Category: The Historical Muse

Thoughts on history and the historical profession. Clio is the muse of history–this category title is a play on that concept.

When Loss of Liberty Was Real

I love liberty, properly understood as something that also entails personal responsibility. I’m also alert to attempts to undermine genuine liberty and have been so most of my adult life. Yet I want to clearly differentiate what is a real threat to liberty and what is not. One conservative commentator recently posted this on Twitter: Dropped by a department store to buy a toaster oven. Mandatory hand sanitizer squirt and mask. One way aisles and if you deviate from the… Read more »

The Wisdom of the Ages

I had a rather modern education throughout my early years. Some of the “classics” broke through now and then, but not many. Of course, what one defines as a classic book may depend on where one stands. In this twenty-first century, I think it’s fine to look back to the last half of the twentieth and call some writings “classic.” I’ve tried, in spurts, to fill in some of the gaps in my reading. The last few years have been… Read more »

“Modern Men” & How They Think

C. S. Lewis wrote the essay “Modern Man and His Categories of Thought” in 1946. Now, some people, noting the date of that essay, will dismiss it immediately. After all, they might ask, “How can an essay from 1946 that talks about modern man have anything worthwhile to say to us in 2020?” That question, of course, rests on one’s definition of modern. As a historian, I have no problem seeing 1946 as modern because I compare that date with… Read more »

The Renewed Mind & the High Calling

Many people have knowledge, some have understanding, but few have wisdom. That thought keeps coming back to me as I survey the state of the world at large, our nation, specifically, and even those who are members of the Body of Christ. I expect the world in general to lack wisdom—Jesus said that the road that leads to life is narrow and few find it. Our nation had a Biblical framework of thinking when it began, but most of that… Read more »

Perspective on the “Virus War” & Eternity

Along with probably all, or nearly all, of my professorial colleagues in the US and in many other countries, I am homebound now, completing my courses remotely. Is this something that is important to do in light of the current global pandemic? Shouldn’t we perhaps just drop all this “learning stuff” and devote our whole selves to the “virus war”? C. S. Lewis dealt with this same issue as WWII ramped up. Should the university continue teaching during the crisis?… Read more »

The Faith & Faithfulness of Catherine Marshall

I remember, as a teenager, watching the movie A Man Called Peter, and being profoundly impacted by the faith displayed in the film, not only of Peter Marshall himself, but also of his wife, Catherine. You know how some things always stay with you? That movie did, and I’m grateful to God that He placed such influences in my life early on. The Christian History e-mail offering from yesterday focused on Catherine Marshall and how God fulfilled her desire to… Read more »

Fear, Foolishness, & Cults of Personality

Reading in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago this morning, I came across this fascinating account. The author tells of a Communist Party conference during the time of the Great Purge of Party leaders (and hundreds of thousands of others as well) in 1937-1938. The presiding officer was a new man who had taken over for the previous secretary of the District Party who had recently been arrested. Solzhenitsyn relates, “At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was… Read more »