The Book Fallen Founder by Nancy Isenberg Deserves Greater Attention - This book is a neutral, some might say sympathic, treatment of Aaron Burr.
Every American who paid minimal attention during his high school American history class has heard that Aaron Burr was the worst founding era American leader:
1) after all didn’t Burr illegally shot and kill Hamilton?
2) after all didn’t Burr organize a treasonous conspiracy to cause land west of the Mississippi to leave the US?
3) after all didn’t Burr when he was supposed to be a Vice Presidential candidate, but who ended up in an electoral tie vote with his Presidential running mate, Thomas Jefferson, cause the election to go to the House of Representative where the proper outcome was held up for many weeks?
Of course the answer to each of these is “no he didn’t”, but modern text books leave the reader believing the answers to all is “yes”. But more on each of these later.
Aaron Burr was far from perfect. Although he was Jonathan Edward’s grandson, Burr’s attachment to religious was quiet loose. He married one of the most liberated woman of his time, after he had co-habituated with her in an adulterous affair while her husband was off on military campaign. When the husband later died on disease, Burr married the widow. Later in his life after his wife’s passing, Burr went to live with Jeremy Bentham, the ultra liberal English reformer. Again while in England he was womanizing .
Aaron Burr was a graduate of Princeton. He entered the Revolutionary Army at 18, he fought in the battle for Quebec, and rose to the rank of Lt. Col. leading a force that policed Westchester County NY which was subject to constant raids by British troops up from NYC looking for provisions.
After the War he looked into becoming a minister, but decided on being a lawyer. He was a quick study and he covered the material in one year which most “lawyers in training” took three years to absorb. He went on to became a very capable lawyer practicing in New York City where Alexander Hamilton was also a leading lawyer.
Politically Burr was opposed to the elitist ideas supported by the Hamilton Federalists, so Burr became a supporter of the more liberal Democratic Republican Party promoted by Jefferson. Burr became a leader of New York’s Democratic Republicans and got the New York legislature to elect him US Senator to replace Hamilton’s father- in- law who had hoped to continue as US senator. This turning out of Sen Philip Schuyler by Burr was another factor that built Hamilton’s dislike for Burr.
When Jefferson ran for president in 1800 he needed support from Democratic Republicans in the North East. He settled on Aaron Burr of New York to give his ticket balance. The electoral college at this time was not designed for political parties or party tickets the way it does today. Each elector got 2 votes and cast their votes for the two candidates they felt were most qualified for President and Vice President. This system yielded a 87 to 87 tie for Jefferson and Burr. The House of Representatives then had the duty to pick the President. The losing Federalists preferred Burr to Jefferson so they tried to get Burr to break from the Jefferson/Burr ticket and seek a deal under which Burr would be selected President. Burr held firm through these temptations and insisted his proper place was as VP. Finally the Federalists realized Burr was not going to break, and so Jefferson was elected President, Burr VP.
In the eighteenth century there were two practices that helped countries win wars. One was to allow private parties to privateer on water; the other was filibustering on land. Privateers were privately owned armed ships that would try to capture the enemy’s commercial ships with the privateers getting the financial gain from the captured cargo and vessel. Filibusters involved the creation of a private army to invade and blunder the enemy’s territory with the hope of possibly obtaining enemy land if the eventual peace treaty relocated the border.
In the period following his term as VP Burr decided to use his “hands on” military leadership skills to organize the backbone of a force that could grow into a full blown filibuster force to invade Texas should hostilities breakout between the French Empire, which controlled Spanish territory, and the US. Burr acquired a piece of land in NW Louisiana which he intended to use to strike into Texas should hostilities break out. Of course these hospitalities did not materialize and Barr’s expensive preparations were for naught.
Before closing, some specifics about the points mentioned in the first paragraph .
