A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America's founding. Any observations, questions, or comments relating to the blog's theme are welcomed.
Kudos to Eric Marrapodi of CNN Blogs for being specific for once, rather than a blanket condemnation.Frankly, in my view, although Barton's exaggerations seem scandalous to his ideological enemies, I would think its seems like niggling that makes his supporters' eyes glaze over.In a version of the film made available for screening and in clips posted online, Barton shows Cameron the “Thompson Hot Press Bible,” which Barton said was printed in 1798 and was funded by 12 signers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.“They wanted the word of God out to every family,” Barton says in the clip. “If these guys happen to be Christians it makes a lot of sense.”Barton then picks up a small rare Bible known as the “Aitken Bible.” “The Bible of the Revolution was printed by the Congress of the United States. So Congress printed the first English Language version of the Bible,” Barton said. He goes on to say the Congress said, “This was a neat edition of the Bible for use in our schools.”Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, a private Christian school in Pennsylvania, has criticized Barton’s version of history and Cameron’s films.About much of the history featured in the film, Throckmorton said, “That’s just not what happened.”After seeing clips of the documentary, Throckmorton fact-checked some parts.He said he found that the “Thompson Hot Press Bible” was not funded in total by 12 Founders. Instead, he said, the Bible was funded by a subscription base of 1,200 customers that included 12 Founding Fathers. “The printers funded that Bible, the Founders didn’t fund it. It was a business venture for them.”As for the quote Barton attributed to Congress about putting the Bible in schools, it actually came from Robert Aitken’s petition to Congress. Aitken was a colonial printer. The Journals of Congress from 1782 shows Aitken completed the Bible on his own and sought the blessing of Congress.The record shows a report from two congressional chaplains who examined the work, which they praised.Congress passed a resolution to recommend “this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.” That resolution did not mention it being put in schools.“David Barton gets the facts wrong when it comes to these two Bibles,” Throckmorton said. “The facts of the case are stretched and embellished to create a narrative that is misleading.”Well, yes and no, w/all due respect, Dr. Throckmorton. The exaggeration is beyond question. however, Jefferson DID contribute 50 bucks [a lot of dough back then] to pay for Bibles for the Poor, and the Aitken Bible, altho not financed by Congress, WAS endorsed ["recommended"] by it.So, the narrative is sort of "misleading," but not totally so. Barton's supporters [like Kirk Cameron himself] would tend to dismiss the criticisms as agenda-driven more than in service of historical purity.Cameron defended Barton’s work. “No one is more guilty of cherry picking evidence than those who bow to the god of political correctness, especially historians,” Cameron said. “Everyone is going to select the information that is important to their thesis. If you’re bent on being politically correct, it’s very easy to fall into that trap.”
One person's deceit is another persons righteous medicine.John Chrysostom (ca. 347–407), Archbishop of ConstantinopleSt. Chrysostom on the Priesthood, Ascetic Treatises, Select Homilies and Letters and Homilies on the Statues: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Part 9. St. Chrysostom and Philip Schaff.The Works of St. Chrysostom, Book 1 (p. 38)http://books.google.com/books?id=iHs1I_JrAN8C&pg=PA38&lpg=PA38&dq=%22For+great+is+the+value+of+deceit,+provided+it+be+not+introduced+with+a+mischievous+intention.+In+fact+action+of+this+kind+ought+not+to+be+called+deceit,+but+rather+a+kind+of+good+management,%22&source=bl&ots=cskduIIgn0&sig=7rOcwNaj5k4rT4cAour1ZtSGF74&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5w2WT9oWpOXpAYq8_IwO&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22For%20great%20is%20the%20value%20of%20deceit%2C%20provided%20it%20be%20not%20introduced%20with%20a%20mischievous%20intention.%20In%20fact%20action%20of%20this%20kind%20ought%20not%20to%20be%20called%20deceit%2C%20but%20rather%20a%20kind%20of%20good%20management%2C%22&f=falseChrysostom relays a story of the physician using a deceit to coax a patient into succumbing to the physician’s aid. According to the story, a man is overcome by fever and in his fevered state rejects the remedies that could have cured him and instead implores any listeners to provide him with a “draft of pure wine” that would surely have done more harm than good. Because the delirious patient refuses proper assistance the physician resorts to tricking him into accepting a draft of water from an earthen cup “steeped” in wine. The fevered man gladly drinks the water, thinking it to be wine, and is soon recovered.