Huntley 121A

A member of the Williams School of Commerce faculty since 1999.

Conference Commemorating the Bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s Birth

25-26 September 2009

Position: Professor of Politics / Pre-Law Advisor

Previous positions:

  • Assistant Professor of Political Science and History / Pre-Law Advisor
    John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas (1994-1999)
  • Adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law
    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas (Summers, 1995-1998)
  • Adjunct Lecturer of Political Science
    Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California (1990-1993)

Office: Room 120, Huntley Hall, Williams School of Commerce


  • Ph.D., Political Science, The Claremont Graduate School, 1994
  • M.A., Politics, The Claremont Graduate School, 1991
  • B.A. cum laude, Government, Claremont McKenna College, 1987

Research specialties: Abraham Lincoln and the American Founding; Black American Politics; Ralph Ellison

Areas of study: American Government; Political Philosophy; Constitutional Law; Black American Politics; Religion and Liberty; Literature and Politics.

Sample courses:

  • POL 100 American National Government
  • POL 111 Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • POL 250 Black American Politics
  • POL 390 Seminar on Abraham Lincoln
  • POL 396 Seminar in Political Philosophy: Theories of Statesmanship in Shakespeare’s Henry V

Sample articles:

Published books:

  • Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man (UP of Kentucky, 2004)
  • Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government (Lexington Books, 2000)

Current projects:

  • Lincoln, Race, and the Fragile American Republic
  • The Diversity of American Individualism: Ralph Ellison’s Vision of Human Equality and Excellence

Originally from: Alhambra, California (San Gabriel Valley, southern California)


  • Playing squash and golf; listening to jazz; reading fiction and non-fiction and watching movies that explore political, moral, or spiritual issues.

Recommended books:

  • Ralph Ellison, Juneteenth
  • Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 2 vols.
  • Allen C. Guelzo, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America
  • William Lee Miller, President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman
  • Peter C. Myers, Frederick Douglass: Race and the Rebirth of American Liberalism
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
  • Harry V. Jaffa, A New Birth of Freedom
  • Michael O’Brien, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
  • Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir
  • Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
  • C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Last books read:

  • Robert J. Norrell, Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington
  • Paul D. Escott, “What Shall We Do with the Negro?” Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America

On the nightstand:

  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Web-site op-eds:

For students concerned about the role of faith in their collegiate pursuits, you may benefit from this excerpted letter from Flannery O’Connor:

30 May 1962

To Alfred Corn,

I think that this experience you are having of losing your faith, or as you think, of having lost it, is an experience that in the long run belongs to faith; or at least it can belong to faith if faith is still valuable to you, and it must be or you would not have written me about this.

I don’t know how the kind of faith required of a Christian living in the 20th century can be at all if it is not grounded on this experience that you are having right now of unbelief. This may be the case always and not just in the 20th century. Peter said, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” It is the most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer in the gospels, and I think it is the foundation prayer of faith.

As a freshman in college you are bombarded with new ideas, or rather pieces of ideas, new frames or reference, an activation of the intellectual life which is only beginning, but which is already running ahead of your lived experience. After a year of this, you think you cannot believe. You are just beginning to realize how difficult it is to have faith and the measure of a commitment to it, but you are too young to decide you don’t have faith just because you feel you can’t believe. About the only way we know whether we believe or not is by what we do, and I think from your letter that you will not take the path of least resistance in this matter and simply decide that you have lost your faith and that there is nothing you can do about it.

One result of the stimulation of your intellectual life that takes place in college is usually a shrinking of the imaginative life. This sounds like a paradox, but I have often found it to be true. Students get so bound up with difficulties such as reconciling the clashing of so many different faiths such as Buddhism, Mohammedanism, etc., that they cease to look for God in other ways. Bridges once wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins and asked him to tell him how he, Bridges, could believe. He must have expected from Hopkins a long philosophical answer. Hopkins wrote back, “Give alms.” He was trying to say to Bridges that God is to be experienced in Charity (in the sense of love for the divine image in human beings). Don’t get so entangled with intellectual difficulties that you fail to look for God in this way.

The intellectual difficulties have to be met, however, and you will be meeting them for the rest of your life. When you get a reasonable hold on one, another will come to take its place. At one time, the clash of the different world religions was a difficulty for me. Where you have absolute solutions, however, you have no need of faith. Faith is what you have in the absence of knowledge. The reason this clash doesn’t bother me any longer is because I have got, over the years, a sense of the immense sweep of creation, of the evolutionary process in everything, of how incomprehensible God must necessarily be to be the God of heaven and earth. You can’t fit the Almighty into your intellectual categories. I might suggest that you look into some of the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man et al.). He was a paleontologist–helped to discover Peking man–and also a man of God. I don’t suggest that you go to him for answers but for different questions, for that stretching of the imagination that you need to make you a sceptic in the face of much that you are learning, much of which is new and shocking but which when boiled down becomes less so and takes place in the general scheme of things. What kept me a sceptic in college was precisely my Christian faith. It always said: wait, don’t bite on this, get a wider picture, continue to read.

If you want your faith, you have to work for it. It is a gift, but for very few is it a gift given without any demand for equal time devoted to its cultivation. For every book you read that is anti-Christian, make it your business to read one that presents the other side of the picture; if one isn’t satisfactory read others. Don’t think that you have to abandon reason to be a Christian. A book that might help you is The Unity of Philosophical Experience by Etienne Gilson. Another is Newman’s The Grammar of Assent. To find out about faith, you have to go to the people who have it . . .

Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It’s there, even when he can’t see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon in college. Learn what you can, but cultivate Christian scepticism. It will keep you free–not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects of those around you. . . .

Source: The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor, edited by Sally Fitzgerald
(New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1979), 476-78.