Regarding the Burr/Hamilton duel the following points need to be made. Hamilton had said in front of a large group that Burr was despicable. Vice President Burr wrote him suggesting he either prove it or write a letter of apology. Hamilton tried to say the word despicable had a historic meaning that was not so damming and that Burr should accept that “ole English” definition as Hamilton meaning. Burr remarked that the only valid usage was the meaning in common use in NY today. Hamilton did nothing else, so Burr felt he had to challenge Hamilton. The seconds agreed on a New Jersey site because New York had a law against duels, New Jersey did not. At the duel Hamilton turned and fired quickly. Burr a military leader experienced in close encounters using small arms aimed accurately but low. He hit Hamilton’s hip but the pistol balls were large and Burr’s shot went through the hip and lodged in Hamilton’s lower torso. Hamilton died about a day later. Burr had tried to reconcile with Hamilton, but Hamilton, a the veteran of nearly three dozen duels, was dismissive of Burr who had had only a couple of earlier encounters. Hamilton had evidently thought that service as Washington’s aide was more efficacious than Burr’s actual shooting encounters with raiders in Westchester County.
Regarding the electoral tie, neither Jefferson or Burr had the ability to change the vote. The result was foreordained, matters would go to the House of Representatives. Burr behaved most honorably by steadfastly insisting that he was Jefferson’s VP and he would not participate in any plan that deprived Jefferson of the Presidency.
Finally regarding the filibuster plan which Federal prosecutors tried to turn into a traitorous conspiracy. There were actually proceedings first in the Mississippi Territory at which Burr was not actually tried, and later there were two actual trials in Richmond VA. In the Mississippi proceeding the judge decided there was inadequate evidence to proceed to trial. In the first Richmond trial Burr was tried on a general charge of treason based mostly upon a secret - coded communication from Burr to the corrupt US General Wilkinson in charge of New Orleans. This document was shown to be either a total forgery or to have been greatly altered by the General to the point of being nonsensical. Burr and his team impeached this document and the General so well that Burr was acquitted. The second treason trial was focused exclusively on a gathering of a few dozen “Burr filibuster” military leaders that gathered at Blennerhassett Island in the Ohio River close to the Ohio bank. These supporters were said to have engaged in treasonous talk and since Burr was their putative leader, though physically absent from the Island throughout, was personally responsible for this talk. Again Burr and his team cut this prosecution tactic to shreds, and he was acquitted a second time.
These treason trials were overseen by Chief Justice John Marshall who realized that there was heavy pressure from Jefferson to disgrace Burr because he had slain the first Secy. of Treasury (Hamilton) and because Jefferson wanted to build the future Democratic Republican Party around Virginia leadership (e g Monroe, Madison, etc.). However, by then Marshall and his Virginia cousin Jefferson were at odds over the proper role of the Federal Courts. Marshall was at pains to see that the prosecution did not railroad Burr. (Another possible reason Marshall was at pains to give Burr a fair trial was as payback for the very fair trial VP Burr had organized for Justice Chase who had been impeached in 1804 because of injudicious words and conduct, but where he had not really committed an impeach-able offence. It was generally felt that because Burr had insisted on good order and proper attention by the Senators during the trial, Chase was acquitted by the Senate.)
At the conclusion of all this, Burr was left with a huge debt, the possible future prosecution by the State of Ohio for organizing a sedition, and of possibly defending himself against the charge of murder under a New Jersey law passed after the Hamilton duel. Burr had a wealthy son-in- law in South Carolina and with his help he assuaged his creditors until he got going again as a lawyer in NYC and could pay off his debts in full. Ohio decided not to proceed with the sedition charge, and New Jersey decided not to violate “ex post facto” rules by attempting to prosecute an earlier event using a later law.
This book is secondarily interesting because it gives insight into 1) Hamilton’s arrogant and elitist attitudes, and 2) Jefferson’s ingratitude toward a person who had stood by him during his difficult bid for the Presidency in 1800. .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/12/14 )
Diana West’s Book American Betrayal is a Must Read for Every American
- This book shines a light on the FDR/Truman administrations from 1933 when the US established diplomatic relations with Stalin’s USSR to 1947 when the Cold War broke out in earnest.
In the book Ms West delves into a series of unreported and under-reported events cover-ups and processes that occurred over the 15 years in question :
First, the atrocious behavior of the USSR towards its own people that had to be covered up so FDR could recognize the Soviets without unleashing a huge reaction from morally sensitive Americans.