“Do you see the advantage of deceit? And if any one were to reckon up all the tricks of physicians the list would run on to an indefinite length. And not only who heal the body but those who also attend to the diseases of the soul may be found continually making use of this remedy…For great is the value of deceit, provided it not be introduced with a mischievous intention. In fact, action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind…For that man would fairly deserve to be called a deceiver who made an unrighteous use of the practice, not one who did so with salutary purpose…And often it is necessary to deceive, and do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person he has not deceived.” From this perspective, Chrysostom would likely see the righteousness of Barton’s deceptions, absolving him of any blame. And today there are apparently many who, being partially or zealously sympathetic to the message, allow and even encourage deceit in pursuit of what they perceive to be in the greater good. Once one has the one and only Truth then anything in opposition can fairly be seen as a disease of the mind requiring treatment. And, Beck and Barton certainly have the treatment – deceit slathered righteously over kernels of truth. They are true doctors tending the diseased minds of the American people.Somehow, I do not think this is consistent with the theme of the founding or the thinking of the founders and framers.
Tom, Why you spend so much effort sifting the Barton dung for the occasional diamond will always remain a mystery...or not. Of those you accuse of being "ideological enemies" of Barton, none come close to contending that Christianity had no place in the founding and none attack Christianity. If Barton wasn't so consistent, prodigious and audacious in his deceit while planting a false narrative in support of his own religious-political ideological agenda then he wouldn't even draw notice.Your constant attempt to create a false equivalency between the liar and those that point out the lies in an effort to maintain some semblance of objective historical integrity is absurd and a reflection of your own political bias.There is a difference between the liar and those that point out the lies. And, to some, that matters. And it's not a matter of political correctness, a red herring if ever there was one, but of integrity.As to the Cameron quote, he's obviously a relativistic moron. Didn't his momma ever teach him nothin'? If I'd tried that line with mine I'd have gotten a spoon up side the head.
Your constant attempt to create a false equivalency between the liar and those that point out the lies in an effort to maintain some semblance of objective historical integrity is absurd and a reflection of your own political bias.Not atall. Since Barton's critics don't acknowledge the half he gets right, 'tis they who have the ideological bias.That I'm abused for pointing out the whole truth is proof, because I'm quite gentle with Barton's critics, whereas they are ruthless with him.Warren Throckmorton is pretty straight-up, though. It's to him I write that his criticisms would seem more like quibbles, and would be more likely to drive supporters to Barton rather than away.Well, yes and no, w/all due respect, Dr. Throckmorton. The exaggeration is beyond question. however, Jefferson DID contribute 50 bucks [a lot of dough back then] to pay for Bibles for the Poor, and the Aitken Bible, altho not financed by Congress, WAS endorsed ["recommended"] by it.This part of Barton's narrative is accurate.As for why David Barton stretches the truth like he does, I don't know. Could be his unprofessionalism as a scholar, or it could indeed be a feeling of justification per Chrysostrom, say like global warmists.;-Phttp://wattsupwiththat.com/climategate/
When I was in school getting the right answer half the time still meant a failing grade.
Yes, but many of his critics also only tell half the truth themselves. I point out the selective outrage and supply the missing half of the truth where required.But philosophically, I disagree with your view of truth vs. error. Finding error has some value, but it's not synonymous with discovering truth.
When I was in school getting the right answer half the time still meant a failing grade.Clearly the fault would be with the professor, obviously an ideological enemy of the student, for not giving appropriate credit for the 50% of the answers that were right. Therefore and forthwith, Ergo Prompter Duh, a pox on both houses. :)
When all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail and that's your problem here.An obsession with error is not a love of truth.
