Category Archives: History

From His Age to Ours: St. Bede the Historian

Relatively little is known about the Englishman St. Bede (672-735), traditionally referred to as the “Venerable Bede,” who lived in that misty period known as the Dark Ages. Even so, the genius of the Benedictine monk who labored at the … Continue reading

Posted in History, Religion

Bunker Mentality

German historian Joachim Fest (1926 – 2006) was undoubtedly the Hitler expert par excellence. One of his final books on the subject was, appropriately, a look at the last days of the Third Reich, Inside Hitler’ Bunker. It is a … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics

Goethe and the Conservatism of Experience

The adage, often apocryphally attributed to Churchill, about age and political disposition may actually have originated with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The German poet once said to a friend that “everybody is a democrat in youth, when they have nothing … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, History, Literature, Politics

Primal Things Which Move Us

Hilaire Belloc’s book The Old Road (1904), which traces the ancient Roman road from Winchester to Canterbury, is unlike most of his other travel writings in that it is primarily a “technical study” and thus of limited interest to the … Continue reading

Posted in Hilaire Belloc, History

What Were They Fighting For?

Critics of the Confederacy say that slavery was the critical factor in secession. Some states, like Missouri, made it clear in their declarations to leave the Union that “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” By contrast, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics

Religion, Politics and Mysticism

 “Just as it is possible to conceive of a religion which will satisfy man’s religious needs without being applicable to the social situation of modern Europe—as, for example, in Buddhism—so we can construct, at least in theory, a religion which … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

A Genealogy of Morals

Continuing my reading of The Dynamics of World History, author Christopher Dawson explains that just as all pre-modern societies can be shown to have a religious basis, so every culture has also possessed a moral code. Beginning with the Enlightenment, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Religion

Christopher Dawson on Religion and Civilization

“It is the religious impulse which supplies the cohesive force which unifies a society and a culture. The great civilizations of the world do not produce the great religions as a kind of cultural by-product; in a very real sense, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Religion

The High Cost of Political Perfection

Recent events prompted me to dust off my books on the Soviet Union, especially those chronicling the Stalinist purges of 1936-38, which claimed over half a million lives. There was a time when reading such works was an intellectual curiosity; … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics

An Instance of Fortitude

In his “Essay on Epitaphs,” Samuel Johnson recalls the lines inscribed on the tomb of the Greek Stoic teacher: “Epictetus, who lies here, was a slave and a cripple, poor as the beggar in the proverb, and the favourite of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Philosophy, Samuel Johnson, Stoicism