Second, the lend-lease program in the late 1939, 40, 41, and 42 that supplied huge amount of material to the Soviets (and to a lesser degree England ). This lend-lease program was given such priority that American military units were deprive of material they needed in places like Corregidor.
Third, the lend-lease program was corrupted to include the transfer of secret A-bomb related technical papers and materials in the 1943 - ‘44 time period delivered via an across the “north pole” airplane link.
Fourth, the activity of Soviet agents Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White together with their fellow travelers such as Harry Hopkins, principal adviser to FDR, who were intercepting documents, selectively feeding information, and shaping the information flows to the White House such that FDR was often times doing Stalin’s bidding without realizing he had been duped.
Fifth, the neutralizing of Churchill’s influence with FDR over time such that FDR came to accept the need for a cross channel invasion, rather than continuing north from Italy and Greece into Hungry, Austria, Serbia, and Romana, and Germany in 1943, this decision allowed the Soviets to gain a much larger occupation zone in central Europe .
Sixth, the insistence that Germany’s surrender be “unconditional” thus leaving a group of Germany leaders, who were ready to dump Hitler, no avenue to work out acceptable peace terms to end hostilities in 1943. Germany Intelligence Chief Adm Canaris repeatedly contacted American diplomats in neutral countries pleading for back channel discussions on the terms of surrender but American diplomats who forwarded German requests were either not responded to by Washington or told to shut up unless they wanted to be assigned to Tibet. The unconditional surrender requirement assured the Soviets the Germans would fight to the end and that would give the Soviet more time to occupy more territory in Central European.
Seventh, the forced repatriation of several tens of thousands of Soviet men who had been held by the Germans in areas liberated by the American, French and British and who wanted to stay in Western Europe. . These Soviet men pleaded not to be sent back saying they would be killed or put in slave camps for requesting asylum. All to no avail.
Eighth, the failure of the Soviets to return British and American soldiers they liberated. These men numbered about 20,000 and they were placed in Soviet slave camps. Rumor had it that they were told they had to maintain the many lend-lease trucks, aircraft, and ships the Soviets had been given earlier.
Ninth, the cover up of the mass graves of the 10,000 Polish officers killed in the Katyn Forest. This grave site was discovered in 1943 by a wandering Pole who managed to get reports to America and Britain. The Soviets blamed the Germans once it came out. . However, The international Red Cross went in to investigate. They confirm the truthfulness of the original report and said the killings had to have occurred recently and during the time of Soviet occupation. FDR’s put an embargo on the release or publication of this humanitarian report in the US. He didn’t want Americans to have grounds to criticize the Soviets.
The nine items shown above are just a part of the alarming material Ms West has in her book . It should not be read by patriots with weak stomachs.
The author said she wrote the book to show when the tradition of lying and misleading the people got started in the US government and of course it has had a strong toehold ever since.
She also points out that Americans are being misled about the true nature of Islam. Our leaders tell us most Muslims are peace loving, but Ms West points out that jihad is commanded by the later suras in the Koran and the later suras also abrogate and thus override the earlier “peace loving” suras. This concept of abrogation found in the Koran explains why moderate Muslims never take on the extremists elements . After all a moderate Muslims , who truly criticizes an extremists, could be rightfully killed for his moderation under correct Koranic interpretation...............
(prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/21/2014)
Strange Bedfellows Emerge in the Movement to Address Income Inequality - In the last few years conservatives and liberals have spoken out in various ways on the income inequality problem
Pope Francis, Michael Novak, Ralph Nadar, G K Chesterton, Patrick Buchanan, and Barach Obama have all spoken out offering solutions to this problem. The solutions vary, but they all point to government action to get help to low income families. Now a few words about each person’s approach to the problem:
Pope Francis has advocated that wealth be taken from the rich and given to the poor. He qualifies this suggestion by saying it should be done in a legal and legitimate way.
Michael Novak distinguishes between the aged poor and the working age poor. Novak favors wealth transfer programs to aid the aged, but would look to a different approach for helping the working aged poor.
