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.

Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories”: The Setting

By |2020-10-23T15:15:52-05:00October 23rd, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors|

Coming when it did in J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing career, “On Fairy Stories” reveals more about the mind and soul of the man than any other non-fiction work he produced in his lifetime. Not too long after Tolkien had published The Hobbit—to much critical acclaim—and was just beginning a sequel to it, the Faculty of [...]

October for Russell Kirk

By |2020-10-20T13:59:40-05:00October 20th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors|

Russell Amos Augustine Kirk is one of America’s foremost and most important thinkers, especially in the desiccated and mutilated 20th century, an era of horrific inhumanities and incessant blood-letting. Kirk stood for a more humane age that valued the dignity and uniqueness of each human person and that unabashedly sought the good, the true, [...]

Burke on Monstrous Revolution and Regicide Peace

By |2020-10-15T15:53:47-05:00October 15th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Edmund Burke, Europe, Government, History, Justice, Politics, Revolution, Senior Contributors|

Far from creating peace, Edmund Burke contended, the French Revolution had generated the greatest despotism the world had yet seen, politicizing all things and enslaving the vast majority of the population. The Revolution itself was monstrous and had created only monstrous things. Of Edmund Burke’s (1729-1797) four Letters on a Regicide Peace—his final work, [...]

Burke’s First Letter on a Regicide Peace

By |2020-10-15T09:55:34-05:00October 8th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Civilization, Edmund Burke, Government, History, Politics, Revolution, Senior Contributors|

As Edmund Burke observed, real community begins with the free and natural choice to associate at the most personal, familial, and local level, with each community growing from the ground up. By misunderstanding this, the French Revolutionaries seceded not just from Christendom, but from the laws of nature. In the final years of his [...]

Ten Truths of Christian Humanist Theology

By |2020-09-30T15:10:04-05:00October 3rd, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Senior Contributors, Theology|

1. Theology is often the study of what we do not know. In theology, it is easier to disprove than to prove. Therefore, we begin by studying what we know and what we do not know. Once we have ruled out the incorrect, there is significant room for agreement, disagreement, and exploration within what [...]

Tolkien’s “The Return of the Shadow,” 1937-1939

By |2020-10-02T10:08:43-05:00September 26th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors|

Christopher Tolkien, in “The Return of the Shadow,” breaks down J.R.R. Tolkien’s drafts of the sequel to “The Hobbit” into three phases. In the third phase, the situations around the characters do grow tellingly darker, with drastic implications for the story that could shake the foundations even of the Blessed Realm, the land of [...]

Tolkien Begins the Sequel to “The Hobbit”

By |2020-09-25T12:23:31-05:00September 25th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors|

J.R.R. Tolkien intended the new book, which would later develop into “The Lord of the Rings,” to be a simple sequel to “The Hobbit.” Yet somehow the sequel was growing more adult, and Tolkien admitted it reflected the “darkness of the present days” in the shadow of the Second World War. On September 21, [...]

Robert Nisbet’s Ten Conditions of Revolution

By |2020-09-17T16:21:09-05:00September 17th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Revolution, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

Given the present moment in this era of confusion in American history, one wonders whether the events of 2020 count as revolutionary. Robert Nisbet’s ten conditions of real revolution may provide an answer. One of the twentieth century’s most astute observers of society, sociologist, historian, and man of letters, Professor Robert Nisbet (1913-1996), offered [...]

Tocqueville and a New Science of Politics

By |2020-09-14T11:33:29-05:00September 15th, 2020|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Democracy, Democracy in America, Politics, Senior Contributors|

According to Tocqueville, a new political science must account for both the immediate and the universal, the moment and the eternal. When we fail to understand the choice that God has given us with democracy—that is, a science to guide, attenuate, and hone democracy—the baser instincts will rise to the fore. Tocqueville breaks his [...]

A Proper Anthropology

By |2020-09-08T11:18:53-05:00September 8th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Equality, Modernity, Senior Contributors|

Many today believe that men are just so many atoms, having nothing in common, defined only by time, place, and skin color. However, this is contrary to the wisdom of the Jews, the wisdom of the Christians, and the wisdom of the pagans. Unless we get our anthropology correct, we’ll never have order or [...]

Nock and Nisbet on Society and State

By |2020-09-04T15:20:28-05:00September 4th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Civilization, Community, Culture, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors, Social Institutions|

As Albert Jay Nock argued in the 1930s, and Robert Nisbet in the 1960s, the state plays a zero-sum game: It desires to assume all power over society, even to the point of taking the place of the Church as the glue that holds all together, and thus it renders society obsolete in the [...]

Reflections on Tocqueville: The Pervasiveness of Equality

By |2020-08-31T14:44:00-05:00September 1st, 2020|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Democracy, Democracy in America, Equality, Great Books, Senior Contributors|

To this day, though America has changed in size, shape, demographics, and technology, “Democracy in America” remains the single finest description of the American experiment. Introducing his work to the world, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that nothing struck him more than the pervasiveness of the idea of equality in the United States. Alexis de [...]

Robert Nisbet’s 11 Tenets of Conservatism

By |2020-08-27T17:19:55-05:00August 27th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Community, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

Though less poetic than Russell Kirk, Robert Nisbet has as much right to be considered a “father of post-war conservatism” as does his Michiganian ally—especially given the timing of his eleven tenets of conservatism. Indeed, his ideas about society and the social relations of man are thoughtful and inspiring. Though conservatism arose as a [...]

The Sociological Roots of Robert Nisbet’s Conservatism

By |2020-08-27T13:01:43-05:00August 26th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors, The Imaginative Conservative|

Robert A. Nisbet rooted his eleven ideas of conservatism in contributions from sociology as an academic discipline. Sociology, in contrast to liberalism and radicalism, had merely focused on the aspect of being social and had thus best reflected the more obscure aspects of nineteenth-century conservatism. That conservatism, though, reflected some of the most important [...]

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