 2023
Inherit the Wind | Christian Fundamentalism Series
US Senator Joseph McCarthy unleashed an era of suspicion on the American people as he went looking for communists. His trials, both public and behind closed doors, focused on the government as well as Hollywood and the Army. He claimed that he had lists of communists, but failed to produce that list. It wasn't until the Army-McCarthy hearings in the spring and summer of 1954 that his unfounded hearings were put to rest. One year later the play Inherit the Wind opened. It was supposed to be a critique of the McCarthy era set inside of a re-telling of the Scopes "monkey" trial. In doing so, it got many of the facts wrong. John Scopes never spent any time in jail. He didn't have a girlfriend, and that girlfriend was not berated on the stand. The townspeople of Dayton, TN were welcoming to both Bryan and Darrow. To explore this work of art and revisionist history I spoke with the hosts of the Seeing and Believing podcast Kevin McLenithan and Sarah Welch-Larson. Select differences between the Scopes trial and Inherit the Wind John Scopes was arrested but never spent time in jail. He was "arrested" in a soda fountain where the test trial was conceived and not in school. Scopes later claimed he never taught evolution, which is why he never took the stand in real life. The entire case was set up as a publicity stunt to bring attention to the town of Dayton, TN. They got the idea when they saw an ad placed by the ACLU. The character of Rachel did not exist in real life. The people of Dayton were welcoming to both Darrow and Bryan and Scopes was loved by many. He even spent time swimming with the prosecution between trial sessions. The moment when Bryan was on trial was held outdoors. H.L. Mencken was not some loveable curmudgeon. He was an anti-semite and a racist. Dayton largely did not vote for Bryan when he ran for president. Bryan died a few days after the trial, not while in the courtroom. Darrow did not carry a copy of the Bible and Darwin out of the courtroom. The textbook in question during the trial was clearly pro-eugenics, was sold in the soda fountain, and had been approved by the state textbook committee. The preachers of the town were kind. The odd sermon given the night of the trial never happened and the script adds a lot of strange things that are not in the Bible. Bryan wished the law to have no penalty, unlike his stand-in in the movie who hoped for a harsher punishment. Sources Inherit the Wind (1960 version) starring Spencer Tracy Summer for the Gods by Edward Larson Chris' own visit to the Dayton museum dedicated to the trial Helpful video about the Napoleon painting Discussion Questions: Where is the line between art and propaganda? Does art have an obligation to the truth? Do you see McCarthyism in Inherit the Wind? Is Inherit the Wind a fair way of discussing the Scopes trial, or a work of revisionist history? Why does it matter? What would it mean for a group that feels maligned and misunderstood to have a film misrepresent them? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
The Scopes "Monkey" Trial Part Two | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Mar 7 2023
The Scopes "Monkey" Trial Part Two | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Love Truce?? Donate to keep the show going! The trial was basically over. The prosecution won. John Scopes was moments away from being convicted of teaching evolution in Dayton, Tennessee. The ACLU and the prosecution had what they wanted. But Clarence Darrow did not. He wanted to make a monkey out of William Jennings Bryan, the famous "fundamentalist". But how? Darrow knew that if he turned down the chance to make a closing argument that Bryan would not be able to make one either. That meant that Bryan's carefully crafted words would never get heard. But he had one more trick up his sleeve. He would call Bryan, the lawyer for the prosecution, to the stand. Imagine that! The case was no longer about the defendant. It was about the lawyers trying to flex. Bryan took the bait. He got on the stand outdoors next to the Rhea County Courthouse in front of an audience of millions. Darrow, in a masterstroke, hit him over and over with the questions of any village atheist. Did Jonah really get swallowed by a large fish? Did the sun really stand still because Joshua prayed that it would? And Bryan... floundered on live radio. This event was made even more famous by the long-running play Inherit the Wind on broadway, which was followed up by a movie adaptation. But the play got it all wrong. Edward Larson, professor at Pepperdine University, and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Summer for the Gods, joins Chris to uncover what really happened on that muggy summer day. Helpful Sources: "Summer for the Gods" by Edward Larson Rhea County Heritage and Scopes Trial Museum Worth a visit! Court Transcript of the Scopes Trial (easy to find online) "A Godly Hero" by Michael Kazin Discussion Questions: Bryan believed in majoritarianism. What is that idea? What do you think of it? Do you think Bryan should have gotten on the stand? Why or why not? How did Bryan do on the stand in your opinion? Does this court case matter in your understanding of fundamentalism? How and when should Christians make stands for their beliefs? When should we stay quiet? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
The Scopes "Monkey" Trial Part One | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Feb 21 2023
The Scopes "Monkey" Trial Part One | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Give to help Chris do Truce full time! Tennessee was the first state in the United States to crack down hard on the teaching of evolution in public schools. Others had dabbled, but Tennessee went all the way. The ACLU wanted to challenge the validity of the case in the courts. In order to do that they needed an educator to teach it, get busted, and be brought to trial. At the same time, the town of Dayton, TN needed a boost. After the biggest employer closed down it faced serious economic trouble. What if the men of Dayon could manufacture a court case to draw the attention of the nation? They found a young teacher named John Scopes and convinced him to participate in their scheme. They booked Scopes, even though he probably never taught evolution. The ACLU had its case. Soon William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow hopped on board and it went from a publicity stunt to something for the history books. This is the event that some historians (wrongly) point to as the death of Christian fundamentalism in the United States until it was revived by the Moral Majority. One man fighting for the biblical idea of creation and another for godless atheism. But the real history is far more complex. Edward Larson, professor at Pepperdine University, joins us to discuss the trial and his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Summer for the Gods". Helpful Sources: "Summer for the Gods" by Edward Larson Rhea County Heritage and Scopes Trial Museum Worth a visit! Court Transcript of the Scopes Trial (easy to find online) "A Godly Hero" by Michael Kazin Discussion Questions: What events led to the Scopes trial? Why did the ACLU feel they had to try the Tennessee Law? Who should decide what is taught in schools? Teachers? Parents? Lawmakers? Or some combination? What were William Jennings Bryan's motives for joining the prosecution? What were Clarence Darrow's motives for joining the defense? Should prayer be allowed before a trial about religion? Should Christians get involved in what is taught in schools? To what degree? