.

Christian Nation: a Counterpoint

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" - Matthew 7:16

John Webb, , argues that it is constitutional to embed aspects of religion in government. This article provides a contrast from two different perspectives.

"The United States of America is a Christian Nation" - Demagogue, politician, and self-avowed Christian.

Is it? If it meant that Christianity has the largest self-avowed adherents among all religions, then, yes, this is a true statement. Slightly more than three in four Americans claim to be Christian, so one can easily call the USA a Christian Nation.

Likewise, we can also call it a Caucasian Nation. But you do not hear that claim as often.

Since the claim is often elaborated to mean that America was founded on Christian principles, what they really mean is that Christianity is the foundational basis of our nation.

That, is a separate claim, and is what I'll address here.

The most common argument in favor of the claim goes something like this:

  1. Most or all of the founding fathers were Christian.
  2. Various quotes attributed to some of them are provided as evidence.
  3. Therefore it is obvious that the founders founded the country to be governed by Christian principles.

Each time this happens, a fierce debate ensues, with quote-mining showing that some or most of the founders were not Christian, but deists perhaps. It goes nowhere. Fast.

A second form of justification that the U.S. is a Christian nation involves invoking the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

See, it says God, therefore [magic in lieu of deduction goes here] Jesus! Yes, a non sequitur and a non-starter.

Lastly, a special meaning of the First Amendment is divined, proclaiming we have freedom of religion but not freedom from religion, [magic in lieu of deduction goes here] therefore we are under the covenant of Christianity.

It is also absurd, given that the only relevant clause in the Constitution regarding religion says nothing of Christianity and explicitly grants both freedoms; and given that while the First Commandment requires one to acknowledge Yahweh as your only or at least your first god, the First Amendment explictly allows one to have any and even no god.

To end it here would be no fun though.

So to start off, I'll stipulate that most of the founders were self-avowed Christians, it adds no value to bicker on this.

I shall then demonstrate that even with that stipulation, one cannot logically arrive at the conclusion that the U.S. is a Christian nation. More on that in a minute, but something bothers me about these claims, and I wonder if it does the Christians too, who assert that we are a Christian Nation.

I have read the Bible, and find that it has copious references to Yahweh and Jesus, verse after verse. There is no escaping that.

Yet, I find that pattern absent in both the Declaration and the Constitution. In fact Jesus is never mentioned directly even once in either document, and God only in the Declaration, that too with a qualification of Nature's or more obliquely, as Creator. Christianity is not mentioned at all. Heck, the King of England features more prominently than the central object of Christianity!

In contrast, here is a fragment of Texas's declaration of secession:

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the ...

At least they were clear about Texas being for white men, and themselves to be a Christian nation, who by divine decree could enslave the Africans.

To be complete, there is a reference to "the Lord" in the Constitution. But that was simply to date the document, as in "the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven", which obviously is no more an endorsement for the Lord being glorified than the months of the year are glorifications of Roman emperors.

Would you, as a Christian who founded a nation and wanted to have Jesus as the head of the state, leave out glorifying him so completely? Wouldn't you at least mention Christianity or Jesus in that document? Would you start a Christian church without the cross displayed anywhere on the property?

No, right?

Why then did Christian founders, who supposedly founded the USA on Christian principles, so callously and carelessly leave out, not just mentioning Jesus repeatedly, but altogether! 

Maybe they were doing what Jesus would do, when they declared independence from England. Let's examine it from that perspective.

Most Tea Party members, or at least some people since January 21, 2009, have revolted against taxes, claiming parallels to the 1776 revolt—taxation without representation. (It is another matter that they have representation, and also the ability to change that representation.) But it is correct that the founders revolted against taxation without representation, among other things.

What would Jesus have done? Well, the Bible offers us a hint.

In Jesus's time, the Roman emperor had the Imperial Tax. It was a tax on specific subjects (like Jesus's people) and in Mark 12, you have them asking whether they should be paying Caesar his tax. 

How does Jesus respond?

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.

