Judeo-Christian Culture: History Timeline of the Nuclear Family in Western Civilization

Judeo-Christian Culture:

History Timeline of the Nuclear Family in Western Civilization

Defining the Nuclear Family

key“Shaped as we are by long human experience, we must be all the more careful not to lose what has required so much time and so much effort to accomplish. The modern nuclear family is a rare construct; we tamper with its essentials at our peril. As the long record of human experimentation attests, civilizations, even great civilizations, are more fragile and perishable than we think.” (Bennett, The Broken Hearth, 67, 70)

From The Broken Hearth

By William J. Bennett

family-traditional-nuclear3The modern nuclear family . . .did not appear spontaneously in the long-ago, but, rather, was built up gradually, shaped and molded by human experience. But if both marriage and family life have undergone change over the ages, as indeed they have, this hardly means that the 20th century family is an arbitrary construct.

Just as certain characteristics of the family have been malleable, adjusting to times and trends, other aspects, tethered as they are to deep human realities, have remained largely fixed and timeless. (42)

 

Five Periods in the history of the Western Civilization

 

I.  Old Testament times

JacobRachelThe Jewish people made marriage the sexual ideal. They also elevated the status of women by standing firmly for marriage and the family and firmly against infidelity and homosexuality. “Throughout their history, one of the Jews’ most distinguishing characteristics has been their commitment to family life,” writes Dennis Prager, social critic.

Jewish tradition also placed great emphasis on honoring one’s parents.

Much that was taken for granted about family life in ancient Israel is contrary to present-day belief and, for good reasons, unacceptable to us. But much—especially the very conception of the family as the seedbed of moral refinement and individual growth—is already there, not hidden away but right out in the open, waiting to be further developed. (Bennett, 44-48)

 

II. Early Christian Period

 

Jesus-bcome-disciple-lds-churchWestern civilization has been influenced beyond measure by Christianity, from the ethical teachings of Jesus to the doctrines of patristic and later authorities to the evolving institutional practices of the Church and the community of the faithful. Christianity’s impact on the family, and on our ideas about the family, has been incalculable.

Women were among Jesus’ close followers, playing a major role in his ministry and in the spreading of his gospel, and serving as positive models in his teachings. Jesus praised their faith, and graciously accepted their acts of love and hospitality. It was women who were the first eyewitnesses of his resurrection and who were then told to go and relate the news to the male disciples. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was specially favored by God.

Jesus held men and women alike to the same moral standards. . .and taught that all must follow the same path to salvation.

In sum, the relationship of religious faith to marriage and family life is complex and at times paradoxical. If that reminds us, as it should, of the difficulties in any effort to turn either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament into a straightforward brief for traditional “family values,” it should also remind us of how rich, how demanding, and how endlessly instructive is the moral and spiritual legacy we are heirs to. (Bennett, 48-52)

 

III.  Middle Ages

The Roman Catholic Church was influential in prohibiting incest and the marrying of close relatives, in punishing fornication and adultery.

The Church did champion the role of consent in marriage, marking a historic change from the earlier periods we have examined.

As for the attitude toward children, Lawrence Stone reminds us that during the Middle Ages, two or more living children were often given the same name because it was so common that at least one of them would die. This was particularly true during the Black Death, the epidemic that ravaged Europe and Asia in the fourteenth century, and that is estimated to have killed one-quarter of the populations of Europe, including, no doubt, a disproportionate number of children.

 

IV. 1500-mid-1700s

john-winthrop-quoteThis was the period that saw the rise of the first American families, which, with their roots in English Puritanism, soon came to be considered an American ideal.

Consider the relationship between John Winthrop, the seventeenth-century governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and his wife, Margaret.

Margaret states the reasons she loves him: “first because thou lovest God; and, secondly, because that thou lovest me.” Governor Winthrop held his wife in similar esteem.

triangle-marriage-jesus-man-womanDuring the seventeenth century, the position of women in marriage seems to have improved—if only to a point.

Take the attitude toward newborn children in seventeenth-century New England. Many Puritans, adopting the strict Calvinist perspective, considered them products of oritinal sin: inherently corrupt, naturally depraved.

By the late seventeenth century, Puritanism was beginning to decline in England. The English philosopher John Locke—whose ideas did so much to influence the American founding—played a crucial role in altering public attitudes toward children as well. To Locke (who was not alone in this belief), an infant was less a product of the Fall than a blank slate, a tabula rasa. This conception, . . .stimulated the display of parental love and affection.

 

A “silent revolution” had taken place, one that diminished parental control over children’s marriages, differentiated family patterns across social classes, and produced a new conception of childhood in which children were viewed not as embodiments of sin but as innocent and malleable creatures whose characters could be molded into any shape. (Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg)

By the end of the colonial period, then, currents were astir that would find their full realization by the early part of the next century. (Bennett, 58-61)

 

19th Century

By the 1830s, the free choice of spouse was seen as “a distinctive feature of American family life.”

happymarriagewordsWe contemporaries can also learn something useful from our ancestors. Too many people today believe that once a marriage goes flat—once the early love, affection, and intense attraction are gone—a marriage itself is irretrievably broken. In fact, there is plenty of evidence, from the past and from today, that people can fall in love again with their spouses. It may require time, effort, a conscious commitment of purpose, perhaps even outside counsel; but it can be done, and it is almost always worth the effort.

A woman was declared “God’s appointed agent of Morality, responsible for refining a man’s “human affections and elevating his moral feelings.” (Sarah J. Hale)

While Americans did not believe that “man and woman have either the duty or the right to perform the same offices,” they did show “an equal regard for both their respective parts. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

It would also appear that spouses were quite faithful: For American men, there was not gallantry to be found in a love affair, and women were expected to be chaste. One English visitor, remarking upon the “great charm which surrounds all family relations in the North,” made a point of recording that “compared with Europe, domestic scandals are unknown.”

The Industrial Revolution forced sweeping changes in every sphere, shifting people from agrarian to urban settings, crating smaller and more self-contained family units, and encouraging an unprecedented mobility. It took time, and a fair amount of disruptive agony, to adjust to these changes, and in doing so, people tended to draw closer within their families. Men in particular looked more and more to their wives and their homes for emotional support, nurturance, and affirmation.

Child-rearing ceased to be simply one of many activities and became the central concern—one is tempted to say the central obsession—of family life.” (Christopher Lasch)

family-history-victorian               This entire era—the Victorian era—has often been caricatured as sexually and emotionally repressed, patriarchal, tyrannical, and abusive. In fact, the hallmarks of family life included stability and faithfulness, emotional intimacy, and endurance. Things were not perfect by any means . . .But given the problems that plague contemporary family life—out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families, divorce and cohabitation, abortion on demand and the growing embrace of homosexual unions, to name just a few—a bit of humility, not to say appreciativeness, is surely called for.

