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Posts from the ‘Professor Bartling’ Category


Fourteenth Amendment — context for contemporary issue relating to citizenship and voting rights

The relationship between state citizenship and national citizenship was unclear in the Constitution.  The Fourteenth Amendment in 1868,  contains a “citizenship clause” which establishes the nation as one body of citizens of one nation without question.  The Dred Scott decision of 1857 recognized two classes of citizens – the citizens naturalized by Congress, and whites who were recognized as state citizens.  State citizenship was primary – a state could make persons citizens of a state but not of the United States.  The Fourteenth Amendment altered the control of citizenship in the United States.  To be a citizen of a state an individual need only reside there.  State control over citizenship had ended.

The landmark Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case had held that African-Americans, slave or free, could not be citizens of the United States. Dred Scott was an African-American slave taken by his owners to the free states and Fort Snelling  in the Minnesota Territory. Scott suing for his freedom had his case dismissed.  The court held it had no power to consider slavery in the territories acquired after formation of the United States.  Anti-slavery and abolitionist sentiment and agitation in the free states against the court’s ruling served as catalyst for the Civil War.

The battle over the right to vote is a continuing issue.  The Supreme Court in August of last year invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act of  1965.  Section 4 held that 9 states were covered under laws of “preclearance”. Nine states with a history of discrimination and hindering voting rights had to “preclear” changes in voting laws with the Department of Justice. Six of those nine states immediately began to move forward  with voter restriction laws hindering access to the polls if the voter was without a Voter ID,  or Photo ID.  Such state voting laws have adverse effect virtually disfranchising many of the most vulnerable,  including the poor, elderly,  students, and minorities.  Chief Justice Roberts speaking for the conservative court majority (5-4) stated that the discrimination of 40 years ago are old facts not related to the present  Discrimination has changed dramatically and substantially.  Congress, Roberts suggested, is free to enforce oversight where the right to vote is at risk withy using contemporary data, not forty year-old data.  Such possible action,  however, has small chance with the current Congress.  Whether discrimination has changed “substantially and dramatically ” in the past 40 years is subject to critical evaluation. The struggle for free unhindered access to the voting booth is part of the ongoing struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.






The American women’s hockey team tearfully stood on the podium wearing their silver medals. Rather than placing their silver medal victory in a sportsmanship relationship with that of gold they begrudged their own victory. They did not cross the oceans to Zochi  to return home without the anticipated gold medal.

Seventy years ago in our varsity dressing room our coach  displayed the motto:  WIN WITHOUT BOASTING – LOSE WITHOUT EXCUSES.  This motto can shape a sportsmanlike approach when participating or observing athletic activities.  There were, no doubt, women hockey teams participating in the Olympic games who would celebrate at the victory podium wearing  a silver medal. The motto, it seems,  has applicability in our lives in general manner.   




Recently my reading included Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer Prize Winner The SWERVEHow the World BECAME MODERN. The book jacket announces Greenblatt’s work as “A RIVETING TALE Of The Great Cultural Swerve Known as the RENAISSANCE”. Reading the book reminded me of several themes encountered in my reading and studies. Greenblatt tells how a humanist book hunter Poggio Bracciolini discovered in a monastic monastery Lucretius’ ON THE NATURE OF THINGS.  Lost for more than a thousand years THE SWERVE and its return to circulation changed the course of history shaping the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein, and – in the hands of Thomas Jefferson – leave its trace on the Declaration of Independence. (book jacket)