What are some of the "truths" that Barton should be given credit for discovering ?
See above. I'm not interested in being Barton's attorney; this is more an amicus brief.The fact that you or few know what he gets right is the problem here. His critics seldom acknowledge it, so their readers remain as ignorant about the truth as when they started.Tellya the truth, Ben, there's so much venom surrounding Barton, principled discussion is pritnear impossible. My observation is that there's a lot of niggling going on, far more heat than light.Mostly, he makes a big deal out of these insignificant documents because he has physical ownership of them. Even if his claims were true, they wouldn't really make much difference.And his most of critics are far more full of hate for him [and the conservatism he represents] than any real love of historical truth. I am not impressed.
Well, to give credit where credit is due. I never would have known that,"Jefferson actually recommended Aesop’s Fables for teaching morals to the Indians. It’s in Benjamin Rush’s autobiography,..."-Chris Roddaif I hadn't clicked through from an earlier AC post and visited Throckmorton's column on Barton. So, in a sense, I'm indebted to Barton for an actual fact about Jefferson. OK, Rowe who made the original post, Throckmorton and Rodda too. :) I looked up Rush's autobiography and voila, "[presumably Jefferson wanted to... - jrb]...civilize and moralize the indians by putting Aesop's Fables into their hands.1" Google books didn't make the whole quote available but I did find what appears to be a site that rounds it out a little more (although no specific citation): "Jefferson believed that in civilizing (not Christianizing) Indians, the first two English texts should be Aesop's Fables and Robinson Crusoe. Of course, we now know that American Indians did not need Jefferson to teach them civilization (from Clay Jenkinson at The Thomas Jefferson Hour blog)2:"Jefferson believed that in civilizing (not Christianizing) Indians, the first two English texts should be Aesop's Fables and Robinson Crusoe. Of course, we now know that American Indians did not need Jefferson to teach them civilization."1) (p. 334). http://books.google.com/books?id=r3kcAAAAMAAJ&q=fables#search_anchor2) http://www.jeffersonhour.com/archive.html
"...say like global warmists."Hey! I thought that the deal was that when an irrelevant non sequitur was tossed out, there needed to be an automatic but bot necessarily connected reference to a founding father. For balance.Like this, ...say like global warmists. Ben Franklin. None of it makes any sense but it stays roughly withing the scope of the blog. :)
Credit Throckmorton with this far more interesting piece of trivia instead:TO SAMUEL GREENHOW.Monticello, January 31, 1814. Sir,—Your letter on the subject of the Bible Society arrived here while I was on a journey to Bedford, which occasioned a long absence from home. Since my return, it has lain, with a mass of others accumulated during my absence, till I could answer them. I presume the views of the society are confined to our own country, for with the religion of other countries my own forbids intermeddling. I had not supposed there was a family in this State not possessing a Bible, and wishing without having the means to procure one. When, in earlier life, I was intimate with every class, I think I never was in a house where that was the case. However, circumstances may have changed, and the society, I presume, have evidence of the fact. I therefore enclose you cheerfully, an order on Messrs. Gibson & Jefferson for fifty dollars, for the purposes of the society, sincerely agreeing with you that there never was a more pure and sublime system of morality delivered to man than is to be found in the four evangelists. Accept the assurance of my esteem and respect.
Tom,I'd thought you had implied that Barton had actually contributed (discovered) "truths" that were not historically documented before his input.I'm not trying to elevate, but those things being called "lies" would qualify *if* they were true. So what I what I had inferred was that your were asserting Barton had made original contributions that were "truths", not "lies".