The emerging attitudes I have been describing were not rooted in unenlightened, authoritarian, or misogynistic ideals. Rather, they were firmly anchored in the liberal political tradition. This was, after all, an America chiseled and shaped by the ideas of the Enlightenment, in particular by the writings of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. (Bennett,62-66)

 

Modern Nuclear Family

“The bottom line is that not all family structures are equal, and not all variations are compatible with basic social and human needs.”

family-traditional-nuclear1“We desperately need to reestablish marriage as an exclusive arrangement between a man and a woman. Marriage, monogamous and freely chosen, must be the institution through which children are conceived and born, loved and disciplined, nurtured and raised. And marital permanence must once again become the ideal to which individuals commit themselves and which they strive to maintain.”

“Shaped as we are by long human experience, we must be all the more careful not to lose what has required so much time and so much effort to accomplish. The modern nuclear family is a rare construct; we tamper with its essentials at our peril. As the long record of human experimentation attests, civilizations, even great civilizations, are more fragile and perishable than we think.” (Bennett, The Broken Hearth, 67, 70)

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Hayek Quotes: Liberty, Socialism, and Economy

Dinner Topics for Monday

Quotes by Friedrich Hayek

keyIf we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion. ~Friedrich August von Hayek

Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality – an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order. ~Friedrich August von Hayek

We must face the fact that the preservation of individual freedom is incompatible with a full satisfaction of our views of distributive justice. ~Friedrich August von Hayek

 

socialjusticeThe mirage of social justice

F. A. Hayek made many valuable contributions to the field of economics as well as to the disciplines of philosophy and politics. This volume represents the second of Hayek’s comprehensive three-part study of the relations between law and liberty. … Google Books

 

 

 

hayekbooksocialismThe Fatal Conceit

Book by Friedrich Hayek

The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism is a non-fiction book written by the economist and political philosopher Friedrich Hayek and edited by William Warren Bartley. Wikipedia

Published: 1988Author: Friedrich Hayek

 

Friedrich Hayek

Friedrich August Hayek ( 8 May 1899 – 23 March 1992), born in Austria-Hungary as Friedrich August von Hayek and frequently known as F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian, later turned British,[1] economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism. In 1974, Hayek shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (with Gunnar Myrdal) for his “pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and … penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena”.[2]

Hayek is an economist[3] and major political thinker of the twentieth century.[4] Hayek’s account of how changing prices communicate information which enables individuals to coordinate their plans is widely regarded as an important achievement in economics.[5] He also contributed to the fields of systems thinking, jurisprudence, neuroscience, and the history of ideas.[6]

Hayek served in World War I and said that his experience in the war and his desire to help avoid the mistakes that had led to the war led him to his career. Hayek lived in Austria, Great Britain, the United States and Germany, and became a British subject in 1938. He spent most of his academic life at the London School of Economics (LSE), the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.

In 1984, he was appointed as a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II on the advice of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for his “services to the study of economics”.[7] He was the first recipient of the Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize in 1984.[8] He also received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 from president George H. W. Bush.[9] In 2011, his article The Use of Knowledge in Society was selected as one of the top 20 articles published in the American Economic Review during its first 100 years.[10]

 

More about Hayek from Wikipedia

The Hayek Center

 

US Constitution Series 5: Trust in God

Dinner Topics for Thursday

The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

Principle # 5

keyoldIn the Anglo-Saxon language, the word for supreme or ultimate good is “God.” (Skousen p. 96)

creationhandsAll things were created by God, therefore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent, and to Him they are equally responsible

The Founders vigorously affirm throughout their writings that the foundation of all reality is the existence of the Creator, who is the designer of all things in nature and the promulgator of all the laws which govern nature.

The Founders were in harmony with the thinking of John Locke as expressed in his famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In it Locke pointed out that it defies the most elementary aspects of reason and experience to presuppose that everything in existence developed as a result of fortuitous circumstance. The mind, for example, will not accept the proposition that the forces of nature, churning about among themselves, would ever produce a watch, or even a lead pencil, let alone the marvelous intricacies of the human eye, the ear, or even the simplest of the organisms found in nature. All these are the product of intelligent design and high precision engineering. (Skousen, pp.95-96)

How Can One Know There Is a God?

In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke insisted that everyone can know there is a divine Creator. It is simply a case of thinking about it. To begin with, each person knows that he exists.

Furthermore, each person knows that he is something. He also knows that a something could not be produced by a nothing. Therefore, whatever brought man and everything else into existence also had to be something.

This something would therefore have to be superior to e everything which had resulted from this effort. This element of superiority makes this something the ultimate “good” for all that has been organized and arranged. In the Anglo-Saxon language, the word for supreme or ultimate good is “God.” (Skousen p. 96)

So, as John Locke says, there are many things man can know about God. And because any thoughtful person can gain an appreciation and conviction of these many attributes of the Creator, Locke felt that an atheist has failed to apply his divine capacity for reason and observation.

The American Founding Fathers agreed with Locke. They considered the existence of the Creator as the most fundamental premise underlying ALL self-evident truth. It will be noted as we proceed through this study that every single self-evident truth enunciated by the Founders is rooted in the presupposition of a divine Creator. (Skousen pp. 97-98)

Concerning God’s Revealed Law Distinguishing Right from Wrong

The Founders considered the whole foundation of a just society to be structured on the basis of God’s revealed law. These laws constituted a moral code clearly distinguishing right from wrong.

William Blackstone, widely read authority on this subject in the Founders era, expounded it in his Commentaries on the Laws of England.

He said the laws for human nature had been revealed by God, whereas the laws of the universe (natural law) must be learned through scientific investigation. (Commentaries, p.64) Blackstone stated that “upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws …” (Ibid., p.65)

[T]he attitude of the Founders toward God’s law (both natural and revealed) gave early Americans a very high regard for the “law” as a social institution. They respected the sanctity of the law in the same way that it was honored among the Anglo-Saxons and by ancient Israel. (Skousen pp.98-99)

The Nearness of God

Days of fasting and prayer were commonplace in early America. most of the Founders continually petitioned God in fervent prayers, both public and private, and looked upon his divine intervention in their daily lives as a singular blessing. They were continually expressing gratitude to God as the nation survived one major crisis after another.

