God Bless You, Frank Miller | The American Conservative

Frank Miller is to comics and film what Neil Peart is to rock and what Camille Paglia is to academia. He is nothing less than himself.  Always and everywhere, he is purely Frank Miller. It seems, he could be nothing other than Frank Miller. If he changes, he can only become even more Frank Miller. On September 11, 2001, however, Frank Miller became more fully Frank Miller.

— Read on

776633bc66c51a9bf5e3e79ed7ff95bfI had a wonderful time talking with one of the best up and coming scholars in American history, Daniel Gullotta of Stanford.

Please check out our in-depth conversation regarding the good and bad of Andrew Jackson.

And, make sure to subscribe to Daniel’s podcast, so that you’re always up on the best of the history of the early American republic.

Cicero (Full Lecture)


The greatest republican of the ancient world, Cicero.

lindesfarne gospel

Lindisfarne bible.

Ever wonder how the Bible was put together?  Of course, you have!  Here’s a handy timeline and guide.

Canonicity of the New Testament.  The English word “Gospel” was first coined in 950AD in Lindisfarne, by an Anglo-Saxon monk/priest.  It means “God’s spell” or “God’s story.”  It is a translation of the Greek word euangelion.


Dates of the various books of the New Testament:

Date                                         Writing                                    Author

51-52                                         1 and 2 Thess.                           Paul

50-55                                        Gospel             Matthew

50-60                                        James                                       James

54                                             Galatians                                  Paul

Spring 57                                  1 Corin                                     Paul

57-58                                        2 Corin                                     Paul

57-58                                        Romans                                    Paul

60                                            Gospel                                     Mark

62                                             Philippians                               Paul

62                                             Col., Philem., Eph                    Paul

62                                             Gospel                                     Luke

64                                             1 and 2 Peter                             Peter

65                                             1 Tim and Titus                         Paul

65                                             Hebrews                                   Unknown

66                                            2 Timothy                                 Paul

70                                             Jude                                         Jude

85-95                                        Rev.                                         John

95-100                                      1,2,3, John                                John

98-100                                      Gospel                                     John


A few considerations:

  • A New Testament writing was only considered canonical by the early church if it was written by an apostle—one who knew Jesus directly and personally before the crucifixion.  St. Paul and St. Luke are the obvious exceptions to this.  As Cyril C. Richardson of Union Theological Seminary has written: prior to 150AD, “Christian preaching was founded on the Old Testament and on the living tradition of Jesus, passed from mouth to mouth.  This feeling for personal witness was very strong in the Early Church.”
  • Each of the New Testament writings was originally written in Greek, except for St. Matthew’s Gospel, which was most likely written in Aramaic.
  • The reading of the New Testament (or some semblance of it) became a standard, orthodox part of the mass/service only around 150AD.  Prior to that date, most services only looked to the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) as orthodox.  A large part of accepting the New Testament came as a reaction to the developing heresies.  The most dangerous in the second century of Christianity was Marcionism, which accepted only “The Gospel and the Apostle,” meaning a part of the Gospel of Luke and parts of ten of Paul’s letters, with any reference to the Old Testament edited out.
  • There were numerous copies and variations of each letter/Gospel floating around the Christian world in the first several centuries of the Church.
  • There were considerable disputes between the western and the eastern churches over: Hebrews, because the author is unknown; and The Apocalypse/Revelation of St. John, because it was often considered simple poetry and mythopoeic art.
  • Other letters proved problematic as well: James, 2nd and 3rd John, and Jude.
  • There were hundreds of competitors for a place in the New Testament.  Some were nearly legitimate: The Proto-Gospel of James (which deals with Anne and Mary) and Clement’s First and Second letters (which were regarded as canonical in North Africa (Alexandria, Egypt, especially by Clement of Alexandria) and in Syria for almost two centuries.  Clement’s letters remained in the N.T. codices for the Syriac and Coptic Churches for several centuries.  The first letter of Clement was written in 96AD; the author was, most likely, the third bishop of Rome.  The other nearly canonical letter was the letter called The Didache (“The teaching of the Twelve Apostles”).  The Didache was re-discovered in 1873, and scholars concluded that it was either written at the end of the first century or the middle of the second century.  It was, like Clement’s letters, regarded highly in the Syriac and Egyptian churches.  Eusebius, for example, considered it canonical.  Most of the competing N.T. letters, though, were Gnostic and heretical.
  • No ecumenical council ever ratified the canon of scripture.  It is a matter—entirely—of tradition and acceptance up through the middle of the sixteenth century.  During the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church ratified its canon at the Council of Trent (1545-1563).  The Roman Catholic Second Vatican Council (1962-65) re-affirmed this.
  • Several regional councils in the early fifth century attempted to ratify a canon for the New as well as the Old Testaments: at Hippo and Carthage in North Africa.  The eastern churches refused to join in the discussions (because of disputes over Hebrews and Revelations).
  • The West, though, through tradition, had mostly accepted the New Testament—as it is now—by the end of the third century and clearly accepted it by the end of the fourth century.  The East did not accept a New Testament canon until the end of the seventh century.
  • St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate appeared in 405, after twenty-five years of translation.  At first he included what would be known as the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Scriptures, but he later rejected the books within it as non-canonical.
  • The Old Testament Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical texts includes: Tobit; Judith; additions to the book of Esther; The Book of Wisdom; Ecclesiasticus; Baruch; Letter of Jeremiah; additional chapter to the Book of Daniel; and 1 and 2 Maccabees.  The Orthodox consider even more letters to be canonical.


