30 March 2008

The Liberty University Civil War Seminar

My wife and I returned today from a wonderful trip to Liberty University and their 12th annual Civil War Seminar. This is my 4th trip to this event and, as usual, it was great. As always, there was a great mix and diversity of speakers and topics. Kenny Rowlette and Dr. Cline Hall were great hosts and organizers and both men work tirelessly each year to make the seminar a success. They are doing a great work and I so appreciate their kindness and friendship. They always succeed and I consider it an honor and privilege to be involved. This year’s theme was “Reaping the Whirlwind: The Battle of Gettysburg.” The event began Friday evening with a banquet featuring a delicious meal held at Liberty’s beautiful Arthur S. DeMoss Center. The DeMoss Center currently houses (among other things) The National Civil War Chaplains Museum and Research Center. The evening program included the handing out of several awards and two lectures/PowerPoint presentations. The first was by Dr. Steven Woodworth titled “The Decision to Go North.” Woodworth’s talk was excellent, except for the moment when, sitting at one of the front tables within just a few feet of the podium, my wife received a wrong number phone call on her cell phone. (It was supposed to be on vibrate.) I wanted to crawl under the table. It was, however, somewhat humorous as Woodworth was discussing “Lee’s march north” and my wife’s ring tone is “When the Saints Go Marching In.” :)

Dr. Woodworth was most gracious about the incident, nonetheless. Following his presentation was Dr. Ethan Rafuse’s talk: “Meade at Gettysburg.” His presentation was interesting and informative as well.

Saturday was a full day. I spoke at 2:00 PM--known in the seminar circuit as “nap time" :) My topic was “The Spiritual Lives of the Commanders at Gettysburg.” I chose to profile Joshua Chamberlain and Robert E. Lee. My presentation seemed to be well-received.

The last topic was Kent Masterson Brown’s discussion of Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg. I had heard Mr. Brown give this lecture at the Stephen Dill Lee Institute sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Arlington this past April. As always, he was very entertaining and brought a fresh perspective to this subject. His presentation was a little different than what he brought in Arlington, but just as informative.

I was unable to hear any other sessions as I was busy at the book table, revising a few of my notes, and visiting with some of the other participants and attendees. My lovely and gracious wife assisted at the book table. This redeemed her from her embarrassing cell phone incident.

My biggest disappointment was not being able to attend Professor Ervin Jordan's discussion of black Confederates at Gettysburg. I hope to be able to obtain a recording of his talk. One of the highlights of the event was the chance I got to meet Dr. John Brinsfield and a discussion he and I had about some revival efforts at West Point prior to the Civil War. There are some very interesting connections to these efforts and the conversions of both Lee and Jackson. I'm going to be looking into the resources he shared with me about that connection further. Dr. Brinsfield also shared with me some information regarding a change in some text books regarding the Napoleonic philosophy of “total war” while Sherman was a cadet there. Some of the research he shared with me, along with his conclusions, is quite fascinating. He shared some resources with me which I hope to look at and discuss at some point in the future. Tuesday I’ll be making a trip, along with some other of the museum board members to look at the possibility of purchasing a Union Chaplain’s field desk for our collection. The owner tells us that he is fairly certain that the desk was at the Battle of Gettysburg. We recently received a very nice donation toward its purchase. I’ll post some comments and a photo later in the week.

(1st image - display table for RMJC, 2nd image - noon meal inside the DeMoss Center on Saturday, 3rd image - my book table and lovely wife, 4th image - the host for nap time.)

27 March 2008

Finger Lickin' Good

It is amazing what a redneck artist can produce with some good barbecue along with some fine pickin' as background music. You yankees just don't appreciate some of the finer things in life. (Hat tip to George Grant.)
I just finished reading Christopher Lawton's The Pilgrim's Progress - Thomas J. Jackson's Journey Toward Citizenship in the current issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Though Mr. Lawton obviously put a lot of thought and effort into the piece, the article actually reveals more about current faddish trends in historiography than it does about Jackson. Reading terms like "acting-out" and "psycho-social" when referring to Jackson tends to make me sigh, not to mention this excerpt from the abstract:

“In this article the author argues that applying the methodologies of gender and cultural studies to the prewar life of Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson provides a new and exceptionally fruitful path of enquiry into the biography of one of the Confederacy's most iconic heroes. Conversely, approaching these modern fields of study by way of such a prominent figure allows for an enriched version of what masculinity studies can do.” (Emphasis mine.)

