Our love affair with nostalgia

“Nostalgia is rarely antiquarian, a mere interest in history qua history. It is more commonly a sentimental pining for “the way it was.” Such nostalgia is always a form of arrested development. For example, there are sorts of nostalgia that are not-so-subtle longings for adolescence and thus resent adulthood. Many forms of collective nostalgia demonizeContinue reading “Our love affair with nostalgia”

A progressive racist

The “Presidential” podcast goes through each of our presidents to the present. Each one is interesting and the take in each particular episode is interesting. The podcast will take on the complicated narrative of each president, and Woodrow Wilson is a great example. He was a progressive politically. Teddy Roosevelt was another progressive president precedingContinue reading “A progressive racist”

Dealing with difficult history

I have found a podcast series called “Presidential.” It’s a few years old now, but it takes the listener from Washington to Biden, giving each president one episode. One episode for Abraham Lincoln. One episode for Rutherford B Hayes. Quite the challenge. I am posting a link to the one on Jefferson, but you canContinue reading “Dealing with difficult history”

A chilling anniversary

80 years ago a 90 minute meeting produced the Holocaust. On Jan. 20, 1942, 15 high-ranking officials of the Nazi bureaucracy met in a villa on Lake Wannsee on the western edge of Berlin. Nibbles were served and washed down with cognac. There was only one point on the agenda: “The organizational, logistical and materialContinue reading “A chilling anniversary”

The Great Dissenter

A few years ago when I was teaching American History and in a section on the Supreme Court and “famous cases” I actually read the dissent of John Marshall Harlan in the case of “Plessy vs. Ferguson.” One man dissented in a time when the Supreme Court routinely upheld Jim Crow laws on a unanimousContinue reading “The Great Dissenter”

We just like being comfortable as white Christians

Tish Harrison Warren sets the framework of how Christians SHOULD handle history… and then exposes the horrible way in which we try to stay comfortable: We’re struggling now as a society with how to tell the truth about how white supremacy has shaped our history and institutions. Several states have recently passed laws against teachingContinue reading “We just like being comfortable as white Christians”

Learning from histories

I’ve been on a wonderful trip with our in-laws through Pennsylvania. Gettysburg. Lancaster. Philadelphia. As I’ve taken this trip, especially in Lancaster, PA, where James Buchanan and Thaddeus Stevens both resided, I’ve learned all over again it’s not about history. It is histories. We don’t get the the whole story a lot of the timeContinue reading “Learning from histories”