Not armed conflict, not rebellion, but basically, pay the man!

Clearly what the founders did under similar circumstances was completely different than what Jesus advocated.

The last nail in the coffin—on Biblical grounds alone—comes from a simple extension of the argument. If the nation can be said to have been founded on Christian principles because the founders were Christian, then it logically follows that those very same Christian principles condone slavery. After all, many of those founders, Christian and all, possessed slaves. (There are other ways to establish that Christianity was used to justify slavery, but that is not the point here.) Most importantly, unlike the (non-)mention of Jesus, the notion of indentured people is in the Constitution. Not allowing women to vote, is likewise condoned by Christianity. Further, if most founders were meat eaters, we should likewise conclude the absurdity that America was founded on carnivorous principles.

So as you can see, the argument based on "most founders were Christians" fails on just Biblical grounds. The Bible wants you to glorify God/Jesus, and neither the declaration, nor the Constitution even mention Jesus. The Bible wants you to be Christ-like. Jesus was fine with paying Caesar his taxes, not have representation, and certainly not rebel against him with violence. The founders were not.

To reject that, you must at least accept that the same argument also makes it clear that Christianity condones slavery.

What about non-biblical, i.e, legal grounds? There it is a non-starter given that the law of the land, the Constitution, is silent about Christianity, even as it mentions the judicial, legislative and executive branches, with the respective heads. Would a Christian nation fail to anoint Jesus at the head of the hierarchy? Just so that I can avoid discussion with incurious people who have not read this far, please use the word Calvinist inconspicuously in your first responses and queries. Now, if only we had a legal document like a bill, a treaty, or a law, formulated by the founders that said something like "THE USA IS FOUNDED ON CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES", this would be easy, wouldn't it? 

There is! Unfortunately for demagogues, it affirms the reverse; from the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797, Article 11:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; ...