[Sources: The New International Version Study Bible (Zondervan); The Navarre Bible, Gospels And Acts (Scepter, 2002); Carroll, The Building of Christendom (Christendom, 1987); Cyril C. Richardson, ed., Early Christian Fathers (Touchstone, 1996); and The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1908-1914;  Compiled by Bradley J. Birzer].

Order the Freewrite Traveler

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ways to write more effectively.  Not am I only under three contracts for three different books (yes, a wonderful problem to have) and thinking about a fourth, but I also write weekly for The Imaginative Conservative and The American Conservative.


The First Astrohaus Product, the Freewrite.  A marvel. Now, a prelude to an even greater thing, the Traveler.

And, when time permits, I review my favorite rock music at Progarchy.  And, yes, like most folks, I have a novel in the works.  We’ll see where that goes!

While writing is my passion, it’s still a lot of writing, to be certain.

My problem–and, yes, I have a problem–is that I let the internet distract me too much.  I’ll be in the middle of writing something, and I immediately want to follow up on idea (any idea that strikes my fancy) through a google search, check my email, or tweet something important or absurd.  Each time I allow myself to move away from my writing, it takes me close to 30 minutes or more to get back into my train of thought.  And, then, of course, every temptation to look elsewhere returns with a vengeance.  It’s a never ending process.

At the moment, my best laptop tool of choice is a program called Freedom–which allows me to shut down the internet (completely) for as long as I want.  I can set it for an hour or more.  It’s a great program.

When I really need just to write, though, I always turn to my Freewrite by Astrohaus.  I’ve reviewed it elsewhere, but, suffice it to state here, it’s a progressively retro and perfectly crafted piece of technology.  A computerized typewriter, if you will, without the social media and other distractions.  When you type something, it is save directly to a Postbox account, available anytime and anywhere, ready for editing and submitting.

Yesterday, Astrohaus announced its followup product, the Freewrite Traveler.  It’s the Freewrite, but with a much better battery life and immense portability.  And, yes, I ordered one.  In fact, I was order #29, and I’m rather proud of that.  Granted, I won’t actually get the Traveler until its official release early next summer, but it will be worth the wait.

If you’re a writer–professionally or academically–this is, simply put, a must own. Just watch the video, and you’ll immediately see how much excellence these guys put into the product–from its design to its effectiveness.  The thing is a thing of beauty, a wonder.

To pre-order it, just use this link.  And, enjoy!

Alternatives to Indian Removal

a miami chiefRemoval was not the *only* option for American Indians. Several–if not enough–went the route of simply defining individual property rights. They still own their original homelands.

The Importance of Cicero (Handout)

The Importance of Marcus Tullius Cicero


Cicero, taken from


Brief timeline of Cicero

106B.C.: born in Arpinum

81: Cicero writes Topics for Speechesand begins his profession as an Advocate (lawyer)

79: Cicero marries

79-77: Tours Greece and Asia Minor

75: Becomes a Senator

63: Elected Consul; had to stop—and did—Cataline’s radical revolutionary movement

58-57: Cicero exiled to Greece

52-42: Cicero writes On the Law

45: Cicero writes On Good and Evil; The Nature of the Gods

44: Cicero writes On Duties

43: Triumvirs (the Second Triumvirate) massacred 300 Senators and 2,000 equites (representatives), including Cicero.


Importance of Cicero

  1. Most important figure of his day. Historians refer to the era of his life as “The Ciceronian Age.”  He was, in essence, the embodiment of the Republic.  As Russell Kirk has written, “With Cicero fell the Republic.” [Kirk, Roots, 107]
  2. Perhaps the greatest orator who ever lived. Gave 106 famous orations.
  3. Perhaps the greatest Latin prose stylist, ever. Several books and 900 of his letters survive.
  4. Arguments for the Natural Law, beauty, decorum, and republican government (the four issues are inseparable, one from another) are some of the best ever articulated.  “True law is right reason in agreement with Nature. . . . it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, although neither have any effect upon the wicked.  It is a sin to try and alter this law, nor it is allowable to attempt to repeal a part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by Senate or People, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it.  And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and for all times, and there will be one master and one rule, that is, God, over us all, for He is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.”
  5. “A human being, [sic] was endowed by the supreme god with a grand status at the time of its creation.  It alone of all types and varieties of animate creatures has a share in reason and thought, which all the others lack.  What is there, not just in humans, but in all heaven and earth, more divine that reason?  When it has matured and come to perfection, it is properly named wisdom. . . reason forms the first bond between human and god,” the Roman Republican Cicero wrote in On the Laws[Cicero, On the Laws, Book 1].
  6. The single most influential Roman on the Church fathers: Sts. Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine.
  7. The single most influential Roman for the American Founding Fathers.  One can trace the American conception of Natural Rights directly to Cicero’s understanding of the Natural Law.  John Adams once admitted in his diary that he loved reciting Cicero’s orations as much as anything: “The Sweetness and Grandeur of his sounds, and the Harmony of his Numbers give Pleasure enough to reward the Reading if one understood none of his meaning.  Besides, I find it a noble Exercise.  It exercises my Lungs, raises my Spirits, opens my Porrs, quickens the Circulation, and so contributes to [my] Health” [Richard, Twelve Greeks and Romans, 187]. Charles Carroll of Carrollton considered him the greatest of ancients.  After the person and teaching of Jesus Christ, he once wrote, give me the words of Cicero.  He considered Cicero a constant companion in his life.
  8. Cicero considered himself a “New Academician,” allied with the Stoics, though he became increasingly stoic with age, especially in ethics, law, and metaphysics.


AJ coverMy department chair, Dr. Mark Kalthoff, graciously invited me to speak on my In Defense of Andrew Jackson book at Hillsdale College tonight.  I had a great time.  If you’re interested, here’s my lecture.

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