Oh, brother.

I don't have time right now to post all of my thoughts regarding this piece, but I will next week. In addition to commenting on the trendy, faddish aspect of the piece, I'll also comment on several misconceptions the article puts forth about Jackson as well as the author's main thesis.

P.S: In an unrelated matter, I just received my new membership card from the Civil War Preservation Trust and will use that as a reminder to encourage readers to consider joining this worthy organization.

24 March 2008

Bad Timing

"With hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"
~ Jay Leno

22 March 2008

Cinematic Script as History

"One contemporary artist estimates that 60 percent of his prints go to buyers in the South, a circumstance he attributes to 'the stronger interest among Southerners in the Civil War in general.' "

John Taylor wrote an interesting review of Professor Gary Gallagher's, Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War for the Washington Times. Taylor's review is aptly titled:
"Cinematic script as history."

Some of the observations reminded me of an experience I had several years ago when the U.S. Post Office was offering some type of commemorative stamp collection or something featuring both Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

There was a display rack on the counter and I noticed for several days in a row that the Grant side was always full of brochures while Lee's section was always empty. Suspecting something sinister was afoot, I inquired of the postmaster (who was also a friend), "Hey, what's going on here? Doesn't the United States post office allow you to display the Lee brochures?" He was quick to reply, "Of course, but the problem is the Lee brochures are snatched up as quickly as I can stock them. Very few people are interested in the Grant collection." Take note. The market speaks.

This phenomenon continues despite the energetic efforts to disparage Southerners and everything associated with their culture by many historians. It must be maddening to them. Of course, many would attribute this to "redneck yahoos who can't let go of some fantasy." No doubt that is part of the reason why works featuring Southern themes continue to be favored, but there is also the romanticism associated with underdogs as well as the respect garnered by those who can maintain their character, pride, and honor even in defeat.

Changing gears, Taylor further notes that, "Film is rarely the best medium through which to convey ideas and concepts." That depends. I believe film offers perhaps, the best medium to introduce ideas and concepts--especially historical ones, in the age in which we live. Let's face it, the current and upcoming generations have been raised in a video intensive environment and both scientists and sociologists have confirmed this has begotten persons who have a very short attention span when it comes to intellectual pursuits. Unlike previous generations, these folks are much more likely to watch a film than they are to read Freeman's masterpiece on Lee or Robertson's equally influential biography of Stonewall Jackson; or even a much shorter work of history. There are exceptions, of course, but in general this is true. VERY true. And it will become even more true in coming years. Ken Burns, The History Channel (despite recent criticisms), Wide Awake Films, Lion Heart Films, James Robertson's recent announcement, and other numerous examples could be cited as evidence that this fast growing means for communicating and teaching our Nation's history is quickly becoming the "medium of choice" for a growing number of Americans interested in history.

Case in point: the recent documentary of Jackson in which I was involved is on track to outsell the book upon which it was based in the first 12 months, though the book was out a whole year prior to the film's release. This despite the fact that the book received much wider exposure in the media than did the film. The film has also created synergy with the book, thus both are now benefiting from this synergy.

Historians, both amateur and professional, must come to terms with the fact that this generation's defining medium is film. Film is the primary communication influence on our culture and one in which ideas and concepts--both good and bad--are being communicated to the vast majority of Americans, especially the young.

As a Christian, I intend to use this medium--in addition to my writing efforts--to present a biblical view of history in as professional and truthful a way as possible. The recent revolution in film technology, and its subsequent reduction in equipment and production costs, has removed Hollywood as being the only outlet for quality films. (The film technology and quality in a professional video camera that, just 5 years ago would have cost you $60,000, is now available for $5,000.) More and more independent filmmakers with a Judeo-Christian philosophy are finding opportunities for their work. The news in this post confirms this. I also recently read that there are more Christian writers and filmmakers actually working in Hollywood since family oriented films make much more money than do the sleazy ones. The market speaks again. Astute communicators and historians will take note.