1797 would be when most of the founders were still alive and involved in confirming that treaty; therefore it should be taken as the most authoritative document for concluding that the USA was not founded on Christian principles.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dan Avery July 20, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Shri, I've already admitted I can live with my lack of civility towards people I don't respect. I'm not asking anyone else to. I realize many many Americans don't like a messy reality. It explains our tastes for prescription and illegal drugs. And, doh, that means I am the same as the members of the Tea Party. I admitted that over in one of those threads on the Constitution where I identified myself as a radical. From my perspective, the real problem with moderates is that they refuse to use their analytical abilities to condemn in public. They do plenty of it in private. I have no idea what I said that led you to make the leap where I'm condemning an institution. I have addressed individuals--Christians. Institutions by themselves don't go off the rails and hold inquisitions. It's the people who lead them who do that. It's not difficult to observe that Christianity is founded on absolute morality, but the vast majority who practice it only achieve relative morality. People are human and flawed. Tell me, Shri, do you see many people capable of living an ideal? Please point them out to me. Wasn't the entire point of your article to point out the hypocrisy of John Webb and the Tea Partiers? You don't really think they're just that ignorant do you? You and I, not so different. You just fancy it up.
Shripathi Kamath July 20, 2012 at 09:12 PM
"I have no idea what I said that led you to make the leap where I'm condemning an institution." Neither do I. If you were, it is not an issue for me, I am sure you have your reasons. I may even agree with some of them. "Wasn't the entire point of your article to point out the hypocrisy of John Webb and the Tea Partiers?" No, it was to address the misunderstandings. There is nothing hypocritical in Tea Partiers claiming that the US is a Christian nation. It is wrong to say that, but it is not hypocritical. What could be hypocritical is to criticize the Tea Partiers for calling Obama a christian (or NOT a Christian), and then do the same ourselves for, say, Nixon. Or Clinton. I still do not get why this is an issue. Accept people who say they are Christians, to be Christians. Now, they can be bad people, good people, and everything in between. "It's not difficult to observe that Christianity is founded on absolute morality, but the vast majority who practice it only achieve relative morality." Try this. Founders called themselves Christians. But they enslaved others, which to me is FAR more grievous than becoming obscenely wealthy and not sharing, so should we call them christians? If you give them a break, because you agree that Christianity is absolute and most fail to live to that, why would you not for every other Christian who might similarly fail to live to such standards? Maybe we are not discussing the same thing.
Shripathi Kamath July 20, 2012 at 09:19 PM
@Dan, maybe I can try a different angle. You say "Since you asked neither Obama or Romney are Christians in my book." and cited reasons. Fair enough, you seem to have a criteria. About 3 in 4 Americans call themselves Christians. Do you have an idea if this number is wrong, and if so, how wrong do you think it is? Also, do you think that Abe Lincoln was a Christian, given that he too ordered the deaths of thousands of Americans who wanted to hand on to their slaves like their Christian forefathers, including the founders of the nation? Maybe this will help me understand more of your criteria.
Yeparoo July 20, 2012 at 10:17 PM
@ Shri - Ok, I got around to reading this John Webb blog you are alleging to offer a counterpoint to. The only thing problematic I took away from his blog we the use of "We," assuming that his only audience was people of like belief/philosophy/political persuasion. It read more like an article that would be on a church website or newsletter. I'm also not sure I agree with organizing information meetings either, but if churches want to do that, I guess they would have to be aware of political activities considering their nonprofit status. Otherwise, his opinions are his own and he may be surprised that other Christians don't always agree with him. Shri - "John Webb ... argues that it is constitutional to *embed aspects of religion in government.* - Shri - I just didn't see this in Mr Webb's blog. Could you point out where in his blog he says this? "This article provides a contrast...." - I'm not sure it does. If Mr Webb did not argue that it is constitutional to “embed aspects of religion in government," you are not contrasting his blog. You may be reading into his blog something he didn't say. Your blog is interesting as a stand alone post, but certainly not anything new to a person who has even a cursory knowledge of the American Revolution. "The United States of America is a Christian Nation" - Demagogue, politician, and self-avowed Christian. - Who said this? Again, your slant. Set up a straw man and knock it down.
Yeparoo July 20, 2012 at 10:27 PM
