500 years ago, Charles V was crowned as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. But it was crumbling as educated elites such as Martin Luther, middle class merchants, and even peasants were beginning to feel restless. In 1519 there were also major floods on the Dutch coast. The time was ripe for some tumultuous changes in church and society, not unlike today.

The Anabaptists of the sixteenth century appeared a few years later; they were so sure of their convictions they were willing to die for them. At the same time, they were involved in a grand experiment of how faith, church, and society related to each other.

My experiment is much more modest and safer. For the next four months I will be posting material from a lecture or related to class content in the Anabaptist History & Thought class in order to provide an opportunity for students to continue the conversation online, perhaps even with others who are not in the class. This is not so much social media—I do not have a Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account—it is simply one way to respond to some important issues and to foster conversation beyond the classroom. I still plan to have class discussions, but sometimes introverts need more time to process or prefer writing to speaking, and so this is a way for more people to engage and participate. The nice thing is that this little risk will not involve anyone being burned at the stake for their convictions. I hope there will be lots of dynamic yet respectful dialogue in class and online.

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