George Washington

George Washington was typical of the Founders in this respect. Charles Bracelen Flood discovered in his research that during the Revolutionary War there were at least sixty-seven desperate moments when Washington acknowledged that he would have suffered disaster had not the hand of God intervened in behalf of the struggle for independence. (Skousen p.99)

trust“In God We Trust”

From all of this it will be seen that the Founders were not indulging in any idle gesture when they adopted the motto, “In God we trust.” Neither was it a matter of superfluous formality when they required that all witnesses who testify in the courts or before Congressional hearings must take an oath and swear or affirm before God that they will tell the truth. As Washington pointed out in his Farewell Address: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?” (Skousen, p.100)

 

See how you can draw your family closer to God in these troubled times

 

History Facts: Book Review—Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates

History Facts:

Book Review—Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

The forgotten Barbary War that changed American history

Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

To my dad, who died way too young, and my mom, who worked way too hard. They taught me from day one that being born in America was like winning the lottery. This story is yet more proof that they were 100 percent right. ~Brian Kilmeade

 

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America was deeply in debt, with its economy and dignity under attack. Pirates from North Africa’s Barbary Coast routinely captured American merchant ships and held the sailors as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new country could afford.

Time to Stand Up to the Intimidation

For fifteen years, America had tried to work with the four Muslim powers (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco) driving the piracy, but negotiation proved impossible. Realizing it was time to stand up to the intimidation, Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy and Marines to blockade Tripoli—launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.

Few today remember these men and other heroes who inspired the Marine Corps hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.” Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates recaptures this forgotten war that changed American history with a real-life drama of intrigue, bravery, and battle on the high seas.

Part of the reason Jefferson was motivated to shock the world by sending warships to the North African coast was that he understood in human terms the cost of piracy.

[I]n Jefferson’s time and after, Jefferson’s tough-minded approach  to securing the safety of Americans abroad prevailed—and changed the course of history. The British, Dutch, and French, who all possessed of vastly larger navies and had greater resources than the young United States, had flinched when faced with the Islamic threat, but they now followed the lead of the new nation.

The growing confidence in the nation’s military strength fueled national policy. The United States had successfully rejected the Old World’s model of complying with the pirates off the coast of Europe and Africa, and it was now bold enough to reject European interference with life on its own side of the Atlantic. 210

Monroe Doctrine

Military strength made possible an unprecedented assertion by President Monroe in his annual message of 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, as the principle he introduced came to be called, warned the European powers not to trespass on North or South American shores. Monroe vowed that any attempt to interfere with the destiny of nations in the American hemisphere would be regarded “as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” 214-215

Many men and women suffered in captivity before America’s intervention rid the world of North African piracy, but their suffering was not in vain. After centuries of piracy along the Barbary Coast, only the exercise of military strength had succeeded in ending the state-sanctioned practice of terror on the high seas. The lesson was not lost on America. The young nation gained from this chapter the courage to exercise its strength in the world, and it would remember that lesson in the future when other innocent lives were at stake. ~Brian Kilmeade, 215

Today, the war’s military legacy cannot be ignored. It saw the emergence of the U.S. Navy as a force to be reckoned with in foreign seas. It saw the American flag planted for the first time in victory on terrain outside the Western Hemisphere. So great was the war’s significance for the Marines that their hymn refers to “the shores of Tripoli,” and the Corps adopted the Mameluke sword as part of its officers’ uniforms in 1825.

Most important, here in the twenty-first century, the broader story—the great confrontation between the United States and militant Islamic states—has a new significance. 203

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

 

Thomas Jefferson: Christian Leadership

Dinner Topics for Thursday

The Real Thomas Jefferson, Part 1-3

The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, Part 4-5

keyI hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4 His Presidency

This is a large book, very easy and enjoyable reading, but also packed with valuable information. I will share with you some notes and quotes, a little at a time. But don’t miss reading the entire book with your family. It belongs in every American’s home library.~C.A. Davidson

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Jefferson’s Presidency

“Though we differ on many points, he displayed an impartiality and a freedom from prejudice that. . .were unusual. There was a mildness and amenity in his voice and manner that at once softened any of the asperities of party spirit that I felt. . .No man can be personally acquainted with Mr. Jefferson and remain his personal enemy.”  (Justice William Paterson of the Supreme Court, one of Jefferson’s most inveterate political opponents p.219)

The tone of Jefferson’s presidency was low key. Believing that American political leaders were aping European royalty too much, he led with a simple style. He never used public funds for his social gatherings.

“A Noiseless Course”

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.” (p.225)

Slander

James Callender, one of the victims of the Sedition Act who was pardoned by President Jefferson, became embittered when he didn’t receive a government post he wanted. He made up a series of scandalous stories, the ugliest of which accused Jefferson of an illicit relationship with Sally Hemings, a young mulatto slave at Monticello.

Federalists, jealous of Jefferson’s popularity, took up these false accusations, creating a relentless torrent of slander. Jefferson made no public response to these unscrupulous attacks. “I should have fancied myself half guilty,” he said, “had I condescended to put pen to paper in refutation to their falsehoods, or drawn to them respect by any notice from myself.” (p230)

In the face of it all, Jefferson defended the right of his countrymen to free press. He remained silent all during the calumny and instructed his cabinet to do the same.

Under the guise of “modern scholarship”, some recent scholars have “brought forth a rash of sensational and poorly researched publications designed to discredit America’s Founding Fathers.  Many of the ‘facts’ [Callender] dished up are known to be false.” (pp231-232)

Douglass Adair, one of the most highly respected historians of our era, concluded after examining all of the evidence on this matter which has now come to light: “Today, it is possible to prove that Jefferson was innocent of Callender’s charges.”

One of the recently discovered documents to which Adair referred was a letter written by the nineteenth-century biographer Henry Randall, recounting a conversation at Monticello between himself and Jefferson’s oldest grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. In this conversation Randolph confirmed what others close to the family had already disclosed: that Sally Hemings was actually the mistress of Jefferson’s nephew, Peter Carr, and that “their connection . .  . was perfectly notorious at Monticello.” He also pointed out that “there was not the shadow of suspicion that Mr. Jefferson in this or any other instance had commerce with female slaves.” (from essays by Douglass Adair, cited by Allison on p.233)

It is virtually inconceivable that this fastidious gentleman whose devotion to his dead wife’s memory and to the happiness of his daughters and grandchildren bordered on the excessive could have carried on through a period of years a vulgar liaison which his own family could not have failed dot detect. It would be as absurd as to charge this consistently temperate man with being, through a long period, a secret drunkard. (Professor Dumas Malone, author of Pulitzer-Prize-winning six-volume biography of Jefferson p.234)

Jefferson wrote privately that he “feared no injury which any man could do me;. . .I never had done a single act or been concerned in any transaction which I feared to have fully laid open, or which could do me any hurt if truly stated.” (p234)

First Term

1801-1805—Jefferson sent American naval ships to the Mediterranean area, where they were victorious over the Barbary pirates, freeing up trade.

