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.

President James Monroe and Republican Virtue

By |2020-05-11T10:00:26-05:00May 11th, 2020|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Character, Government, History, Senior Contributors|

Whatever his failings as an imaginative thinker, President James Monroe’s own convictions were rooted deeply in the spirit and the letter of the U.S. Constitution. As he entered the White House in March 1817, he had little (well, less) use for James Madison’s newfound love of nationalism. While he entered the presidency too late [...]

Science Fiction and the University of Chicago

By |2020-05-08T19:05:51-05:00May 8th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, Literature, Science, Senior Contributors|

During the spring semester of 1957, the University of Chicago invited a number of distinguished speakers to campus to lecture on the meaning and significance of science fiction as a genre. Robert Heinlein, C.M. Kornbluth, Robert Bloch, and Alfred Bester each gave insightful speeches, all of which were collected by Basil Davenport and published [...]

“Dark Black” by Sam Weller

By |2020-04-29T17:03:09-05:00April 29th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, Senior Contributors|

With twenty stories, accompanied by lush but tenebrous full-page images, Sam Weller’s “Dark Black” is a thing of haunting beauty and voluptuous terrors. Dark Black, by Sam Weller (254 pages, Hat & Beard Press, 2020) Most readers of The Imaginative Conservative know Sam Weller as the extraordinary biographer of Ray Bradbury and as the [...]

Is Conservatism an Ideology?

By |2020-04-25T03:15:59-05:00April 24th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Ideology, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

In his excellent, short book, Conservatism: Dream and Reality, Robert Nisbet had no problem in identifying conservatism as an ideology. Whereas his friend, Russell Kirk, had repeatedly resisted defining the faith as anything other than a “way of being” quite contrary to all ideologies (in essence, an anti-ideology). Nisbet proclaimed it one of three ideologies [...]

Tolkien: Entering Faerie

By |2020-04-24T15:23:57-05:00April 20th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Myth, Senior Contributors|

What, exactly, is Faerie? While not quite the realm of the supernatural, it is the realm of grace (and its enemies), and it can be, even in its greatest beauty, dangerous in the extreme. It is also, by its very nature, sacramental, tangible, and incarnational. On March 8, 1939, just five months shy of [...]

Tolkien’s “The Lost Road”: Brilliant But Unfinished

By |2020-04-18T18:37:55-05:00April 18th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors|

An endearing story about fathers and sons—and almost certainly an autobiographical understanding of J.R.R. Tolkien himself and his own, mostly imagined father, as well as Tolkien and his son Christopher—”The Lost Road” begins with a son, Alboin, asking his father, Oswin, about the origin of his name. Though Tolkien had already written and published [...]

Let Us Shun Imperialism, Always and Everywhere

By |2020-04-14T15:44:45-05:00April 14th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, History, Political Philosophy, Politics, Senior Contributors|

Let me begin this essay by simply throwing down the gauntlet. American imperialists—of whatever political persuasion or ideology—are not only traitors to the American cause and in violation of the deepest meanings and profundities of the American ideal, they are also embracing demonic goals of remaking the world in their own image, thus trampling [...]

Loyalty and Betrayal on a Friday Afternoon

By |2020-04-09T21:18:46-05:00April 9th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christianity, Culture, Easter, Senior Contributors|

Of all the wounds Jesus felt physically on that Friday, probably none hurt Him as much as those inflicted by His friends, deserting Him in His greatest hour of need and comfort. The entire course of history changed on a Friday afternoon at 3. At that moment, when Jesus “gave up the ghost,” (Luke [...]

Moving Toward Dread Conformity

By |2020-04-10T11:06:40-05:00April 8th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Civil Society, Civilization, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

In 1953, Robert Nisbet published “The Quest for Community,” a book that reveals to us that our own quest has become something both natural and unnatural. That is, it is natural to desire to belong, but it is horrifically unnatural in the ways we choose to commune. 1953 was a banner year for the [...]

Keep the Faith: Marillion’s “Afraid of Sunlight” at 25

By |2020-04-03T18:49:26-05:00April 3rd, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, Music, Senior Contributors|

As far back as I can remember, I have loved music. Music has shaped my imagination and my worldview as much as anything. In fact, a particular song by the band Marillion—whose album “Afraid of Sunlight”  celebrates the good, the true, and the beautiful—took on religious significance for me. With immense pressure from the [...]

John Marshall: A Primer

By |2020-03-30T10:14:33-05:00March 30th, 2020|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Constitution, History, John Marshall, Senior Contributors, Supreme Court|

Perhaps more than any other figure in the early history of the American Republic, John Marshall shaped the Supreme Court as well as attitudes toward and understandings of the U.S. Constitution. John Marshall (September 24, 1755–July 6, 1835) was the fourth man to serve as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, [...]

What if This Is the End?

By |2020-03-26T15:50:58-05:00March 26th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Coronavirus, Imagination, Morality, Senior Contributors|

Well, for the sake of argument, let’s say this is The End. It wasn’t nuclear war or an asteroid or a rogue planet or even some mystical force. But, merely—in a whimper—a cursed bug. Would it really matter? “An apocalypse is a work of literature dealing with the end of human history. For millennia [...]

Eric Voegelin, Conservative?

By |2020-03-20T12:25:49-05:00March 20th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Eric Voegelin, Political Philosophy, Senior Contributors|

Whatever his criticisms of liberalism, progressivism, and socialism, Eric Voegelin shunned the word and the concept of “conservatism,” claiming that his ideas could never be harnessed by any political movement. When the definitive history of non-leftist movements of the twentieth century is finally written, Austro-American philosopher, Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) will loom large. Arrested by [...]

Did Edmund Burke Support the American Revolution?

By |2020-03-17T17:36:43-05:00March 17th, 2020|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Declaration of Independence, Edmund Burke, History, Independence Day, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors|

Many conservatives have assumed that Edmund Burke was opposed to the American Revolution. It is, to my mind, an erroneous assumption. “Burke broke his agentship and went publicly silent on the American cause once war broke out,” Robert Nisbet claimed in his most definitive analysis of Edmund Burke, written and published in 1985. His [...]