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.

John Adams, Facts, & Brett Kavanaugh: A Primer

It was March 1770 when a crowd of Boston colonists began angrily harassing a British sentry. Soon other soldiers came to his aid. In the confusion, amidst the clamor, the throwing of snowballs, ice, and stones, and even being threatened with clubs, the soldiers misunderstood a command from the officer in charge and began firing into the crowd. Five colonists lay dead and six more were wounded. It became known as the Boston Massacre. Emotions ran high. Would the soldiers… Read more »

Jeremy Lanphier & the Prayer Revival of 1857

I teach about this man when I cover the Civil War era. This account is taken from a Christian History e-mail I receive daily. I thought it was worth sharing today. JEREMY LANPHIER was born in Albany in 1809 but he made his mark in New York City. He moved there to find employment and became a success as a clothing wholesaler. Although he attended church to sing in the choir, he was not a Christian. While attending the Broadway… Read more »

Character: That Which Is in Our Hearts

We are all free moral agents made in the image of God. In order for His creation to operate the way He intended, we must reflect His character. If we don’t, everything falls apart [which is evident just by observing the world]. Noah Webster’s dictionary definition of character, distinct from the human aspect, was simply “a mark made by cutting, engraving, stamping, or pressing.” Like a typewriter—you remember those? Put in the paper, press the key, the arm jumps up… Read more »

Great Power or Great Responsibility?

So many people want to be president. Perhaps it would do them some good to remember comments by America’s first three presidents. When Washington was elected to the presidency, he wrote to Henry Knox: My movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful… Read more »

John McCain: A Reflection

John McCain died on Saturday evening from an aggressive brain tumor. His death was announced not too long after the family informed the public that he had decided to stop the cancer treatments. McCain, in some ways, was a controversial senator, not always in agreement with the Republican party in which he served. That’s why he earned the nickname of a “maverick.” I have no problem with mavericks as long as they are standing on the principles they espouse and… Read more »

By the Bible or the Bayonet?

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) was a Dutch lawyer, scholar, theologian, and author. His most noteworthy work, The Law of War and Peace, made him famous as the foremost authority on the law of nations, which we now tend to call international law. There is a statement attributed to Grotius that I wish I could document as actually emanating from him, but I haven’t found the source. I’ve read some of his Law of War and Peace, and the statement certainly sounds… Read more »

Teaching Students the Essence of C. S. Lewis

For the third 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 two 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 »