Pat Buchanan would offer tariffs as a way to provided work opportunities for the working aged poor. Buchanan, agreeing with the 18th century economist Ricardo, feels that a country that has constant trade imbalance with its trading partners is both improvising itself as it pays for the imported goods and depriving its workers of the jobs that might have existed if the goods were made at home.
G K Chesterton was a supporter of “distributism” which is an economic system that favors small firms and disadvantages large firms. His idea was that firms of 25 or 100 employees have a more human environment where the bosses and workers know each other personally and relate to each other as individuals. If distributism were vigorously applied today the large entities currently created and maintained by Wall Street’s master minds would disadvantaged .
Ralph Nadar, who recently published an article on this subject in The American Conservative magazine (Vol 13, No. 3, May - June 2014), addressed this issue by giving a wide review of the many ideas America has spawned for helping the working aged poor to capture a better life and higher wages. Nadar recommends unions as a means for a working aged person of limited education to earn a good middle class income.
Barach Obama is more straight forward in his approach which is simply to raise the minimum wage to $10 or $11 per hour. Obama advocates this even in the face of economic analysis that says 500,000 low income workers will immediately lose their jobs if the minimum wage is raised.
FACTORS THAT OPERATE AGAINST PROGRESS IN THIS AREA
Improvements in this area face some formidable hurdles in the regulatory sector, the financial sector, etc.
A few of these hurdles need to be mentioned:
Regulatory agencies focus disproportionately on small organizations in a particular industry. They do this because successful enforcement actions are the ultimate measure of a regulatory agency’s effectiveness, and a successful regulatory actions is far more easy to achieve if a smallish entity is targeted rather than a large entity. Why is this true? The fact is small organizations do not have either the money for well connected lawyers or the money to gain friends in the political realm. Of course, in any highly centralized, large country with a complex legal structure (like the US) long term survival of any regulated entity depends on adequate access to both legal talent and political leaders.
Wall Street’s financial managers, sometimes called financial engineers, make their money by financing business strategies that reallocate income or wealth from workers to owners and less frequently from customers to owners. They do this in a variety of ways: 1) move jobs to low wage jurisdictions, 2) install labor saving robots, 3) induce regulators to allow monopoly or oligopoly dominated markets to exist that allow companies to earn excess profit, etc.
Economic, psychological and sociological factors are not generally understood by the general public or their leaders. The human need for sustenance is, of course, an immediate need, but human need for steady employment and a “day in and day out” environment that is of manageable size and with a moderate tempo of change is extremely important for the intermediate and longer term mental health of most human beings. When government extends unemployment benefits or gives food stamp vouchers an immediate need is met. However, when they allow regulators to destroy small firms or allow financial managers to move “low skill, labor intensive” jobs to Vietnam or approve a consolation of business operations that allow massive automation of every operations or requires massive relocation of workers to other cities, they exacerbate the long term disquiet in humans. Of course, some educated, intelligent, young people like a lot of change, it stimulates them. However, many, indeed most, Americas are not so young and not so intelligent. This majority would like, indeed requires, a more normal, slow paced existence
These “negative factors” need to be addressed, but there is no consensus on how to proceed.
A POSSIBLE WAY OUT
A little background is needed here:
Prof Luke Timothy Johnson has a 30 minute lecture in his courses for the Teaching Company entitled Christianity: Tensions and Possibilities. In this lecture Prof Johnson points out that Christianity has gone through several historic phases: Initially it was a persecuted faith, then it became the dominate faith and political force in Europe, then it coexisted with ascendant monarchies, then it faded into secondary status as enlightenment thinkers denied the need for faith, today it is once again being persecuted by government. Deeply held religious beliefs are no longer deferred to or given respect by elected and appointed leaders in the democracies that currently govern the predominately Christian areas of Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Those that doubt this should think of the Obamacare regulations that require Catholic organization to provide abortifacients to employees.
Prof Luke Johnson goes on to point out that various Christian organizations have responded to this intrusion against traditional belief and practice in various ways:
Some do not accept these intrusions and they fight back vocally and vigorously urging their adherents to get involved in political processes ; an examples here would be Southern Baptists and fundamentalist who populate the Tea Party.