Greenblatt has a succinct summary of Lucretius’ thought. Lucretius believed, Greenblatt explains, “that nothing could violate the laws of nature. He posited instead what he called a “swerve” … an unexpected, unpredictable movement of matter. The reappearance of his poem was such a swerve, an unforeseen deviation from the direct trajectory – in this case, toward oblivion – on which that poem and its philosophy seemed to be travelling. When it returned to full circulation after a millennium, much of what the book said about a universe formed out of a clash of atoms in an infinite void seemed absurd. But those very things that first were deemed both impious an nonsensical turned out to be the basis for the contemporary rational understanding of the entire world. What is at stake is not only the startling recognition of key elements of modernity in antiquity, though it is certainly worth reminding ourselves that Greek and Roman classics, largely displaced from our curriculum, have in fact definitely shaped modern consciousness. More surprising, perhaps, in the sense, driven home by every page of THE NATURE OF THINGS, that the scientific vision of the world – a vision of atoms randomly moving in an infinite universe – was in its origins imbued with a poet’s sense of wonder. Wonder did not depend on gods and demons and the dream of an afterlife;  in Lucretius it welled up out of a recognition that we are made of the same matter as the stars and the oceans and all things else. And this recognition was the basis for the way we should live our lives . . . the culture in the wake of antiquity that best epitomized the Lucretian embrace of beauty and pleasure and propelled it forward as a legitimate and worthy human pursuit was that of the Renaissance.” pp.7-8

Somee years ago I wrote an essay tracing the recovery and contribution of Greco-Roman classical antiquity to the Renaissance and, subsequently, to “how the world became modern”.  A brief but relevant section of that essay relates to Greenblatt’s SWERVE. He makes frequent note of the recovery of the classics to Western thinking. That recovery, I suggest, is A GRADUAL CURVE AND RESULTANT CURVE.

” ‘Lord Acton wrote many years ago, in 1906, that ‘next to the discovery of the New World the recovery of the ancient world is the second landmark that divides us from the Middle Ages and marks the transition to modern life’.  This statement is true in the sense that the humanists rediscovered the classical value placed upon man in his individual uniqueness. A fascinating, profound but exceedingly difficult work was written relevant to this theme and is titled: Classical Heritage and Its Beneficiaries: ‘From the Carolingian Age to the End of the Renaissance’. We are indebted to it’s author, R. R. Bolgar’s thesis maintains that from the age of Charlemagne to the end of the Renaissance each age adopted certain elements of the classical heritage that were conducive to the slow rise of Western civilization. The Renaissance generation of humanists finally exhausted the teaching potential of that heritage when it rediscovered the essential classical value of the individual in his personal uniqueness. During the eighth century a Latin grammar curriculum was established to foster education and banish ignorance. The ninth century used Latin for the church and the art of writing; the quest for knowledge flourished. The tenth and eleventh centuries used the classics essentially for legal land medical information. Scholastics of the twelfth century basically neglected the classics with their theological endeavors. In the fifteenth century, development of classical studies occurred, when the rising Italian cities grafted Byzantine Greek and its cultural heritage to Western knowledge, and ‘uncovered the last secrets of the classical heritage’. ‘The Renaissance, Bolgar continues, ‘revealed to an amazed world those elements in classical poetry, history, and speculation bore on the personal life. Humanism became equated with the free and full development of the individual . . . The humanists of the Renaissance, altered their attention, from the traditional concern for logic and rhetoric, typical of scholasticism and early humanism to the more fruitful practice of imitation of the classics.” (emphasis mine)

The Renaissance and humanist endeavor may be seen as bringing to light the implications of classical antiquity and the concept of human freedom as Stephen Greenblatt demonstrates in THE SWERVE:  HOW THE WORLD BECAME MODERN.


History as “Living in the World” – Bartling Lecture Series 2013

The third presentation in the Bartling Lecture Series (Wednesday, October 16th, 10:30 – 11:25 a.m. Buenger Education Center, Concordia University, St. Paul ) focuses on topics that were of particular interest to me during my teaching career at Concordia University, such as human and civil rights, women’s issues, history and learning. This year’s lecture  will be presented by Dr.  Josie Johnson, long time civil-rights activist, a former Minneapolis Urban League Director and retired associate vice-president and Regent at University of Minnesota.

Of interest to me is how those attending the lecture, particularly the students, may have their lives enriched by their attendance.  Application of what is heard may become more meaningful by a practical stance of living in the world. This may involve using practical thinking about the past from the standpoint of the problems posed by the individual’s present. Our thinking, according to the standpoint of living in the world, rather than thinking about the world, may be an evaluation by the lecturer and those who listen regarding their particular contemporary situation. It may be an appraisal of the present compared with the past. It may even be a value judgment, paradoxically for myself as a historian who supposedly deals only with the past, placed upon the future when compared with the present or the past. Thinking about the past, in this view is practical thought:  evaluation based upon historical consciousness.