@ Dan - "And I'm pretty sure you can guess at my criteria or some of them. Certainly an intellectual understanding of the dogma would weight heavily." - According to whose standards? @ Miss America - "Differences of opinion should be tolerated, but not when they're too different. Then he becomes a subversive mother." - According to whose standards? I just don't see the difference between your ability to judge and Miss America's. I must say Miss America did have a wonderful rendition of "O mio babbino caro" ("Oh My Beloved Father") prior to her testimony. I'm assuming that since 9 out of 10 Miss America's were Christians in the day (slightly higher than the general population), her reference to "Beloved Father" had to be to the Christian God. So not sure if this would have violated Fielding Mellish's constitutional right to a fair trial. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2qDF0D8wuQ And what of the Christians in Cambodia that received the outsourcing jobs from Ralph Lauren or the Christians in China doing work for Apple? Do you think they appreciate the outsourcers (like Romney) and think they are 'better' Christians? I'll bet the families of the 5 killed in Bulgaria wished Obama would have droned Mehdi Ghezali before he exploded their relatives' bodies. Do you think Obama would be less of a Christian if he would have gotten Mehdi first? http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/19/ex-gitmo-prisoner-suspected-as-bulgaria-suicide-bomber
Josephine July 20, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Shri, I would recommend to be more effective in your arguments that you just take on just one tree at a time. The multiple trees at once makes me get lost among them, not to mention not seeing the forest.
Shripathi Kamath July 20, 2012 at 11:14 PM
"Who said this? Again, your slant. Set up a straw man and knock it down." I'd ignore the feigned disgust at my use of a common argumentative device to set up a discussion, Yeparoo, because I know you are intelligent enough to recognize it. What I cannot excuse is the pretense that you do not know of such people. It took less time for me to find a choice one, on camera conveying exactly that sentiment, than it took me to post this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw5KqxefKgw and http://abcn.ws/NnB9lX just to constrain it to, oh, recent POTUS/VEEP candidates. As to "You may be reading into his blog something he didn't say.", I'll simply point to: --- "My reading of the Constitution says it promises us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion." and "Some tell us that God has no place in politics. These same people apparently didn’t read much about our Founding Fathers." --- "It read more like an article that would be on a church website or newsletter" Yes, with a title and enough else to invoke the Constitution. Written by a politician, and a church-goer. "Your blog is interesting as a stand alone post, but certainly not anything new to a person who has even a cursory knowledge of the American Revolution." Thanks, I sensed that from an earlier comment too. It is too long, you find other arguments more persuasive, and that this is anyway common knowledge among people. Still, I suspect that some have actually read it.
Shripathi Kamath July 20, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Thank you, I shall certainly give your advice due consideration, Josephine.
Dan Avery July 21, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Yeparoo, since you've invoked Miss America not once but twice, it's pretty apparent you don't think criteria are necessary for analysis. How, pray tell, do you analyze a damn thing? Go ahead. I'm sure we're all eager to hear this one. [Massive eye roll] By the way, Romney wasn't just an outsourcer. He actually went in intending to put Americans out of work by destroying the jobs completely. That means no one in those really ghetto countries even benefitted, And a lot of the people Romney put out of work will never work again because, let's face it, who would hire a 50 year old when they can get a 22 year old at a quarter of the price? Great American that Mr. Romney of yours Yeparoo. A real credit to his race. And the really sad part? Many of the people he put out of work will actually vote for him 'cause he ain't black.
Dan Avery July 21, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Wow, so my interpretation of that first McCain is: Yes, we are a Christian nation so anyone who moves here who isn't a Christian should expect to be the victim of discrimination.... I really didn't watch him past that political pretzel.
Dan Avery July 21, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I should add, Yeparoo, that as a huge fan of soft-core porn, I really can't quote Miss America as well as you can. That's, um, impressive.
Salvatore Rappoccio July 21, 2012 at 02:12 AM
@Dan, That sounds pretty judgmental to me. Is it central to the Christian message that you (personally) should make sure you (personally) tally up the actions of all of your fellow Christians, and decide who is what? Who gets to decide? Are you the decider? Since I don't think you're Mormon, then at least one group of people thinks you (personally) are going to hell because you're not a "True Christian" either. Does this bother you? You think Romney is not a Christian, he thinks the same thing about you. As a bystander, how do we know which of you to believe?
Dan Avery July 21, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Hey Salvatore, I pretty much spelled out my faith here. http://missionviejo.patch.com/blog_posts/oh-my-god-ddbca66f at least as much as one can do so in a few hundred words, which, believe me, isn't much. George "The Small" Bush was The Decider. Not me. In fact, I'm pretty sure Christianity encourages its followers to not judge. That always seemed pretty damned convenient to me. But then I don't consider myself a Christian so I don't have to play by their, or your, rules, do I? I sense this bothers you. Yes, I know, I am going to hell, at least according to you and your god, the way you've always described him. And as I said in my post linked above "I totally get that; I'm just not particularly concerned. In other words, your judgment of me doesn't concern me. But if you are, indeed, a Christian, then you ought to be alarmed by your own judgment. Yeah, I know, that doesn't seem fair. But then life isn't fair is it? As far as who to believe? Well, I've always followed John Lennon's advice: "I've got a feeling a feeling deep inside...oh no...oh no...I've got a feeling a feeling I can't hide...oh yeah...oh yeah...I've got a feeling...."
