30 October 2018

NCIS Membership

From the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, 27 October 2018:
NCIS welcomes seven new members from four countries
We extend a warm NCIS welcome to new members from the USA, France, Holland and Hungary. As well as their respective skills in anthropology, linguistics, recreation and tourism, religious studies, history and literary theory, between them they read, write and speak an impressive thirteen languages, both ancient and modern! 

A specialist in nineteenth-century American history, Richard G. Williams Jnr has published widely, especially on the American Civil War. His extensive publications include journal articles, film credits and books, and his forthcoming monograph A Great Deal of Good: The Work and Impact of Chaplains During the American Civil War is to be published by Liberty University.

26 October 2018

Professor Kenny Rowlette: R.I.P.

UPDATE: Kenny's obituary from the Lynchburg News-Advance:

Kenny G. Rowlette, 67, of Forest, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday, October 26, 2018. He was a small town man from Berea, Ky. He graduated from Berea College where he met the love of his life, Ann, with whom he spent the last 47 years. He was a member of Thomas Road Baptist Church since 1980 and an English professor at Liberty University for 33 years. For the last five years, he worked at the Jerry Falwell Library where he completed the work he was called to do. He had a love for American history, especially of the Civil War period. He was a special speaker at numerous organizations. He was the co-founder and director of the Civil War Chaplains Museum. He was an honorary member of the MOWW, a member of the Lynchburg Civil War Round Table, and was also a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as well as the Sons of Union Veterans. He is survived by his loving wife, Ann Rowlette; his daughters, Delanie Stephenson and her husband, Curtis, and Karen Beatty and her husband, Ben; four grandchildren who were the lights of PaPaw's life, Katie, Ty, Alex, and Jack; his sisters, Glenna Price, Colette Ingram, and Melinda Rowlette; his brother, James Rowlette; his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Roscoe and Joyce Edwards; and numerous nieces, nephews, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law. Services will be held at the Old Thomas Road Baptist Church, Pate Chapel, on Monday, October 29, 2018, at 2 p.m. with Pastor Jonathan Falwell officiating. Friends may call from 12 to 2 p.m. prior to the service. Burial will follow the service at Virginia Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the National Civil War Chaplains Museum at Liberty University or the American Heart Association. Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family. To send condolences, please visit tharpfuneralhome.com.

End of update.

It is with great sadness in my heart that I share with readers of this blog the sudden and unexpected passing of my colleague and friend, Dr. Kenny Rowlette. It was Kenny who first invited me to speak (several times) at Liberty University's long-running annual Civil War seminar and who invited me to serve on the board of trustees for the National Civil War Chaplains Museum.

He was a very dear friend, a true scholar of the American Civil War and one of the most humble, kind and accommodating persons one could ever hope to meet in this life. He was also a dear brother in Christ. Sadly, I had just planned a visit to the museum for next Friday as I was going to lead a homeschool group of kids and parents to the museum in Lynchburg and Kenny was going to serve as our personal guide. He was so excited that I was bringing a group for a visit. The museum would never have come to fruition without his dedication. I fear what may happen to it now.

A mutual friend told me a little while ago that Kenny passed away earlier today from an apparent heart attack at his desk while working. He would have wanted it no other way.

Kenny had ancestors who fought on both sides of the War Between the States and used to say he was an "SOB" - son of both. His optimism and humor will be sorely missed. 

I'll have more to say about this later.

The Local Bookstore - Antithesis to Modernity

The Bookery, Lexington, VA. Image source.

A GREAT essay at The Imaginative Conservative:

"The Glorious Inefficiency of Local Bookstores"

The money quote:
Like its cousin the public library, the bookstore once connoted the posture of reflective quiet that digesting a good book requires. No longer. Just try to find some quiet now. Since my childhood in the 1970s, America has moved toward a louder and louder public life. Here are some things that just weren’t there in decades past: television screens in every hospital waiting room, at every gas station pump, bank, and restaurant all inserting their messages at a louder-than-necessary volume into your consciousness; music played at a shattering volume in every shop; kids walking home from school blaring music from a phone in the pocket; some other kid playing video games wherever he goes.