I missed the "global warmists" thing earlier.Global warming is a political debate, not a scientific one.The evidence for global warming is *solid*. That man contributes to global warming is also backed by ample evidence. What isn't clear, is what global climate is optimal (should it be warmer, colder, etc), and what should we do about it.I think this is a classic conflict of "is"/"ought" !With many of the "global warmists" favoring a God of Nature in the Avatar sense ;-)
I was curious as to who Samuel Greenhow was, so I went to Google U and did some looking up.According to Montecello.org(1), Greenhow, in addition to his work with the Virginia Bible Society, “also happened to be Jefferson's agent at the Mutual Assurance Society.” Which made me curious as to what the Mutual Assurance Society(2) was/is:"Founded Upon Benevolence"The fundamental principle of the Society of "mutual assurance and mutual risk" was set forth in the Society's original charter and remains our mission today. "That the citizens of this state may insure their buildings against losses and damages occasioned accidentally by fire and that the insured pay the losses and expenses, each his share, according to the sum insured." - Mutual Assurance Society charter, 1794The Mutual Assurance Society Against Fire on Buildings of the State of Virginia was founded on December 22, 1794 by an act of incorporation by the Virginia General Assembly. On May 17, 1982 the members of the Society changed the name of the company to "Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia".They’re still around doing business as the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia.In 1813, “[Greenhow] decided to approach Jefferson for a donation to the fledgling Bible Society, writing to him, ‘I [am] very unwilling to be considered as impertinent, and have therefore hesitated, before I determined, that, I might, without impertinence, inclose to you a Copy of the Address & Constitution of an Association in Virginia, for the distribution of Bibles gratuitously, to those who are not able to purchase them. ...We should be much pleased to number you among the members of the Society; But, if you should prefer it, we will thankfully receive any donation that you may be pleased to aid us with—‘(1)”I think that it is commendable that Jefferson, when solicited, felt compelled to help fellow Virginians “not possessing a Bible, and wishing without having the means to procure one.” It’s interesting to see that he was not keen on evangelizing outside of the country (15 states I think, and I wonder if this would include the separate Indian nations as he saw it?) and that he assumed that they were for those who wanted them. That he felt that the morals of Jesus were “a more pure and sublime system of morality” is well discussed at AC as is his corollary interest in Epicurus’ (and others) ethics and morality. Putting it all together, and keeping in mind his production of “the Jefferson Bible” and his wide range of reading and study, helps paint a picture of an independent and curious thinker concerned with the pursuit of morals and ethics and who could be benevolent to those in need at their time of need. Cool peaches. I’m glad you brought that up.1) http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/bible-society-virginia2) http://www.mutual-assurance.com/about.aspx
JRB,I was intrigued by the quotes from Clay Jenkinson regarding Jefferson's thoughts on civilizing the Indians with Aesop's Fables and Robinson Crusoe. One source is Jefferson's letter to James Jay April 7, 1809http://memory.loc.gov/master/mss/mtj/mtj1/043/1000/1055.jpg“ . . . the plan of civilizing the Indians is undoubtedly a great improvement on the antient & totally ineffectual one of beginning with religious missionaries. our experience has shewn that this must be the last step of the process. the following is what has been successful. 1. to raise cattle & thereby acquire a knolege of the value of property 2. arithmetic to calculate that value--3. writing, to keep accounts and here they begin to inclose farms, & the men to labor, the women to spin & weave. 4: to read. Aesop’s fables & Robinson Crusoe are their first delight. the Creeks & Cherokees are advanced thus far, & the Cherokees are now instituting a regular government . . . ”
Joseph Talmadge,Thanks. I have snipped and catalogued. The elibrary is one letter richer.
Oh yeah, I guess I have to throw this in as well: global warming and keep it relevant to this blog. Ahem ... some may find this chapter from Gale Christianson's "Greenhouse" interesting: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/c/christianson-greenhouse.htmlIt concerns the great mathematician and physicist Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, who was active in the French Revolution, stating: "As the natural ideas of equality developed it was possible to conceive the sublime hope of establishing among us a free government exempt from kings and priests, and to free from this double yoke the long-usurped soil of Europe."In 1794, the SAME YEAR AS THOMAS PAINE was sent to Luxembourg prison and barely escapes execution, Fourier is also imprisoned -- * on July 4 * -- despite pleading for his freedom in front of Robespierre. In 1824, TWO YEARS BEFORE JEFFERSON AND ADAMS DIE, Fourier publishes his admittedly speculative ideas on why the Earth is warmer than it should be considering the distance of the Earth from the Sun. His claim, that some of infrared radiation from the Earth's surface is reflected from the atmosphere back to the surface, forms the basis of what is later known as the greenhouse effect.