I will be posting more about this in the weeks and months to come. It is a quickly evolving phenomenon that will have widespread implications for our culture.

I've not read Gallagher's book, but it does look very interesting and I hope to add it to my ever-growing list of "must reads." Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll make his book into a film.

Historic Gathering

I, along with some other Lexington, Virginia residents, are working on what will be a very quiet, but historical gathering. I will post more on this as it develops. It does NOT involve, at least directly, the oft' spoke of "mystery" discussed here. The good folks at Civil War Interactive mentioned that mystery in yesterday's blog update, but most of that has already been revealed, though there have been some new revelations as of late. As Drudge would say: Developing . . .

21 March 2008

Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Self

"People should help people," Kali said. "If all of us get along well in this world then we'll get a better world to live."

A story of heroism and self-denial appropriate for Good Friday. We need more stories like this. Read details here.

20 March 2008

Random Stuff

I had a speaking engagement Tuesday evening at the Kemper Mansion in Madison, Virginia hosted by the SCV's Kemper-Fry-Strother Camp. This camp provided the blood, sweat, and tears in restoring James Lawson Kemper's home some years ago. Kemper served as both a General for the Confederacy as well as Governor of Virginia. It was a great setting and I enjoyed the evening very much. Coming up 4 April, I'll be attending a screening of the Still Standing documentary that will benefit preservation efforts for Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield.

Some other interesting news is pending about another project I've been involved in for a while. Hopefully I'll know more about that by tomorrow. Lots of other things going on as well . . . more soon.

18 March 2008

No Intelligence Allowed

How Not to Win Friends & Influence People

What is wrong with Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder? Though Wilder and I are miles apart politically, I actually used to have some respect for him. I thought he was gutsy and even showed some conservative tendencies during his term as Virginia’s governor. But that’s all changed. He appears to have become extremely arrogant (politicians tend to share that common trait) in his golden years. Wilder is 77. Consider his recent comments regarding the United States National Slavery Museum. Wilder is both the founder of the museum and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors. It is a worthy project. According to an Associated Press piece by Dionne Walker, which appeared in my local paper yesterday, “the museum’s future has become clouded by shifting opening dates, stalled fundraising and less-than-forthcoming organizers.” When asked to clarify the museum’s future, Wilder said he was “finished explaining anything. We comply with every reporting schedule we have to comply with. If you wanna help raise some money, then help. Other than that, quit worrying us.” That kind of attitude will sure win you some support, huh?

But that’s not all. As I mentioned in a previous post, Wilder continues to stonewall (pun intended) the maintenance of graves at Richmond’s Oakwood Cemetery—but only the maintenance of the Confederate Veterans buried there. One of those veterans is my great-great grandfather who lies in a shared grave with only a number marking his final resting place. Mayor Wilder won’t allow me to put a Veterans Administration approved and Virginia Department of Historical Resources approved marker at his grave, though I’ve emailed that request twice to his office. He has yet to even acknowledge my request.

17 March 2008

Saint Patrick, Slavery & the Gospel

"One day while playing by the sea as a teen, marauding pirates captured Patrick and sold him into slavery to a petty Celtic tribal king, named Milchu. During the next six years of captivity he suffered great adversity, hunger, nakedness, loneliness, and sorrow while tending his master's flocks in the valley of the Braid and on the slopes of the Slemish . . . Amazingly, Patrick came to love the very people who humiliated him, abused him, and taunted him. He yearned for them to know the blessed peace he had found in the Gospel of Christ. Eventually rescued through a remarkable turn of events, Patrick returned to his family in Britain. But his heart increasingly dwelt upon the fierce Celtic peoples he had come to know so well. He was stunned to realize that he actually longed to return to Ireland and share the Gospel with them." ~ George Grant

(Read the complete post here.)

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
~ Genesis 50:20

15 March 2008

The Washington Times Gets It

"Adapted from Richard G. Williams Jr.'s recent book Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man's Friend, the documentary, while highlighting his military achievements, focuses on the progressive development of Jackson's strong Christian faith and his own fruitful efforts to increase Christ's kingdom."