1802—Napoleon was threatening to establish a French empire in the Louisiana territory. Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to solve the situation diplomatically.

1803—The Louisiana Purchase. Almost one million acres were purchased for 15 million dollars, nearly doubling the physical size of the United States.

1804—Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Territory and reach the west coast

These brilliant public achievements were overshadowed by the personal tragedy of the death of his 26-year-old daughter Mary. He deeply mourned her death, but submitted to the will of God. (He was not an atheist!)  (pp. 240-245)

Second Term

Jefferson was reelected by a large margin.

Native Americans

Jefferson was an enthusiastic student of Indian tribes and sought to provide them with instruction in agricultural and domestic arts. He had good relations with Native Americans. (pp250-253)

Aaron Burr

As Vice President in the first term, Aaron Burr often used his tie-breaking votes to favor Federalists. He was replaced as Vice President by George Clinton.

Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. There were warrants for arrest in New Jersey and New York. He lived out the last few months of his term in disgrace and exile. Burr later became involved in a plot to divide the Union. He was arrested and tried for treason.  (pp255-257)

John Marshall

Chief Justice John Marshall acquitted Burr of treason on technicalities. Federalist judges sought to consolidate all power in hands of the federal government.

Judicial Review (pp259-260)

John Marshall established the concept of “Judicial Review”, enabling the federal courts to void Congressional laws by declaring them unconstitutional.

President Jefferson warned that Judicial Review endangered the separation-of-powers principle.

The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislative and executive also in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch.

Jefferson was urged by his friends to run for a third term, but he declined. He recommended an amendment to the Constitution limiting the President to two terms.

Teach your family why Religious Freedom Matters

Dinner Talk Topics

1. If our young adults are to restore the culture of liberty, why is it vital we seek truthful history from reliable sources? Watch out for Wikipedia versions of history. Its articles on Jefferson give credence to the slanderous Sally Hemings story. The Real Thomas Jefferson was recommended by Glenn Beck. You can find many sources of historical truth and helpful analysis at his web site.

2. Do you think  today’s “Judicial Review” threatens our liberty? Why?

The Real Thomas Jefferson: The True Story of America’s Philosopher of Freedom

Part 5

Andrew M. Allison

Dear Reader,

This is the final segment of my notes and quotes from this American Classic. The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, is a character education experience that your children must not miss. Truly, Thomas Jefferson was an exemplary epic hero. Not only is this book easy and interesting reading—it is memorable. Bless your children by reading it together with them. You, and they, will be glad you did. And they will never forget it. ~C.A. Davidson

 

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4: Retirement and Closing Years

Character Education, Thomas-Jefferson-style

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Awards for foot races were as follows: three pieces of dried fruit—figs, prunes, or dates—to the victor, two to the second, and one to the lagger who came in last. One of his granddaughters described his method of character education.

He talked with us freely, affectionately, and never lost an opportunity of giving a pleasure or a good lesson. He reproved without wounding us, and commended without making us vain. He took pains to correct our errors and false ideas, checked the bold, encouraged the timid, and tried to teach us to reason soundly and feel rightly. Our smaller follies he treated with good-humored raillery, our graver ones with kind and serious admonition. He was watchful over our manners, and called our attention to every violation of propriety. (Ellen Coolidge, p278-279)

In 1820 he received 1,267 letters. He wrote more letters by his own hand than any other public man that ever lived. An invention  by John Hawkins of Philadelphia called the polygraph preserved 19,000 letters by duplicating them. After 1804 he produced a file copy of almost every letter he wrote. He made several improvements on the polygraph. (p 283)

Dr. Benjamin Rush, a good friend of Jefferson, wrote to both Jefferson and John Adams, urging both men to heal a rift caused by political differences. Both of the former Presidents indicated that they wanted to put aside past disagreements and renew their friendship. Adams said, “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” (pp284-285)  The two renewed their friendship and wrote letters for fourteen years.

Monroe Doctrine

monroe-doctrine1823—Jefferson’s successor,  James Monroe, consulted him about European influence in Latin America, which was widely feared. Said Jefferson, “Our first and fundamental maxim should be never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. From this emerged the Monroe Doctrine. (p287)

Missouri Question

Jefferson very reluctantly accepted Missouri’s entering the union as a slave state, because they threatened to secede.

“I can say, with conscious truth, that there is a not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach [i.e., slavery]in any practicable way.” He maintained hope to his dying day of emancipating the slaves. (p 289)

Visitors to Monticello

Jefferson was so loved that he had thousands of visitors continually for eight months of the year, from all over the world. Although Jefferson welcomed the visitors cheerfully and graciously, they often proved a burden to him and to his daughter Martha, who served as hostess. She would often have to prepare for as many as fifty overnight guests.

People even invaded the halls of his home just to get a look at him. One woman actually punched through a window with her parasol just to get a better view of him.

People would gaze at him point-blank as at a creature in the zoo. “They wanted to tell their children, and have it told to their grandchildren, that they had seen Thomas Jefferson.” (pp290-291)

The accommodation of these visitors, the social events in Washington that he paid from his own pocket, neglect of his plantations during his forty years of public service; his enormous generosity to his grandchildren, to local beggars, and to various charitable organizations, all mounted the great indebtedness he struggled with. One biographer wrote, “His contributions to religious, educational, and charitable objects through his life would have made his old age opulent!” (p 305)

University of Virginia

Jefferson spent the closing years of his life establishing a state university. “He believed that these two great purposes—‘the freedom and happiness of man’—should serve as the polestars of all educational programs throughout the Republic. (p 296)  The university opened in 1825, one year before his death.

I am a Real Christian

Another project of Jefferson was to compile in several languages all the New Testament passages which he understood to be the actual utterances of Jesus Christ. He titled this little book, “the Philosophy of Jesus.”

A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus—very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its Author never said nor saw.(p 299)

Jefferson was reticent on the subject of religion. This caused his political enemies to label him as an atheist. During his presidency, he wrote to Benjamin Rush:

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. (pp 300-301)

Many Americans in the early nineteenth century shared the hope of a re-establishment of the Christian religion in its “original purity” in the United States.

Anticipation of the Restoration of Pure and Original Christianity

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Closing scenes of a noble life

Jefferson and his old friend John Adams passed away within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence—that immortal document which he wrote.

He had desired a private interment, but crowds of neighbors and friends waited at the grave to bid farewell and a last tribute of respect and affection.  The “nation’s newspapers and lecture halls overflowed for months with eulogies to honor America’s champion of liberty.  His countrymen of that day seemed to sense, as we do now, that the world is not likely ever to produce another Thomas Jefferson.”

