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.

“Out of the Silent Planet”: A Retrospective

By |2019-09-26T22:52:31-06:00September 26th, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christianity, Imagination, Literature, Senior Contributors|

C.S. Lewis’s “Out of the Silent Planet” presents within the envelope of science fiction a moving story that considers the complexity of human nature and its relationship with the Creator. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that Lewis’s “Space Trilogy” made science fiction respectable, elevating it from what many had perceived as [...]

From Pagan Heroism to Christian Alliance: Tolkien’s “Beowulf”

By |2019-10-05T09:54:55-06:00September 24th, 2019|Categories: Beowulf, Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Great Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Myth, Poetry, Senior Contributors|

J.R.R. Tolkien argued that while Christianity gave the heroes a new point upon which to focus, the enemies of the heathen gods remained, too, the enemies of the Christian God. Beowulf, by challenging all that is spawned in Hell, has, by default, become the ally of all that destined to Heaven. Inducted into the [...]

Russell Kirk’s Unfinished Justice

By |2019-09-22T21:27:09-06:00September 22nd, 2019|Categories: Aristotle, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, History, Plato, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, Timeless Essays|

Russell Kirk thought that because justice is rooted in nature and because in its perfection transcends all time and space, one can innately observe virtue in the actions of wise men. Such observation of those we admire might be the best teacher in our current day, serving as a reminder of what has always [...]

Who Was the American in 1775?

By |2019-09-20T21:24:49-06:00September 20th, 2019|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, History, Senior Contributors|

The Americans of the Revolution wrote about the new man who leaves behind his old prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the mode of life he embraces, and whose labors would change the world. But, one must ask, to what extent was this true? Just exactly how new was the American of 1775? [...]

Fortitude Made Manifest: J. Michael Straczynski’s “Becoming Superman”

By |2019-09-17T21:14:43-06:00September 17th, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Imagination, Senior Contributors|

Author J. Michael Straczynski is nothing if not fortitude made manifest. Without proper parents and without any respect for normal cultural and religious authorities, JMS found his moral grounding in the fictional character, Superman/Clark Kent. When confronted with bullying or with a moral dilemma, JMS would consider the question: What would Superman Do? It almost [...]

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

By |2019-09-15T15:14:12-06:00September 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 |2019-09-08T16:43:37-06:00September 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 |2019-09-06T22:53:48-06:00September 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 |2019-09-01T23:08:35-06:00September 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 |2019-08-30T20:47:25-06:00August 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 |2019-08-27T12:38:20-06:00August 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 |2019-08-23T11:55:02-06:00August 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 |2019-08-19T22:16:59-06:00August 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 |2019-08-16T23:25:25-06:00August 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 [...]