To confront the world as living it is to be aware of a definite past and an indefinite future. We live with a sense of continuity of our existence: with a vision of our life in mind about our past.  We make a valuation of our life in our mind about our past and make a valuation about our achievements, failures, and missed opportunities; we sense our situation here and now concerning our vocation or avocation; we sense where we are headed with all of the uncertainties that will be settled sooner or later in one way or another.  As we go on living our perspective continually changes and our evaluation of our past changes with the altered perspective.  Our reasoning raises questions of our past changes with the altered perspective.  Our reasoning raises questions of the past, the present, and the future.  This is practical reasoning that stresses the personal reference essential to questioning from the standpoint of living in the world.Experiences of practical thinking about the usable past may make application regarding value judgment to my life and that of the contemporary scene.   Adding this dimension of listening to a lecture or presentation with practical thinking  may enhance the hearers and students present with an enhanced understanding and awareness of the nature of their evaluation of their own lives and the larger context of their world.



January 12, 2013

As a memorial to the late President Kennedy President Lyndon Johnson with Dr. King at his side signed the Civil Rights Act of July 2, 1964 with bipartisan support.  This far-reaching civil rights measure  banned discrimination in public accommodations, guaranteed voter registration and voting rights, provided for governmental intervention to support school integration, and a ban on job discrimination by race, religion, national origin, or sex. Early in 1965 King announced a drive to enroll 3 million blacks in the South who had not registered to vote. Black citizens of Selma, Alabama experienced discrimination and intimidation when registering to vote. A march from Selma to Montgomery was planned to ask Governor Wallace to protect the black registrants was rejected. Marhers were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs, tear gas, and bull whips at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday March 7th. Watching the bloody pictures the nation roused itself for the Civil Rights  Movement. I remembered that bridge  having crossed it several times. A federal judge upheld the right of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Council) to petition for redress of grievance. The state could not block marches. Arriving in Montgomery on a subsequent march King was not allowed to speak from the top of the capitol steps. Jefferson Davis stood there when taking the oath as president of the Confederate States. A gold star marks the spot. I remember standing on that very spot. King gave his speech from a temporary platform below the steps. Five months later President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (See FRED’S STORY, pp.6-7, web cite’s front page )


Email to Siblings, 10/5/2004: Fritz Re- Evangelical Right and the Election/ Reaction 11/7/2012

November 7, 2012

Some years ago I saved emails considered important or interesting.  Recently curiosity led me to open a number of saved email discs. Among them I opened the disc with the email sent to my siblings the day after George George W. Bush’  rather narrow reelection in opposition to John Kerry on November 4, 2004. With sad nostalgia  I observe four of my five siblings have no further need to vote as they are safely “on another shore and in a greater light”.  But their brother still has vital interest in matters political and the anxiety, yea –  even angst, associated with Presidential election results.

“A daily morning ritual of mine is to bring up the New York Times and Washington Post and read the op-ed and editorials. Regarding Bush’s election I have made my peace with that as one must. But a mandate as Cheney states and the President Elect seem to hold is not accurate. In any case the emergence of the Christian Evangelical Right as a key to his election is most unsettling.  Attached are yesterday’s NYT op-eds that address this. If inclined “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest”. Feels to me like the McCarthy Era revisited. – the same underlying fears. Remember, as well,  Agnew and Nixon and the Moral Majority business. (the op-ed that contrasts faith with fact is not in opposition to faith but when faith trumps fact in the secular you are treading on dangerous ground). Note – I support the President Elect as long as his leadership allows, i.e. BRING US TOGETHER with true “Passionate Conservatism”.  Ist dass moeglich – hoffentlich. (German – “Is that possible – hopefully”). So now off to the golf course on a nice mid-forties sunny day. As Martin Pfotenhauer always stated at the California Frey reunion – ALLES GUTES (everything well, or best wishes). Fritz”

(11-04-04 NYTimes_com Article_Op-Ed Columnist_Two Nations Under God.eml; 11-04-05 NYTimes_com Article_Op-Ed Contributor_The Day the Enlightenment Went Out.eml)