Silence Dogood July 22, 2012 at 04:37 AM
I'm sure people have already pointed this out, but there is NO MENTION of Christ is ANY of the founding documents. If this were established as a Christian nation wouldn't you imagine there would be at least one reference to Jesus? So why is there no mention of Jesus or Christianity? Simply because this is not now, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation. This may upset the ignorant, but it happens to be true. Tricky folks on the religious right try to tie the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution together for one tricky, but obvious reason. There is no mention of God or Jesus in the Constitution, our most important founding document. There are, however, a couple of minor references in the Declaration of Independence. So by pretending these two very different documents are inextricably linked they can try to convince people that god is at the center of all that is American. Never mind that Christ is AWOL from the documents, and ignore the fact that the references are pretty minor, they are grasping at straws. If we were meant to be a Christian nation (or Jewish, Muslim, or Taliban) wouldn't the founders have thought it important to include something, anything about it?
John B. Greet July 22, 2012 at 04:53 AM
"We can look at *why* they put the establishment clause and the free exercise clause, but the clauses themselves are the only thing that matter." I strongly disagree. To understand the *why* is to understand the intent...to understand the context. Look at how long some in our society have been debating the applicability of the 2nd Amendment! The Founders' many explanations as to *why* they wrote it, has helped to inform our various Courts' opinions on more than two centuries of jurisprudence. No, Shripathi, with respect, I submit that it is essential that we understand the *why* of the Articles and Amendments in our Constitution.
Shripathi Kamath July 22, 2012 at 05:49 AM
"I strongly disagree. To understand the *why* is to understand the intent...to understand the context." Noted. You just killed your own prior argument of using selected quotes to establish said context. Another demonstration why quote-citing for context, which is what you did, is flawed. You cited a context with secular quotes, I rebutted them with Christian quotes from much the same people, and unless you now wish to change your position, you have to explain why one set of private quotes establish the context, and that too your quotes only, and not mine or someone else's. Precisely the reason I refrained from falling into the pitfall, as I pointed out earlier. "No, Shripathi, with respect, I submit that it is essential that we understand the *why* of the Articles and Amendments in our Constitution." I agree, which is what I did, by avoiding the silly business of quote-mining. Someday you'll read my argument, long as it is. Or not. But if you do, you'll know the trick by which you can indicate that you have at least read it. Only three others so far seem to have done so. I do not see that in your responses. You may have, but it is not apparent. After three attempts, it is time for me to move on. Have fun with the last word. With respect, of course.
John B. Greet July 22, 2012 at 09:28 PM
"You just killed your own prior argument of using selected quotes to establish said context. Another demonstration why quote-citing for context, which is what you did, is flawed." I'm not entirely sure what argument you may have thought I was making, but, in fact, I agree with what I understand your thesis to be...that the U.S. was not founded as, or to be, a Christian nation. If you look all the way back to my very first comment on this most excellent article (which I did, indeed, read in its entirety) you will find that I said just that very thing. Now, as to "quote-citing" and "quote-mining" and your critiques that employing applicable quotes in one's argument is somehow a "flawed" approach and a "silly business": Haven't you engaged in that very thing in citing (or "mining") various quotes from the Bible, The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Treaty of Tripoli, and the Texes Declaration of Secession? Is it your contention that only the quotes *you* choose to cite in support of your thesis (again, a thesis I agree with) and only the documents *you* choose to access, are to be considered worthy of consideration in this examination and the quotes and documents that others offer are not? If so, do you truly feel that such an approach to analysis is intellectually honest? (more)
John B. Greet July 22, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Of course there must be literally hundreds of quotations from the founders that folks can access, analyze, and find that they believe support their particular position. Perhaps they do. Perhaps they don't. Perhaps some quotes by the same founder seem to contradict one another. And? Wouldn't it seem wiser to consider all of the applicable information possible from the founders, analyze it critically, and then make a reasoned determination on much weight one may feel it deserves? Isn't ignoring the applicable quotes from the founders just that....a form of ignorance?