One American declared eloquently, “The grief that such a man is dead may be well assuaged by the proud consolation that such a man has lived.”  (pp 316-318)

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Dinner Talk Topics

1. What comment by Jefferson indicated that he looked forward to a restoration of Christianity in its pure form?

2. Discuss the wisdom of the Monroe Doctrine

3. Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

List principles and actions by Jefferson which exemplified, supported, and perpetuated the Judeo-Christian culture of liberty.

 

Quotes by Thomas Jefferson

Historical Note about Jefferson’s contributions to the Great Seal of the United States

Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

Quotations

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

We can surely boast of having set the world a beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, without bloodshed. . . but the world is too far oppressed to profit by the example.

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. (Allison, p. 200)

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. “

“As to the calumny of atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind. . .that I entirely disregard it … It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies that I have determined to contradict none, for while I should be engaged with one they would publish twenty new ones. [My] thirty years of public  life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.”

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Thomas Jefferson: Champion of Liberty

jeffersontyrannygovDinner Topics for Thursday

key“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.~Thomas Jefferson

Book Reviews: Thomas Jefferson history

The Real Thomas Jefferson: The True Story of America’s Philosopher of Freedom, PART 1

Andrew M. Allison

Book Reviews: This is a large book, very easy and enjoyable reading, but also packed with valuable information. I will share with you some notes and quotes, a little at a time. But don’t miss reading the entire book with your family. It belongs in every American’s home library.

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson

C.A. Davidson

Thomas Jefferson rarely spoke in government sessions. He never made a political speech.(p.45) He preferred to remain in the background, but he was famous for his “power of the pen.” He said Congress talks too much, but they are all lawyers, what else do you expect? (pp. 112, 150)

During the deliberations of the House of Burgesses in colonial Virginia, Jefferson declared a day of fasting and prayer to try to resolve issues, but, as usual, the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, dissolved their assembly. (p.49)

Legislative work

Property ownership.  In October 1776 he initiated and passed bills to end the custom of “entail”, which means that the oldest son automatically inherits all the property, and other siblings receive nothing.

Voting. In those days people had to own property in order to qualify to vote. That custom was not eliminated, but Jefferson created an extremely low property qualification for voting. He believed that an agrarian society of many small landholders was the safest foundation for a republican government.

Education

He believed that the exercise of political power should be based on knowledge, not ignorance.

Quote: Experience has shown that even under the best forms [of government], those entrusted with power have in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and. . .the most effectual means of preventing this would be to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large. . . (p.82)

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 2

C.A. Davidson

Diplomacy in France

Architecture

The building in Richmond VA is patterned after a Roman temple in southern France. Jefferson did more than any other man to stimulate classical revival in America. He has been referred to as the “father of our national architecture.” P.129

Life in France 

He was critical of the vain and indolent lifestyle of many women in France, and cautioned Americans against European luxury and dissipation.

Maria Cosway was an English artist whom Jefferson befriended in Paris. Some modern writers have tried to call their relationship a “love affair”, but Jefferson was devoted to his deceased wife. Responsible historians  have demonstrated that “there is absolutely no evidence nor reason to believe that the relation became anything but platonic.” P.133

Although Jefferson did not appreciate the morals of Parisian society, he loved the people and,  greatly appreciating French culture, he enthusiastically took in all he could during his stay there. He was a good friend of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolutionary War. P.135

Constitution

Although Jefferson was not physically present for the writing of the United States Constitution, he was highly influential in the creation of the document. From France he sent Madison 200 volumes on various forms of confederate governments attempted throughout history.

He urged proper division of powers: legislative, executive, and judiciary. He disliked the eligibility of the president to be re-elected indefinitely, and the absence of a bill of rights. pp 139-141

Quote

We can surely boast of having set the world a beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, without bloodshed. . . but the world is too far oppressed to profit by the example. P. 143

Personal character

He never used tobacco, profanity or playing cards. He gave away much to the poor; deer ate out of his hand.

Several of his inventions are familiar in our era—the swivel chair, revolving table top, folding campstool, adjustable music stand. He appreciated comforts and conveniences. pp 178-186

Andrew M. Allison

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 3 The Election

C.A. Davidson

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. (Allison, p. 200)

The Alien and Sedition acts brought about the permanent dissolution of the Federalist Party.

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. “ p 203

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

 The Truth about Thomas Jefferson

Attacks by the newspapers—(really no different from media attacks of today. C.D.)

Jefferson did not even campaign for the presidency, but he was so much liked that people nominated him. There were many slanderous attacks against him.

The charge of atheism was the most pressed in this campaign: it was not only made in the public press; it was hurled from pulpits in various places. . .As the story goes, the time was approaching when Bibles were to be hidden in New England’s wells.  Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian, pp. 479, 481

Jefferson chose not to defend himself publicly against the many vulgar accusations. To James Monroe he said, “As to the calumny of atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind. . .that I entirely disregard it. . .It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies that I have determined to contradict none, for while I should be engaged with one they would publish twenty new ones. [My] thirty years of public  life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.” Pp 203

Those in public office who choose to hurl personal attacks at their opponents, instead of analyzing the policies and principles involved, should pay attention to these words by Jefferson. (C.D.)

On the day that Jefferson’s election to office was publicized, he visited John Adams.

He was very sensibly affected, and accosted me with these words: “Well, I understand that you are to beat me in this contest, and I will only say that I will be as faithful a subject as any you will have.”

“Mr. Adams,” said I, “this is no personal contest between you and me. Two systems of principles on the subject of government divide our fellow citizens into two parties. With one of these you concur, and I with the other. As we have been longer on the public stage than most of those now living, our names happen to be more generally known. One of these parties, therefore, has put your name at its head, the other mine. Were we both to die today, tomorrow tow other names would be in the place of ours, without any change in the motion of the machinery. Its motion is from its principle, not from you or myself.”

“I believe you are right,” said he, “that we are but passive instruments, and should not suffer this matter to affect our personal dispositions.” (Allison, pp 206-207)

Jefferson was the candidate of the party representing republican principles, and also the choice of the people. Aaron Burr was the choice of the Federalist Party. The vote was taken by states, not delegates. The states were equally divided between the Republican and Federalist parties.  Congress was deadlocked for an entire week and for more than thirty ballots. Finally the deadlock was broken on the 36th ballot by James A. Bayard of Delaware, who was the only delegate from his state, Delaware. (p.212)

This procedural problem was corrected by the 12th amendment to the Constitution.(p.207)

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Dinner Talk Topics

1. Compare the events of Jefferson’s election to the political scene in our day.

2. In Jefferson’s time the press (today called the media) was irresponsible in its reporting. Do you find similarities in media reporting today? Which media sources do you think are responsible and truthful?

