Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Universal Reconciliation & the Reductio Ad Hitlerum

I posted it at my other blog here. What follows is what I wrote that relates to America's Founding & religion:

As I noted in this post, George Washington didn’t seem to have a problem with Christian-Universalism. Indeed, I think GW probably believed like the other “key Founders” did — good people get into Heaven, bad people are temporarily punished, eventually saved. Though, his views on the afterlife are hard to pin down; they seemed as much “Greco-Roman” as “Judeo-Christian,” and that synthesis is certainly consistent with the notion that virtuous people get into Heaven, the bad temporarily punished.

5 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Jon, It seems to me that religion is not the way to go when it comes to universalization. I don't think universal ideals are realistic in the real world of politics.

Politics functions on real world needs and real world problems. These are only negotiated, and balanced by self-interest, NOT by submitting to some religious framework...


The Founders lived in a era that was not enlightened to where we are now in our understanding of "the human", or the disicplines, in general. Therefore, we take what they understood and what still applies as to the human....he is limited, self-interested, and accountability is the only way to balance power and limit abuses. Negotiation as to self-interest is a necessary political process, if one values "heaven on earth"...

Tom Van Dyke said...

Heaven on earth? Preposterous.

Such "enlightenment" killed hundreds of millions in the 20th century, eggs broken in the cause of the utopian omelet.

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I think Wasington was showing off a bit for the "enlightened" Lafayette, but the quote below indicates that he didn't view orthodox religion---and by extension, perhaps "faith alone saves" as a theological truth:

"Being no bigot myself to any mode of worship, I am disposed to indulge the professors of Christianity in the church with that road to Heaven which to them shall seem the most direct, plainest and easiest, and the least liable to exception."

Revolutionary Spirits said...

Washington approved the appointment of John Murray as chaplain to the Rhode Island regiment of the Continental Army, even though other New England clergy strongly objected to Murray's avowed Universalism. Later, George and Martha subscribed to a literary magazine that Murray's wife, Judith Sargent Murray, published, a magazine with Universalist overtones. So I agree. If Washington believed in any afterlife at all (which is uncertain), it would have been a heaven where all souls would eventually find refuge.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"Later, George and Martha subscribed to a literary magazine that Murray's wife, Judith Sargent Murray, published, a magazine with Universalist overtones."

Very interesting. I didn't know that Gary. I find GW's letter to Murray's Universalist Church where he notes, whatever it was he valued about how "religion" supported republican government, the Universalists had it (along with virtually every other existing Church in America at that time).

Tom Van Dyke said...

If Washington believed in any afterlife at all (which is uncertain), it would have been a heaven where all souls would eventually find refuge.

I can't find any direct evidence of this. Martha hit it off with Mrs. Murray, but it's difficult to tell if it was universalism or a proto-feminism that was the common bond.

As for George, it appears that on one occasion, they talked for perhaps hours at a party, but by this account, it was the sort of small talk that Mrs. Murray usually found boring.

From what I can gather, it was Mr. Murray who was the preacher, Mrs. Murray's writings more known for the woman's side of things in what I believe was a column in the aforementioned magazine.

GWash was interested in all theological points of view, collected printed sermons, and commented in his diary on the quality [but not content] of ones he'd heard.

But it's difficult to say what theology he embraced. My own guess is that he would have been content to leave the afterlife up to Providence.

Judith Sargent Murray seems to have been a helluva gal, though. Novelist, and such a successful playwright that Thomas Paine was jealous and tried to scoth her reputation. Well worth a read:


http://www.jsmsociety.com/Biography.html

And if Gary has any hard evidence claiming George or Martha for universalism, that would be cool. I only did a quick google.