What Would The Founding Father’s Think?!

I want to say at the outset that I am a political conservative.  However, in my search for truth, justice, and “The American Way,” I believe in studying all sides of an issue and forming my own opinion.  It is for that reason that I ordered the new book by Juan Williams, “We The People: The modern-day figures who have reshaped and affirmed the founding father’s vision of America.”

Juan had to make the title so long because there are numerous books with the title “We The People.”

I like Juan.  I believe he thinks deeply about issues–most of the time.  I think he is a self-made man and not a puppet of the leftist system.  I observe that he really believes he is a centrist.  (up for debate from time to time)

I fault Juan at times.  I observe that he entrenches on an issue simply for the “fight” and surely doesn’t deeply believe some of the arguments he puts forth.  Well, that’s television entertainment……maybe.

Onward to his premise.  Much of the struggle in contemporary politics in America is over the question “What did the founding fathers intend?”, whether that be in “Constitutional Interpretation,” or in general policy.  Juan promotes the theory that there is just no way the Founders, the Framers of the Document, could have foreseen or understood the policy matters that present themselves to the American Republic today.  He then lays out his argument in 18 more chapters, or subjects, or policies, that we struggle with today.

To his credit, I agree that many of the cultural things we deal with today could not have been imagined in 1776.  They would have been “unthinkable.”  Therefore, how we deal with them must be either from foundational principles that pre-date 1776, or from the needs and conditions of modern culture.  In either case, policy should be a very deep-thinking discussion, not just an ideological argument.  Whatever the case for our own foundation of thought, the Constitution does not address them.

So what do I think about the concept of a “living constitution?”  First, I DO NOT believe that the high judicial system should be the tool for migration of constitutional interpretation.  I believe We, The People should do so.  However, the present system in place to amend the Constitution is so very out-dated and cumbersome that  I doubt that a new Constitutional Amendment could work through the system on ANY SUBJECT today.  We should be spending our time designing a new system for the needed Constitutional migration instead of wasting our time arguing for our own political vantage point.  Let the people speak.  That’s called a Democratic Republic.

I am not going to get into Juan’s 18 subjects.  I would like to entice you to read the book.  But I need to warn you, Juan is tedious!, albeit thorough.  I try my best to read a book a week, for a regular ol’ 180 page normal book.  I found myself so bogged down in the historical details of each subject, story and biography that I was fortunate to finish a chapter per day.  I was so slugged up mentally by it all that I needed to take a break from time to time.  This book ate my lunch and took over a month to finish!  Juan goes into the minute details of his biographies.  We need the history.  I learned much.  I also grew weary.  A book must be “readable” and this one just barely passes that test.  I like a so-called page-turner, a book that I cannot put down.  I found myself closing my Kindle and tossing it across the room, numerous times!

Do I agree with his conclusions?  Not always.  I found at times he was spouting the main-stream leftist language without deeper research into the truth of what he was saying.  I would encourage Juan, an you, to read “The 10 Big Lies About America” by Michael Medved to gain another perspective on some of the historical stories in Juan’s repertoire. Now, Medved is not without controversy as  an interpreter of history.  Some of his language is simply combative and beneath a researched author.  Between the two perspectives may lie the truth of history.

At any rate, I continue my search for truth and would encourage you to do the same.  If our Democratic Republic will stand, it must have a mooring to be anchored to.  We cannot simply float through future history adapting to the cultural whim.  But alas, there is no getting around the fact that we presently face questions of culture and politics that would have been beyond science fiction when our Constitution was written.

A seeker,

LK

The American Miracle

In this book, Michael Medved takes us on a real ride beginning just prior to the American Revolution and ending with the assassination of President Lincoln.

I am going to begin my review of the point of the book by quoting a section from the last chapter summary.  “Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter A. McDougall unforgettably framed the issue:  ‘The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years.’  And as the eighty-one-year-old sage Benjamin Franklin observed at the Constitutional Convention: ‘And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?’  With that well-earned certainty that ‘he who made the world still governs it’ (Lincoln’s phrase), Americans of today should regain our bearings.  Historian Victor Davis Hanson notes that ‘a nation’s health is not gauged by bouts of recession and self-doubt, but by its time-honored political, economic, military and social foundations.’ ‘ A temporarily ill-seeming America is nevertheless still growing, stable, multi-ethnic, transparent, individualistic, self-critical, and meritocratic; almost all of its apparently healthy rivals are not.’  Hanson observes that ‘America typically goes through periodic bouts of neurotic self-doubt, only to wake up and snap out of it.’  David Gelernter similarly urges his countrymen to recapture a sense of their identity and their history.  ‘This is who we are:  a biblical republic, striving to live up to its creed.  The dominion of ignorance will pass away like smoke and we will know and be ourselves again the moment we choose to be.  Why not now!?'”

So there you have a book in a few paragraphs.  Medved is a well-known ultra-christian, ultra-right wing radio host and author.  We should expect him to interpret world events though that lens.  He believes with all his heart that God’s hand has ordained all things American, it is a God-blessed and protected nation, and is destined to continued greatness.

I am not going to argue with his premise.  I want to say at the outset, and will repeat at the conclusion, that this book is worth reading and in-depth study just to learn a wealth of history that I did not know.  It was thoroughly fascinating.

Having said that, I would like to take my privilege of being the author if this blog, to disagree with some of the basic premise.  Please bear with me.

There are two opposite extremes to theologically looking at the history of people of faith.

A. They look backward attempting to frame their experiences in a way to understand something of God and thereby interpret all things through the lens of God’s Providence.

OR

B. They look forward with the faith of what they think they know about God to create a future history to support their belief systems.

Obviously there are innumerable data points between the two extremes.

Let’s un-pack that a bit:

A. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote--“Earth is crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God!  But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries, And daub their natural faces unaware…More and more from the first reflection of light.”  The most extreme concept that all things are known and ordained by God beforehand is called Particular Determination.  There is no question that one can interpret some of the Scriptures in that manner.  The ‘every hair on your head, sparrows in the field, days are numbered’ are just a few of several dozen scriptures to that end.  Yet in a full logic thought process it breaks down.  If God pre-determines everything in everybody at all times and in all places—it ultimately makes God out to be the author of evil.  That doesn’t line up with what we think we know about God.
B. One can also make a case for free will and self-determination.  Many other places in Scripture we learn that ‘God changed his mind, God responded to the actions of a person, a government, a nation with creative change.’  If one takes that too far, they become an atheist.  That’s not cool either.  We are not our own Gods.  That would be the ultimate sin against a creative benevolent God.  In addition, all of us have stories and experiences in which there appears strong evidence of the hand of God in the lives of individuals, governments and nations.

So reality must be somewhere between the two extremes on a continuum that only the Divine can interpret. The older I am the more I am content to leave it there, in His Hands!?

So, yes, there are stories within the book that I would agree with Medved that there can be no other interpretation than God’s hand upon American History.  However, there are other instances in which he assigns God’s providence and I probably wouldn’t.

Medved provides an entire chapter giving a strong Evangelical and Right-Wing view to counter the new left-wing movement that says the U.S.of A is not exceptional or special in the history of the modern world.  I like his presentation.  It would stand up to the strongest debate.

Let me leave you with this.  Even if you are an Athiest, an Agnostic, or a Christian Left-political and social Liberal, I encourage you to read the book.  There are little known historical stories within that will enlightened, inspire, and raise American Pride within.  You just may have to swallow hard a few times and move on

LK