We have lost all sense of aural propriety. Even the big bookstores have fallen prey to this noisy trend with their espresso machines, beeping registers, and background music. There is now no refuge for a man seeking to escape the clatter and listen to his thoughts alone. There is no refuge, except, of course, in our little bookstore downtown. There, a man can sit. Usually, there’s little music here, just the sound of muffled, cheerful conversation and the rustle of pages.
Read the complete essay here.

25 October 2018

Bulldozing Social Justice

As we all know, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired. Kennedy was the deciding swing vote on a case that allowed, in the opinion of many, stealing private property. A case known, simply, as Kelo.

I already knew about this very bad and unjust decision, but a National Review piece regarding a film about the case brought it all back to mind. What a travesty. What a perfect example of corruption and elitism and why one should always react to "expert" opinions with a very critical eye. Most "experts" are funded by someone. Follow the money. This is true in science, academia, business, etc. But it is especially true whenever government is involved. Back to the NR piece and some money quotes:
Little Pink House, a devastating and important dramatization of the efforts of New London, Conn., paramedic Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener) to retain her house against the onrushing bulldozers of the state. To see the movie is to take the red pill and be introduced to how much deception, cynicism, and corruption underlie even seemingly routine acts of government. Little Pink House should be viewed by every teen and young adult who is in danger of confusing government’s noble-sounding stated motives with its actual ones. [Emphasis mine.]
And . . .
an avatar of big-hearted American determination, a successor to the heroes of Frank Capra movies.
And . . .
“Social justice and economic development, they go hand in hand,” Wells tells the citizens, justifying the massive injustice she is perpetrating. . .
And . . .
shame most especially on Justices Ginsburg, Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, and Breyer for affirming it in the Supreme Court, in a decision that agreed with the government that a poor landholder could be forced out in favor of a rich one because the rich one promised to provide more tax revenue. Take from the poor to give to the rich: This is how Ginsburg, Kennedy, et al. read the Constitution.
And . . .
At the end of the film we meet the real Susette Kelo, standing on an empty lot where her little pink house was razed because of appalling policy backed by outrageous jurisprudence. It’s half a generation later and the Pfizer campus has still never been built. To the contrary, the company shut down an existing office and left the city entirely, despite the $80 million of subsidies the government lavished on it. The bare land Kelo stands on, home mainly to feral animals and weeds, is a stark illustration of what can happen to property rights when “leaders with vision” find them inconvenient.
Full article here.

And you can watch the film on Amazon Prime.

24 October 2018

"Diversity of Thought is a Good Thing"

Dismissing or outright denying a platform for dissenting points of view does not sound particularly diverse. What's worse, it kicks away the foundation of critical thinking. You may disagree with what people say, you might even be personally offended. Yes, sometimes words and ideas make us uncomfortable. But friends...there is actual hate speech and there are ideas with which you disagree. Let's make sure we can tell the difference. Simply rejecting those who fail to march to the tune of one's personal ideology or responding to ideas with vitriolic rage Tweeting is not particularly useful. This exercise only serves to further exclude individuals from the broader conversation. ~ The Rogue Historian

23 October 2018

Relic Hunting Post #176 - Colonial Dandy Button

An interesting artifact recovery from an old farm here in the Shenandoah Valley. A colonial dandy button, circa 1810-1820:

15 October 2018

On My Nightstand

Recent acquisitions; one new book, one old:

And I love the dedication in Sydney Kerksis's classic reference manual on military buckles. Got a great deal on this one and it's a discard from the Atlanta Public Library.

13 October 2018

Winning the Hearts & Minds of Americans . . .

Who's doing it?
A new poll of likely North Carolina voters found that 70 percent disapproved of protesters’ toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate monument last month. (Source)
I've posted about this before. (See here, here and here.) The anti-monument protests seem to generate lots of heat, but very little light. As a matter of fact, the vandalism and protests may be having unintended consequences--at least in the minds of most Americans.

12 October 2018

General Robert E. Lee: Jan. 19, 1807 - Oct. 12, 1870

In Lexington apprehension battled with hope. The doctors remained confident, and Mrs. Lee talked of the time "when Robert gets well," but in her heart she was haunted by the look that had come into his eyes when he had tried vainly to answer her at the supper table and then had sat upright. "I saw he had taken leave of earth," she afterwards wrote. The superstitious whispered that his end was at hand because his picture had fallen down from the wall of his house; and when a flashing aurora lighted the sky for several nights some saw in it a beckoning hand. One Lexington woman took down a copy of The Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers and pointed significantly to this quatrain:

"All night long the northern streamers
Shot across the trembling sky:
Fearful lights, that never beckon
Save when kings or heroes die."

