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.

Awash in Foolishness

My response to the whole NFL national anthem controversy is decidedly mixed. On the one hand, I have a visceral reaction: who are these spoiled brats making more money in one year than either I or anyone reading this blog will make in a lifetime? What do they really have to protest? What’s “wrong” with the words of this anthem? I’m an American historian who deeply appreciates the Founding of this nation—its Biblical framework of thinking and its overall goals…. Read more »

Chad Walsh’s Baptized Imagination

One of C. S. Lewis’s earliest American friendships was with Chad Walsh, a professor of English at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Like Lewis, Walsh traveled the road from atheism to Christianity, and Lewis helped him on that journey. “In my case there was no childhood faith,” Walsh wrote in an account of how he eventually found the Christian path. If I ever believed in God as a small child, no memory of the time remains with me. I regarded myself… Read more »

Did Lewis Dislike Americans?

I’ve come across people who believe that C. S. Lewis really didn’t like America or Americans. Dealing with that issue was one of the goals of my book, so I made sure I covered it in the very first chapter. It begins with this snippet from Lewis’s early life: On the very first page of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, author Alan Jacobs tells the story of a precocious “Jack” Lewis, probably no more than… Read more »

The History of a Book

Why did I write a book comparing Ronald Reagan and Whittaker Chambers? May I provide some history on that? I came of age politically in the 1980s. After suffering through Richard Nixon’s Watergate, Gerald Ford’s caretaker presidency, and Jimmy Carter’s near-total ineptitude, I looked upon Reagan’s inauguration as a fresh start for America. Even Time magazine, in its cover story, seemed to agree with that assessment. I followed political developments closely. This corresponded with working on my master’s degree and… Read more »

Slavery & the Civil War

What caused the American Civil War? Historians are hesitant to assign just one cause to anything. There are always many factors that come together to create an event, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a primary cause. Where do we go to find the primary cause for the Civil War? I suggest we look carefully at the official secession declarations of the various Southern states. They went to great pains to explain why they chose secession. I’ve read them… Read more »

The Monuments & Memorials Controversy

Monument: “Something venerated for its enduring historic significance or association with a notable past person or thing.” Memorial: “Something, such as a monument or holiday, intended to celebrate or honor the memory of a person or an event.” As a historian, I’m into monuments and memorials. I want historic events and significant people in history to be remembered. Sometimes, I want them remembered because they deserve honor; other times, they should be remembered as valuable lessons of what can go… Read more »

Lewis’s Oxford-Cambridge Distinction

I watch from afar (via Facebook posts) those who are participating in the C. S. Lewis Foundation’s Oxbridge conference. I already had my England trip this summer; couldn’t afford this one. It’s nice to relive, through the posts, some of the spots I visited earlier, especially the Kilns. The conference now moves on from Oxford to Cambridge, where Lewis taught in the last decade of his life. I’ve never been there; my bucket list is not yet emptied. Moving from… Read more »