Some do not accept these intrusions but they don’t fight back vigorously or encourage their adherents to get into the political processes; and example here would be the Orthodox and some Roman Catholics (particularly old fashion, traditionalists Catholics).
Some actually accept these political intrusions and admire the changes that these political intrusions would have secretly on the Christian faith, but they don’t get actively involved politically for fear of offending long time members of the religion; an example here would be main line Protestant Churches and some post Vatican II Catholics .
Some supposedly Christian groups not only embrace these intrusions but actually become active politically in support of these governmental intrusions hoping to speed along the changes envisioned ; an example here might be Unitarians .
The Catholic Church is currently debating what level of mutual acceptance it can negotiate with modernity. Pope Benedict seemed inclined toward a hard line in this debate, Pope Frances seems more accommodating. However, the both Benedict and Francis have some fixed Magisterial teachings that will be hard to finesse Catholic teaching. Such things as legalized abortion, homosexual marriage, unjust war making, invasion of privacy, etc. are unlikely to be changed. The indications are not good that mutual acceptance can be achieved. So it is likely that in time modernity will be so inconsiderate of longstanding Christian values that all Catholics will join the Orthodox as at least passive resistors to modernity.
All this background is necessary to understand the impact that could occur if the Catholic Church were to give up passive disapproval of government policy and instead join the smaller fundamentalist Churches that currently actively oppose governmental intrusion. This combination might produce a new huge American Christian Democratic Party that could command a solid 40% of the electorate. This party could support a new platform with planks taken from both the two incumbents parties. From the Republicans the Christian Democrats might take a Pro-life , pro-family, pro-religion in the public square agenda, from the democrats they might adopt pro-immigration, pro-union and tighter regulation of Wall Street. On its own it might develop planks to support protective tariffs and to actively encourage the emergence of more small companies while reigning in government support programs for poor families as the other policies began providing more employment for low skill men. . Additionally, it could bring religion back into the public square and public schools . Since these issues cut across the current major political parties, the Christian Democrats would find themselves working with Democrats one day and Republicans the next, but most important they would begin to displace both Democrats and Republicans in elected office.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CATHOLIC SITUATION
But of course, how does one get the Catholic Church to risk its reputation for moderation (and perhaps its tax exempt status) to mobilized the faithful to take up its political responsibilities in a focused way. Catholic are the 700 lbs. gorilla of the Christian community with its 80 million members nation-wide. If a group of 80 million Catholic with unified leadership were added to the existing group of 30 million highly motivated fundamentalists with fragmented leadership, there would be a formidable, even unstoppable political force.
However, the Catholic Church in the US is suffering a great decline in the number of priests and nuns. In 1965 the US had 58,600 ordained priests and 180,000 professed nuns. By 2013 these numbers had declined to 39,600 priest and 51,200 nuns. The Church is rightfully worried as the great reforms of Vatican II have failed to bring renewal and growth. Understandably Church leaders are focused inward, trying to shape a “reform of the (Vatican II) reform” that holds some hope of reversing these worrisome trends.
Perhaps the old adage “a good offense is the best defense” might be adapted by the Church. Perhaps the America Church could stimulate enthusiasm among the faithful by challenging the immorality of the broader culture as well as the particular immoralities being pushed by the federal government. Consider the impact on the faithful as they educate themselves on these issues, consider the impact on motivated Christians of other faiths as they see the Church come alive, and consider the impact on vocations as young Catholics see a unified Church leadership leading the faithful forward against immorality.
This essay has two seemingly desperate threads: one is about suggestions from famous thinkers on ways to deal with income inequality while retaining the basic political and economic structures of the country, second there is discussion of the possible mobilization of Catholics to provide push needed to actually accomplish the first goal.
The reasons the members of the Catholic Church in America are so important in accomplishing this end is the Church’s size, its unified leadership, and the already indicated preference of Pope Francis that income inequality be addressed. ............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 5/17/2014)
The Decline in Moral Behavior of Americans -
In the course the last fifty or sixty years there has been a steady decline
in people's general concern for and attention to their moral behavior toward
their fellow man. Christ's great commandment "to love others as you love
yourself" ¯ is not being followed by the bulk of society.