"I highly recommend Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story. The film undoubtedly has great appeal to Civil War enthusiasts but also presents a personal picture of the man that would interest viewers looking for a concise portrait of this great American. In my opinion, the DVD would make an excellent gift for a teenage boy."

Steve French, a high school history teacher from West Virginia, reviewed Still Standing - The Stonewall Jackson Story in today's Washington Times. Mr. French gets it. Read the full review here.

13 March 2008

God's New Harvard?

The counter culture thrives on the outskirts of D.C. My youngest daughter was accepted at Patrick Henry College 2 years ago, but ended up getting married instead. She is currently enrolled at our local community college and maintaining a 4.0 average. (Have I mentioned that before?) She wants to be a writer. She's going to major in history. Her political and cultural philosophy is similar to my father's son's. She's already been published (while still in high-school) in a statewide magazine and our local newspaper. She won a scholarship from the Lee-Jackson Foundation for an essay about Stonewall Jackson. She won first place in the homeschool category statewide. You've been warned.

Total War

I’ve just read an excellent article by Michael R. Bradley in the most recent issue of North & South Magazine. The piece is titled, In the Crosshairs – Southern Civilians Targeted by the US Army and provides details of crimes committed against southern civilians by Federal troops. Bradley details numerous incidents that took place in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama.

This is a subject not often discussed and one which, being a Southerner, has interest for me personally. My own family has been in the Shenandoah Valley for many generations and some of my ancestors witnessed Sheridan’s burning of the Valley in 1864. Growing up in the Valley and hearing many of the stories that have been passed down through the generations about Sheridan’s “Burning”, Bradley’s well-written and interesting article brought back memories of some of those stories told to me by my father and grandfather. The Union introduced the concept of “total war” during the War Between the States and Sheridan was careful to document his “accomplishments” regarding this concept. Just a partial inventory of buildings, materials, and livestock that were either destroyed or seized include: 1,200 barns, 71 flour mills, 8 sawmills, 974 miles of rail, 15,000 swine, 12,000 sheep, 10,918 cattle, 3,772 horses, 545 mules, 250 calves, 435,802 bushels of wheat, 77,176 bushels of corn, 20,397 tons of hay, 500 tons of fodder, 450 tons of straw, 12,000 lbs. of bacon, 10,000 lbs. of tobacco, and 874 barrels of flour.

One personal anecdote I recall is from an elderly lady who lives in New Hope, near where the Battle of Piedmont took place in June of 1864. My great-great grandfather was wounded there and taken prisoner. He eventually ended up at the infamous yankee prison, Camp Morton. I was visiting with this lady one day several years ago and brought up the battle. Her jaw clinched, her eyes squinted, and she leaned forward to say, “That’s a sore subject in this family.” She then went on to state that, according to what her grandfather had told her as a young girl, George Custer had gotten very drunk one night and burned down one of their barns. She then added, with an extra dose of disgust, “full of hay and just for the fun of it.”

While I know that Custer’s division was involved in Sheridan’s Valley campaign of 1864, I’ve never been able to confirm whether or not this story is true. I do remember discussing it with John Heatwole one day on his radio show and I believe he had heard the same story, had done some investigation on his own, and was convinced of its merit. Nonetheless, these stories are still told around the supper tables and firesides of Shenandoah Valley homesteads, though not as much as they once were.

Some of Bradley’s closing words in the piece are most fitting:

“The neglect of the topic by Civil War historians has led to a widely-held assumption that such targeting of southern civilians did not occur; indeed, some argue that the war aims of the United States were so honorable and noble that such things could not possibly have been done. This has created a myth as misleading as that of the ‘Lost Cause’—the myth of the ‘Holy Cause.’”

Thanks to Keith Poulter and Mr. Bradley for reminding us of one of the lesser known aspects of the Civil War.

(This sketch by Alfred Waud is of Custer's division retiring from Mount Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley on 7 October 1864.)

12 March 2008

The Largest Film Cash Prize in the World

For Immediate Release
San Antonio, TX, March 10, 2008

Christian Filmmakers to Receive The Top Cash Prize in World:

The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival to Announce $101,000 Grand Prize “Jubilee Award”

On Monday, March 10, the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) will unveil plans to give away the single largest first place cash prize in the world awarded by any film festival—secular or Christian.