~ Douglas Southall Freeman

11 October 2018

Comments Here

I've just discovered a glitch in blogger not notifying me of comments on posts. I think I've caught up and posted those comments that were not posted over the last few weeks/months. I apologize. I was not ignoring readers' comments and I was not deleting them. It's just that I wasn't aware of them. 

Please keep reading and commenting. Your comment may not appear immediately but, if germane and civil, they will appear ASAP.

(Blogger has been rather buggy as of late which is one of the reason I hope to move to the new platform ASAP. Thanks for your patience!)

10 October 2018

Kent Masterson Brown's Newest Venture

"No, this way!"

Kent Masterson Brown is one of the few prominent historians today who approaches his subject from a traditional perspective. From Kent's website:
Too few citizens of our great country know even the most rudimentary facts about American History.  It is hardly taught in schools, and, if it is, it is often laced with the politics and “culture wars” of our time.  Consequently, our young people know precious little about even the basic story of America.  Such a lack of knowledge about American History poses a peril to the existence of our Republic.
So glad to see this happen as it is so desperately needed. More here at the new non-profit's website. You can set up an account free of charge and watch four of their excellent documentaries at no cost. You may also contribute to the effort.

09 October 2018

Lee Chapel Lecture By Dr. R. David Cox

From Lee Chapel:
Yesterday, we were honored to have a wonderful, well-attended entry in the Lee Chapel Fall Lecture series by Dr. R. David Cox, historian and professor at Southern Virginia University as well as longtime Lexington resident. It was a timely, engaging talk that invited excellent discussion and contemplation.
Wish I could have attended. But here's the next best thing:

04 October 2018

Older Americans Received a Better Education

I've participated in a number of online debates about the dismal state of American education these days. One of my frequent points is the *shameful performance of "experts" in a bloated, top heavy education system. Case in point:

National Survey
Finds Just 1 in 3 Americans Would Pass Citizenship Test

Just a third of Americans can pass a multiple choice "U.S. Citizenship Test," fumbling over such simple questions as the cause of the Cold War or naming just one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for.

And of Americans 45 and younger, the passing rate is a tiny 19 percent, according to a survey done for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
The disparity of scoring among the age groups is what interested me:
Surprisingly, the poll found stark gaps in knowledge depending on age. Those 65 years and older scored the best, with 74 percent answering at least six in 10 questions correctly. For those under the age of 45, only 19 percent passed with the exam, with 81 percent scoring a 59 percent or lower.
Surprisingly? I wasn't at all surprised. The demographic scoring the highest were, for the most part, educated in schools that had not yet been taken over by bureaucrats in Washington, universities and state capitols. Schools were, at that time, much more in the control of local citizens and parents ("non-experts"). Remember this the next time an "expert" talks down to you because of their "expertise" in education. Tell them to "follow the evidence"; which is what they claim to do - unless they don't like where it leads. Homeschooling, for example.

*As always, I fault politicians, bureaucrats and administrators for this state of affairs. There are many teachers doing the best they can within a system that is working against their best efforts. The proof is in the puddin'. Just follow the evidence.

Also, my family is heavily involved in education. My oldest daughter has a BS degree in history and is state certified to teach in Virginia. However, she has chosen to homeschool her 4 daughters. My next oldest daughter is a teacher in a private school. My youngest 2 daughters homeschool their children. My youngest son and his wife homeschool their 3 children. My wife and I homeschooled 4 of our 6 children and we were both active in local 4H clubs.  I have street cred.

01 October 2018

Rockbridge Civil War Round Table - Upcoming Talks

I've had the privilege of speaking at a number of CWRT's  in Virginia and have enjoyed each event. But I must say that the Rockbridge Civil War Round Table is undoubtedly the best - for a number of reasons:

1: Longevity and consistency
2: Venue/location
3: Range of speakers and perspectives.
4: Attendance

Consider their upcoming talks:

If you have the opportunity to attend any of these talks, you won't be disappointed!