Bradley J. Birzer

Bradley J. Birzer

About Bradley J. Birzer

Bradley J. Birzer is the co-founder of, and Senior Contributor at, The Imaginative Conservative. He is the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College and Fellow of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Dr. Birzer is author of In Defense of Andrew Jackson, Russell Kirk: American Conservative, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll, Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, co-editor of The American Democrat and Other Political Writings by James Fenimore Cooper, and co-author of The American West.

“Secrets of Blackmoor: The True History of Dungeons & Dragons”

By |2019-09-13T22:28:55-05:00September 13th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, Film, Senior Contributors|

A fascinating new documentary, "Secrets of Blackmoor" tells the story of the inventors of "Dungeons & Dragons," the role-playing phenomenon that transformed gaming into something organic, non-mechanical, and deeply imaginative. When the fantasy-role playing game Dungeons & Dragons first appeared in 1974 as a full product, it listed two authors: Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. [...]

1619, Slavery, the Founding, and All That

By |2019-09-08T16:43:37-05:00September 8th, 2019|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Senior Contributors, Slavery|

For nearly fifty years, we have taught American children that the three greatest determinants in history are race, class, and gender. Virtue is scoffed at; “Great Men” are mocked; and free will is ignored. Should we be shocked—do we even have the right to be shocked—that our press, our culture, and our educators are obsessed [...]

Tacitus and the Germans

By |2019-09-06T22:53:48-05:00September 6th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, History, Senior Contributors, Western Odyssey Series|

One of our earliest examinations and appraisals of the Germanic peoples—those tall, blonde or red-haired, light-eyed barbarians to the North—comes from the Roman republican, Tacitus. Tacitus, to be sure, wrote with distinct bias. He wanted to show the Germans as natural republicans while implying that the Romans had lost their republican simplicity and manners [...]

Headlong Into Darkness: Social Media as Plato’s Cave

By |2019-09-01T23:08:35-05:00September 1st, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, Modernity, Plato, Senior Contributors|

In almost every way, social media seems most like some crazy, corrupt thing lurking in Plato’s Cave. But nothing in the free world forces us to be cruel, nasty, hateful, or bigoted to our fellows. We are instead called to proclaim truth, goodness, and beauty. There are days, there are days, and, then, there [...]

“Battlestar Galactica,” 40 Years Later

By |2019-08-30T20:47:25-05:00August 30th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Imagination, Senior Contributors, Television|

The show I never missed growing up was “Battlestar Galactica.” Every Sunday night, no matter what I was doing, I stopped, and I watched “Battlestar Galactica.” The theme of the show was a simple but powerful one. If you stand for nothing, and if you’re not willing to protect what you have, you will lose [...]

The Hebrews Take a King

By |2019-08-27T12:38:20-05:00August 26th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christianity, Conservatism, History, Israel, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization, Western Odyssey Series|

Jealous of the political systems of their neighbors, the Hebrew people begged for a king, despite God’s warning against taking one. Given the chaos that ensued, it is well worth considering that there always remained the Hebraic love of law; indeed, it is from the Hebrews that America inherited an understanding of the sanctity [...]

Tolkien’s “The Children of Húrin”

By |2019-08-23T11:55:02-05:00August 22nd, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors, Tolkien Series|

How does one account for J.R.R. Tolkien’s seeming ability to live inside of mythology? He read it, he translated it, and he absorbed it. After all these grand things, he rewrote it. Yet, no matter how deeply he delved into the profound and pervasive paganisms of pre-Christian cultures, he never lost his ability to [...]

Burning Bushes, Smoking Mountains, and the Law

By |2019-08-19T22:16:59-05:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christianity, Civil Society, Education, History, Natural Law, Senior Contributors, Western Odyssey Series|

While much has been made of the “Ten Commandments” in recent history, men for centuries have accepted these commandments as deeply rooted in the order of the universe and of creation—as an overt expression of the Natural Law. They are one of the ways God has continued to maintain His love for His people. [...]

The Horrors of Modern Public Opinion

By |2019-08-16T23:25:25-05:00August 16th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Democracy, Fascism, Government, Politics, Senior Contributors, War, World War II|

Christopher Dawson believed that the free peoples of the Allied Powers in World War II had become too accustomed to employing scientifically-formed propaganda to create public opinion: “Public opinion can itself be the greatest enemy of freedom, as well as of peace, as soon as it becomes dominated by the negative destructive forces of [...]

Christopher Dawson on Becoming the Enemy in World War II

By |2019-08-09T21:40:28-05:00August 9th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Government, History, Politics, Senior Contributors, The Imaginative Conservative, War, Western Civilization, World War II|

Christopher Dawson worried about the actual physical changes wrought by World War II, but he worried far more about the moral changes. He lamented that even the democracies of the United Kingdom and the United States had come to resemble Nazi Germany far more than their nineteenth-century historical selves did. Throughout his writing career, [...]

J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Beren and Lúthien”

By |2019-08-02T23:19:30-05:00August 2nd, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors, Tolkien Series|

J.R.R. Tolkien's story of Beren and Lúthien remains one of the most beautiful parts of Tolkien’s entire mythology. It matters profoundly in "The Lord of the Rings" and indeed also mattered profoundly in Tolkien’s own life. “The chief of the stories of The Silmarillion, and the one most fully treated is the Story of Beren [...]

“The Pilgrim’s Regress”: The Allegory of C.S. Lewis’ Conversion

By |2019-08-02T11:41:05-05:00July 29th, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Fiction, Inklings, Literature, Senior Contributors|

In “The Pilgrim’s Regress,” C.S. Lewis fictionally traces his own intellectual and faith journey. As Lewis wrote ten years after the book’s first publication, “All good allegory exists not to hide but to reveal: to make the inner world more palpable by giving it an (imagined) concrete embodiment.” During the thirty-one years that C.S. [...]

Was Owen Barfield an Inkling?

By |2019-07-25T22:12:31-05:00July 25th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Friendship, Inklings, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors|

Any right-thinking individual, then or now, would want to have Owen Barfield as a vital and central member of the Inklings. Yet placing Barfield within the Inklings is incredibly difficult, given that he attended fewer than ten percent of the total meetings, and could not name the beginning or the end of the group. [...]

Top Ten Conservative Books, 1924-1954

By |2019-07-23T00:39:54-05:00July 22nd, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Culture, Literature, Senior Contributors|

One of the single most important reasons the conservative movement became a movement is because it had writers of the highest caliber. They presented their ideas so convincingly and so pleasingly that even their most ardent critics had to take notice. Given my association with The Imaginative Conservative as well as with Hillsdale College, [...]