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Forbes now is in secular academia, teaching rhetoric in writing, and she's turned her research attention to selected women who have unwittingly wielded a great deal of influence if not power, particularly in the twentieth century: devotional writers or compilers, principally a woman known for decades as Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman and the earlier Mary Wilder Tileston, compiler of the 1884 book of 365 dated readings, Daily Strength for Daily Needs (still in print). Read more
As we begin each new day, not knowing what we'll experience, we trust in God's great love. Whether the day be good or ill, whether it be happy or heart-breaking, God's love will surround and sustain our lives. That's the promise in the new Brief Statement of Faith of the Presbyterian Church (USA): "Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child, like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home, God is faithful still" (lines 49-51). Read more
Slavery. Domestic violence. Sexual harassment. Child-trafficking. Little words. Big sins. And especially cruel when they apply to you or your loved ones—a job denied, a frantic trip to the emergency room, a child lost forever. Our misuse of power and manipulation of others is one of the oldest patterns of human behavior on the planet. Read more
A man raced through the streets of Capernaum searching for the one person who could help him. He glimpsed an animated figure preaching, pushed through the crowd, and fell exhausted at Jesus’ feet.  “My daughter is dying; come heal her,” begged the father with his last breath.  Read more
Have you ever had the experience of knowing something mentally but having an entirely different response emotionally? I have been grappling with this for the past few years. Yes, intellectually I know God's promises of inner peace, and yet I experience anxiety. I have seen God work for good in my life and in the lives of others, but on the other hand, emotionally, I fear. Read more
Worldly stereotypes about men abound. Movie-goers watch jet-setting spies spring back to life after leaping out of airplanes. Professional athletes are valued for their physical prowess. Romance readers lust after rugged cowboys. Gamers pretend they are militaristic superheroes. And Wall Street applauds twenty-something billionaires. Read more
In 1664, a young Puritan minister named John Cotton Jr. was found guilty of “lascivious unclean practices with three women.”1 Mr. Cotton was a Harvard graduate, a descendant of well-respected parents, and a husband and father. As a punishment for his sinful deeds, English officials in Massachusetts forced Cotton to give up his pastorate of a local church. The question was, what could he do to support Joanna, his wife, and their children? Puritan leaders found the answer in an unlikely place: Martha’s Vineyard. For many years, members of the Mayhew family had labored as missionaries on the island, trying to teach local Indians about Christianity. The Mayhews needed help, and John Cotton Jr. was sufficiently qualified, in the eyes of the English at least, to preach to Indians. So, in 1666, John Cotton Jr. began a long missionary career on both Martha’s Vineyard and in the town of Plymouth. In many respects, his legacy lasted beyond his death, for his two sons, Josiah and Roland Cotton, preached to Indians in Massachusetts long after their father was gone.2 Other scholarly works have examined male members of the Cotton family and how they interacted with Native Americans.3 In this article, however, I wish to explore the experiences of Joanna Cotton, a wife and mother of missionaries in colonial America. In particular, I will explore the extent to which Joanna fell in line with expectations regarding gender roles in colonial New England. These roles typically involved a degree of female subordination to males. Read more