RE: Jean Baptiste Joseph FourierJust another science/math guy looking to transform the world.Sorry, it's my inner geology-geek pun mechanism - no control. I'm used to it now and just take it for granite, etc., etc., so on and so forth.
Not atall. Since Barton's critics don't acknowledge the half he gets right, 'tis they who have the ideological bias.I don't think that it matters that there are some kernels that can be found and cleaned off and held up to the light with a resounding "Eureka" if his narrative, his conclusions, aren't supported by the smaller "Eureka" fragments. That is why he "exaggerates" and misleads and misappropriates and misconstrues and missuses and so forth and so on - to create the narrative that he wants to sell to support his political-religious agenda*. If his agenda, his thesis, was to demonstrate that the founders had various religious beliefs wholly or in part consistent with a broad range of definitions for what constitutes being Christian, then he would not be in the headlines. His work would have already been done.Yes, but many of his critics also only tell half the truth themselves. I point out the selective outrage and supply the missing half of the truth where required.His "critics" focus on the untruths; the variance(s) from demonstrable fact(s) that lead up to a false - "exaggerated" - narrative. DUH. That does not lead to any equivalencies or deficiencies. IT IS NOT THEIR JOB OR OBLIGATION TO "SUPPLY" THE MISSING HALF. They, however, may choose to do so as writers like Fea demonstrate. The critics, that you seem to resent, are providing a corrective. But philosophically, I disagree with your view of truth vs. error. Finding error has some value, but it's not synonymous with discovering truth.Geez Tom, how do you propose discerning between - a process of discovering - true and false if there are no rules. If using deceit to produce a deceitful, or "exaggerated", narrative for the purpose of persuading others, wholly on the belief that you are selling a greater truth, is not to be held up as anti-truth then what is? Barton's methods are nothing more than a subtle form of dishonest coercion of conscience; that if given a choice between the unexaggerated and the exaggerated versions, the recipient might choose the version based on the honest and objectively substantiated facts. Because most of his audience will be unaware of the controversy and Barton's "exaggerations" they unwittingly become a part of the lie....I mean “exaggeration".Your professed pursuit of some higher or different form of truth that is semi-independent of falsehoods and anti-truths seems muddled and inconsistent. And, I can't imagine you giving the same leaway to your ideological counterparts.And, as you’ve attested previously, no one can examine the human heart so why do you use the word “hate” for those that point out his use of falsehoods? It's far more likely that when his critics say that they are working to preserve intellectual and historical integrity that they are working to preserve intellectual and historical integrity. That that goal may coincide with an ideological preference doesn't change the other.* and when I speak of "his agenda" I'm not making a judgment - or attempting to know his heart - it is supported by a vast body of empirical and testable data.Oh yeah, Ben Franklin and for good measure, Tom Jefferson.
No, you don't get the truth/error dichotomy, JRB, because it's not a true dichotomy.The half that Barton gets right is that Jefferson was as much an "accommodationst" as a "strict separationist."Barton's critics are strict separationists, and so, in focusing only on Barton's errors, completely miss the truth of his accomodationism.And that's the name of that tune.
Tom,Please put this together for a front page post and address it to Rowe, Fea, Throckmorton, Brayton and Rodda. Ask them to comment on why they're being so unfair to Barton by not completing his arguments for him in his favor. Ask them why they are as much at fault as Barton because they are being so ideological.At this point I find your deflection woo impenetrable. Maybe they can help me see the light.
Ask them to comment on why they're being so unfair to Barton by not completing his arguments for him in his favor. Eureka! Now you got it, JRB. Those who seek the truth will help the other fellow with his argument. Those who only want to win only take advantage of his mistakes.And that's the difference between the sophist and the seeker of truth. The sophist unconcerned with truth, only with winning.
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