Thursday, November 29, 2012

Zig Ziglar on Faith and the Founding Fathers

Yesterday, we lost one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time and one of my personal heroes. In this video excerpt from an interview he did a few years back, Zig Ziglar talks about his personal faith and sprinkles in several references to the Founding Fathers (which is what makes this post relevant to our blog). Enjoy! :-)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The immigrant financiers who helped secure our Republic

That's the topic of this interesting article posted over at The American Conservative: Founding Financiers. As the author Michael Lind points out, the long-term sustainability of the United States was ensured, in no small part, to the work of the first Treasury secretaries -- Alexander Hamilton under George Washington and later Albert Gallitin under Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton worked to create a unified economic system for the young Republic, and Gallitin had the good sense not to capitulate to the ideological fervor of Jefferson who wanted to tear Hamilton's work asunder. Thanks to their combined efforts, the early United States had the stability and economic vitality necessary to begin the work of building the country and expanding its borders. And as Lind points out, both men were immigrants to this country -- men who came here because of the promise of opportunity that the United States offered.

And no, Alexander Hamilton never said that "a national debt is a blessing." His actual quote is as follows: "A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing." You can't honestly lay the current debt-cursed state of American national finance at Hamilton's feet. Hamilton knew the benefits of a modest national debt -- but the out of control borrowing and spending that currently vexes our government is something alien to his thought. In his financing theory as in his politics for the most part, Hamilton was a champion of prudential reasoning.

Cicero's Republic and Christian Arguments for Rebellion against Tyrants

By Greg Forster here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Too Many Givewaways

Yesterday, "Mormon Tea"-toddler and 2012 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, blamed his election loss to President Obama, because the President bribed his voters with giveaways. One can only imagine how Governor Romney would have explained his loss if he had tried to oppose 26-year old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington during the 1758 campaign for a seat in the Commonwealth of Virginia House of Burgesses.  

Here's a sample of what biographer Denis Pogue, Vice President for Preservation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens had to say:
It's Election Day in Virginia, an event that back in George Washington's day would have had the ex-president and his supporters seeing double. The reason: Voting day was a reason to binge in Colonial times, and the candidate who served up the most hooch often won.

Washington biographer Dennis Pogue, vice president of preservation at Washington's home of Mount Vernon, reveals that the father of the nation lost his first campaign in 1755 to the House of Burgesses largely because he didn't put on an alcohol-laden circus at the polls. That year, Washington got 40 votes. The winner, who plied voters with beer, whiskey, rum punch, and wine, got 271 votes.

A quick learner, Washington won three years later with the help of alcohol. "What do you know, he was successful and got 331 votes," says Pogue, author of the new book Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry. He spoke about his research Monday night at an event sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the National Press Club.

Read the full 11/8/2012 USNews Washington Whispers article written by  here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Richard Beeman on the Founding Fathers

John Fea links here.

Spiritual hunches vs. math: How not to predict the outcome of an election

By Warren Throckmorton here. A taste:
On another note, David Barton compares his partnership with Mormon Glenn Beck to the George Whitefield revivals before the Revolutionary War. Somehow I can’t see Whitefield partnering with the heterodox beliefs which characterize the LDS church.  While he was kind in his criticisms, Whitefield clearly and publicly confronted what  he considered to be error (e.g., this letter to John Wesley).

Friday, November 9, 2012

.@FreeRepublicUSA Begs Queen Elizabeth II To Take Them Back

Here. Queen Elizabeth responds: "Well you should not have violated Romans 13 back then. Serves you right you rebel heretics."

Church Affiliation Colonial and Now -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

Here.  A taste:
So how were things in the good old days? A consensus questioned by a few serious scholars—Patricia Bonomi among them—is that fewer than 20 percent of the colonial citizens were active in churches. Change came after 1776, so that, in one common estimate, church participation jumped from 17 percent to 34 percent between 1776 and 1850. A better past, more illuminating for comparison in present concerns, is between the early 1960s, when participation crested, and today.
I'll have to check the footnotes; but I do seem to remember more than one authority claiming this may be a lowball. The truth usually lies somewhere in between. On the one hand the Christian Nation notion that virtually every American citizen at the time was an orthodox Trinitarian, church active Protestant is bogus. There were plenty of nominal, unchurched men more likely to be in a tavern on a Saturday night than in a Church on Sunday. But the exact numbers? What constituted a statistical majority? Not sure.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sam Adams on Voting

"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual - or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." -Samuel Adams

Jacob Duché the Swedenborg

I was perusing through Benjamin Rush's Autobiography at the library where I work and this caught me. Christian nationalists like to parade Duché as the heroic patriotic Christian minister of the American Revolution. But they usually leave out the part where this Benedict Arnold of the American Civil Religion switched sides and urged George Washington to surrender to the British. After he was ruined he experimented with Christian mysticism and then eventually settled on Swedenborgianism.