This phenomena can be studied by looking at examples of violations or it can
be studied by considering causes and cures. This essay hopes to touch a little
on both these approaches.
EXAMPLES OF PARTICULARLY BAD BEHAVIOR
Six examples of violations that have lately appeared in the news follow:
1) The "knockout game"¯ is popular. This is a game where youth gangs attack
unsuspecting adults attempting to knock their victim completely unconscious,
2) The "no doc, sub-prime, variable rate"¯ mortgage scam where sales people
sell home mortgages to nearly illiterate low income people knowing full well
that they will not be able to stay in their homes once the teaser low interest
rate reverts to a normal level.
3) The President of the United States allows his bureaucrats to issue
instructions to Catholic charities requiring them to pay for birth control and
abortifacients knowing full well that such pills are condemned by Catholic moral
principles and that following such government mandates for Catholic nuns would
be gravely sinful.
4) The "patent troll"¯ is a company (or individual) that buys up bankrupt
companies that own a few patents. Then The "troll"¯ sues a profitable company
that works with related technology saying there is a "patent infringement"¯. They
do this hoping to negotiate a settlement for say $250,000 from the target
company that obviously wants to avoid a $2 million legal tab defending their own
5) The computer nerds who take their skills to the internet, brake into
retail stores web sites to steal credit card numbers, and sell the info to
other criminals who try to charge items which the original victim (or the card
issuer) must pay for.
6) Some government regulators require their regulated companies to
investigate the personal lives of their employees and if negative facts are
found the companies are then required to post this negative info to the internet
for the world to read. Both invasion of personal privacy and public disclosure
of such information are serious violations of Judeo-Christian moral codes.
CAUSES AND POSSIBLE CURES
Turning to causes and cures:
1) One important cause is the high rate of divorce. The strengthening of the
American family would do a lot to instill a greater sense of love and concern
for others. What a child learns is likely to determine what type of adult he
will become. A home that focuses on the children will engage in moral education
and will set a good example for the children. If a person is loved and made to
feel important in his youth he will likely love and be helpful towards others
he encounters in life. Divorce destroys not only the marriage but pushes the
children from their central place in the family; a child of divorce is
oftentimes treated with insensitivity, ignored, or given a secondary status. In
adulthood a child of divorce is likely to treat others with insensitively. It
is hard to totally curb the divorce rate. However, if no divorce could become
final until the youngest child turns 18. This would at least force both parents
to focus more on their children rather running out to form new relationships,
new marriages, and new families.
2) A second important cause is the decline in the general infusion of
Judeo-Christian moral principles in public places, such as public schools. This
decline has been triggered by the increased number of atheists and adherents to
other non Judeo-Christian religions in the US. For example, we now have Muslims
in the US who proclaim in their holy book, the Koran, that lying to a
non-Muslims is religiously approved if it supports the long term goals of Islam.
This group demands religious neutrality until they are in the majority in a
school district then they want Muslim law and practice taught and tolerated.
Additionally, we now have homosexuals who want their relationships to be honored
with the term "married"¯ with no regard for the multi millennium meaning of the
If the Supreme Court could be induced to drop its opposition to
Judeo-Christian based moral instruction in schools, a new batch of instruction
materials could be created that would give students a stronger moral foundation
and perspective in the material they use in English, Civics, History, and
Social Studies without explicitly embracing any specific creed. Today
traditional moral perspectives are mostly absent from the materials being used.
3) Another important cause is the systematic de-personalization of the other.
This started with the steel and glass enclosed auto that allowed people to
traverse their city with no sense of the activities, the sounds and the smells
of those outside. The massive use of television has destroyed the ability to
engage in long, satisfying conversations or even group entertainment, such as
charade . The telephone and later e-mail turned the other into a dis-embodied
"faceless"¯ acquaintance. Real interpersonal interactions are rarer and rarer.
People have more contacts and fewer long term friends who they really know.
This trend has advanced to the point where many sexual liaisons between college
kids are "first name only"¯ encounters called hook ups.
