HerbSwanson.com ...A Resource for the Study of the Thai Church



Herb's Research Bulletin
Revised October 2011


Herb's Research Bulletin (HeRB) is a free electronic journal, which is intended to serve as a clearing house for research related to the history of Protestantism in Thailand, particularly the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT). The first issue (HeRB 1) was sent out in March 2002 as an email attachment and it was only with HeRB 5 that HeRB was located onto this website, beginning in March 2003. After I returned to the United States in December 2004, I was able to produce only one more issue of HeRB, and from 2006 through 2011 I devoted virtually no time either to herbswanson.com or HeRB.

In 2011, I moved this website to a server in the U.S., which has allowed me to begin to simplify things with a new, less complicated format that is easier to navigate. In the process, I have done some editing including dropping a few "Short Items," "News & Notes" items, and a few book reviews that were not relevant to Thai church history. I've also cleaned up some typos, although the reformatting process has introduced some new ones, I'm sure. More largely, I have dropped the hardcopy format of the original issues, a format that included pagination. Each HeRB is now a single web page.

Concerning Web Links: most of the original links contained in HeRB no longer work, which is hardly surprising. I have resurrected a few and left the rest in the text but not as links. Some of the original links are gone forever, but others can possibly be rediscovered in a new location. I leave it to interested readers to do the exploration.

I trust that you will find HeRB leaner and easier to use. As always, I also trust that you will find HeRB's articles, notes, news items, and reviews useful. Thank you for visiting herbswanson.com.

Index to HeRB 2002 - 2006

HeRB 1 (March 2002) began with a Lead Essay, "Introducing HeRB," which introduced HeRB to its readers. It is reproduced here for those who might find it helpful.

Introducing HeRB

The acronym HeRB stands for "Herb's Research Bulletin." It is, I suppose, an act of considerable conceit to name an academic journal, however modest in scope and intent, after oneself. But, then, why not? HeRB picks up where my email diary, HeRD (Herb's Research Diary) left off when I stopped sending it out in 1999. I used HeRD to share a wide variety of ideas garnered from my own research, the work of my colleagues in the Office of History, and from other places. The press of other work and the tedium of putting out 20 HeRDs a month finally brought that enterprise to an end-first to my utter relief and later to my lingering regret. Over the last few months, a number of recipients of HeRD, six in number to be precise, have told me that they'd like to see HeRD start up again. With that encouragement, I've decided to launch a related but different venture, a research bulletin that will come out two or three, maybe four times a year. No subscription rates. No commitments by reader or writer.

Egotistical or otherwise, there is a role for HeRB. Since the beginning of the Payap University Archives (then known as the Payap College Manuscript Division) in 1978, I've played a continuing role in developing the study of the history of Thai Protestantism. That role means that I frequently have opportunities to learn things and be involved in research, my own and that of others, that should be shared more widely. HeRD allowed me to do that. But, the HeRD entries were always short, seldom more than 400 or 500 words at the most, frequently only 200 or so words. Not all the recipients enjoyed having HeRD constantly turning up in their inboxes. There is no question but that some people were dumping them right into the trash, unread. So, I'm going to try this format for awhile and see what happens. My goal is to do three or four HeRBs this year and then decide if it is worth continuing on a long-term basis.

The purpose of HeRB is to inform you about the history of the church in Thailand-and other things that seem worth passing along-as well as to be something of an English-language clearinghouse for church-based research inThailand. There is a need for such a clearinghouse, and I'm hopeful that HeRB will help to fill that need.

From the outset, it should be emphasized that HeRB is a personal research bulletin. It speaks for no one but me. That's one good reason for the name of the bulletin, rather than one that might imply an official connection to the Church of Christ in Thailand's Office of History, my employer, or to the CCT itself. I prefer it this way because I do intend to use HeRB, as I used HeRD, as a "bully pulpit" to press home my perspective on the past, present, and future of the church in Thailand. Those of you who know me already know what that perspective is and those who don't will know it soon enough. There will be, however, room here for disagreement and rebuttal, dialogue and discussion for those of you who seek these things. Letters to the editor will be gratefully received and, where appropriate, included in following HeRBs.

As for this issue, most of it is self-explanatory. The article on history and local churches in northern Thailand represents some of my own thoughts on the experience of the Office of History in its first twelve years (1988-2000); it's a good article for this inaugural issue of HeRB. I would like to thank my colleague at the Office of History, Thra'mu Esther, for allowing me to reproduce her paper on Karen creation stories. Nothing like it has been produced by the Karen churches in Thailand before this, and I understand that it has been circulated among and favorably commented on by Karen church leaders in Burma. With these comments, you're cordially invited to wander through HeRB 1. Let me know what you think. Peace.

Herb Swanson
Ban Dok Daeng
March 2002