Teaching Youth Moral Character Click Here

History: Western Heritage Fiction

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Western Heritage Author Louis L’Amour

keyEvery young adult, and adult as well, should read many of L’Amour’s books. There are at least 100 titles to choose from, and they are all great. He has my highest recommendation. While being easy and thrilling for the reluctant reader, his stories are still laced with sound principles of character education, moral absolutes, LAmour-westward-tidehistory, and traditional values. His work is a Hallmark of Western Civilization in America—certainly the best and most representative of American character, which our public education system today either ignores or despises. He teaches you how it was to live before law and order came to the American West, with powerful themes of good and evil. Start today to embark on this memorable literary adventure!

Here in these western lands men were fighting again the age-old struggle for freedom and for civilization, which is one that always must be fought for. The weak and those unwilling to make the struggle, soon resign their liberties for the protection of powerful men or paid armies; they begin by being protected, they end by being subjected. ~ Louis L’Amour

 

louislamourhondoheadder_01hondoheadder_02hondoheadder_03The man who would become Louis L’Amour grew up in the fading days of the American frontier. He was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore on March 22, 1908, the last of seven children in the family of Dr. Louis Charles LaMoore and Emily Dearborn LaMoore. His home, for the first fifteen years of his life, was Jamestown, North Dakota, a medium sized farming community situated in the valley where Pipestem Creek flows into the James River. Doctor LaMoore was a large animal veterinarian who came to Dakota Territory in 1882. As times changed he also sold farm machinery, bossed harvesting crews, and held several positions in city and state government.

Though the land around Jamestown was mostly given to farming, Louis and his older brothers often met cowboys as they came through on the Northern Pacific Railroad, traveling to market with stockcars full of cattle or returning to their ranches in the western part of the North Dakota or Montana. For awhile Dr. L.C. LaMoore was a state Livestock Inspector, a post that required him to certify the health of all the cattle that came through the Jamestown area.

When Louis was very young his grandfather, Abraham Truman Dearborn, came to live in a little house just in back of the LaMoore’s. He told Louis of the great battles in history and of his own experiences as a soldier in both the civil and Indian wars. Two of Louis’ uncles had worked on ranches for many years, one as a manager and the other as an itinerate cowboy. It was in the company of men such as these that Louis was first exposed to the history and adventure of the American Frontier.

Louis loved to collect books and finally he had both the space and the money to do so. His private library grew from some 3,000 to nearly 10,000 books and half again as many journals and periodicals.True to his athletic past he would spend an hour or two every day lifting weights, skipping rope and punching a heavy bag, first in a paved area of his small back yard in Hollywood, later, in the garage that he had converted into a gymnasium. Starting in 1966 he would take his family to spend the summer in Durango, CO, a place he had visited briefly with a mining buddy in the in the late 1920s. For over ten years they spent the month of August at the Strater Hotel, Louis dividing his time between writing in a corner room over the Diamond Belle Saloon and hiking in the La Plata or San Juan Mountains. In later years he participated in the Presidential Committee on Space, a Ute/Commanche peace treaty, and was on the National Board of the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book.

Read more about Louis L’Amour

 

George Washington Facts, Character Education

Dinner Topics for Monday

Glenn Beck: Being George Washington, Part 2

George WashingtonkeyWithout the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

Try this award-winning Epic Stories for Character Education in “Byte-size” Dinner Topics. Keep our precious Judeo-Christian traditions alive! It’s as easy as eating dinner.

Learn more here

 

Character Matters

Without the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Everything that we do in life—every battle that we fight and every mountain that we climb, no matter how many times that we may fall—may be for no other purpose than to prepare us for that moment when we are called upon to make a difference in this world.

In fact, every decision that we make, even those that seem small and perhaps irrelevant—perhaps especially those that seem small and irrelevant—may be moving us toward that moment when we can change a life for the better.

We may only get one chance to make a difference. But there is no doubt that such a moment in each of our lives is going to come.

The only question that really matters is, Will we be ready for it? ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.177

Compromise … But Not Your Principles

My point is that you should never surrender your core principles. Never—ever—never. But don’t try to get 100 percent of what you want from an ally, while giving up zero percent.

And don’t expect to get everything you want this instant; this is going to be a long fight. It won’t be decided in the next election. It may not be decided ever. The key is to continually push the needle in your direction and lay the foundation for the next group of people to push it a bit further. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.212

Judeo-Christian Religion and the Founders

When the Continental Congress learned of the British surrender to Washington at Yorktown, representatives walked together to a Philadelphia church and prayed. Nearly a thousand other people joined America’s leaders in worship around the city. In fact, Congress recommended that the entire nation might want to observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” to celebrate the victory.

How times have changed. Can you imagine if Congress declared a national day of prayer after a military victory these days? The ACLU would file a lawsuit before you could say “God bless you.” On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg even banned all clergy from the Ground Zero ceremonies. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.152

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?

I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service. ~Benjamin Franklin to Constitutional Convention (The motion did not pass, because the group did not have funds to pay the clergy.)

Leadership

The Rules of Civility let Washington display poise in the small moments and thus gravitas in the big ones. He applied these prescriptions to everyday life and they became second nature. The lesson for us is that leadership and vision don’t exist in a vacuum—or spring to life all at once. They must be practiced, and they can grow within you until they become a part of you. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.243

Morality

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, relation and morality are indispensable supports … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ~George Washington, farewell address

Slavery

No section on the Constitution is complete without revisiting the topic of slavery. It’s become accepted fact that the Founders believed that blacks were worth only “three-fifths” of a human. That, however, is simply wrong.

The “three-fifths” clause was really about the census and, consequently, state representation in Congress. Slave populations in the southern states were huge at that time. If slaves were counted on a one-for-one basis then southern states would have far larger populations, and therefore, far more federal representation than the northern ones. As a result, slavery would have been nearly impossible to abolish.

Some revisionists would have you believe that those slaves were not going to be counted at all and that the three-fifths clause actually gave the southern states more power than they otherwise would have. (This allegation is, I think, supposed to “prove” just how racist and hateful our Founders really were.) But think about that logically: would the South really have been that willing to give up so much federal representation right off the bat? Of course not—they would have fought to have slaves counted as full people along with everyone else. The three-fifths compromise was just that, a compromise. It appeased the South, got the Constitution ratified, and paved the way for slavery to eventually end. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.210

Dinner Talk

1. Why is it important, even vital, that a leader be accountable to a Being (Judeo-Christian) higher than himself?

2. Select a politician in today’s society who has made corrupt choices. Compare him or her to the standard of George Washington’s character, and discuss how the choices of the corrupt politician are affecting our nation.

