Supreme Court Nominations & the Constitution

I sat in this chamber twice. The first occasion was listening to the Supreme Court hear arguments. I don’t remember the case. My presence there, in 1981, was while I was interning at the Court’s history office as I worked on my doctorate at The American University. The second time was in early 1999 at a conference on constitutional history. Attendees were then served dinner at the Court. Of all the institutions set up by the Constitution, the Court is… Read more »

History, Clocks, Progress, & C. S. Lewis

One of my pet peeves is the phrase about being “on the right side of history.” Its corollary is to avoid being “on the wrong side of history.” Both posit an untruth, one that I labor to show students in my classes: these phrases assume an inevitability. They push us to believe that history is something that has a mind of its own and is going down a preordained path—and you had better get on that path or be swept… Read more »

Our Different Rooms

A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 I am a person with strong views, both theologically and with respect to history and government (my specialized field of study). It’s hard sometimes being a person who holds to strong views because whenever you come across contrary views, the temptation is… Read more »

The Joy of Teaching Lewis

For the fifth time since my 2014-15 sabbatical and the writing of my C. S. Lewis book, I’ll be teaching the course this fall that I developed out of that sabbatical: “C. S. Lewis: History and Influence.” It was a joy to teach this course the first four times, and I don’t expect it to be otherwise this time. Since I’m a history professor, not English literature, the course has a strong historical component as we work through a number… Read more »

Socialism/Communism: Symptom of a Deeper Problem

Those who know American history also know that the push for a more socialist society is nothing new. Eugene Debs, the perennial presidential candidate for the Socialist Party during the early decades of the twentieth century received a rather impressive number of votes, especially in 1912. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal pushed us closer to the socialist vision with the rise of government oversight of the economy and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society offered the kind of federal government intrusion that few… Read more »

Law & Order or Rule of Law?

I believe in law. I believe in order. Those words have come to the forefront of our consciousness as a nation in the wake of disorders in a number of cities, and it’s very easy to rally to anyone crying “law and order” because we rightly fear for life, property, and liberty if we descend into disarray and chaos. Tweeting those words in all caps with multiple exclamation points is more an exercise in bluster than an answer to the… Read more »

Living in Many Times & Places

Knowing history is important. For the last thirty-one years, I’ve taught history full-time at different Christian universities. As I noted in a recent post, I’m now an adjunct professor. Yet that change in my life has somehow increased my desire to make sure people know history better, maybe because I’m sensing that my opportunities for teaching may decline in the coming years. C. S. Lewis has a number of noteworthy comments about history in his many writings. For instance, an… Read more »