Thanks to the generous donation of a private foundation, the cash prize payout for their annual “Best of Festival” Jubilee Award is being upped to more than $101,000, giving it the top rank for cash prizes among film festivals worldwide. In addition, it is expected that other cash, product and service related prizes will bring the total value of awards for the next SAICFF in excess of $200,000. Doug Phillips, founder of the SAICFF, will make the announcement at an official press conference to be held at 1:30pm at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

The unprecedented announcement comes during a sustained crescendo for independent Christian films. In recent years, the industry has enjoyed mainstream praise and box office success for low-budget indy films such as Facing the Giants. Privately-financed blockbusters like The Passion of the Christ have challenged the conventional wisdom on issues of marketing, distribution and ticket sales.

“Purse strings of liberal filmmakers have financed anti-Christian values and moral decadence through film for decades,” remarked Phillips. “They have had their day, and now is the time for a Christian reformation in filmmaking.”

Phillips noted, “We at the SAICFF are endeavoring to spearhead this reformation by giving the largest cash prize award in the world to our ‘Best of Festival’ Winner—to reward that filmmaker who best communicates a Christian worldview with artistic excellence through their work. Because a private foundation has chosen to invest, the future of Christian film making in America, the SAICFF is able to offer independant Christian film makers a signifigant incentive.”

“Our mission is not to infiltrate Hollywood, nor merely to temper its distasteful agenda,” Phillips said, “but to replace it altogether. We are about the business of building a replacement industry—one that is distinctively Christian in message and methodology. This world class grand prize sends a message that Christians are serious about investing in those independent Christian filmmakers who are willing to work outside of Hollywood, and to produce competitive films of technical excellence, with a presuppositionally biblical message.”

The SAICFF is also announcing the inclusion of feature films, promotional media and commercial advertisements into its line-up of Jubilee Award winning categories. For the January, 2009 ceremony, awards will be given in the following categories: Best of Film Festival; Best Documentary Short; Best Dramatic Short Film; Best Creation Film; Best Biblical Family Film; Best Promotional Media; Best Commercial Advertisement; Best Young Filmmakers Short; Best Trailer; Audience Choice Award; Best Treatment; Best Original Score (Special Award).

Since firming up plans to offer a $101,000 Grand Prize at the film festival, the SAICFF has secured festival sponsorships from the NRB Network as well as Samaritan Ministries International, and more significant sponsorships are in the works.

“We are thankful for our sponsors” Phillips stated. “And we welcome others who desire to help us spread the word about this new opportunity, as well as those who want to aid us financially in expanding this effort.”

“It does little good to complain about Hollywood’s corrupt agenda,” continued Phillips. “Our goal is to light a candle—to show that there is hope outside Hollywood by rewarding culture changers who are recapturing film for Christ’s glory.”

The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival will hold its fifth annual festival in the Alamo City on January 8-10, 2009. The deadline for film submissions is November 1, 2008 for feature films and October 1, 2008 for all other film categories.

To learn more about the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, visit “http://www.independentchristianfilms.org.” Watch a new promotional video with additional commentary about the 2009 SAICFF.

Robertson on Lee

In an earlier post, I had discussed my involvement with the Kappa Alpha Order. I was privileged to have been invited to speak at two of their gatherings during 2007, "The Year of Lee" and to contribute a piece to their journal. During 2007, KA's journal featured four installments regarding Lee and his contributions to the Nation. My piece appeared in the spring edition. Very appropriately, KA member, Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. contributed the final installment for the journal - "save the best for last." You can read it here if you're interested.

11 March 2008

Even Less Credibility

More credibility problems on the left:

  1. New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, Mr. "tough on white collar crime" exploits women.
  2. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger preaches green theology - from his Gulfstream Jet.
I guess their advice would be "Do as I say, not as I do." Kinda difficult to take these folks seriously, isn't it?