3. Why is the study of history important?

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.


 

George Washington Character, Book Review

Dinner Topics for Monday

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

keyBeing George Washington by Glenn Beck is an insightful treatment of the life and service of this magnificent Founding Father. But also Beck gives a “character education” approach. He suggests how we can all use George Washington as a standard for our own good character development, and to prepare ourselves to make a difference. Truly inspirational. Following are highlights, but if you read the entire book with your family, you will treat them to an empowering character education experience.~C. A. Davidson

georgew_beingPart 1

Cultivating Character

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. ~George Washington, first inaugural address

The Great Author, Revealed

Revisionist historians have tried to diminish Washington’s faith in God, but it is clearly evident in his writings. Washington learned very much from his father, who (as the legend goes) once taught young George a lesson using cabbage seeds. He arranged them in such a way that they spelled “George.” When they began to grow, he showed them to his son and explained to him that they just grew that way by happenstance. When George correctly rejected that premise, suspecting it was his Dad who arranged them, he told George to look around at how perfectly everything else was placed. The trees. The grass. The water. The hills. The sky.

Was it mere coincidence, or was it part of a grand plan?

Washington immediately knew the answer. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.41

The Great Protector

A thousand enemy soldiers were captured, killed, or wounded in battle. But the toll on the rebels’ side was not nearly as dramatic. Washington lost two soldiers, and five others were injured. That’s it. It’s no wonder he believed so fervently in the Invisible Hand.

The list goes on and on, and while many say all of it was simply coincidence or luck, Washington himself did not believe that, writing to his brother: “I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence, that protected me beyond all human expectation; I had 4 Bullets through my Coat and two horses shot under me, and yet escaped unhurt.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.42

Washington believed, for very good reason, that God—the Invisible Hand, as he often called Him—oversaw their mission, and that uncovering Arnold’s plot was nothing less than providential. In a message to “the treason has been timely discovered to prevent the fatal misfortune. The providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of divine protection.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.108

In sheer desperation, Cornwallis attempted to lead an evacuation across the York River in whatever small boats he could muster. Apparently, God did not intend to let them go so easily, as a violent storm appeared out of nowhere. In a rush of ferocious wind and rain, the small British boats were swept downstream.

About the same time as the white flag was being raised in Yorktown, the proud British fleet finally sailed out of the New York harbor, the repairs to their ships from damage inflicted in the Chesapeake having taken almost two weeks longer than expected.

The fleet arrived at Yorktown a week too late. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.140

The power and goodness of the Almighty were strongly manifested in the events of our late glorius revolution; and his kind interposition in our behalf has been no less visible in the establishment of our present equal government. In war he directed the sword; and in peace he has ruled in our councils. My agency in both has been guided by the best intentions, and a sense of the duty which I owe my country. ~George Washington to the Hebrew congregations

Character Education

I know that getting a formal education in political science or economics is wonderful, but I can also confidently tell you that a formal education can also mean polically motivated teachers and a lot of closed-minded thinking. After all, how many professors do you know that will teach kids Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, or Thomas Sowell: nom many. Sometimes educating yourself is not only a necessity but a blessing. It allows you to explore ideas in a way professors like to inhibit with their preconceived ideological notions. As the columnist Heather MacDonald recently pointed out, in the past academic year at Bowdoin College, “a student interested in American history courses could have taken ‘Black Women in Atlantic New Orleans,’ ‘Women in American History, 1600-1900,’ or ‘Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl: Gender and the Suburbs,’ but if he wanted a course in American political history, the colonial and revolutionary periods, or the Civil War, he would have been out of luck.”

America allowed the Founders to test ideas that were considered radical elsewhere. They were allowed to think freely without worry of repercussion. Though highly educated in classical texts, most of the Founders were not weighed down by conventional thinking or pseudoscience and gender studies. That was a blessing.

Washington remained self-conscious about his lace of a formal education his entire life. Ironically, it was this fact that drove his intellectual curiosity and ensured that he would always be overly prepared for any debate. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.203

Rules of Civility

Some of the Rules of Civility that Washington copied as a young boy.

  • “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
  • “Let your conversation be without malice or envy. And in all causes of passion admit reason to govern.”
  • “When you speak of God and his attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence.”
  • “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.245

 

Next, part 2

YouTube Music for the Soul: Classic Handel

Dinner Topics for Friday

View and Listen to Handel’s Messiah

Book Review

George Friedrich Handel loved to play the harpsichord, but his father didn’t approve, so Handel practiced in secret.

Handel’s music was well-known to composers including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

keyTo Beethoven he was “the master of us all… the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb”.[61] Beethoven emphasized above all the simplicity and popular appeal of Handel’s music when he said, “Go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means”.

American Culture Dinner Talk Journal Article: Handel and the Gift of Messiah

Book Review:

Great Quotes

“I wish to breathe my last word on Good Friday, in hopes of meeting mine good God and sweet Lord and Savior on the day of His resurrection.”
“I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself sitting upon His throne.”
~George Frederic Handel to his manservant Peter LeBlonde


Hallelujah!

A novel by J. Scott Featherstone
The Story of the coming forth of Handel’s Messiah

This is the remarkable story of one of the greatest events in musical history, the creation of George Frederic Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.  Composed in just twenty-four days, Handel’s “Grand Oratorio which rendered him immortal” was birthed in the darkest and most desperate hours of his life. His health was failing. Critics ridiculed him. Creditors hounded him. Enemies persecuted him. Pride had nearly destroyed him. Yet, out of Handel’s night emerged the dawn of Messiah.

Anyone who has thrilled at hearing the Hallelujah Chorus will feel “profound attachment” to Handel’s story of hope and redemption as timeless and poignant as the music itself.

From far away, as if wending its way toward him in the night breeze, something began to develop in Handel’s mind. It was so faint and distant that he could not recognize it but only anticipate its arrival. He waited in the stillness for the shape to take the form of sound. He imagined he could see the sound coming toward him, a veiled line of blue streaming toward him through an ocean of black.

Then softly, like a voice from a distant source it came to him-a single violin of transcendent purity, echoing across this mind like music ringing down the valleys of Halle in the cool of the night. So distinct and clear was the melody that he could see the notes on paper as he heard them.

~From Hallelujah!