My political stance moderately left of center finds my “anxiety, yea, even angst” allayed this morning.  What I stated in my email 10/5/2004 the morning after the reelection of President Bush, namely, “the emergence of the Christian Evangelical Right as a key to his election is most unsettling “, seems particularly relevant this morning.  One headline has it: “MSN ‘opinion:  Romney couldn’t separate himself from the GOP extremists'”.  Another op.ed. makes analysis of Romney’s electoral loss: “A former Massachusetts governor with a moderate record, Romney concluded he had to woo the evangelical voters and anti-tax  Tea Party activists with hard-line positions on immigration, taxes, and abortion.”  My Email to Siblings, 10/5/2004 stating: “”when faith trumps fact in the secular you are treading on dangerous ground”  is born out , not only theologically, but politically as well.

With a divided electorate right-left the political extremes hopefully will moderate moving more to the center replacing gridlock with cooperation.  This is the stance David Brooks, the moderate conservative  NY Times op. ed. commentator,  advocated during the GOP primary campaign. Much impressed with his balanced approach I recorded an outline of his argument. His op.ed was titled:  A NEW SOCIAL AGENDA.  Brook’s rejected what he called “Manichaean political rhetoric” resulting from the cultural wars fought between “God-fearing conservatives and narcissistic liberals”.  The culture war rhetorical language is, in his view,  absurd.  Brooks advocates a “moral materialism” that blends social values with economic ambition.  “It takes a family” and social relationships and  not just naked individualism for  a successful society. Radical individualism should be opposed, Brooks suggests,  with the reconstruction of values joining together capital with economic, social, moral, cultural, and intellectual values. In order to build “healthy communities”, Brook concludes, there still is a role for Washington’s governmental role but always at  a moderate level.


First Bartling Scholarship Awarded : Student David Edwards

October 21, 2012

The second Bartling History Lecture, October 17, 2012,  presented  “The Freedom to Move” a dialogue with University of Minnesota’s Dr. Donna Gabbacia. The occasion made possible the public awarding of the first Bartling Scholarship recipient, David Edwards. Selected by the history faculty,  David is a senior majoring in history. Blogs on his  Honors Program  web site describe his biographical, academic, life goals, and his broad range of interests.  (google: David Edwards – Concordia University) Read more »


Scholarship Celebrates New Level

June 5, 2012

We  received good news that the scholarship fund has reached $30,000 and become an official endowed scholarship! With the minimum scholarship level met, we now can look forward to awarding the first Fred and Ruth Bartling Scholar in the fall with the continued efforts to reach $50,000.

Thank you to the 165 donors who have  generously given to the scholarship fund.  With each contributor there is a story, such as the  11-year-old who gave his winnings from a basketball competition Read more »


Scholarship Nearing Goal

Welcome friends!  Welcome to the Barting Scholarship website. It has been a rich and rewarding year of reconnecting with old friends and colleagues as the Bartling Scholarship kicked off last fall. The goal is to reach $50,000 by the end of this school year.  Thanks to the contributions of those so far, we are at $28,500 which is OH SO CLOSE to reaching our first celebration level of $30,000!

At the $30,000 level, the Bartling Scholarship will be activated and the reality of  awarding  a scholarship in the fall of 2012 is possible.  Will you help by contributing today?  It’s easy and any amount will be impactful.

1. Click on the link 

Enter the giving  amount in “Other”  box  and type “Bartling” in the comments box.



Something I always tried to teach my students and remind  myself is the following ( blog readers know I harp on this):  “that of which you are most certain – of that be most critical”. That should suggest that even though I am a committed Christian with a discreet worldview does not imply one should not be open to other faiths.How best to learn and understand? Keep myself open and intellectually honest and self-critical. Anything less would not be wise or helpful either to myself or others. I should, however, also be able to “give a reason for the hope that is within me”. If God can find me in Christ in no way implies that God  cannot find others  by whatever path or manner God wills. My blog of 11/11/11 “FRED’S’  THANKS FOR FREDSTOCK ” is my approach to a theological stance, worldview, and, as well, political orientation. Many of  ideas expressed here are, I believe,  common to many faith orientations. That does not imply that, inspite of commonalities, there are no important differences.