10 March 2008

Why Liberals Lack Credibility

"When True Believers begin to harbor doubts, they don't immediately give up the faith. It's too scary; too much pride and money has been invested; too many jobs and reputations are on the line; and they need to find a new reason to live. So they always try to add on new wrinkles and qualifications to their crumbling story. Today that's happening with the global warming cult. 'Human-caused global warming' has now officially been re-named 'climate change' to explain the inconvenient truth that the winter of 2007-8 was the coldest in a century, in spite of all those tons of 'greenhouse gas' being spewed into the air from all the new factories in China and India. Worldwide temps dropped 0.6 of a degree C in one year. That may not sound like a lot, but it's more than all the ballyhooed warming in the preceding century."

Complete story here at The American Thinker.

08 March 2008

Still Standing Review - ACW

Fellow CW blogger, Harry Smeltzer has reviewed the recent documentary in which I was involved, Still Standing - The Stonewall Jackson Story, for America's Civil War May 2008 issue. First, I'd like to thank him for his effort, although based on his comments, he wasn't looking forward to the project. It certainly must have been a dreadful undertaking. That being said, I do my level best not to respond publicly to critics, other than to say "thank you" for their willingness. That practice is based on advice I've received from CW authors much older and wiser than me. Suffice it to say, Mr. Smeltzer's comments speak for themselves. It is very tempting to respond in this case because I found his comments most curious. I do, however, have a response to his comments about the numerous "paradoxes" in the film - read the book Mr. Smeltzer, just read the book.

Hillary Hubris

"Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to backpedal Friday from comments she made in October suggesting Mississippi was a backward place for women's progress . . . The newspaper quoted the New York senator discussing Iowa and Mississippi being the only states that have never elected a woman governor or sent a woman to Congress." Story here.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, a.k.a. "Mrs. Bill Clinton" evidently does not believe being a stay at home mom, homemaker, and wife is quite as important as being elected to public office. Those are "backward" roles for women. I know I am close to wearing out the word "elitist" on this blog, but what other word better fits this woman?

07 March 2008

Freedom of Choice?

3 elitist liberal judges recently outlawed homeschooling in California with the stroke of a pen.

"We're happy," said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. "We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."

As a homeschooling father, please allow me to translate Mr. Porter's comment:

"We' re happy. We always think students should be indoctrinated by credentialed teachers, after all, most parents are stupid and aren't up on all the politically correct nonsense that we need to fill these children's minds with, leaving us little real time to actually teach them anything. Besides, the more kids we have in the government schools, the more teachers we need and the more money that pours into our union coffers."

My wife (mostly) and I homeschooled 4 of our 6 children. All graduated with honors via a Christian based curriculum and tested above average on their SAT's. One is a happily married mother expecting her second child. Another is a very successful, self-employed businessman and husband and father of one (soon to be two). Another teaches in a Christian school and just received a promotion. The youngest is happily married, working full time, and currently attending college while maintaining a 4.0 average. She was heavily recruited by a number of prestigious colleges.

Homeschooling has proved over and over to produce superior results over the current public education fiasco. No, it is not for everyone, but for those who choose it and are committed, it works VERY well. Chickens cannot teach eagles to fly and the government schools have absolutely nothing but mediocrity to show homeschoolers, not to mention the increasingly dangerous and immoral atmosphere. As Grandma used to say, "the proof's in the puddin'."

By the way, another one of our daughters who was not homeschooled is a certified teacher and has chosen to homeschool her four daughters. I could go on and on with horror stories and anecdotes from public school teachers whom I know. But you've heard similar stories I'm sure.

I predict the California Supreme Court will either overrule this decision or limit its scope. After all, aren't liberals "pro-choice"?

Good Advice

Fellow CW blogger Dimitri Rotov posts some good advice for bloggers:

"These professors who blog, and I say this in kindness, bring in a campus ethic of staff access that has no place here. I refer to leaving comments open, answering comments, taking email from casual visitors and replying to every email with the same grim determination that requires every paper to be graded, no matter how bad. Note to those who continue: reduce your accessiblity and responsiveness. If time presses, post as rarely and beautifully as David Woodbury. You'll save your blog. Remember why you started it?"

I would also add that most internet surfers are "grab and run" readers and aren't, for the most part, interested in voluminous essays when reading blogs. They are looking for a quick fact, something with a twist, some obscure news, or a unique perspective - not a lengthy lecture. While my posts occasionally amount to a short article, I try to keep them short and sweet - on purpose. Wordy essays are for websites, journals, newspapers, and magazines - not blogs. That's the nature of the beast gentlemen.