Gethsemane2This book is written as a type of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is, it tells of people who are thrown into debtor’s prison. Handel, having been in serious debt himself, had compassion for these people.  When he created The Messiah, he would not perform it for money. He dedicated it to the Children’s Foundling Hospital in Halle, Germany, his home town. For years it was performed by the children’s choir there. Every year, when it was performed, Handel would use donations to liberate people from debtor’s prison.  What a fitting event to be connected to the performance of the glorious Messiah! For over a hundred years after Handel’s death the pages of music for the great oratorio languished in oblivion. Then, on a cold January day in 1896, Dr. Davan Whetton, seeking funds for The Foundling Hospital of which he was principal and organist, rediscovered Handel’s Messiah in a tiny, unknown room behind the pulpit.  Author Featherstone portrays the moving story of Handel’s Messiah in a very powerful way. The book is now out of print; you may find a used one online. It is a worthwhile, unforgettable read.

Life of George Handel

By Spencer J. Condie

George Frideric Handel, born February 23, 1685

George Frideric Handel seemed to have been born a musician. As a young lad in Germany, he became proficient on both the violin and the organ. After composing his first opera in Germany, he moved to Italy, the operatic center of the world, to try his hand at musical composition in the Italian style. There he achieved some success in composing operas and chamber music.

In 1711, at age 26, Handel decided to move to England, where his operas and oratorios initially gained acceptance. By the late 1730s, however, British audiences had become less enthusiastic about operas sung in German or Italian; instead, they favored comedic performances such as The Beggar’s Opera. Thus, for several years Handel struggled to keep the wolves—his creditors—away from the door.

In 1737, after pushing himself to his physical limits by composing four operas within 12 months, the 52-year-old composer suffered a stroke, leaving his right arm temporarily paralyzed. A doctor told Handel’s faithful secretary: “We may save the man—but the musician is lost forever. It seems to me that his brain has been permanently injured.”1

The composer defied the diagnosis. Over time his body responded to treatment in the thermal springs at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Germany), and he recovered his physical strength. After testing his ability to play the organ at a nearby cathedral, he jubilantly proclaimed, “I have come back from Hades.”2

When he returned to London and resumed composing operas, his work was not well received, and creditors began to hound him again. In the depths of despondency, he began to wonder, “Why did God permit my resurrection, only to allow my fellow-men to bury me again?”3In April 1741 Handel held what he assumed would be a farewell concert. His creativity was spent. A biographer wrote: “There was nothing to begin or to finish. Handel was faced with emptiness.”4

Late one August afternoon that same year, Handel returned from a long and tiring walk to find that a poet and previous collaborator, Charles Jennens, had left him a manuscript. This libretto quoted liberally from the scriptures, particularly the words of Isaiah, foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ and describing His ministry, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. The work was to be an oratorio. Given his previous failures, Handel was apprehensive as he began to read through the text.

“Comfort Ye,” the first words of the manuscript, seemed to leap from the page. They dissipated dark clouds that had been pressing upon Handel for so long. His depression waned and his emotions warmed from interest to excitement as he continued to read of angelic proclamations of the Savior’s birth and of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah, who would come to earth to be born as other mortal infants. A familiar melody Handel had composed earlier flooded into his mind as he read “For unto Us a Child Is Born.” The notes distilled upon his mind faster than he could put pencil to paper as he captured the image of the loving Good Shepherd in the aria titled “He Shall Feed His Flock.” Then came the overpowering exultation reflected in the “Hallelujah Chorus,” followed by the soft, supernal testimony of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” The work came to its majestic conclusion with “Worthy Is the Lamb.”

musicnotesAfter all the music he had composed throughout his lifetime, Handel would eventually be known worldwide for this singular work, Messiah, largely composed in just three weeks during the late summer of 1741. Upon completing his composition, he humbly acknowledged, “God has visited me.”5Those who feel the touch of the Holy Spirit as they experience the overpowering testimony of Handel’s Messiah would agree.

To the sponsors of the first performance of the oratorio, Handel stipulated that profits from this and all future performances of Messiah “be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick. I have myself been a very sick man, and am now cured,” he said. “I was a prisoner, and have been set free.”6

Following the first London performance of Messiah, a patron congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.”

“My lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”7

He had finally been relieved of his restless quest for fame, fortune, and public praise—but only after composing his crowning work for an audience that included those not of this earth. The things that mattered most were no longer at the mercy of the things that mattered least. Handel, the restless composer, was now at rest.

Lessons from Handel’s Life

HaendelWhat lessons may we learn from the life of George Frideric Handel and the composition of a piece of music that has become a spiritual landmark?

  1. We must develop confidence in our abilities and learn to live with criticism of our work. In the words of poet Rudyard Kipling: “Trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”8
  2. Quantity is no substitute for quality and variety. Handel’s earlier operas have largely been forgotten. Their predictable, formulaic templates simply failed to inspire; each opera sounded much like the others he had composed.
  3. When we act on inspiration, we are doing the work of heaven. We cannot force the Spirit, but when inspiration and revelation come, we must listen and act upon the promptings. The Lord has promised that “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” (D&C 33:16).
  4. We must acknowledge our source of inspiration and revelation. We are only instruments in the work we do that blesses others. We must realize, as Handel did when he deflected the honor given upon his achievement, that “God has visited [us].”
  5. We must never underestimate the power of the word. There is a power in the word of God that far surpasses the narratives of this world’s most gifted writers (see Alma 31:5).
  6. Real spiritual meaning in a work is conveyed by the witness of the Holy Ghost. “When [an individual speaks or sings] by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1).
  7. Power is in God and His works, not in our words. Speaking of the professors of religion of the day, the Savior told Joseph Smith, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, … having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19). Handel had composed other oratorios and operas with biblical texts, but the form of his music did not match the power of the scriptures—Isaiah’s powerful prophecies of the Savior’s birth and ministry or the fulfillment of those prophecies as found in Revelation and the Gospels of Luke and John. In Handel’s Messiah, we find both the form of godliness and the power thereof. In Messiah, lips and hearts are drawn nearer to heaven.

Each of us, like George Frideric Handel, is engaged in a creative spiritual enterprise in this life. Both the physical fostering of mortal life and the righteous living of our days on earth are spiritual achievements. I pray that we may be sensitive to inspiration from on high, that we may be inspired in such a way that the fruits of our labors are inspiring to others. As we seek to rescue others, may we not be bound by time-tested templates and self-imposed perceptions that restrict our spiritual creativity and lock out revelation.

In her epic poem, Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed the eloquent thought:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. 9

May each of us unlatch our shoes and cram our labors with the essence of heaven, and may none of us be found plucking blackberries when a much grander, loftier work needs to be done.

And at the end of our divinely ordained days, may we be able to acknowledge, with Handel, that God has visited us in our labors.

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