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.

I’m a Conservative, but What Does That Mean Anymore?

January 6, 2021, at the United States Capitol, was not a protest by American constitutional conservatives. American constitutional conservatives do not storm the Capitol building in an attempt to stop the counting of electoral votes in an election that was certified by all fifty states, both Republican and Democrat, to be a reliable vote count. American constitutional conservatism does not reject the decisions of courts, both state and local, that ruled on the multitude of cases that sought to overturn… Read more »

Position over Honor, Politics over Principle

For all of my adult life, I have been a strong advocate for what I believe are the true values of American conservatism. Constitutionalism and the rule of law formed cornerstones of my political philosophy early on. The natural outgrowth of those beliefs are policies that keep the federal government dealing only with federal issues. Those beliefs allow state and local governments to rule in their respective spheres. The greatest cornerstone, though, has been my Christian faith. When I look… Read more »

22 November 1963

On this day fifty-seven years ago, C. S. Lewis died. As many have noted since, his death went relatively unnoticed at the time due to the tragic assassination of President Kennedy that same day. Yet, I ask, which of those two lives had more influence for the Kingdom of God? Which man, through his words and example, has led more people to seriously consider spiritual realities? Walter Hooper first met Lewis in the summer of 1963. They had corresponded over… Read more »

Washington & Arnold: The Role of Character in History

One of my upper-level history courses is on the American Revolution. I’m teaching it again this semester and am using a book I’ve not used before—Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition—with a subtitle that provides the precise goal of the work: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. History is not about “forces” that make things happen; rather, history is the story of individuals whose decisions push the narrative one way or the other. In this book, Philbrick… 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 »

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 »