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Are All Christians Anti-Evolution? | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Feb 7 2023
Are All Christians Anti-Evolution? | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Give to help Truce! Donate here. In the 1600s, an Irish Archbishop named James Ussher did a bunch of math. The Bible is full of numbers and genealogies. He sat down and calculated that, in his opinion, the Bible dated creation at 4004 BC. According to Ussher, that is when God created man. That number has really stuck around! I gathered my small group together to explore the Adams Synchronological Chart. It is a 23-foot-long timeline of human history, beginning in 4004 BC and ending in 1900. There it was! The 4004 BC number! Which brings up an interesting question, right? What did Christians really believe about evolution just before it became a linchpin battle for fundamentalists? I turned to Edward Larson for answers. He's a professor at Pepperdine University and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Summer for the Gods". The book chronicles the Scopes "Monkey" trial that we'll be covering in the next two episodes. But it also gives us a great introductory look at what Christians believed about evolution in the build-up to the trial. It turns out that evangelical Christians and even fundamentalists were all over the place when it came to ideas of evolution. Many Christians, like William Jennings Bryan, believed in an old earth and even some forms of evolution. But they thought that it was God who caused that evolution. Charles Darwin, though, said that evolution was a matter of chance adaptations, thus cutting God out of the equation. Fundamentalists like Bryan were determined to stop the spread of Darwinian evolution for that very reason. They believed that if young people were taught that they were the result of grand mistakes then what reason did they have to treat each other with respect? To be good citizens? Helpful Sources "Summer for the Gods" by Edward Larson "A Godly Hero" by Michael Kazin "The Birth of a Nation" on YouTube Article about James Ussher and his burial in Westminster Abbey Helpful article about Lamarck "The Evangelicals" by Francis Fitzgerald More about Henry Ford's Anti-Semitism An interesting article about "The Birth of a Nation" Discussion Questions: How did Cuvier and Lamarck differ in their ideas about evolution? Do you believe in a young or old earth? Do you believe in some evolution, macro-evolution, or no evolution at all? What is the best way to oppose an idea? When should we propose laws to combat ideas we don't like and when should we allow others to believe what they like? Do you think the fundamentalists were right to combat teaching evolution in schools? Now that you know about Bryan's failure to call out the KKK, what do you think of him? "Birth of a Nation" shaped American views about black people. Are there more modern films and series that have shaped society in similar ways? Or changed public opinion in other ways? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Leopold and Loeb | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Jan 24 2023
Leopold and Loeb | Christian Fundamentalism Series
Give to help Chris make Truce! Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were wealthy young men in the early 1920s. They lived in big homes in Chicago and had world-class educations. They were both pushed hard academically, and Richard was sexually abused as a child. Both graduated early from high school and college. The two were an odd pairing. Nathan was quiet and awkward, not particularly handsome. Richard was gregarious and outgoing, good-looking... and a psychopath. Nathan loved Richard, and the two sometimes had sex with each other. Richard realized he could control Nathan by trading intimacy for criminal activity. They started with typical juvenile delinquent behavior. Soon, though, Richard wanted more. He considered himself a master criminal, someone too smart to get caught. He and Nathan were exposed to the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche wrote that the ultimate purpose of humanity was to evolve into what he called the ubermensch or superman. Leopold and Loeb thought they were that evolved human. Therefore, they should be able to plot and execute the murder of a young boy without ever getting caught. Only, they were so bad at it that it took very little time to pin it on them. Only the brilliance of Clarence Darrow, the country's most prominent defense attorney, could save their lives. In this episode, we're joined by Candace Fleming. She's the author of the book Murder Among Friends about the crime. The version of Also Sprach Zarathustra used in this episode is courtesy of the Creative Commons License and was produced by Kevin MacLeod. Sources: Murder Among Friends by Candace Fleming Helpful article on the Houston Symphony's website about Also Sprach Zarathustra Article about what Nietzsche meant by "God is dead" Full text of Also Sprach Zarathustra Helpful video about Nietzsche's work Smithsonian article about Leopold and Loeb William Jennings Bryan's closing arguments of the Scopes trial Clarence Darrow's closing arguments of the Leopold and Loeb trial Discussion Questions: Now that you know what the song Also Sprach Zarathustra is about, does it change your opinion of the piece? Do you think Nietzsche was right to worry about what would happen after Christianity took a back seat to world events? What should have been our response? With this little bit we covered about Nietzsche today, what do you think of his work? Can you see why it makes Chris nervous just to mention it in an episode? Do you see the connection between evolution and superman? Were people like Darrow and Bryan right to be concerned about young people learning Nietzsche's philosophy? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices