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.

Thoughts on Presidents’ Day

So, it’s Presidents’ Day. It didn’t used to exist. In my younger years, we had instead separate days to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln specifically, on their respective February birthdays. I’m not even all that sure what the current Presidents’ Day is supposed to focus on. People from my generation probably still consider it a commemoration of Washington and Lincoln, but what about the new generation? Is the intent to honor anyone and everyone who ever served as president?… Read more »

American Character: Noah Webster

The name “Webster” sounds familiar to most people. They think for a minute and then say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the dictionary guy, right?” Right. But he’s more than that. Noah Webster is a prime example of someone who exhibits the character trait of diligence. A native of Connecticut  and descendant of Pilgrim governor William Bradford, Webster was raised in the Congregational church, graduated from Yale, and even was awarded a master’s degree—unusual for the time. In 1783, he got the nation’s… Read more »

Resurrecting a False Secular Religion

We’re being treated to a resurgence of enthusiasm for the socialist/communist vision of the future. This resurgence is emanating from the Democrats, led, surprisingly, by a first-term congresswoman whose economic and historical ignorance and ability to distort facts is rivaled only by her arrogance in insisting that others are the guilty ones for distorting her distortions and that she knows what she’s talking about. Fortunately, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t old enough to run for president. As we now know, considering the… Read more »

The Witness of Hilary of Poitiers

Periodically, I share a story sent to me via e-mail from Christian History magazine. This one, which highlights the fight for maintaining orthodoxy and the ability to unite those who are true Christians despite minor differences, was inspiring to me. I hope you find it to be also. HILARY OF POITIERS was one of the best-known churchmen of the fourth century. His fame rested largely on the holiness of his conduct and his defense of orthodox Christianity. However, Hilary was… Read more »

Religion & the Presidents

A couple of years ago, I had an idea for a new course that would examine the religious beliefs of the presidents. The course would also attempt to determine how those beliefs may have influenced the policies each president followed. That proposed course will now be reality this semester as I teach, for the first time, “Religion and the Presidents.” It will be a little different in structure than my other courses. First, no exams—how does one adequately “test” students… Read more »

Teaching Whittaker Chambers
& His Christian Witness

There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died. That quote by Whittaker Chambers might form one of the centerpieces of his classic book, Witness, that is the cornerstone of my course on Chambers that I am teaching once again this semester. I teach this course regularly every two years for a number of reasons. First, it tells the tale of a… Read more »

The Enemy–He Is Ourselves

I was reminded this morning of some prescient words from Whittaker Chambers—prescient because they clearly foretold what we see today. In a letter he wrote to William F. Buckley in 1954, Chambers offered this analysis of the state of Western civilization: I no longer believe that political solutions are possible for us. I am baffled by the way people still speak of the West as if it were at least a cultural unity against Communism though it is divided not… Read more »