Shripathi Kamath July 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
You will still have the last word, but I will try one more time since you asked questions. a. I did not argue with your first post agreeing with me. Mentioning that you agree with me is of no help. b. My first response to your second post explains why I did not use quote-citing, which kind for quote-citing and why. The *private* quotes of founders have no force of law and at times they contradict. It took you three posts to even ack that. Then you say: "Of course there must be literally hundreds of quotations from the founders that folks can access, analyze, and find that they believe support their particular position. Perhaps they do. Perhaps they don't. Perhaps some quotes by the same founder seem to contradict one another. And?" You have to address the contradictions before you can claim that one is more valid. That would be intellectually honest. "And?" is hand waving away a contradiction. "Wouldn't it seem wiser to consider all of the applicable information possible from the founders, analyze it critically, and then make a reasoned determination on much weight one may feel it deserves?" Yes, so what critical analysis did you do to claim yours and reject the Christian ones I cited in response? "Isn't ignoring the applicable quotes from the founders just that....a form of ignorance?"" Perhaps, so I take you will be explaining why you ignored the Christian quotes I cited in response as not the real "applicable quotes". contd.
Shripathi Kamath July 22, 2012 at 11:33 PM
My argument rests on the Bible which is the source for Christian principles, and the laws of the land starting with the Constitution. Since you seem hell bent on leaping to conclusions, I do not require quotes to be excluded from the Bible in response. Why? Because the Bible is the authoritative document on Christianity. Should someone pose a contradictory point I have to address it to be intellectually honest. Because the Bible carries the authority. Not one has argued that analysis. Same with the laws and the Constitution. Should one find a contradictory law, I have to address it. No one has argued that either. For the last time, privately expressed opinions of founders do not have the force of law, nor are nearly unified enough to settle the matter. Hence *I* chose not to use them in my argument (read my first response). That does not mean I have not studied them or that they are useless, they are useless for the specific argument I made. After the fourth time, when you refuse to make a gesture I specifically requested of people to indicate that they have read my whole argument, I find that you have not obliged my request. A request made in earnest. So I can only assume that you either do not care to honor a request even as you are aware of it, or that you have not read it.
John B. Greet July 23, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Sigh...Calvinist. Sorry, Shripathi, was that not sufficiently inconspicious? Have I drawn too much attention to your apparent need to manipulate the responses of your readers? You asked folks to use that term so that you might "avoid discussion with incurious people who have not read (that) far." How did that work out for you? I am fairly new to your articles. Do you always seek to play rhetorical tricks upon your readers in this way? If so, I wonder how many appreciate this tactic of yours? Now that I have uttered the secret phrase you seemed to need, I will leave any other responses I might have offered unsaid. It seems you are more interested in rhetorical games than in honest discourse. I find that unfortunate.
Shripathi Kamath July 23, 2012 at 02:53 AM
"You asked folks to use that term so that you might "avoid discussion with incurious people who have not read (that) far." How did that work out for you?" Rather miserably in just one case, it'd appear. So, still a success. "I am fairly new to your articles. Do you always seek to play rhetorical tricks upon your readers in this way?" Not always, but sometimes. Like when I discussed the ethics of torture. Some topics are complex or vast, so it is kind important to restrict the focus a little. (Psst, it is not a trick meant to deceive, it is not hidden, it is there in plain view as a request.) Otherwise we end up with people telling me that I should argue using their arguments, and when I politely explain why I chose not to, they throw hissy fits. If they are not busy arguing something else based on a phrase or three. "If so, I wonder how many appreciate this tactic of yours?" I do not, I appreciate the ones that understand why I choose it on occasion. The ones that do not appreciate it are usually who do not read, comment, and later find out about it. Then they are upset that they read it or that they did not before. "Now that I have uttered the secret phrase you seemed to need, I will leave any other responses I might have offered unsaid. It seems you are more interested in rhetorical games than in honest discourse. I find that unfortunate." Aw, I shall miss the grenades of indignity hurled with some particularly vicious self-righteousness.
Dan Avery July 23, 2012 at 04:58 AM
