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.

The Lincoln Tragedy

On this morning, April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died in a house across the street from Ford’s Theater. The pandemonium of the night before still resonated through Washington, DC, and the news would soon spread throughout the country, both North and South. John Hay, Lincoln’s personal secretary, recalls hearing these words from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton: The nation mourned, and it wasn’t just the North that did so. Many in the South knew this was a tragedy for them… Read more »

On Youth, Foolishness, & Mortality

I was reading in Psalm 39 this morning and this section jumped out at me: Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. Thinking about my mortality has become more prominent lately. Not that I’m in bad health or anticipating… Read more »

A Stunning “Paul, Apostle of Christ”

The apostle Paul has come alive to me now in a way he never did before. Yesterday, I saw the new film Paul, Apostle of Christ, and left the theater stunned at the power of cinema when used for God’s glory. How do I begin to describe what I witnessed? I’ve seen many powerful films with messages from the heart of God, but none I’ve ever seen made me consider so deeply what it was really like for Christians facing… Read more »

A Witness, Not a Testimony

The most fascinating autobiography of the 20th century was Whittaker Chambers’s Witness. I’ve re-read it numerous times, particularly in tandem with the course I teach on him and his writings. Why did Chambers decide to call his book Witness? His testimony before HUAC was an accounting of what he knew about the underground—but that is all a testimony is. It tells what happened; it provides facts. Chambers saw what he was doing as something more, something deeper. A witness is… Read more »

Oscars Past

I do love movies. I just don’t like watching the Oscars program because of its rather consistent descent into the denigration of Biblical morality and its overall liberal-progressive political stance. So I didn’t watch the self-congratulatory extravaganza Sunday evening. Of course, I wasn’t alone. This year’s Oscars show got its smallest audience in history. Apparently, a lot of people feel the way I do. I saw only three of the films that were up for any type of award: Dunkirk,… Read more »

Graham & His Presidents

Historians have a unique experience when they do research into individuals. Even though I have never met most of the people I’ve researched, I come away with the sensation that I know them anyway. My master’s thesis was on Yale president (and clergyman) Timothy Dwight and American geographer (and clergyman) Jedidiah Morse, the latter being the father of Samuel F. B. Morse of telegraph fame. My doctoral dissertation was on Noah Webster, the premier educator of early America and the… Read more »

Billy Graham’s Coronation Day

Billy Graham was ready to go. He had been ready for many years. Even though his passing was not a shock—after all, he was 99—just the fact of his death makes the world stop for a moment and consider a man who was faithful to His Savior and who made an enormous impact for Him. I remember watching Graham crusades on television when I was a teenager. I read a number of his books at that relatively young age. I… Read more »