Tuesday, January 15, 2013

David Barton, Robert Aitken and the Importance of a Narrative

By Warren Throckmorton here.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

I don't understand why you titled your article "....and the Importance of a Narrative", Jon...Maybe you could "enlighten" me?

Jonathan Rowe said...

It's Dr. Throckmorton's title which I copied, pasted and redirected.

Tom Van Dyke said...

David Barton's critics have no narrative of their own, which is the irony. They prefer to ding him on the factoid level, as though that makes the Founding deistic, irreligious, a product of modernity and the Enlightenment rather than of classical philosophy and Christianity both Roman and Reformed.

David Barton and his errors are as fish in a barrel, and some prefer their targets easily spotted, and shot.

Warren Throckmorton said...

The narrative is the story that Barton creates out of a set of facts (not factoids) which is fundamentally flawed.

What I do in this post is go beyond what Congress did and look at what they were asked to do but didn't. Congress had the opportunity to take actions which would have been consistent with Barton's narrative about the founding but they did not do it.

The proper understanding is that Congress was not hostile to Christianity but did not privilege it.

Tom, you constantly have this criticism that I am shooting fish in a barrel. Why don't you write up what you think we should make of and do about Barton's misleading stories?

jimmiraybob said...

Dr. Throckmorton

Tom's approach is to reduce the discussion to one of Barton's enemies - culture warriors of the left - attacking inconsequential factoids in an effort to undermine the greater truths that Barton presents. The kind of truthy narrative that Tom is concerned with is not necessarily fact reliant.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Actually, Barton's narrative---thesis--is here.


And it's quite modest and viable*.

The rest is chickenspit. I happen to agree with his critics over half the time [the rest is differing interpretations, not necessarily "errors, falsehoods or "lies."

But Barton's critics, in glossing over the parts he gets right, connive their own half-truths. They're just more clever about it.


Barton, ibid:

*"Contemporary post-modern critics (including President Obama) who assert that America is not a Christian nation always refrain from offering any definition of what the term “Christian nation” means. So what is an accurate definition of that term as demonstrated by the American experience?

Contrary to what critics imply, a Christian nation is not one in which all citizens are Christians, or the laws require everyone to adhere to Christian theology, or all leaders are Christians, or any other such superficial measurement. As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained:

[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. 8
So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.”

Angie Van De Merwe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Van De Merwe said...

American "Creation" is a great name for the Founders entertaining the fact that men could "do science" as there was order to the universe and do a political experiment based on giving a "social order" to a "new nation to form a "more perfect union" where liberty was of ulitmate value.. When the Founders said "all men are created equal" and went about forming a 'more perfect union" under a Constitutional Republic ... which was formed by laws that made for order and resulted in America's "ordered liberty".