Young people, in grade school, high school, and college, need to be placed in
social situations (perhaps at meals) for a couple of hours a day without access
to phones or computers. Additionally all 18 year olds might be required to do
volunteer work helping old people or young people with hands on care or face to
face instruction. This would force young people to really get to know at least
some other people.
4) Involvement in church, family and community events and meetings has
decreased. This is caused partly by the extreme sense of individualized autonomy
, but also by the high level of mobility in society. For instance, a St Louis
area Rotary Club had 140 members 12 years ago; today the organization has only
60 members; with about 40, mostly older retired people, regularly attending
meetings . The Catholic Church sees 1/3 of self-identified Catholics regularly
at Sunday Mass. Even extended families are suffering a decline of involvement as
mobility has caused a scattering of people across the country and around the
Perhaps the tax code might be used to urge people to join , not just give to,
charitable organization such as the Knights of Columbus or Rotary. A new
"societal involvement"¯ tax credit would make people at least think about such
activities. Regarding attendance at religions service the government can't be
involved because of "separation of Church and State"¯. Here private employers
might let it be known that membership in a church and/or some civic organization
WHY A JUDEO-CHRISTIAN STANDARD FOR MORAL BEHAVIOR IS IMPORTANT
Some might ask why use traditional Judeo-Christian values rather some modern
set of more flexible, evolving standards devised and kept current by some
committee or court staffed by "highly educated technical elites"¯. This, of
course, is the way most modern standards are created and kept current. Think of
securities regulations, nuclear power regulations, etc. However, Professor Dan
Ariely, from Duke university and the author of The (Honest) Truth about
Dishonesty has pointed out that people need to measure their personal moral
behavior against long standing measures of good behavior. Standards like the Ten
Commandments and the Golden Rule are the most useful standards for getting
modern Americans to behave better.
Additionally Ariely notes that people's behavior is also helped if the moral
system gives them a chance for a "fresh start"¯ where past failures are wiped
away. It is interesting that the Christian Churches have mechanisms for
forgiveness of past transgressions. In the Catholic and Orthodox world this
forgiveness and restart is available on a repeat bases through the sacrament of
confessing to a priest (who acts in God's place) and therefore can decide to
forgive sins. In the Protestant world confession is not unknown, but the
sacrament of adult Baptism is their preferred way to give the believer a fresh
Ariely also feels that 1) dishonesty is
reduced if the parties engage in face to face contact rather than contact
through electronic devices and 2) dishonesty is reduced if money is the item
being stolen or misused rather than another thing convertible to money (like a
token, office supplies, coupons, charge card, bitcoin, gift certificate,
ABOUT NON JUDEO-CHRISTIAN GROUPS IN THE US
Finally, the needs of other groups (such as Muslims, Hindus, and atheists)
need to be briefly addressed. To the extent that members of these groups accept
key elements of the Judeo Christian value system, these groups would not have
conflicts in the public square. Since most people naturally adopt these values
in practice conflicts would be small. Of course, in their publications , in
their schools, and in their places of worship they would retain full freedom to
educate their faithful in their detail beliefs. The conflicts would come when
any religion, Judeo-Christian or otherwise, attempted to impose some detail of
their religion in the public square. The Judeo-Christian religions embrace
freedom of conscience so there would be little possibility of the majority
enforcing anything beyond the Ten Commandment and the Golden Rule in the public
Unfortunately freedom of conscience is not embraced by some other groups.
For instance, Muslims teach that: 1) lying to non-Muslims is allowed if it might
advance Islam, 2) killing of an adult Muslim who later rejects Islam is
allowed, and 3) Muslims must try to impose shiria law in all spheres of life
wherever Muslims are in a majority. These are three examples of
incompatibility with both the use of conscience and the freedoms assured by the
US Constitution. So today's Muslim religion is likely incompatible for
inclusion in America . This is true even if only 10% of Muslims actively support
these radical beliefs because the moderate 90% lack scriptural support from
the Koran to challenge the 10%.
