All posts by bradbirzer

By day, I'm a father of seven and husband of one. By night, I'm an author, a biographer, and a prog rocker. Interests: Rush, progressive rock, cultural criticisms, the Rocky Mountains, individual liberty, history, hiking, and science fiction.

Keep the Faith: Marillion’s “Afraid of Sunlight” at 25 ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Each of these four tracks builds in soulful intensity and bardic purpose until Mr. Hogarth is begging us to answer, “how do we now come to be afraid of sunlight”? It is a plea for a recognition of the human condition, in all of its majesty and tragedy.
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The Founders’ Moral Mind Was Revolutionary, and Free | The American Conservative

Thompson sees his own work as a fulfillment and filling out of the work of his beloved mentors, Bailyn and Wood. As such, Thompson’s book is, properly and justly, filled with attempts to understand free will. Where Bailyn and Wood gave too much credence to the power of ideas (again, as somewhat determinisms and deterministic), Thompson wrestles with the much more difficult problem of individual free will. After all, imagine a world in which every single person—past, present, and future—is a moral agent. The world gets very, very complicated, very, very quickly
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John Marshall: A Primer ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Perhaps more than any other figure in the early history of the American Republic, Marshall shaped the Supreme Court as well as attitudes toward and understandings of the U.S. Constitution. While many of the cases over which Marshall presided are important to a constitutional understanding of America, five in particular stand out. The first, Marbury v. Madison, 1803, established the power of the Supreme Court to Judicial Review, which served as a defense of the judiciary against the other two branches of government. In the twentieth century, the Supreme Court reinterpreted Marshall’s advocacy of Judicial Review to mean judicial supremacy, but such an interpretation was never Marshall’s intent. Marshall only desired for the third branch of the federal government to be equal to the first two.
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What if This Is the End? ~ The Imaginative Conservative

What if Chesterton was right, perhaps in some kind of Blakean fit of ecstasy? Maybe all of our worrying about The End is for naught. Perhaps it did happen long ago, and we live somewhere in the final days. The Apostles certainly believed the End of the Age was near to them, and the New Testament confirms and affirms this repeatedly.

Of course, I am only being half serious. Still, look at the news. The Coronavirus might as well be the Black Death. As I type this, the governor of Michigan has declared (unconstitutionally, it should be noted) a “stay at home”/lockdown order. Walking the dog (named, by coincidence?, Chesterton) this afternoon, my hometown of Hillsdale, Michigan, might very well have served as the set of some Twilight Zone episode, so quiet and abandoned does it seem. (This might be the ideal time to become close friends with a Mormon.) And, of course, this is just one view. China and Italy have already gone through hell, or continue to exist in it. With this viral threat, half of the world seems to have lost its collective mind.

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 damned bug. Would it really matter?
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Dave Gregory Departs

One of rock’s finest guitarists and a true gentleman, Dave Gregory, has decided to retire from his glorious time in Big Big Train. Here’s Gregory’s message on social media today:

I’d like to say how very touched I was to read the many comments and tributes from you folks, that flew in following the announcement of my departure from Big Big Train and the cancellation of the U.S. tour. Thank you everybody, I hope eventually I’ll be forgiven for letting the side down at this point. Events have reached a crossroads and it’s best that I make a move now to allow the band to re-group and make future plans.

The excellent Randy McStine will soon be occupying the vacant spot stage left, and I wish him and Big Big Train all the very best for the future. There’s a chance you may see, or hear me perform with them again somewhere down the line. I’d like to thank all the band members and road crew for their past brilliant work in helping put the band where it is today. Big thanks also to the behind-the-scenesters Sarah EwingKathy SpawtonSteve CadmanNiall HaydenNellie PittsGlenn CodereSue HeatherTobbe JansonGeoff Parks , Simon Hogg and all who assisted in making last year’s Grand Tour the success that it was.

Once again thank you all, we are sure to meet again at some point – Coronavirus willing – so please stay healthy, stay safe.

As sad as I am about this news, I can’t help but remember and remind myself that Gregory has given so much beauty and integrity to the world: in XTC, in Tin Spirits, and in Big Big Train.

What a blessing this man is.

From my perspective, the only living guitarist who rivals his soul and ability is Alex Lifeson. What a great time to be alive. Thank you, Dave!

The solution to ‘cancel culture’ is true community | Acton Institute

Prior to this, I had prided myself on writing seven-, eight-, or even nine-page handwritten letters. My family and friends had filled our letters with news, with details of great adventures, with reviews of the latest books we had read and music we had heard. We filled the entire page with snippets of poems or lyrics, with some rather inexpert doodles; sometimes, I’d paste photos into the letter or squiggle in some band name such as Rush, Talk Talk, or Yes. There was an individualistic art to long-form letter correspondence.

I still have boxes and files full of these letters received from friends, and I cherish them as some of my finest possessions. I hope and trust the recipients of my letters feel the same. These letters represent small but mighty little communities: neighborhoods, suburbs, towns, republics, and – sometimes – dynasties of letters.
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