J. Gordon Melton is an American author, theologian, and the founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion. Currently, he’s the Distinguished Professor of American Religious History with the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he resides.
The author of more than 45 books, Melton is known for his encyclopedic knowledge of world religions, religious traditions in America, and his research into cults and extremely unusual religious groups. “It’s my little niche,” Melton said.
“In 1900 there were 330 different religious groups,” Melton observed. “Now, there are over 2,000, and I find every one of them incredibly interesting.” Here are a few of the more unusual. Continue reading
The 18th century Englishman, John Spilsbury, was an engraver and mapmaker in London. He is also credited with being the inventor of the jigsaw puzzle.
In 1767 Spilsbury mounted a map on a piece of hard wood and carved around the borders of each country as a means to teach geography to children. Seeing the puzzle as a potential business opportunity he created puzzles based on 8 different themes–the World, Europe, Asia, Africa, America, England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Continue reading
Sunday night, following the Cleveland Cavaliers improbable come back to win the NBA championship after being down 3-1, they revealed their secret motivation.
For the past 8 weeks this secret weapon had been concealed in a container they carried from game to game and kept in their locker room. It was a four-foot puzzle that formed the image of the Larry O’Brien championship Trophy. Continue reading
The story is told of a little child in an African village who got lost when he wandered off into the tall jungle grass. Family and tribe members stomped all day through the thick grass, frantically seeking the lost boy. The end of the day, however, he was not found.
The next day someone suggested every tribe member hold hands so they could comb through the grass without missing any area. Eventually they found the body of the child who had died during the cold night. Continue reading
Perhaps you’ve heard the story about a man who was stranded on a desert island for many, many years. One day, while strolling along the beach, he spotted a ship in the distance. This had never happened in all the time he was on the island, so he was very excited about the chance of being rescued.
Immediately, he built a fire on the beach and generated as much smoke as possible. It worked! Soon, the ship was heading his way. When the ship was close enough to the island, a dinghy was dispatched to investigate the situation. The man on the island was overjoyed with the chance to be rescued and met his saviors as they landed. Continue reading
“In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion liberty; in all things, charity.”
These words were drafted by Thomas Campbell in his Declaration and Address before the Christian Association of Washington in 1809. Campbell, a Presbyterian minister, migrated to America from Ireland in 1807. He came to this country believing the American frontier presented a new life and a new opportunity for Christianity. He sought to promote, as he put it, “simple evangelical Christianity, free from all mixture of human opinion and inventions of men.” Campbell was seen by many in his denomination as unorthodox. Continue reading