HOW SHOULD THE US GOVERNMENT ACT GOING FORWARD
Government must publicize a concise statement of how the this country "was
created for a moral population and will fail if people turn their backs on the
values of their forefathers"¯ and so the country needs to create a forthright
linkage between today and "the Judeo-Christian morals of our founders"¯. This
being done "without establishing or endorsing any particular set of beliefs or
particular creed"¯. Included might be all or part of the following quote from
John Adams, a Unitarian who became President, "we have no government, armed
with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and
religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the
strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our
Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly
inadequate to the government of any other"¯. (Letter to the Officers of the
First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October
1798). This statement should be quoted or referred to in the preambles of laws,
regulations, and court decisions that touch in any way on moral behavior.
With this concise statement in hand the Courts, Congress, and the
Administration can legitimately lift logic from long standing, well proven
Judeo-Christian moral statements. Then using these statements redirect moral
behavior, using the force of government, toward well proven moral norms. The
term "long standing, well proven"¯ would probably put anything published in the
last century beyond consideration. After that St. Paul's writings would carry
more weight than Jonathan Edward's writings. Also the documents held important
by a Judeo-Christian religion with say 50 million adherents in the US should be
given more weight than that held by a Judeo-Christian religion with say 5
million. Obviously if all Judeo-Christian religion agreed on a moral principle
than the process is simplified.
The preceding two paragraphs do not give much detail advice or guidance on
how to sort through and decide about any particular issue. Using the homosexual
marriage issue as an example might be useful. The critical question is what
should the word "marriage"¯ mean. Should the 4000 year usage of the word in the
Judeo-Christian tradition be retained? Should an attempt be made by government
to overrule a 4000 yr tradition? A little thought about orders of magnitude (ie.
4000 years versus a current "cause celebre"¯) answers the question. Perhaps a
civil union format might be considered, but even that is problematic given again
the long Judeo-Christian tradition? A government decision against homosexual
marriage or government sanction of same sex civil unions can be fully supported
by reference to Jewish and Christian writings from the last 4000 years.
This is a very important, but very tricky, area for families, institutions,
and government. Normally it is best for to avoid troubled waters if possible ,
but the moral breakdown is so profound, these troubled waters must be entered.
................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/7/2014) .
Rotary Invocation - Particularly useful For St. Louis area Clubs -
I bring you a St Louis story of interest.
From 1818 to 1852, St Louis was the home of, Rose Philippine Duchesne, a person of particular religious significance.
She was born in 1769 in Grenoble France. She became a Visitation nun, but her convent was closed by the French revolution. After Neapolitan took over, he made a pact with the Catholic Church that restored religious orders. Philippine then joined the newly created Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
She met Bishop DuBourg from St Louis in 1817 when he visited France. This encounter reminder her of her childhood desire to do missionary work. She asked to be allowed to help Bishop DuBourg.
She and four other sisters set off in 1818 . They traveled to New Orleans then up the Mississippi. Once there, they established a school in a large log cabin in St Charles; this was the first free school west of the Mississippi River. Later they opened a novitiate to train new nuns in Florissant.
Phillipene Duchesne realized that white settlers had pushed the Indians west so in 1840 she requested permission to open a school for the Potawatomi in Kansas. So at age 72, she moved with some younger nuns to educate Indians .. However, Sr Philippine couldn’t teach because she was unable to master the Indian language. She spent considerable time praying. The children gave her the nickname the “Woman who Prays Always”. After a year in Kansas, she returned to St Charles.
By then a brick building had been added to the log cabin. This brick building contained a interior chapel. Across the hall from this chapel was a broom closet. Philippine installed herself in this broom closet so she could easily visit the chapel anytime day or night.
She died in 1852 at the age of 83. After three years her body was examined and it was found uncorrupted . This led her order to propose her for canonized. This process was concluded in 1988 when Rose Philippine Duchesne was declared a saint.
From St Louis, the Sacred Heart Order has spread its influence across the US.
So now let us bow our heads and say .... BLESS US O’ LORD AND THESE THY GIFTS WHICH WE ARE ABOUT TO RECEIVE FROM THY BOUNTY, THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD. AMEN ................... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/4/2014)
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This page hopes to bring a common
sense, old fashioned view to today's news. The comments displayed
on this page were prepared by
Hugh V. Murray, who can be reached at email@example.com