Here is Reverend William White on  Duché's spiritual journey:
A remarkably fine voice and graceful action helped to render him very popular as a preacher. His disposition also was amiable. The greatest infirmity attending him was a tendency to change his religious sentiment. A few years after his ministerial settlement he took to the mysticism of Jacob Behmen and William Law. From this he became detached for a time; and his preaching, which was more zealous than either before or after, seemed to me to border on Calvinism; though, probably, he was not aware of, or designed, it. In this interval my personal intercourse with him began; and hav1ng one day asked of him the loan of Law's works, then much talked of, I received a refusal; the reason given being the danger he had formerly been in from reading these books. He relapsed, however, to the theory of the mystics, and continued in it until the troubles which drove him from his native country. In England he became a convert to the opinions of Baron Swedenborg; and in these he continued until his decease.
Some "orthodox" consider Swedenborgianism not "Christian" because it denies "the Trinity and the Holy Spirit, the vicarious atonement, and reject[s] Acts and the Pauline epistles ...."  Here is another source that views Swedenborgianism as a non-Christian religion.  George Washington, on the other hand, seemed to have no problem with the Swedenborgs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Timeliness of Mitt's Mormonism

From ANN ALTHOUSE: “It’s fascinating — isn’t it? — how little anti-Mormon material has been spread about in this election. The only notable person who seems to be going there is Andrew Sullivan.”

I'd like to think I didn't engage in any anti-Mormonism during this term. Here is an op-ed I wrote about Mitt's Mormonism and I stand by it.

A taste:
Hmm... Mitt Romney, as a Mormon, claims to be a "Christian" and accepts Jesus as the divine, resurrected Savior of mankind. So what is the problem? Space forbids me to detail all of the problems evangelicals have with Mormonism. But, at base, Mormonism denies historic orthodoxy as found in doctrines like the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds; to disbelieve in orthodox Trinitarianism, as it were, is to disbelieve in "Mere Christianity" as CS Lewis termed it. After the late Walter Martin, conservative evangelicals often term non-Trinitarian religionists, like the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others, as "cults."

Though the term "cults" was not used during the American Founding era to describe non-Trinitarians, the "orthodox" then (especially clergy) did regard these "heretics" as not "Christian."

[...]

Most know that Thomas Jefferson, who served two terms as third President, was not an orthodox Trinitarian Christian. He did, interestingly, think of himself as a "Christian" while denying every single tenet of historic orthodoxy.

Fewer know that John Adams too, failed, and to quote history professor John Fea's masterful new book on the Christian Nation controversy, "fail[ed] miserably" the test for Christian orthodoxy. Adams, who identified as a "unitarian" his entire adult life, bitterly mocked the doctrines of the Trinity, which he termed a "sacerdotal imposture[]," and the Incarnation, which he said "stupified the Christian World."

And it's not as though George Washington and James Madison, respectively, the first and fourth American Presidents, the "father of America" and the "architect of the Constitution," were paragons of Christian orthodoxy. While not as overtly unitarian as the second and third American Presidents, Washington and Madison, from their own words, offer little to demonstrate their belief in Christian orthodoxy.

Indeed, Washington's own orthodox minister, the Reverend James Abercrombie, claimed Washington's systematic avoidance of communion meant he was not a "real Christian" because his actions "disregard[ed] an ordinance so solemnly enjoined by the divine Author of our holy religion, and considered as a channel of divine grace."

And well respected orthodox Episcopalian, William Meade, third Bishop of Virginia, well acquainted with Madison, claimed the fourth President's "political associations with those of infidel principles, of whom there were many in his day, if they did not actually change" his youthful, conventionally religious spirit, "subjected him to the general suspicion of it." (One prominent unitarian contemporary of James Madison, George Ticknor, founder of the Boston Public Library, claims Madison personally professed unitarianism to him during a dinner conversation.)

In all likelihood, the first American President who might pass [the] orthodox test for Christianity was seventh President Andrew Jackson!

The early American Presidents were not perfect, but they well led the newly formed nation. Their example shows little connection between belief in orthodox Trinitarian doctrine and Presidential leadership acumen.

Please keep that in mind when considering how Mitt Romney's Mormonism might impact his qualifications for the American Presidency.
When I was at the CPS Conference last spring a very prominent researcher who sometimes reads American Creation asked why did we discuss Mormonism on a regular basis.  My answer was twofold.  One:  It's current; we may have a Mormon President.  The second answer was, "who holds the baton to the political theology of the American Founding?"  The above mentioned key Founders were the theistic liberals of their day.  The theological liberals of today are Unitarian Universalists and the liberal Christian churches (Obama's and the mainline churches).  Do they hold the baton?  Perhaps.  But I leave it an open question.  Perhaps the heretical conservative sects like the Mormons hold the baton.  Mormonism certainly seems more authentically "American" a creed than orthodox Christianity.  Though, one major difference I observe is Mormonism isn't as rationalistic as the key Founders' creed.  

Under God” Pledge Case to be Reviewed by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

That is the title to this article. A taste:
Washington, DC, Oct. 26, 2012) —The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has agreed to hear the appeal from a humanist family challenging a state law that requires daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag in public schools. The plaintiffs claim daily classroom affirmation that the nation is “under God” violates state constitutional prohibitions against religious discrimination.