I wonder, given the nature of this topic, but sticking with just one source document, the Constitution, wouldn't have been better. Seems to me that the matter of importance is what the Constitution says. For that you need only the 22 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary so that you can look up key words to see what they meant when the document was written. We can never know why something was written. Only the author can know that. Having written a lot of things, I do know that the why often changes during the writing. If the piece is any good at all the author learns something from the writing of it, just as the reader learns something from the act of reading. Even if we had the author here to ask, it's a bit like asking someone why they climbed a mountain. The why doesn't matter. When asked why he wrote "and I have miles to go before I sleep/and miles to go before I sleep," Robert Frost said "It sounded good." And that is probably the truth, but who can really tell? When you're writing, the words come into your brain awfully fast and it's a struggle to get them all down. Then you tinker with them, of course, because words have both a denotation and a connotation. And you start to pick words to match the meaning that is emerging from the piece.
Tim Chase July 23, 2012 at 03:05 PM
"The first ammendment - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." America was historically a Christian nation - at least had Christian principles taught. Up until a few decades ago, prayer was part of the daily routine in public schools. Is it possible to take faith away from the larger world and expect it not to effect the private lives of individuals? I support civics and ethics being taught in schools, because there is an obvious void. Jumping Subjects - Dan, would you have had the same create spirit and love of fiction without - Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Leprechaun, and Holloween? What seems evil or childish to some actually makes momentous occassions for the young. I'm not an expert but it appears to me that too much of the America that most of us grew up with is being taken away. America is a land of big ideas, why are the narrow minded views winning?
Dan Avery July 23, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Tim, Michelangelo said that he just carved away the stone that wasn't David. Which means David was inside the stone the entire time. So it's hard to say how much external events have an influence on creativity. I do know that Santa, The Easter Bunny and Leprechauns are all lies adults tell kids; the kids find them out and 1. we learn to distrust adults. 2. we learn that lying is okay because the adults do it. Forcing a single religion onto the schools is what I would call narrow minded. I'm 57 and I don't remember every saying a prayer in a public school. So it's been more than a few decades. We can't return to that America. I personally wouldn't want to. Those folks had separate drinking fountains for people of color. I think as a society we've become much more open-minded. At least most of us. There are still backward pockets where ignorance rules. I would say that the United States was once a land of big ideas. These days it's a land of selfish, ignorant ideas.
David Worsley July 23, 2012 at 03:34 PM
"...too much of the America that most of us grew up with is being taken away." One of the problems with this statement is it assumes that a majority of "Americans" share a wide swath of common experiences and values with you, Tim. I'm not sure that this was ever really true, and certainly is becoming less and less true as time goes on. It may have made more sense if you had qualified it with "...most of us who share my particular set of values and experiences..." The reality is that America is continuously evolving, and has been since its founding. If you are finding your views and values to be more and more in the minority it is because ... well ... simply that you are more and more in the minority. There isn't some vast conspiracy to "take away" America from you or those of your generation (of which I am probably one). It is simply that the great creative and disruptive mechanisms upon which our country takes great pride the business world also acts upon our social fabric. For better or worse it is what keeps our society flexible and adaptive to the external forces around us. We have the choice to embrace the changes and mold our own little piece of the world more to our liking. Or we can rail against the inevitable changes, pretend it isn't occurring or, worse, complain to anyone who'll listen about how someone surely must be "taking away" what was perfectly fine as is. No offense, but the latter approach is the narrow minded one...
Silence Dogood July 23, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I agree with Tim! The far right is doing everything they can to take away much of the America most of us grew up with. They are trying to force their religious beliefs on everyone else. They cannot tolerate other religions...or dare I say....no religion at all. That's what you meant, right?
Tim Chase July 23, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I like Southern California Culture! Positive people often aren't the most extreme.
Lazlo July 25, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Tim, I have not read through all of these comments yet but nowhere in Shri's well-honed rocket er missive does he say that freedom of religion is not constitutional. He merely says that our nation was not founded (based?) on christian (or simply religious) principles. GET A GRIP!
Catryna White September 03, 2012 at 07:40 PM
The truth of the matter is that America has never been and is not, now, a Christian nation. Obviously most people don't understand what Christianity or being Christlike means. It certainly does NOT mean to be involved in racism, hatred, Genocide, war, drug trafficking and slave trade on the level that the United States has been involved since it's inception. So, no the United States is not a Christian nation nor has it ever been and doubtless will it ever be.

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