06 March 2008

Soldiers of the Cross

I am currently about half-way through Kent Dollar’s excellent book, Soldiers of the Cross – Confederate Soldier Christians and the Impact of War on Their Faith.

Dollar’s approach is both interesting and refreshing as he treats the faith of the profiled soldiers with great respect, despite the fact they fought for the Confederacy. This is something that many writers and historians today seem to have trouble doing; that fact being more reflective of their biases or ignorance than of their supposed scholarship or insight.

Dollar writes in his introduction:

“In his Second Letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul identified several attributes of a model soldier of Christ. These have been restated by theologian Charles C. Ryrie as unwavering religious conviction, exhibiting strong faith in God, focusing on matters of the spirit, and godliness in service to others. Overall, the nine soldier-Christians in this study did indeed exemplify these characteristics.”

The book is published by Mercer University Press. Dr. Dollar is currently assistant professor of History at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee. I hope to post a full review in the near future.

The Corn Chronicles

Coming this Spring to the Old Virginia Blog -
"The Corn Chronicles" - stay tuned.

Back for More

Seems like the Feds want to rape the Shenandoah Valley again. Story here.

05 March 2008

Y'all Come

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Highland County Maple Festival. If you live close enough, you should visit this event at least once in your life. I'm only about an hour or so away so my wife and I have taken our children and grandchildren there a number of times. It really is worth the time and effort--crafts, food, vendors, heritage displays, farm trades and tours, and more! Read about it here. Highland County is still (I believe) the least populated county east of the Mississippi. It truly is a one of a kind place.

There are also some things of interest for Civil War buffs and historians to see in Highland County as well. Their Battlefield Days, held each May marking the Battle of McDowell, is always worth considering.


I'm once again under the impression that I'm in a wormhole or parallel universe. It seems its ok to teach children that George Washington and the rest of America's founding fathers were evil slaveholders unworthy of emulation, respect, and awe, but it may soon also be ok to teach that communism is an acceptable form of government - at least in California. I suppose in some ways that's fitting - for California. Language from the bill states, in part:

"This bill would also delete provisions regarding a person who intends to use school property on behalf of an organization to deliver a statement, signed under penalty of perjury, that the organization is not a Communist action organization or Communist front organization required to be registered with the Attorney General of the United States or does not, to the best of that person’s knowledge, advocate the overthrow of the government of the United States or of the State of California by force, violence, or other unlawful means."

One legislative liaison stated: "The socialist members of the legislature are now advocating that communism, one of the most brutal forms of government in history, be taught favorably to government school students. Anyone espousing communism, which does advocate for the violent overthrow of existing government, will be permitted to not only use government property, but work in schools and colleges, and teach their freedom-hating propaganda to impressionable young people."

Bottom line: George Washington and the founding fathers, bad. Karl Marx, Josef Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung, good. And our children learn to hate their country.

04 March 2008

Debunking a Myth

The Art of Manliness

Here's a link that will be of interest to many: The Art of Manliness. The site will, no doubt, upset the new castrati. I read somewhere recently that "masculinity" was a "Victorian notion". Not here bub. We prefer boots over sandals, steak over sushi, bologna over celery, and war movies over chick-flicks.

01 March 2008

For Altar & Home - Scholar Warriors

"All the officers, as well as more than half the privates, were professing Christians, and one-fourth were candidates for the ministry. The company was organized and commanded by James J. White, professor of Greek at Washington College and son of Stonewall Jackson's pastor, the Rev. William S. White. . . this unit was likely the best-educated infantry company in the Confederate army. The artillery unit that Pendleton would later organize and command would also comprise highly educated and devout men, including seven who held masters of arts degrees from the University of Virginia, 28 who were college graduates and 25 who were seminary students. Another member of this unit was Robert Edward Lee Jr."

Read the complete article here in the Washington Times.

(The first image is of Ted Barclay, the 2nd is of Hugh White, son of Stonewall Jackson's pastor, Williams S. White. Courtesy of Leyburn Library, Special Collections, Washington & Lee University.)